2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 2000

National Parks: Best Overall Park

Glacier National Park possesses scenery that'll suck the breath out of your lungs, quiet so intense you'll wonder if your ears still work, and enough wildlife to make a zookeeper drool with envy.

by: David Peterson

PAGE 1 2

Glacier National Park Expedition Planner

The Highline Trail is one of North America's classic high routes, and you're almost guaranteed to see goats and sheep. It's one of Glacier's most popular and easily accessible hikes, however, so for wilder options, keep reading.

The trail: It's a fast 7 miles from Logan Pass to Granite Park, where I usually spend the first night out. Here, glacier lilies by the millions yellow the summer slopes and grizzlies congregate to devour them.

Dominating Granite Park is the old stone visage of Granite Park Chalet. If you make reservations well ahead, you can rent shelter for the night in the adjoining bunkhouse, though it's a tad pricey and scant on frills. It boasts four wood-plank sleeping platforms per cell and thin walls between rooms, and the outhouse has the loftiest views from here to Nepal. No meals. No showers.

Half a mile down the hill from the Chalet sits Granite Park Campground, strung along a narrow ridge with scenic views all around. Facilities include tent pads, a pit toilet, food-hanging poles, and little else. Don't sweat all the bumping and crunching you'll likely hear in the night; it's (probably) just the local deer.

From Granite Park, it's a speedy, knee-gnarling 4 1⁄2 miles down the Loop Trail, plummeting from tundra through dark, spooky woods (past bear mauling sites), back to the road. Loop to Loop: A sweet little 2- or 3-day adventure.

Of course, you can hike up the Loop to Granite Park, too. But having done it, I must warn that it's not for weak legs or lungs.

Trail options: Jump onto the Highline Trail and bear north to Waterton Lake in Canada, or east to Many Glacier--two massively magnificent treks, each well worth a week and requiring a long road shuttle. For yet another multiday hike, try the Nyack/Coal Creek loop, along which you're free to select your own campsites.

The Harrison, Lincoln, McDonald, Quarts, Logging, Bowman, and Kintla Lake Trails are outstanding, as well. All are relatively low in elevation and, therefore, open in spring and fall when snow chokes out the high-country trails.

Weather: As this is Glacier Park, snow generally limits high-country hiking to July through September. Earlier and later, the action (like the bears) is down lower. Along the western edge of the park below the mountains, two favorite dayhikes-both requiring an early start and all-day hiking-are Huckleberry Mountain (Doug Peacock country) and Numa Ridge. Cactus Ed Abbey spent a summer at the latter as a fire lookout, depressed by the "endless sea of green" and longing for his dusty deserts.

Camping: By necessity, most on-trail camping in Glacier is limited to designated sites; free permits are required and fires are rarely allowed. While you're free to roam off-trail and camp where you will, this is not a nice place to be lost.

Bears: Don't let the bears (or me) scare you off. Keep a clean, low-profile camp. Don't hike at night. Carry bear spray (see "Packin' Heat," September 2000, for a review of bear spray). Stay alert. Relax. Enjoy. Be thankful.

Contact: Glacier National Park, (406) 888-7800; You can request a copy of the free Glacier Backcountry Camping Guide, or read it on the Web. The Backcountry Permit Office is located at the Apgar Visitor Center.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

What Should I Do About A Table And Chairs?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Who's Working this weekend...?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions