|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – August 2008
Scramble up class III peaks and cross late summer snowfields on this strenuous but straightforward trip through Montana's big-mountain country.
>> Clean up The West Glacier KOA has a swimming pool, twice-weekly wildlife slideshows, and hot tubs for overtaxed thighs. Oh, and showers are $5. (800) 562-3313; westglacierkoa.com
>> Pig out East entrance: Park Café and Grocery in St. Mary serves possibly the best Razzleberry pie in the country (406-732-4482; parkcafe.us). West entrance: Tupelo Grille in Whitefish has spicy gumbo and a shelf of gourmet tequilas (406-862-6136; tupelogrille.com).
>> Best Dayhike: Highline Trail to Grinnell Glacier Overlook
This 13.8-mile highlight reel begins on a wildlife- and vista-rich traverse from Logan Pass along the Garden Wall, and it's always a solid bet for first-time visitors. Start early to see more animals and fewer people. Seven miles in, huff up a steep mile-long spur trail to the top of the knife-edged overlook for aerial views down to Upper Grinnell Lake and its shrinking–yet still impressive–glacier. Returning to the Highline Trail, continue a mile to the historic Granite Park Chalet and then plunge down to Going-to-the-Sun Road.
>> Try something new Tackle nine frothing rapids in a two-person ducky on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. You'll drop 15 miles along the Nyack Coal Creek wilderness area, where parts of The River Wild were filmed. Better yet, you're in a ducky, so you're closer to the water than in a big raft–and you don't have to know how to roll. Glacier Raft Company, (800) 235-6781; glacierraftco.com
Beat the Crowds
>> Sneak In Pick a trailhead in the south or east, and you'll find less traffic and easier permits. Check trailheads along US 2 on the southern boundary, with convenient campgrounds like St. Mary, Two Medicine, Cut Bank, Marias Pass, and Essex.
>> Start Early Find more solitude and see more wildlife by setting off at dawn on Going-to-the-Sun Road (nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/shuttles.htm).You're a Tourist, Now Act Like One
Miles of trail 746
Phone (406) 888-7800