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Author Topic: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?  (Read 11246 times)

Online Traveler718

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #105 on: May 25, 2020, 01:30:53 PM »
It really depends how much you like to hike. I could easily spend 3-4 days there just doing different day hikes. If you want other activities, look into white-water rafting, horseback riding, and boat rentals/rides on lakes in the park (assuming they're open this season). As for top hikes, Hidden Lake is a no-brainer as the best short, family-friendly hike, and once you're there at Logan Pass where it leaves from, definitely walk out at least 20-30 minutes on the Highline Trail. This is assuming you can find parking, as in normal years, parking at Logan Pass can be a nightmare unless you get there really early or late in the day.

The Many Glacier area is an absolute must just to see the view from the hotel, and I'd highly recommend the drive to Two Medicine to see the view there as well (the boat ride on the lake is really relaxing). And if you have passports, a leisurely drive up to the Canadian side of the park (Waterton) is really pretty as well.

Another popular short hike (4 miles RT) is Avalanche Lake, though if you have to choose, Hidden is better (shorter, prettier, and almost guaranteed close-up goat sightings). If you're up for one or two longer hikes (8-10 miles RT), the top 5 would be Grinnell Lake (can be knocked down to 7.5 miles RT if you take the boat ride to cut off the beginning of it), Iceberg Lake, Cracker Lake (not as pretty throughout the hike but a jawdropping destination at the end), the full Highline Trail, and Siyeh Pass (my personal favorite, but you can't go wrong with any). And if you really want to push yourselves, I once hiked the 18ish mile Pitamakan-Dawson loop on my birthday as my present to myself, and it was the best hike I've ever done.

As you can tell, I really love this place! You didn't ask about lodging, but that will be one of your most important decisions. Please don't make the mistake of staying outside the park in the big chain hotels on the west side (Whitefish, Columbia Falls, West Glacier). You'll be 60-150 minutes each way (!) from all the best scenery in Glacier and will spend far too much of your valuable time waiting in traffic. Best is if you can find in-park lodging on the east side, ideally Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent, or Rising Sun (and have reasonable expectations of in-park lodging, you're paying for the location). Any more questions, just ask, and hope you love it as much as I do!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 01:35:24 PM by Traveler718 »

Offline chinagel

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #106 on: May 25, 2020, 05:48:48 PM »
It really depends how much you like to hike. I could easily spend 3-4 days there just doing different day hikes. If you want other activities, look into white-water rafting, horseback riding, and boat rentals/rides on lakes in the park (assuming they're open this season). As for top hikes, Hidden Lake is a no-brainer as the best short, family-friendly hike, and once you're there at Logan Pass where it leaves from, definitely walk out at least 20-30 minutes on the Highline Trail. This is assuming you can find parking, as in normal years, parking at Logan Pass can be a nightmare unless you get there really early or late in the day.

The Many Glacier area is an absolute must just to see the view from the hotel, and I'd highly recommend the drive to Two Medicine to see the view there as well (the boat ride on the lake is really relaxing). And if you have passports, a leisurely drive up to the Canadian side of the park (Waterton) is really pretty as well.

Another popular short hike (4 miles RT) is Avalanche Lake, though if you have to choose, Hidden is better (shorter, prettier, and almost guaranteed close-up goat sightings). If you're up for one or two longer hikes (8-10 miles RT), the top 5 would be Grinnell Lake (can be knocked down to 7.5 miles RT if you take the boat ride to cut off the beginning of it), Iceberg Lake, Cracker Lake (not as pretty throughout the hike but a jawdropping destination at the end), the full Highline Trail, and Siyeh Pass (my personal favorite, but you can't go wrong with any). And if you really want to push yourselves, I once hiked the 18ish mile Pitamakan-Dawson loop on my birthday as my present to myself, and it was the best hike I've ever done.

As you can tell, I really love this place! You didn't ask about lodging, but that will be one of your most important decisions. Please don't make the mistake of staying outside the park in the big chain hotels on the west side (Whitefish, Columbia Falls, West Glacier). You'll be 60-150 minutes each way (!) from all the best scenery in Glacier and will spend far too much of your valuable time waiting in traffic. Best is if you can find in-park lodging on the east side, ideally Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent, or Rising Sun (and have reasonable expectations of in-park lodging, you're paying for the location). Any more questions, just ask, and hope you love it as much as I do!
Where would you recommend whitewater rafting?
I made the mistake of booking on the west side already.
Hike will include little ones so can't be any of the long ones. Logan pass with a little highline trail my best bet? Which lakes have the nicest leisure rafting?

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #107 on: May 25, 2020, 07:05:11 PM »
Can lodging be cancelled, even for a fee? Being on the east side for me would make or break the trip, but if you're doing a low-key family-friendly visit, I know people make it work (hence all the hotels on the west side), but it will mean a LOT more car time. If you can't cancel in full, could you get even one night on the east side somehow to reduce the driving?

As for rafting, I love the park so much that I've never done rafting, which is outside of the park (conveniently for you, on the west side). Here are a few companies to look at. I would assume they're all basically the same, running the same water, so double-check online reviews, and then choose whichever has the best times and rates for your schedule:

https://glacierraftco.com/rafting/
https://glacierguides.com/rafting/whitewater/
https://www.riverwild.com/

As for in-park boat excursions and rentals, the info is here, but it looks like they've canceled this season due to Covid: http://glacierparkboats.com/

For short hikes, definitely Hidden Lake (3 miles RT on a boardwalk with not so much elevation gain) and walk out a bit on Highline. Avalance Lake is 4 miles RT and would be #2 if you can't do anything longer. There's also a short hike to Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls that kids may enjoy, but it's a pale substitute for the true beauty of the park.

I'd also look into the Swiftcurrent Pass trail from Many Glacier/Swiftcurrent, NOT to hike up to the pass which is a brutal climb, but the beginning part of it is flat and beautiful and great for kids. Or the beginning of the Grinnell Glacier trail, which again they won't be able to complete, but the beginning is totally flat, walking around stunning lakes, and really beautiful and peaceful.

One other important thing to know about Glacier is that trails there can unpredictably be closed due to bear activity at any time. Also, if you're going early in the summer (i.e. July, which may not seem early to you, but can be early for many feet of snow to melt out), some of the trails may not yet be open for the season if they're still full of dangerous snow and ice. So for every day, have a plan B (and C if possible), and whatever you end up doing, it's all great!

Offline chinagel

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #108 on: May 25, 2020, 09:26:41 PM »
Can lodging be cancelled, even for a fee? Being on the east side for me would make or break the trip, but if you're doing a low-key family-friendly visit, I know people make it work (hence all the hotels on the west side), but it will mean a LOT more car time. If you can't cancel in full, could you get even one night on the east side somehow to reduce the driving?

As for rafting, I love the park so much that I've never done rafting, which is outside of the park (conveniently for you, on the west side). Here are a few companies to look at. I would assume they're all basically the same, running the same water, so double-check online reviews, and then choose whichever has the best times and rates for your schedule:

https://glacierraftco.com/rafting/
https://glacierguides.com/rafting/whitewater/
https://www.riverwild.com/

As for in-park boat excursions and rentals, the info is here, but it looks like they've canceled this season due to Covid: http://glacierparkboats.com/

For short hikes, definitely Hidden Lake (3 miles RT on a boardwalk with not so much elevation gain) and walk out a bit on Highline. Avalance Lake is 4 miles RT and would be #2 if you can't do anything longer. There's also a short hike to Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls that kids may enjoy, but it's a pale substitute for the true beauty of the park.

I'd also look into the Swiftcurrent Pass trail from Many Glacier/Swiftcurrent, NOT to hike up to the pass which is a brutal climb, but the beginning part of it is flat and beautiful and great for kids. Or the beginning of the Grinnell Glacier trail, which again they won't be able to complete, but the beginning is totally flat, walking around stunning lakes, and really beautiful and peaceful.

One other important thing to know about Glacier is that trails there can unpredictably be closed due to bear activity at any time. Also, if you're going early in the summer (i.e. July, which may not seem early to you, but can be early for many feet of snow to melt out), some of the trails may not yet be open for the season if they're still full of dangerous snow and ice. So for every day, have a plan B (and C if possible), and whatever you end up doing, it's all great!
Thanks for all the info. I think I can do 1 day Hidden Trail and 1 day rafting. Any recommendations for a 3rd day? Either the west or east side?
On a side note ever been to Sandpoint ID? Worth the drive there?

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #109 on: May 25, 2020, 10:06:02 PM »
Thinking of going to Glacier with family for 3-4 days in the summer.
Are you flying in or driving from out of state?

Offline chinagel

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #110 on: May 25, 2020, 10:33:13 PM »
Are you flying in or driving from out of state?
flying

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #111 on: May 25, 2020, 10:38:04 PM »
Thanks for all the info. I think I can do 1 day Hidden Trail and 1 day rafting. Any recommendations for a 3rd day? Either the west or east side?
On a side note ever been to Sandpoint ID? Worth the drive there?

It would be a crime to go all that way and not at least see Many Glacier, arguably the best scenery in the entire park, so on day 3 I'd head there. Just the approach drive is magnificent, then the view from the hotel across the lake is out-of-this-world. Depending on time and weather, you can take a relaxing stroll around the lake. There are also often ranger programs going on, such as a spotting scope setting up in the parking lot at (adjacent) Swiftcurrent Hotel where rangers find bears on nearby mountains that you can look at through their powerful scopes. And if you have extra time, I'd drive to Two Medicine to see the view from there, then take highway 2 back to the west side of the park (avoiding the congested drive through the park).

I've never been to Sandpoint. I can't get enough of Glacier and would never voluntarily take away time from it, especially on a first (and likely only) visit. One of the reasons that Idaho is one 7 states I still haven't visited. :)

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #112 on: May 25, 2020, 10:49:47 PM »
It would be a crime to go all that way and not at least see Many Glacier, arguably the best scenery in the entire park, so on day 3 I'd head there. Just the approach drive is magnificent, then the view from the hotel across the lake is out-of-this-world. Depending on time and weather, you can take a relaxing stroll around the lake. There are also often ranger programs going on, such as a spotting scope setting up in the parking lot at (adjacent) Swiftcurrent Hotel where rangers find bears on nearby mountains that you can look at through their powerful scopes. And if you have extra time, I'd drive to Two Medicine to see the view from there, then take highway 2 back to the west side of the park (avoiding the congested drive through the park).

I've never been to Sandpoint. I can't get enough of Glacier and would never voluntarily take away time from it, especially on a first (and likely only) visit. One of the reasons that Idaho is one 7 states I still haven't visited. :)
Can I do Many Glacier the same day as Hidden Trail? How much time would you allocate for each? Any other suggestions for the west side? What about Kootenai?

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #113 on: May 26, 2020, 05:25:25 PM »
Yes, you can do both in one day, but it may be a fairly long day. It really depends on your travel style and what time you can get out the door. From Whitefish you're looking at about 2:30 to MG (you can beat Google Maps times in MT, though not if you drive through the park). You could get away with about an hour at MG, seeing the hotel itself and the view across the lake, maybe walking around the lake. Obviously if you give it its own day, there's tons more to do there, but 1-1.5 hours should suffice.

Then you drive from MG to Logan Pass, which is probably 1.5 hours in normal conditions (though I've done it in under 1 hour). Parking at LP is a nightmare, so you need to either get there really early before it fills up, or else later in the day (after 3 is likely safe, definitely after 4 is) when it starts to empty out. So by starting with the long drive to MG and spending time there, you can break up the drive back at LP. I'd suggest 2 hours minimum for Hidden Lake with little ones, and ideally another hour to get a taste of the amazing Highline Trail, so 2-3 hours total at LP, then a 1-1.5 hour drive back to your hotel (later in the day, traffic across the park is usually much better). This will still be a long day, and will cost you Two Medicine though, but it's totally doable.

Another option on the west side is the North Fork of the park, the only part of the park that I have not visited. The roads to get there aren't the best, so it gets much less traffic than other parts of the park and may be worth looking into. No experience with anything in Idaho, though Craters of the Moon has been on my list as a place I'd like to make it to one day.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #114 on: May 28, 2020, 01:26:43 AM »
Crazy story, but man, someone's gotta sort out their priorities.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/151866528164424/permalink/4292912730726429/
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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #115 on: May 28, 2020, 07:56:15 AM »
Crazy story, but man, someone's gotta sort out their priorities.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/151866528164424/permalink/4292912730726429/
I think his reaction was pretty good (can be very important to have photo of aggressive wildlife), but his wife's was better.  Also, it's illegal to discharge a firearm in Yellowstone, even in self-defense.
AK,AZ,CA,CO,CT,(DE),FL,HI,(IL),ME,MD,(MA),MI,MN,MT,NV,NH,NJ,NY,OR,PA,(RI),TX,UT,VT,VA,WA,WI,WY

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Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #117 on: May 28, 2020, 01:04:56 PM »
Also, it's illegal to discharge a firearm in Yellowstone, even in self-defense.
So by his funeral they'll say he kept the law...

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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #118 on: May 28, 2020, 06:11:42 PM »
Montana lifting quarantine restrictions on June 1. Yellowstone NP has stated that the reason only the WY entrances to to the park have opened is due to the MT quarantine, so this likely means that all entrances - and, I assume, all roads - will be open by that time.

https://nbcmontana.com/news/coronavirus/gov-bullock-to-address-phase-2-of-reopening

What do I win?

https://nbcmontana.com/news/coronavirus/yellowstone-national-park-will-open-montana-entrances-monday
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Re: Which US national parks have you been to? Which was your favorite?
« Reply #119 on: June 14, 2020, 10:09:42 PM »
Updated, new in bold. My rankings are below.

United States:
  • Acadia, ME (2011, 2017)
  • Badlands, SD (2020)
  • Cuyahoga Valley, OH (2014, 2020)
  • Everglades, FL (2010, 2019)
  • Gateway Arch, MO (2019)
  • Grand Teton, WY (2012, 2020)
  • Great Smoky Mountains, NC/TN (2013)
  • Haleakala, HI (2014)
  • Hawaii Volcanoes, HI (2012, 2018)
  • Indiana Dunes, IN (2020) (Just a quick visit to "be yotze". Doesn't really count as much.)
  • Kenai Fjords, AK (2013)
  • Rocky Mountain, CO (2009)
  • Yellowstone, WY/ID/MT (2012, 2020)


International:
  • Banff National Park, Canada (2017)
  • Jasper National Park, Canada (2017)
  • Lovćen National Park, Montenegro (2018)
  • Parque Nacional Viñales, Cuba (2015)
  • Sassen–Bünsow Land National Park, Svalbard (2016, 2018)
  • Skadar Lake National Park, Montenegro (2018)
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland (2016)
  • Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina (2018)
  • Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland (2015, 2016, 2019, 2019, 2020)
  • Yoho National Park, Canada (2017)

U.S. top 3:
Yellowstone
Grand Teton
Badlands

Hawaii Volcanoes would've been my #3, but that was before the 2018 eruption pretty much destroyed the entire thing.

International top 3:
Vatnajökull (Iceland)
Banff (Canada)
Sassen–Bünsow Land (Svalbard)
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