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Old 03-20-2005, 05:57 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Glacier National Park

I am wanting to know any details with crossing the border into Waterton park at customs with an RV or just the Pickup.

Are passports or birth certificates mandatory or will drivers licences suffice? Is diesel fuel redily available in the glacier area?

And can anyone share their camping experience at glacier, most Glacier National Park campgrounds are non reservation and I will have to wing it when finding a site.

Also there are the guided red jammer bus tours, has anyone taken one? and if so were advanced reservations required or is it safe to get them a day or two early while in the park?

And any other advice would be helpful.
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:01 PM   #2
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Border Crossing.. It depends..

We made trip last summer up through Idaho and into Canadian Rocky Mtn Parks, then down east side back into US and Waterton/Glacier parks... Both crossings were single lanes, open only 7 or 8 AM until around 11, so don't expect 24x7 and speed... We had passports and registration/insurance papers handy, but Canadian entry was pretty relaxed after few questions and showing of passport.. If you don't have passport, get embossed birth certificate, because Driver's License in post- 9-11 world isn't going to be enough, especially if gov't adjusts "Risk Color Scheme" while you're out.. Taking a pet adds to complexity, and will require at least current rabies certs and license info. Canadians less worried about food and beverages in, but will also ask about cigarettes and alchohol... Don't even think about carrying a handgun into Canada.. They're not welcome or permitted..

As for return, US border guards also happy about passports, but checked thoroughly, and also insisted on opening door and entering to inspect the interiors of the 2 RV's ahead of us, and our trailer.. (Looking for terrorists riding on gaucho, or hiding in shower..). Gas more expensive there, everything else pretty much equal.. Border staffs both ways friendly and courteous...

Quite a few commercial campgrounds on SW side near Whitefish, plus a great one at south end about 15 miles west of East Glacier, which has changed ownership, and has good WiFi for e-mailing... Large KOA at St. Mary's on east end of "Going to Sun Highway", and generally reservations not required. You can absoutely NOT take a trailer or MH over that highway, but can drop trailer in Park Service lot at either end and drive in tow vehicle if you are willing to leave AS alone in gov't parking areas.. We didn't... Spaces inside park tend to fill in summer, especially on west side, but there were some open at lakes on southeast side in late July when we visited. Can't answer diesel question, but gas stations in 5 or 6 locations on edges of Park, and should be do-able..

After frame cracks and brake issues, Ford Motor volunteered to re-manufacture the red open "busses" built in 30's, so all new propane-powered running gear complements original bodies and open views. They run across, around and through the park, and reservations helpful, but may not be necessary, depending on time of year. It should be mandatory to visit or dine at "Glacier Park Lodge" in town of East Glacier, which was built with dozens of 4' diameter Douglas Fir trees as vertical support columns, still open in 40' high lobby... I'd even recommend staying there, as it is in same historical vintage as lodges in Yellowstone and Yosemite... Very relaxing, lots of activities. They can answer booking questions about boat trips on lakes, or red bus tours around and through the park, many of which leave from Lodge.. Land to east is mostly Shoshone Indian land, with few cities or activities for 100 miles.. If you have time Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise are 4, 5 and 6 hours north of St. Mary's into Canada, but roads are modest two lanes until very close to Calgary, and Calgary should be bypassed to south and west in or out of rush hour... (Unless you're trying for Stampede, and that is massive influx of RV's and people...)

John McG
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:14 PM   #3
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I have entered Canada numerous times without having to show anything. You don't need a passport but it would not hurt to have a birth certificate with you. In 2003 we made a circle tour of Lake Superior. We entered Canada from Michigan with no paper check. They asked a few questions such as name, destination, purpose and how long. We circled counter clockwise and re-entered the USA in Minnesota. As we approached the customs checkpoint the officer over the loudspeaker said, "Hello David." Obviously they had a complete dossier just from the license plate.
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:49 PM   #4
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Red Jammers

I reserched the red jammer tours and they have one that goes to Prince of wales hotel in Canada and back to glacier lodge in one day, about 8 hour long tour. I would speculate that this might be less complicated than taking the truck and trailer through just to see the area. Its hard to drive and look at the scenery, at least without running over folks
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Old 03-20-2005, 08:18 PM   #5
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Don't forget to obtain a Canadian non-resident interprovincial motor vehicle liability insurance card from your insurer.

Gee ... that was a mouthful.
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Old 03-20-2005, 08:26 PM   #6
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Hard at work..

Follow this link to see photo of intrepid roving reporter for Airstream Life, enjoying the WiFi experience at East Glacier RV Park last summer... Was once a KOA, now independent, and stocks Haagen Daaz ice cream in 4 flavors...

http://www.airforums.com/forum...1&postcount=82

John McG
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:03 PM   #7
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We stayed at Many Glacier Campground last summer, east side-enjoyed it so much. Our trailer is 30' and it was a bit dicey hauling in. These roads take a winter beating so expect some jouncing. Take your time, and remember it's the trip, not just the destination that is your prize. Once in, we were challenged to find a site to fit us, but we did and the stay was worth the test of getting there. Great hiking and photography! In July and August, since all GNP campgrounds are no reserve/first come-first served, plan to arrive as early in the am if possible. And yes, those red bus tours are a terrific experience: leave the driving to "them" and you'll enjoy the view. No white knuckle driving. We passed on Waterton so cannot help on that score. On the west side, we stayed in Hungry Horse at Mountain Meadow Campground-great stay, will stay again if we have the opportunity and recommend it. Our 30' had no problem-and we had a private, piney site to enjoy; genial hosts. Hilly terrain driving through and parking, but that prevents the row on row-suburbia feel we dislike in some campgrounds. Enjoy the trip! We are planning on Stanley, Idaho, and Grand Marais, MN, this summer with a stop along the Boulder River in Montana on the way to Stanley.
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:11 PM   #8
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About the red bus tours, we were there in August last summer; reserved the tour the day before, and had no problems. One thing, NO ONE TOLD US HOW COLD THE DRIVE WOULD BE in the am! I cannot recall ever feeling so cold and helpless to do anything about it since our warmer clothes were back at camp. The day was predicted to be sunny and warm, which it turned out to be for the drive back in the afternoon, but, oh howdy! did we freeze up until lunch time! What no one told us (but what would have been perfectly predictable had we thought about it) is that the bus tours are open top; you basically are riding in a big long convertible, and it's breezy and sometimes with the high mountains towering above you, down in the red bus, you are in the shade! Wear layers, include a warm jacket-windbreaker type, wear warm socks, include good head gear since you are riding plein-air, sun screen, sun glasses, water bottle, even a snack or two in a fanny pack. I even wished I'd had mittens or gloves part of the time. It REALLY was cold! But we loved every minute of it Just go prepared for a day outing in the mountains.
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:18 PM   #9
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Cool Excellent info

It should have occured to me it would be cold but I did't think of it. I could see how ones nose could get froze riding in one of those.
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Old 03-21-2005, 04:16 AM   #10
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It looks like you've already received answers that are right on.

I would also agree that taking those red bus tours of the park is definately the way to go, and although I'd think you would be able to get one without a reservation, it would never hurt to make an advance reservation if you know when you'll be there.

Also, my wife and I have also stayed at Mountain Meadow Campground in Hungry Horse, and would recommend it if you're considering staying outside the Park.

If you're there during the season, don't pass up getting a Huckleberry milkshake....mmmmmmmm.

John
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Old 03-21-2005, 06:08 AM   #11
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If you do drive up to Waterton on the east side of Glacier be aware you will be driving in open range territory and be very careful. We had to stop a few times to let the herds clear.
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:15 AM   #12
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Worth the adventure

Warm coat ... good idea!
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Old 03-22-2005, 10:10 PM   #13
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Post Thanks for the good info

Its good to have folks on the web who can give first hand info. Somtimes all the answers cant' be found on the NPS website.
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Old 04-10-2005, 12:36 PM   #14
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We were there the end of last August. It was rainy and wet.

Getting to Waterton is easy. We did not have a passport, they sniffed the trailer with a dog, we had to get out of our vehicle. Asked about beef, the current topic of dispute, we knew this was an issue and had none-both ways.

We carry a bear spray, that was not a problem.

Waterton itself is a summer tourist village, I filled up before the border and did not buy fuel in Waterton. Its kinda in the middle of nowhere.

We did some hiking and fishing, its very beautiful, get some Flathead cherry's and blueberry's while you are in the West Glacier area. Those cherry's are the best and as a child my grandfather had a place outside Traverse City, Michigan so I do know a think or two about cherries, sorry Traverse City.

We stayed both in the west end of the park and in a private park San sues ed in West Glacier when our friends with a 39dp arrived. I highly recomend San sues ed, Katherine, the owner is special.

Saw lots of wildlife.
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