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Need ideas for 2 week trip July

ireland
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Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Please help!

We are a reasonably fit Irish couple in our early thirties spending 2 weeks Montana in July and want to take in Yellowstone, GNP, an overnight range trip, a rodeo (?), some Indian reservation sites and an overnight stay in Billings as we have relatives there. We've also heard Missoula is nice. We are totally overwhelmed by the amount of info on the forum and don't know what route to take or where to stay as it all sounds so amazing!

My recently late father raved about his trip to montana 2 years ago and was adamant we should come. He's not a travelling man so we figured it must be truly amazing! He also insisted we in a miners mansion somewhere in one of the main towns but he was too ill to remember where. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Can anybody suggest a route that would take in the above or suggest other sites to see and what areas in the parks we might stay/visit with this route?

Thanks so much for any feedback.

Colly.

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Hey Colly! I can understand that it must be overwhelming for you, but try not to panic. The most important thing would be to go ahead and try to get reservations for your trip (especially lodging reservations since your trip is so soon).

I think an itinerary such as the following would be great:

Day 1: Fly into Great Falls, MT and spend the night in Swiftcurrent (try to get reservations at Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn).

Days 2-4: Spend these three days on the east side of Glacier National Park (spend each night in Swiftcurrent)

Days 5-6: Spend these days on the west side of Glacier Park National Park (spend both nights in West Glacier or Apgar--try to get reservations at Apgar Village Inn or Lake McDonald Lodge if possible)

Day 7: Drive south along the beautiful Swan Lake-Seely Lake Scenic Drive to Missoula. Spend some time in Missoula & spend the night there at a hotel

Day 8: Drive to Yellowstone National Park, entering via the north entrance at Mammoth Hot Springs. Try to get reservations at Mammoth Hot Springs or Old Faithful Inn

Days 9-11: Spend these three days in Yellowstone National Park, spending the night at Old Faithful Inn, Grant Village, or Canyon Village

Day 12: Leave Yellowstone in the early afternoon & head to Cody. See a rodeo there if there is one that night & spend the night at a hotel in Cody

Day 13: Head northwest along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and then northeast along the Beartooth Highway (two beautiful scenic routes). This will get you to Billings where you can meet with your family.

Day 14: Leave Billings and drive to Great Falls to fly out

I don't know anything about a mining mansion, sorry! Once you make reservations, it will be easier to make day-to-day suggestions, but the most important thing is for you to make reservations ASAP.

Sean

ireland
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2. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Thanks Sean for that great itinerary. It seems perfect for us. I'm not having much luck getting accomodation inside the parks yet so am wondering if it is feasable to stay outside the parks somewhere and travel in daily?

Thanks,

Colly.

Spokane, Washington
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3. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Where in Ireland might you be? Love it there, when it isn't raining so much. Last summer was a little to wet!!

Outside park accomodations;

West Side; Belton Chalet and Glacier Highland. Both are in West Glacier, a mile from the park. Worst case, Super 8 in Columbia Falls, about 7 miles from the park.

East Side;

try these cabins; http://www.glaciertrailheadcabins.com/

Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Colly, you can definitely stay outside of the park & drive in daily. Most places outside the park are just outside the border, so it's not too big of a deal. k2kelly has given you some great recommendations! Let us know if you don't have any luck with those locations, and we will try to give you some more possibilities.

Charlotte, North...
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5. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

*k2kelley*

ireland
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6. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Thanks guys for that info, it's a relief knowing we can travel in and out of the parks daily if needed. We have the accomodation you suggested almost sorted now.

Just a few more questions: how far from Great Falls airport is Swiftcurrent? Our flight gets in at 9.30pm and we are wondering should we stay a night near the airport. We have to rent a car, i presume this is possible at the airport? And that we can drop it off in Billings?

Having read all the reviews we have decided to add another 2 days to our trip and were wondering where to stay longer. We thought maybe cody/billings for an extra night? And we think the copper mine mansion my father spoke about might be in Butte. Does this make seem like a good idea?

And finally where abouts are the Indian Reservations and are they drivable from Billings?

I'm living in Dublin and our whole country is 300 miles wide so we appreciate all the help in planning a trip to such a vast state. And yes we had an awful summer in Ireland last year, the worst on record, but we are having a beatiful suumer here at the moment so maybe you should make another visit!

Thanks again,

Colly.

Charlotte, North...
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7. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Great Falls to Swiftcurrent will take you about 3 hours to drive, so I would definitely spend a night in Great Falls. The road between Browning and St. Mary is not the best road to be on at night anyway (windy & deer). You can rent a vehicle at the airport, but being able to return the rental car at Billings is something you would have to ask the either the airport or the specific rental company about. If it sounds like that would not be possible or would be too expensive, I'd recommend just flying out of Great Falls instead of Billings.

Two more days for your trip would be wonderful. I definitely think adding a day to Billings would be great so you can spend more time with your family. Butte does sound like a good possibility for the mining mansion. That was and still is a big mining town, so I wouldn't doubt that at all. You could see this along the way from Missoula to Yellowstone. So if you add a day to Billings, you still have one more day...I would suggest adding it either to the East side of Glacier or to Yellowstone...probably the east side of Glacier since you won't be able to get to Swiftcurrent the first day.

The major Indian reservations near to your routes would be the Blackfeet Reservation (you will pass through it on the way to Swiftcurrent from Billings), the Flathead Reservation (you will pass through it on the way to Missoula from Glacier) and the Crow Indian Reservation (just southeast of Billings).

I can definitely understand how overwhelming these distances must be for you since Ireland is so comparatively small, but that's why we're hear to aid you with suggestions. Montana is a magnificent state...Big Sky Country definitely fits well. And as RiverDays mentioned on another thread, it is the fourth largest state in the country but has less than 1 million people. This is a land of wide open spaces & natural beauty in all directions. I love it!

ireland
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8. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Thanks TN for all that info. How great it is to bwe able to talk to people who actually know what they're talking about rather than a travel agent who's never set foot in the state!

We will stay a night in Great Falls so. Alamo will supply a car in GF that we can drop in Billings so thats great. I presume petrol is easily accesible in the nearby towns.

We will probably just do a day visit to Butte as we pass through and keep the 2 extra days for Billings and Yellowstone as you suggested.

Now that all the major details are sorted what do we pack? Is Glacier very cold and is Yellowstone very hot? Our guidebook barely mentions climate.

Many thanks,

Colly.

Charlotte, North...
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9. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Colly: That's great to hear that Alamo will allow you to drop your car off at Billings. That definitely makes it more convenient and gives you more time. Petrol stations (I love that word!) are plentiful in Great Falls, Browning, Kalispell, Missoula, Butte, and Billings. You can definitely find them in St. Mary, East Glacier, West Glacier, and within Yellowstone but will likely be more expensive. I'm sure this won't be expensive compared to what you are used to in Ireland, but it is much higher than what most of us are used to.

The climate in Glacier and Yellowstone are very questionable throughout the year. In August you could find yourself in layers of clothing with highs in the 50s or even be sweating it out with temperatures nearing 100. Genearlly speaking, you can expect highs to be in the 70s or low-to-mid 80s but it is really hard to forecast ahead of time. I remember in 2007 there was a week or so that temperatures remained around 100-105 but I also recall a few days other years where light snow fell in the higher elevations. I would pack predominantly warm weather clothing, a rain jacket, and a couple pairs of pants and warm shirts. Glacier and Yellowstone have very similar general climates, and I would pack the same kind of clothing for both locations. While Yellowstone is not as mountainous as Glacier, it is at a higher elevation, so temperatures are similar.

Washington DC...
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10. Re: Need ideas for 2 week trip July

Colly, If you have time, you might consider going a little further south and visit the Tetons. Yellowstone is a very large park, so I don't know if you will be going all the way to the southern part or not, but the Grand Tetons are just south of Yellowstone. While Yellowstone has LOTS of wildlife, the geysers, and a lot of beautiful scenery, it also has a lot of people. We loved combining Yellowstone and the Tetons in one visit, because the Tetons park is small, with some spectacular mountain scenery and relatively few people, compared to Yellowstone. Whether you to go the Tetons or not, be sure to check the Yellowstone website for updates on road construction!