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Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

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Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

I recently came back from a wonderful week-long GNP trip (solo; car-free) and thought I would post a trip report since I myself benefited much from information obtained on TripAdvisor while planning my trip.

This was a car-free itinerary that covered multiple parts of the park and included 3 full days of day-hiking (the ranger-led hikes in Many Glacier were a boon since otherwise I would have been very nervous about hiking in Many Glacier alone, even with bear spray, as it was my first trip into grizzly country). GNP is truly a magical place and I feel fortunate to have had a chance to experience such beauty! The Many Glacier Hotel is perhaps the best-situated hotel I have stayed in. I also found all GPI employees I interacted with to be very courteous and professional, which is particularly commendable if one considers that the staff is almost all seasonal.

- Trip Dates: August 10-17.

- Areas within/near park that I visited: West Glacier, Logan Pass, East Glacier, Many Glacier.

- Distance hiked/walked within the park: approx. 35 miles (28 miles on trails)

- I purchased and carried bear spray on all hikes regardless of whether alone or in a ranger-led group (note that you cannot carry bear spray on flights and must buy/leave it there).

- I reserved red bus tours and boat rides several weeks in advance. I could not reserve the Eastside shuttle in advance and this was somewhat discomfiting (I did mention this in the surveys GPI sent out to me later; hopefully they will pay some heed to the feedback).

Itinerary specifics:

August 10: Flew into FCA; stayed at Glacier Guides Lodge in West Glacier for 2 nights.

August 11: Walked 2 miles to the Apgar Transit Center, and caught the hiker shuttle to Logan Pass. Hiked the Highline Trail up to Haystack Butte and back (7 miles roundtrip with gorgeous views and a profusion of wildflowers), and then the Hidden Lake trail up to the overlook and back (3 miles roundtrip; the view from the overlook is breathtaking). Hiker shuttle/walk back to West Glacier.

August 12: Amtrak Empire Builder from WGL to GPK. Stayed the night at Glacier Park Lodge. Took the Secret Valley red bus tour which includes a boat ride on Two Medicine Lake. Worth mentioning that rooms in the lodge have only 2 pin outlets though there are a few 3 pin outlets in the lobby. If you plan to stay there and have 3 pin plugs, please bring a converter. Wifi is available in the lobby in case you need to check on something.

August 13: Eastside shuttle to Many Glacier Hotel. I stayed next 3 nights there. I had booked only four months in advance and had only managed to get a refurbished value room, which turned out to be excellent. It was on the Lake level and had a window facing the lake, as well as a private door to the lakeside! Being refurbished, it was equipped with modern fittings and very comfortable, although a bit on the small side (a non-issue for one person). There is wifi in the lobby and my room also got a weak signal in some spots. In the afternoon of this day, I took the Evening Glacier red bus tour (very enjoyable) with notable stops at Sunrift Gorge, Logan Pass, and the Wild Goose Island photo spot, which culminated in a thunderstorm with hail and a roadside bear sighting!

August 14: Ranger-led hike to Grinnell Glacier. I had reserved a place on the 8:30 a.m. boat a few weeks in advance (note: one can also walk down to the Lake Josephine dock and meet the ranger-led group there). This was perhaps the most scenic of all my hikes in the park. It follows an exposed trail with constant breathtaking views of the Grinnell valley. Wildlife sightings included a hoary marmot, and several bighorn sheep (one right next to the glacier).

August 15: Ranger-led Iceberg Lake hike (appears in NPS brochures as the Heart of Glacier hike; may be substituted if the trail is closed due to bear activity). This is another very beautiful hike, this time into Swiftcurrent valley.

August 16: Last day in Many Glacier. Brief strolls near the hotel and wildlife sightings (including a bear that came down to Lake Swiftcurrent for a sip in the morning!). Took the Eastside shuttle back to East Glacier in the evening. The westbound train was thankfully only around an hour late! Got off the train at West Glacier, and stayed the night at Glacier Guides Lodge.

August 17: Caught a flight back from FCA.

Sample photographs and brief hike descriptions/tracks are available here:


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1. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Thanks for posting. As you stated, others can benefit from trip reports. Your photos are great. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and found this forum helpful.

Somerset, New Jersey
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2. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Loved your blogposts. Thanks for posting. Your pictures are absolutely stunning. I recently returned from my two weeks of hiking vacation from Glacier national park as well. I didn't get to explore the Two medicine area. But I did 6 day backpacking with Glacier Guides and explored north east section of the park. If you return to the park in future then I suggest considering a backpacking /rafting trip with Glacier Guides. They are fantastic and I think you will enjoy the experience.

I'm happy to share my blogpost on the trip as well.


Here is a photo album of the pictures I took during my time at the paradise.


Edited: 25 August 2013, 01:26
Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Thanks for posting. Interesting that you did the entire trip without a car. Hopefully others will benefit from your experiences when planning a similar trip.

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4. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Hi ycmrun,

Thanks for sharing the blog/album links -- you seem to have had quite a hiking vacation and really experienced the GNP backcountry! The up-close bear photographs are incredible, and Grinnell Glacier presents quite a different look with so much more snow than when I visited.

Whitefish, Montana
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5. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Wow I've saved your post since up till now wasn't sure if it was at all possible to visit as much of GNP as you were able to without a car. Thank you for this important information.

Plus sounds like you had a good time during your visit to Glacier Park.

montana slow hiker

Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Just a note that if you stay at Glacier Guides Lodge, they may be able to give you a ride to the Apgar Transit Center. They did that for one of the guests when we stayed there in late July.

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7. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Awesome Trip Report! You really got this one figured out well. Thanks for sharing....I know others will appreciate it, and I learned a lot.

London, United...
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8. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Excellent trip report.

I'm hoping to do GNP solo and no-car myself... arriving by Amtrak from Chicago. With a tent :-)

It's good to hear about the practicalities.

Great photos too.

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9. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Great trip report and loved all of your pictures! Thanks for sharing!

Charleston, South...
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10. Re: Trip Report: Week-long solo GNP trip without a car

Loved your report and blog. Your information was extremely helpful and your photos, of course, amazing!