August vacation to Glacier NP

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smitty1515
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August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by smitty1515 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:32 pm

Hi,

We are taking a 1 week vacation to Glacier in August. It's our first time with our daughter (age 5) and I was curious if any other BH's have taken the trip with young children? Any recommendations such as short hikes, horse back riding, etc?

We have family that live out there so we are staying with them and will be doing things like taking the Road to the Sun ride in a jammer bus, spending a lot of time at many of the glacier lakes, and just relaxing. I'd be curious to hear any past experiences as it's been 6 yrs since we've been.
Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. -Warren Buffett

Rupert
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by Rupert » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:06 pm

Do the short hike at Logan Pass behind the visitor center. If you can, cross over into the Canadian side of the park and visit the Prince of Wales hotel. This is what you'll see: http://www.firstlight.com/feature/canad ... berta.html

DSInvestor
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by DSInvestor » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:10 pm

Rupert wrote:Do the short hike at Logan Pass behind the visitor center. If you can, cross over into the Canadian side of the park and visit the Prince of Wales hotel. This is what you'll see: http://www.firstlight.com/feature/canad ... berta.html
Make sure you bring your passports or enchanced drivers licenses to get across the border.
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Random Poster
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by Random Poster » Sun Jul 10, 2016 3:26 pm

Rupert wrote:Do the short hike at Logan Pass behind the visitor center. If you can, cross over into the Canadian side of the park and visit the Prince of Wales hotel. This is what you'll see: http://www.firstlight.com/feature/canad ... berta.html
If you do this trip, take the boat from Waterton into Glacier and back. A kid would likely enjoy that. Lots of ice cream places in Waterton townsite.

You can hike it from Waterton into Glacier (and back), but I would not recommend it. The Canadian-side trail is decent, but the US-side trail is an overgrown mess (and likely intentionally so).

I've been to Glacier several times, but I still don't quite "get" the park. It is relatively small and the focus seems to be more on driving on one road than anything else. The hiking can be difficult, and the weather can be inconsistent throughout the day. Parking is limited. My wife and I almost died on a hike to Iceberg Lake, and I had a second brush with near-death near a slick rock stream. So don't be like me and do anything dumb when hiking in Glacier, and don't let your kid wander off the trail.

The wildlife should be out for decent viewing opportunities. Expect lots of goats and perhaps a bear or two.

MattE
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by MattE » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:29 pm

Depending on when in August and where in the park you're at, be prepared for cold weather. In late August there's a very real chance Logan Pass and part of the park east of the Divide can be in the highs 30s\low 40s with snow at the higher elevations, even on days where the west side may be in the 60s and sunny.

We saw several children not much older than your daughter tackling some of the popular longer day hikes like Grinnell Glacier (with their parents carrying all of the daypack load, of course), but those are still fairly long and I'm not sure someone quite that young would make it the whole way without getting exhausted and\or cranky.

As someone else said, the Hidden Lake trail at Logan Pass is a solid one if you're driving\riding GTTS anyway. Parking can be an awful problem in peak season, but we've found it to be really not that bad in the 2nd half of August.

The whole lower western side of the park near Apgar Village is pretty kid-friendly: the Trail of the Cedars is a handicap-accessible boardwalk, and there's lots of cool small waterfalls\pools\shorter hikes accessible right off the side of the road. Extending the Trail of the Cedars walk into the hike to Avalanche Lake is about 5 miles round trip, and is an extremely popular family picnic-type day hike. It would probably be tiring for a 5 year old, but doable.

The eastern side of the park is much less small child-friendly in general I feel as it's more remote, with more limited amenity access and longer hikes, but there are still a few probably okay options. Cracker Lake is a beautiful destination that I wouldn't recommend as a hike for someone that young due to the length (12 miles), but is also offered as a guided horseback ride from Many Glacier Hotel. There are also commonly ranger-led short hikes of the nature trails around Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine near the hotel that can be combined with (or shortcutted via) boat cruises of the lakes. Redrock Falls is also an extremely easy 4-5 mile out-and-back hike accessible from the same area.

Many of the campgrounds in the park also do evening educational programs with the rangers that you should be able to get the schedules for from the check-in person if not the park visitor centers.
It is relatively small and the focus seems to be more on driving on one road than anything else.
This is hilariously untrue to everyone except those expecting a Yosemite-level of accessibility where you can see virtually everything worth seeing in the park as a short drive and nature-walk-grade hike from a hotel in town. That, admittedly, could be the viewpoint necessary for someone traveling with a 5 year old and staying with family.
The hiking can be difficult, and the weather can be inconsistent throughout the day.
These are both true, though the number of blazed day hikes that I'd categorize as "difficult" due to terrain rather than length is pretty short -- many of the popular day trips are 10 miles or more total, but many of those also involve <2000' of elevation change. There are relatively few trails where you're scaling something exceptionally steep, or with questionable footing, or narrow with a huge drop off the side to be wary of (Swiftcurrent Trail comes to mind for all three). The cited Iceberg Lake trail is benign as they come other than its length (assuming one doesn't get there via the "secret" Shangri La trail), hence its almost off-putting popularity.

Changes of the weather, especially if near\crossing the Divide, are a concern as it creates its own weather and things can change really rapidly.

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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by White Coat Investor » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:23 am

We're going in a week with kids- 12, 9, 7, 1. We'll let you know how it goes. But we have rather high expectations from our kids when it comes to hiking. For example, next month we're going backpacking for 5 days.
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Rupert
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by Rupert » Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:26 am

I forgot to mention earlier . . . There's a great little pie restaurant in St. Mary, on the east side of the park, called the Park Cafe. The strawberry rhubarb is worth the long wait for a table.

Random Poster
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by Random Poster » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:39 pm

MattE wrote:The cited Iceberg Lake trail is benign as they come other than its length (assuming one doesn't get there via the "secret" Shangri La trail), hence its almost off-putting popularity.
Shrug.

I'm not going to get into a debate about what trails are easy or difficult, but I wouldn't recommend hiking the trail when it is 40 or so degrees, there is several feet of snow on the ground, and it is lighting, raining, snowing, sleeting, and hailing for hours (with no let-up in sight).

mt
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by mt » Mon Jul 11, 2016 2:38 pm

5 year old should enjoy:

Hidden Lake Overlook Trail (good chance of seeing goats, marmots, wildflowers)
Avalanche Lake trail
boat rides at Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Waterton Lake, and Lake MacDonald (in that order for scenery )
pebble beaches on Lake MacDonald
surrey ride in Waterton townsite
boat rental on Cameron Lake in Waterton (highly scenic)
Big Sky Water Park in Columbia Falls

DSInvestor
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by DSInvestor » Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:09 pm

Random Poster wrote:
MattE wrote:The cited Iceberg Lake trail is benign as they come other than its length (assuming one doesn't get there via the "secret" Shangri La trail), hence its almost off-putting popularity.
Shrug.

I'm not going to get into a debate about what trails are easy or difficult, but I wouldn't recommend hiking the trail when it is 40 or so degrees, there is several feet of snow on the ground, and it is lighting, raining, snowing, sleeting, and hailing for hours (with no let-up in sight).
Perhaps OP can stop in and talk to rangers get an idea of what trail conditions are that day and whether they'd be appropriate for their party. Isn't iceberg lake around 10 miles round trip. OP asked about short hikes so I think that hike is out regardless of conditions.
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RudyS
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by RudyS » Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:52 pm

I found the 'Best easy day hikes - glacier" book tremendously useful. Amazon has it, and you could have it in time for your visit. https://www.amazon.com/Hikes-Glacier-Wa ... es+glacier

mt
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by mt » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:31 pm

Iceberg Lake is around 9 miles with close to 1200 feet of elevation gain. My daughter did it at age six. While licking a gourmet lollipop most of the way.

letsgobobby
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:39 am

Wherever you hike, keep your child very close by. Bear safety in Glacier is for real, not just for show. Because my children are not particularly good listeners, we have refrained from taking them to grizzly country yet.

tbradnc
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by tbradnc » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:53 am

I hiked the Continental Divide Trail through GNP last year and passing through Many Glacier and Two Medicine I noticed ranger-led hikes that had young children as part of the group. As I recall all seemed to be having a good time.

Plutus
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by Plutus » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:08 am

If you are stopping at the Logan Pass visitor center, you can do the hidden lake overlook trail. Also I would recommend doing part of the highline trail which starts across the street from the visitor's center. Just hike one or two miles down it and turn around if you like. Just in that portion you will get some awesome views and you get to enjoy the garden wall. Just keep a hand on your kid during portions of it as the drop offs are steep. A lot of these trails and hikes depend on the temperament of your child and their propensity to listen/behave.

The Iceberg lake trail is excellent and not too difficult, but it does take time due to it's distance. Red rock falls is another "easier" hike and is around 4 miles roundtrip. You can also spend some town at Many Glacier lodge and enjoy the scenery or take a boat ride across the lake.

As another posted said, bear safety is important. I have seen sows with cubs before while hiking these trails. I carry bear spray and a handgun, but I am more paranoid than others. The weather also needs to be monitored in mid-late August. The last time I was there was around August 20 and the last night we camped it got down to 30 degrees and we had flurries (this was at Swiftcurrent). They had a few inches of snow at the higher elevations such as Logan Pass.

letsgobobby
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:27 pm

I have been to Glacier 3 times around Labor Day or late August. All 3 times I encountered snow and sleet in the mountains. Twice Logan Pass was closed due to the weather. I think in that area you always have to be prepared for snow.

We've seen up to a dozen bears on the trails around Many Glacier on a single hike. I find it very intimidating.

I saw a black bear in Mt Rainier this weekend. Big one, too. But it was black, was docile and tended to mosey the other way, and wasn't protecting a cub. Nothing like a grizzly.

Once I saw a grizzly cub on the Jenny Lake trail at Teton NP. So many tourists crowding around it trying to take a picture. Not me. We hightailed it out of there right quick.

I suggest everyone planning a hike in bear country read this book, Bear Attacks by Stephen Herrero.

https://www.amazon.com/Bear-Attacks-Cau ... 158574557X

It's quite sobering.

smitty1515
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by smitty1515 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 6:53 pm

Thank you everyone for your input. Bears, especially brown bears are something I'm very intimidated by and it's the major deterrent to me feeling comfortable going on some hikes. I know they sell bear spray but not sure I believe that 8 seconds of pepper spray to a brown bear would keep me alive. Obviously I will not have a fire arm, maybe there are some guided hikes where the guides pack heat. Nothing would be scarier than turning the corner on a hike with a mother and cubs on the trail and getting charged. I've heard all the play dead stuff, don't look them in the eyes, etc but easier said than done.
Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. -Warren Buffett

azurekep
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by azurekep » Thu Jul 14, 2016 7:26 pm

I initially wasn't going to post this, but since others have brought up books and bears...to the OP, do not read the following book till AFTER your trip to Glacier!

Cold Fear by Rick Mofna

In the remote, rugged corner of Montana’s Glacier National Park known as the Devil’s Grasp, little Paige Baker of San Francisco disappears with her dog, Kobee, while on a camping trip with her family; or so her mother and father have told authorities.

A multi-agency task force launches a massive search as Paige fights to survive in the wilderness. Time hammers against her and soon the nation is gripped by the life-and-death drama.

Secretly, behind the scenes, the FBI grows suspicious of Paige’s parents. Their recent history and disturbing evidence links them to a horrible secret from the past.


It's a gripping read, but not something you want to read before you go to Glacier.

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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by CanyonCitySteve » Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:42 pm

Hi Smitty,

Not mentioned thus far:

There are kayak and paddle board rentals at Apgar Village (and huckleberry ice cream). Kids will enjoy.

Traffic and parking can be kind of bad, especially at gate and at Logan Pass. Arrive early to beat it.

There may be a lot of snow at Logan pass, hiking boots and poles are in order even in August. Sneakers will not cut it.

Picnicking along roadside is great, many places to do this if you aren't riding g a tour bus.

Have fun!
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:29 am

White Coat Investor wrote:We're going in a week with kids- 12, 9, 7, 1. We'll let you know how it goes. But we have rather high expectations from our kids when it comes to hiking. For example, next month we're going backpacking for 5 days.
Okay, we're on our way home now. We spent about 8 days including driving from Salt Lake and visited 5 National Parks- Glacier, Banff, Yoho, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes, all with 4 kids in tow. We camped about half the time and hoteled it the rest of the time. Here are a few lessons learned:

1) Glacier sucks compared to the rest. Banff and Jasper have better glaciers. Banff and Soho have better waterfalls. Banff and Waterton have better lakes. Banff and even areas in Alberta outside any park have better wildlife. So my first recommendation is don't go to Glacier, go to Banff! It's only 4 hours further and if you take the scenic route between the two, it'll knock your socks off. We spent a day and a half in Glacier. I would have liked to have done some longer hikes, but the ones we did were nice.

2) Reserve your campsites ahead of time. We get a bit busy to really plan our vacations so we tend to do them on the fly. So we left home with no hotel reservations or campsite reservations. It worked out okay, but not perfectly. Everything will be full in all these parks every night in July and August as far as campsites. So you can get into the first come first serve at 8 am, but not at 6 pm.

3) We did three hikes in Glacier- Hidden Lake at Logan Pass, St. Mary Falls, and Grinell Lake (with the boat ride). All were great with kids. Not long, great scenery and even some wildlife. Bring bug spray to Grinell Lake.

4) Our kids really enjoyed canoeing and kayaking at Swiftcurrent Lake.

5) The campsites are prettier on the West (wet) side of the park.

6) Sneakers were fine at Logan Pass. No poles needed. We tried sledding/skiing down one of the little snow patches but it wasn't quite steep enough. Walking to HIdden Lake you probably only spend 1/4 mile on snow and it's a VERY well beaten track on it. If the people hadn't packed it out, the remote control goats would have. But traffic at Logan Pass IS terrible. Best to follow someone from the trail to their car and take their spot. And that's if the park rangers let you into the lot. Seriously, get there early.

7) We saw 6 bears on our trip. Only one in Glacier. Everyone looked at us like we were nuts to not have bear spray. I even saw one guy with a handgun on his belt. Having grown up in bear country, I like to think I'm a little more realistic about the threat. But if you're really worried, be like everyone else and carry not one but two gigantic cans of bear spray in holsters. And then figure out what you're going to do with them when you go home. In Canada you can RENT the cans of bear spray, but no one has taken that intelligent step yet in Glacier that I could tell.

Hope that's helpful. Have a great trip and seriously consider going to the Great White North in addition or instead.
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:38 am

Random Poster wrote: I've been to Glacier several times, but I still don't quite "get" the park. It is relatively small and the focus seems to be more on driving on one road than anything else. The hiking can be difficult, and the weather can be inconsistent throughout the day. Parking is limited.
I kind of agree with this. Unless you're willing to go backpacking, there isn't a lot at this park. The driving is very inconvenient, either crowded or you literally have to leave the park, drive around it, and come in another entrance. You definitely don't want to make more than one trip over the road to the sun with its stop and go traffic. Think Yosemite level traffic, but it goes for miles and miles and miles.

Now Banff on the other hand....the Canadians have really got this National Park thing figured out. Still crowded but boy do they manage it better.
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Re: August vacation to Glacier NP

Post by tbradnc » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:52 am

As a long distance hiker I have to say that the observation about seeing great sites easily by car vs hiking is very true. It's a bit like trying to see the country by interstate instead of taking back roads.

If you really, really want to see the best in natural beauty most often it requires some effort- often a LOT of effort and not infrequently an element of danger. Very difficult to do is you've got kids, are senior with health issues or disabled.

I've hiked some hundreds of miles in GNP and it is a priceless gem - you just can't really get more than a taste by passenger transportation. GNP is not a tourist attraction like Niagra Falls. Personally I'm glad the NPS has kept the park at a level where you have to "work for it" - otherwise it would become like Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

I also want to add that GNP has a good shuttle system. The park isn't designed to move traffic -zip-zip-zip- from point A to point B.

I don't mean to sound snarky -honest- but I think people fail to adjust their expectations to suit the environment when it comes to our national parks. We want wi-fi, cell service, exit ramps, showers, and for people to keep us entertained. I think the truer objective is to experience nature on her terms and if you like nature you can't not love GNP. But, if you're going to just cross a place off your list you might not have a good time.

p.s. If you ever go back to the east side consider staying at The Dancing Bear in East Glacier. That's within easy walking distance of a great Mexican restaurant and several stores. You can walk over to the lodge and catch a shuttle to anywhere.

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