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Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Israel
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Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Still working on the Montana part of our big road trip next year.

Participants: a family of 4 from Israel. Kids aged 7 and 9.

We have a week booked in Yellowstone, ending on July 12, 2011.

From there, we'd like to get to Glacier NP, and then move on westward towards Washington. I'd like to see a bit of Montana on the way - whatever we can taste.

Here's what I have in mind for now, but I welcome any and all ideas and tips.

Bozeman - 1 night

Great Falls 2 nights

Glacier NP - Many Glacier area - 3 nights

Whitefish - 2 nights (we'll do the GTTS road moving from Many to this side of the park, then another day at the western side of the park from Whitefish).

From there, I was thinking about driving to Spokane for the rest of the journey. (We decided to skip Athol's amusement park).

We're fairly flexible, and can steal a day from another destination and add to this part of the road. Any ideas about special things to see and do in Montana? I incorporated Great Falls, both for the scenery up to there, as well as the falls themselves and the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. Also seemed like a place where we could do some shopping maybe, and just rest. I'm not married to that route though, so a different route from Bozeman to the eastern side of GNP is possible too.

If you can think about any interesting festivals, pow wows etc in mid-July in the area, that might be great too. Thanks!

Edited: 21 September 2010, 20:20
western WA
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1. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Two nights in Great Falls? Hmm.

Bozeman is a great idea. Go to Museum of the Rockies, walk down Main Street, go to the Western Cafe for cinnamon rolls (am) or pie (afternoon).

I am guessing you'll go over to Livingston and up through the Crazy, Gallatin and Belt Mountains to Great Falls on Hwy 12. You can stop for a swim at the Spa Motel in White Sulphur.

If you go up the other way via Three Forks, you can stop in Fort Benton. That's where the paddlewheel steamboats stopped back before trains and highways. The Missouri begins at Three Forks and joins the Mississippi in Missouri.

An alternate route would be to head out of the park to Dillon and points north, stopping at the many hotsprings in Montana. They are older as a general rule, and unique. Butte is an interesting historical town that almost always has some kind of festival going on. You can stay in a historical mansion/museum (Copper Kings Mansion), and learn about the mining history and how the big corporations treated "the little guy" (badly). It is relatively undiscovered, which means there isn't anything Disneylike and sanitized for you, but that increases rather than reduces its charm in my eyes.

It seems to me that two nights to get to Glacier is sufficient, whichever route you take. Spend the extra day on a quick trip to Waterton Intl. Peace Park, or taking an extra boat ride or hike in Glacier.

western WA
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2. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Where are you going to be for the 4th of July? I would plan to be in a town with something going on rather than in a national park on that day.

Israel
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3. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Thank you for all the ideas, will start researching these. Maybe we will keep it down to two nights then? How about shopping? I'll ask in the Great Falls forum about shopping options there.

For the 4th we'll be in Jackson - hopefully we'll catch a parade and some fireworks!

western WA
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4. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

I think Bozeman would be a better shopping town than Great Falls.

Bozeman has residents that have come to the state with outside money, Great Falls not so much. Whitefish is a shopping town, more along a boutique line, I think.

Montana is not a shopper's paradise anywhere, but it has its bright spots (western gear, outdoor gear, fly fishing gear, weber acoustic guitars and mandolins, unusual art and handcrafts). You will be able to resupply for your trip in either town.

Montana is a special place, and you can definitely fill the days with interesting things. It depends on what You want to do. Two nights in Glacier seems a little short, but you know what you want to do more than I would.

Edited: 24 September 2010, 02:57
Israel
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5. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Thank you, and I really appreciate the tone of your post too. It's too easy to get a definitive tone when advising others, and I appreciate the lack of that in your tone.

We actually have four nights planned in Glacier, three of them in the Swiftcurrent area. I really hope we'll be able to do the Grinnell hike, but even that one would be a challenge for us (with two young kids), so I doubt we'll manage Iceberg lake as well.

We'll be arriving at Swiftcurrent in the early afternoon, so as to get oriented and checked in, and maybe do a short stroll/hike/ranger activity that evening. Then the next days I hope to do -

1. Grinnel hike.

2-3. Shorter hikes in the Many Glacier area / ranger activities / maybe a lake activity like Kayaking

3. GTTS with a few hikes along the way (the Logan Pass area)

4. Hikes in the western end of the GTTS

western WA
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6. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Sounds good, and thanks for the compliment! It is my goal just to share what I know and not try to decide for other people.

I haven't been to Glacier in a long time, so I can't say whether your itinerary is a good one. I recommend reading the Glacier trip reports and travel posts if you haven't been. There have been a lot of them this summer.

Charlotte, NC
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7. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

There is a great Music Festival in Butte.

http://www.montanafolkfestival.com/

You could visit from Yellowstone - not that far, as the dates are:

July 8-10, 2011. Folk Music. fun for the kids, especially...

I would also include the Canadian side around Waterton...

http://www.watertonpark.com/

Shopping is great in Lethbridge, but perhaps it would be too much of a side-trip..

Links to Border crossings:

allglacier.com/getting_here/us_canada_border…

Newtown, PA
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8. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

We spent a night in Bozeman and enjoyed our stay. We were in luck because every Thursday was "Music on Main" in the summertime. You can check out the photos, there are 4 showing Main Street..

…google.com/Relayer51/…5501190760645131330

Israel
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9. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

Just checked and according to our current itinerary, we should be there on a Thursday :(

Livingston, Montana
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10. Re: Need help with Montana itinerary - summer 2011

I agree with others- while Great Falls has some great stops, one night should really be all you spend there. Instead, you may consider getting to Glacier a day early. That way, you have plenty of time to relax where the air is a bit fresher and the scenery is great.

If you're interested in farming/rural Montana, taking I 15 from Great Falls up through Shelby; then across the Hi-line, Highway 2 will take you through wheat fields, small towns, the Blackfeet Indian reservation, and get you into East Glacier by nightfall.