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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: Glacier

Rule #1 when planning a hike through this iconic park: Let your ambition match the scenery.

by: Casey Lyons

The Highline Trail (Josh Miller)
Photo by Joshmiller_GlacierNPhighlinetrail_-7-Edit_445x260
The Highline Trail (Josh Miller)
Mountain Goats Above Treeline (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Mountain Goats Above Treeline (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Along The Highline Trail (Bret Edge)
Along The Highline Trail (Bret Edge)
Dawn Mist Falls (Michael Wegryn)
Dawn Mist Falls (Michael Wegryn)
Cosley Ridge (Michael Wegryn)
Cosley Ridge (Michael Wegryn)
Descent From Swifcurrent Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Descent From Swifcurrent Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Mt. Morgan And Oldman Lake (WildWestPhotos.com)
Mt. Morgan And Oldman Lake (WildWestPhotos.com)
Pitamakan Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Pitamakan Pass (Michael Wegryn)


ASK A RANGER

Q: How do I get primo Glacier permits at the last minute?

A: The park holds half of its permits for walk-ins (apply as early as the day before your trip). With schedule flexibility and good fitness, it’s possible to throw together a life-list-caliber trip on the spot, says Brian McKeon, backcountry permit program supervisor. First: Plan your preferred itinerary the night before and note the three-letter codes of your intended campsites. Each day at 4:30 p.m., the permit offices post the list of sites available for the next day. Second: The permit system opens at 7 a.m. sharp. Get to the Backcountry Permit Office at the Apgar West Entrance early. “In the height of the season,” McKeon says, “5:30 a.m. is not unreasonable.” (Tip: It’s officially against policy, but we’ve found rangers will sometimes fill out the permit form before 7 a.m., so they can click send as soon as the system unlocks—giving your request a slight edge.) Third: Be amenable to variable distances on the first three days. On trips with long itineraries, site availability increases after that initial period. Alternative for next year: Plan ahead. Mail or fax advance reservation requests ($30/permit) between January 1 and April 15, when the lottery is held.




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