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Note to Destination Experts

Glacier National...
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Note to Destination Experts

I have owned a small lodging business in the Glacier area for ten years and I am writing from the perspective of a long time business owner and resident of Glacier. Tripadvisor is a widely used travel resource and DE's need to be aware that the answers they give to travelers are actually changing the nature of travel to this area. I noted recently in this forum someone wrote that they were visiting the area in late June and wanted to know what lower hikes would be open, and the DE stated, "June is not the best time to visit the park." The DE's push July and August so much that people are afraid to come any other time of the year and I have noted this disturbing trend in my bookings. The result of this is that small business owners around the park itself have only 2-3 months of time to make a living, many are struggling and some very nice places have gone out of business. Now that the giant corporation Xanterra has taken over the leases on the park lodges, this situation is going to worsen and in the long run the only places people will have to stay and/or eat are run by a large corporation. Unless this is your idea of a wilderness experience, you might want to think ahead about how you are shaping the visitor experience and impacting the businesses that serve park visitors.

Year after year I hear the same complaints from travelers who come in July. They are the most unhappy guests we have because they come to "the wilderness" and end up sitting in traffic on the GTTSR all day or waiting for a shuttle for hours. Those who come in June or September have more of the wilderness experience they came all this way to have. Even if the weather isn't perfect, that's the true nature of the wilderness.

I would just like to remind the DEs to please understand that Glacier is wonderful at all times of the year, that some travelers want to come when it's not crowded and are willing to give up driving around the Logan Pass parking lot all day for solitary hike at Bowman Lake or Huckleberry Lookout, or any of the many other places we find to send them for some quiet time in nature.

Thanks for listening.

Spokane, Washington
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for Glacier National Park, Spokane
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1. Re: Note to Destination Experts

Thanks for the reminder and input. June is none the less, still a challenging month I would make any prospective visitor aware of that. There are benefits to the lower crowds for sure, but as you know June has highest rain potential and limited access also. I think we all try to make the people inquiring aware of both of the benefits and potential issues.

I will be in the park June 16-19 and planning accordingly

San Francisco
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2. Re: Note to Destination Experts

I have not yet been to Glacier, but I am planning a trip. In fairness to the Destination Experts, I think September is often recommended on this board as an ideal time to visit.

USA
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3. Re: Note to Destination Experts

While I read the advice here frequently, I decided my travel dates for Glacier based on the park's schedule for road openings, activities, hotels, and campgrounds. If I lived closer, I would love to come to the park in the off season, but it's not as practical when coming from a distance.

I did learn from these boards that I don't ever want to go mid-July to mid-August.

Last year, I visited during the last week of June. The weather was wonderful, and the road opened on time - I couldn't have been happier. I was able to do all the easy ranger-led tours, and learned that I could probably handle the harder ones (many of which were still snow-covered at that time). This year, I'm visiting at the end of August/beginning of September to hit those trails. I would travel later, but as a solo hiker, I really like the ranger-led tours, and they don't extend very far into September (based on last year's schedules, which might have been affected by sequestration).

indiana
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4. Re: Note to Destination Experts

I agree about the crowds during peak times. I usually visit in Sept. but have also visited in May and June. I recommend the "peak" times based solely on the fact that many people are spending a large amount of money for a once in a lifetime trip and I think if they want to be able to enjoy the full park, it needs to be when the road and trails are open. I just want to make sure they are aware of all the facts before their trip, if they don't mind some road, facilities or trail closures, then early/late season is great.

Portland, OR
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5. Re: Note to Destination Experts

I will be the first to say that my family loved our Mothers day weekend trip last May, so much that we drove 15 hours back again for 4th of July weekend. May was wonderful, we had the entire Many Glacier area to ourselves, however a lot of trails were not yet open. 1st of July was also great, a lot more people and some trails still not open (Highline). We want to go again end of July, and also mid September to end of September.

I do believe that for a good amount of the people mid July to end of August is best for them. The real outdoorsy people already know not to go at peak season.

Spokane, Washington
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6. Re: Note to Destination Experts

I sympathize with OP's plead. While all travelers have to make do with unpredictable weathers, most of us prefer fairweather when visiting outdoor desinations, especially places like GNP. In our last Aug. trip, first day and half were downpour weather. We could not see a thing from Logan Pass; throngs of people were hanging out at the MG hotel's lobby with little to do. We hiked Grinnell Glacier anyway, and was very fortunate to have the sun broken through later in the day to fully appreciate the beauty of the trail.

I've received discount offers for GNP hotels in June, but personally, I'd rather pay more, and deal with the crowd, so I could reach the high elevation hiking trails first and foremost, and better chance at dry none foggy weather.

Jervis Bay...
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7. Re: Note to Destination Experts

We are coming to the area once in our lives and from a great distance. I avoided June not because of advice from TA but from road and trail open dates on the national parks website.

People book with Xanterra because of the great service and conditions that include the ability to cancel at no cost and accommodation available at reasonable rates.

Edited: 15 May 2014, 21:43
Whitefish, Montana
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for Glacier National Park
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8. Re: Note to Destination Experts

FYI

About the same time this thread started I received an email from a visitor to my web site that stated they were going to be in West Glacier next week based on my updates concerning current trail and road conditions in Glacier National Park.

www.glacierhikers.com

montana slow hiker

KCK
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9. Re: Note to Destination Experts

Just as an aside, Xanterra does have a great cancellation policy, but you have to remember they were the high bidder for the concession, they were not chosen because they would take the best care of the properties.

I have usually found that the National Park properties operated by other companies were much nicer and better cared for. Bigger is not always better. I for one was not happy when I learned that Xanterra was taking over a lot of Glaciers properties.

Walker, Minnesota
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10. Re: Note to Destination Experts

Also visitors with children in school have to go during the summer months.