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First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

We're flying into Denver at the beginning of August and heading out on our big family adventure. We have three kids from 9 - 14 and would like to visit RMNP, Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons on a three week round trip.

Any advice about the route? So far we only have reservations in Estes Park for the first two nights and we don't know whether to head straight up to Glacier and then work our way back down, or to go up through Jackson. Does it matter? And what should we know about RV reservations? I'm sure we're too late to get anything inside the parks so any advice on that score would be much appreciated too.

Thanks in advance for any insight!


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1. Re: First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

Welcome to the Forum! You'll have better results with answers if your questions are more specific to the various areas. Also try posting and reading on the Road Trips Forum. Reading through the various forum posts will give you a plethora of ideas. When I'm doing initial trip research, I use the cut and paste function and whenever I find a tip in a Forum I think will be helpful, I add it to my trip-planning Word document.

For Glacier NP, there are many campgrounds that are open on a "first-come, first served basis" so if you pull in in the early afternoon, you should have no trouble finding a spot. You should try to pre-plan for weekends, which will always be busier. Also in Glacier, there is a 22 foot length restriction on traveling Going To The Sun Road. With a family of 5, it's likely your RV will be longer than that, but it would be worth it to have the extra space and deal with seeing GTTS Rd. via use of shuttle buses.

Campgrounds in Glacier NP do not have electrical hook-ups, so you need an RV equipped with a generator (operated only at specific times) if you a big electricity users.

The only other piece of advice I'll offer is to give yourselves the pleasure of less miles driving, with kids cooped up in the back of an RV, and more time spent parked in these gorgeous places, with your family outside enjoying nature. Even if it means cutting out Glacier Park, your northern-most destination, go for quality time over distances covered.

Have a trip of a lifetime!

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2. Re: First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

Denver - Boulder - Estes Park - Granby - 125 - 130 - I-80

I-80 - Rawlins - Riverton - Thermopolis - Cody

120 out of Cody (Yes, skip YStone for now) to 296 - 212 - Red Lodge -

Columbus - I-90 - US-89 - Great Falls - Glacier

Camp at Two Medicine, St. Mary, Chewing Blackbones, Many Glacier

Shuttle from St Mary to Logan Pass and back

Back south to East Glacier, US-2 to West Glacier

Shuttle to Logan Pass and back

May as well go home, it's all a let-down after Glacier

But, US-2 to hungry Horse, Columbia Falls, Bigfork M83 down the Swan-Seely,

M200 W to Missoula or E to US-12 to get on I-90

(or Garnet Ghost Town if you're adventurous)

I-90 to Bozeman, 191 to West Yellowstone

Norris, Canyon, Old Faithful

Tetons, Rock Springs, Vernal UT

Dinoasaur Monument

139 to Grand Junction, I-70 back to Denver.

Edited: 03 June 2013, 19:55
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3. Re: First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

Thanks to you both for the tips on how to use the forum, as well as your particular advice. I am really struggling with the issue RiverDays brings up about covering ground vs. enjoying the place you're in. We do have 3 weeks, but the northern swing will take up at least a week of that time.

Anyway, no one right answer. Polebridge, thanks for the thoughtful itinerary, including the note about everything being a letdown after Glacier. Hmmm.

A lot to think about! Really appreciate it, and will repost with specific questions as they come up.

Thanks so much. Mike

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4. Re: First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

Dear Polebridge,

Well, I don't know where to start. After some thought, and plotting it out on a map, we decided that your plan for our vacation made a lot of sense. We basically swallowed the whole thing - heading out of RMNP through Granby and then up through central Wyoming (hidden gem here - Wind River Canyon), a day in Cody and then the Beartooth. We camped at St. Mary's, rode horseback at Many Glacier, loved Glacier, the shuttle to Logan Pass from the west was amazing. We headed down via Flathead Lake because we wanted to hit the Nat'l Bison Reserve - a mistake in retrospect as we didn't realize how many we'd see in Yellowstone. But pretty nonetheless.

Spent 5 nights in Yellowstone - rented a car in W. Yellowstone to make it easier to get around. Good move - the gas savings alone almost paid for it! Loved the Canyon and Tower/Roosevelt hikes in particular. Then 3 nights in the Tetons - Cascade Canyon, wow! - and a rafting trip on the Snake.

Continued to Vernal as you suggested. Surprise - beautiful drive! And then the Dinosaur Monument and a long push through Vail Pass and back to Denver. We stayed a night in Central City before turning in the RV.

The bottom line is, for three weeks we were talking about what a great route this was, and how we all owed you a deep and sincere thanks for taking the time to share your familiarity with the area and your wisdom about how to do it.

I don't know your name or where you live but I just want you to know that our family really benefitted from your suggestions. It was the vacation of a lifetime - one our kids will be talking about probably for the rest of their lives - and you had a hand in making it as good as it was.

Many, many thanks.

Mike Rothenberg

Arlington, Massachusetts

5. Re: First time RVers - how to do Glacier?

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