Glacier’s policies for 2021 are somewhat like trying to decipher ancient Sumerian hieroglyphics. You need a pass specific to Glacier for $35–check. Then you need a ticket to go in Going to the Sun Road. This you quickly realize is the highlight of Glacier, so you spend hours on Recreation.gov trying to gain this epic experience for your family. You get all set and you click it at 0800 on the specific date only to have the system tell you that too many people are trying and after two or three attempts that they are sold out. This incites despair and a loathing of the system. Now, in reality the pass is only necessary between 0600-1700 MST. So, if you get through the gates before 0600—you are Golden. After 1700, no issue. The real kick in the pants after you go through this experience with hours spent online, endless frustration, is that the dream of the incredible drive topped with communing with the goats…the summit is closed anyway. The East is open to Jackson Glacier and the West to Avalanche. No mountain goats this trip! So, skip the wait for the golden ticket and plan your visit up both sides of the road outside of the ticketed times. Realize that there are some great hikes and things to do, but the summit is closed. Many Glacier is great and the St Mary’s entrance provided much more to do that did the West Glacier entrance.
For the Goats we found Goat Lick lookout, which provided some distant goat observations.
What was cool: Many Glacier is beautiful. We took Swan Mountain Outfitters trail ride from Many Glacier and it was great. Cracker Flats was our destination, beautiful and the guides alerts awesome. The hike to St. Mary Falls was great and we took the John’s Lake Loop in West Glacier.
We happened upon the Izaak Walton Inn. This place is super cool! We took a picnic lunch to eat on the way and then had drinks and pie. Their Huckleberry pie is incredible. A culinary delight from someone who was not too excited about the Montana obsession with the fruit. The Huckleberry cobbler was good, but the pie was incredible.
The St. Mary KOA was nice with a corner spot and the West Glacier RV park, while pricey, was very convenient to the West Glacier entrance. If I were booking a hotel I would stay at the Izaak Walton as most entrances are pretty accessible from their location.
While this may not be the best year to visit Glacier, we still had fun, great hikes and beautiful views. In my next entry I’ll give some options that the good folks of Eureka, MT know about that may be better use of your vacation time. Stay tuned!