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Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

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Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

Well, I guess it doesn't matter if we're crazy, because we're going! My wife and I had one small window to get away kid-free for the honeymoon we never had, and it is the week of June 11-15th, 2012. We're driving from Minneapolis, staying in Billings, then staying at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

We'd love to explore as much of Glacier as possible. I realize GTTS is a crapshoot, especially that early, and I'm not asking anyone to predict the likelihood of that...however:

Coming from a pessimistic point of view and assuming many of the high elevation sights will be out of reach... I wanted to start planning a worst-case scenario of the best low-elevation or otherwise early-June-friendly hikes and sights to see. What is our best bet for early season Glacier? Do such things even exist? Or should we just plan on relaxing in the lodge all week?

We've never been to Glacier, and are both in good physical shape but are inexperienced hikers.

Thanks for any advice, in advance.

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1. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

It is not the best time to visit Glacier (as I'm sure you know)....

The GTTS Road will not be completely open through Logan Pass (this is regardless of weather...but based on construction schedules)....

It may be open from one side but it is very unlikely that you will be able to reach Logan Pass.....

In terms of your trip being so limited in time, it is hard to recommend visiting both sides of the Park....and it is hard to tell which side to recommend...there will probably be more hikes open on the West side but the East side is much more scenic.....

With only 4 days, I'd still probably recommend staying at Many Glacier (East side) where you are right in the mountains without hiking....some of the Many Glacier hikes should be partially open....and you could also visit Two Medicine.....

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2. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

Thanks for the response. Yeah, I realize it's not the best time of year. It was really this week or nothing...but when we return in the next few years we'll definitely shoot for August.

We're already booked in Whitefish, so we'll be more on the West side. I know it's quite a drive, but I suppose we could take Highway 2 to the East side for at least one of the days. To be honest, coming from a state with a max elevation of 2300ft, we'll be excited to experience any part of Glacier we can, even from lower elevations.

I'm mostly looking for some of the destinations, trails, hikes that have the best chance of being passable earlier in the season. Maybe it's just too early to plan. I'd like to hit Two Medicine and Many Glacier one of the days though, that's a good idea.

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3. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

I checked the park site and based on last year, which was a big snow year, it looks like some trails that were open on the west were Howe Lake and Lincoln Lake. Also we hiked Apgar Lookout at the end of June one year. In the Many Glacier area, try Appekunny Falls and possibly the first part of either Swiftcurrent or Iceberg Lake. In Two Medicine the short trail to Running Eagle Falls was open. As it gets closer to your visit, check the Glacier website for trail updates. They are not always up to the day, but it will give you a good idea so you can plan ahead since your time there is so short. It will be a long drive to do a day trip from Whitefish, but with an early start you can stop in Two Medicine and go on to Many Glacier. You won't have much time for hiking, but at least you will get to see the area. It would be great if you could arrange one night at Swiftcurrent Lodge which is scheduled to open June 8.

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4. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

Add Polebridge and Bowman lake to the list, in the northwest corner as there are some good vistas, animals and great stop at the Merc. Easy access via the park or via Columbia Falls along the north fork road. Very long days (sun light) so a very early start and drive to Many is good if you decide not to book a night over there.

The Lodge is very nice and comfortable.

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5. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

I am going in mid to late May because of my Summer-dominant business so if you hit me up, I will be glad to give you an update. I will be back on the 28th, so I will have some first-hand info anytime after the 29th. I think you should just be able to message me thru the site.

Currently, based on my research, I would recommend warming up with Rocky Point Trail-sounds easy and good to see how much you both are into hiking-this may be enough for some with driving, photography, etc.

Avalanche Creek Trail should be fully open by your dates, unsure about for mine, but there is a good site somewhere which gives you a link via google maps so you can see what the hike is like via satellite. It also has some pics. It's definitely longer, but more rewarding, but still not over the top. Altitude is a real issue. I am not the most experienced hiker in the world, but about 5K feet people, typically low elevation people like ourselves (I am from Boston) feel it somewhat, and each 1K feet interval higher, more so. At 7K+ you can feel it just driving. I am nearly useless at 8K+ unless I have spent a night or three above 5K so read up on effects of altitude, and definitely spend a day on the East Side, if not 2...better to see less, but feel good. I am spending my 3rd day on the East side, then heading to Yellowstone which is a mixed bag for elevation-but in general has a lot of high altitude places-something which I didn't realize when I first went-but luckily then I was in my young 20's...I am now closing in on 40.

A splurge to consider: Going up in a helicopter for a half hour. By no means cheap, it's something I am considering since GTTS def. wont be open around the 20th of May. If your really in great shape, and don't scare easily, June might be a fine time to go rafting...

I just got the Moon guide to Glacier and really like it. A lot of info here and elsewhere, but a good book will be worth it's weight in GORP if you are out there for 4 days. Get one pretty current if you decide to get one.

Hope this helps. I will also post some other stuff including that link if I can find it again. I would say getting in a few hikes, taking some great photos and taking time to just enjoy your surrounds should be the priority...if you love it, you will come back with the kids some time.

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6. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

You might enjoy taking a day to come down to Bigfork and hike the Swan River Nature Trail. It's right up the hill from downtown Bigfork, and it's a 2 miles walk up high above the rapids of the river, then 2 miles back. Nice wide trail which was an old logging road. You can combine it with touring the shops and galleries of Bigfork, seeing Flathead Lake (Wayfarers State Park has some lovely short trails with spectacular views of the lake), having a great dinner or lunch at one of the fabulous restaurants, and maybe even taking in a play at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse. It would make a nice day of being in this charming western town and being out in nature.

And who knows? With this mild winter we are having, maybe GTTS Rd will be open for your trip.

Have a great time!

7. Re: Glacier in Early June... are we crazy?

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