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Old 11-19-2015, 08:49 AM   #1
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Glacier National Park - availability of unreserved sites?

Planning a trip to Glacier National Park in early August, and I'm wondering how hard it will be to find available campsites for my airstream without reservations. I understand there are only a handful of campsites that accept reservations, and many of those are already filled. I would prefer to remain flexible and come and go as I please to various sites throughout this huge park. Anyone have experience doing this during peak season? Any advice? Thanks much!
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:10 AM   #2
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We've gone through most of those Parks without reservations in July and always found a spot. Some of which were outstanding, most did not have hookups but we had a generator. Be in line at the entrance about 10:00 AM or so and you'll be fine.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:13 AM   #3
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Fish Creek on the west side and St Mary on the east are reserveable. With your size trailer most sites at Fish Creek will be available for you. We stayed at A27 in our Casita in 2011, a back in site. You could hear the sounds of Fish Creek behind the campsite. Very nice. This loop has the only shower facilities in Fish Creek. In 2012 we couldn't get the same campsite and reserved C141. Even with our Casita it was a little tricky to level and we wouldn't be able to get our 25fb in that spot.

Many Glacier on the east side is first come first serve. During the summer months you need to get to the campground early, 7:30am is advisable. Then you need to walk around the loops to look at campsite tags to see who is scheduled to depart. Good idea is to split up and using walkie talkies to communicate with other members in the group searching other loops. The problem is if the occupants are scheduled to leave but are not up yet they can renew their site. Hopefully you'll find a site suitable and the people are packing up and you can ask them if you can put your card and then go back to the pay station to claim it officially. Its a little nerve racking trying to find a site as others are driving around the loops. What we did both times is reserve the previous night at St Mary campground then get up early to make the 26mile drive to Many Glacier to get there early. There are private campgrounds at St Mary if you prefer full hookups.

Two Medicine isn't quite as bad as Many Glacier but you should get there early.

When making reservations try to get online as soon as your 6 month window opens up a recreation.gov if you plan to stay several days.

Apgar on the west side is first come first serve but its the largest campground but doesn't fill as fast as Many Glacier. Rising Sun on the East side is first come first serve. Sprague on the west side is tents only.

None of the campgrounds in the park have hookups but have toilets, water spigots and dump stations except Avalanche (no dump).

I was able to use a portable solar panel at Fish Creek and Many Glacier when the sun rose up over the trees. This was early August both years.

If you go to the NPS Glacier website you can see the fill times for the past years at each campground. Click on each campground icon to view details.

Glacier National Park Campground Status

You can view photos of sever Glacier campgrounds at this site

http://www.campsitephotos.com/campgr...?start=&sortby=
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:31 AM   #4
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We were there several years ago, without reservations, and had no problems finding sites.

Get your site early, then do your exploring.

You are small, so that will help.


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Old 11-19-2015, 11:36 AM   #5
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We camp in Glacier NP about once a year.

You'll be visiting during high season. If you can get to a campground early in the day, you'd probably do all right, but you'd have to decide if you want to make a lengthy drive only to find no room at the inn. The past couple of years have been crazy busy. The campgrounds do fill up. There are a lot of RV parks in West Glacier, which might be a Plan B if this happens.

KJRitchie has given really good advice. You can check campground fill-up times on-line when you travel-- provided you have cell phone service in rural Montana. Verizon may be the only one that works, and even so, there are dead zones.

We've usually reserved a site at the Fish Creek campground on the west side. We like to drop the trailer, then drive with our truck and canoe up to Kintla or Bowman Lakes for some amazingly beautiful paddling. There are nice campgrounds up there but rough driving.

One thing to note, depending on the rest of the trip, is that you can't tow a trailer over Going-To-The-Sun road (Logan Pass,) but if you are headed to the East Glacier/Many Glaciers area, Highway 2 along the park's southern boundary is fine.

We also recommend a side trip to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. (Bring your passports!) And a meal at one of the historic park lodges.

Glacier is one of our favourite parks.
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Old 11-19-2015, 11:47 AM   #6
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GNP Campsite Availability

I have found that while some sites were available in the Avalanche campground, the selection for my preferences was very limited. I found the KOA in town to be great. They have recently remodeled and added spaces and it is very close to the park. Just FYI.
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Old 11-19-2015, 11:52 AM   #7
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Our favorite Glacier Park campground is Rising Sun, but our 29' Airstream is too long, and only one or two sites would fit anyway. When we had a 22' we only stayed at Rising Sun, but now we go to Many Glacier, and it is a challenge to get a site in late July and August.
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Old 11-19-2015, 12:06 PM   #8
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Glacier in August

Remain flexible--if it is a dry Winter again like last year it could be smokey in the Park in August. Camping in Smoke is no fun--think about Forest Service campgrounds on Highway 2 south of the Park or Campgrounds near Libby if fires are burning in the Park.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:28 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of the information about camping at Glacier in August. After reading these posts I have learned that it is way to crowded for me. I will go in the off season.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:41 PM   #10
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Glacier NP has a very short season- there's really no "off" season.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:51 PM   #11
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Look into Big Creek Campground via recreation.gov. It's outside the park on the western boundary. Campsites are spread out and the campground in right on the North Fork Flathead River. Its gorgeous!! Bring a generator. Most campers have rafts, canoes, or kayaks to float one of the beautiful rivers in the lower 48.

Beware that it's on a gravel road but go through the Park and out the west entrance. That way, it's only 1.5 miles of gravel road.... no problem. Again, you can see pictures on the sites on recreation.gov.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcasr View Post
Our favorite Glacier Park campground is Rising Sun, but our 29' Airstream is too long, and only one or two sites would fit anyway. When we had a 22' we only stayed at Rising Sun, but now we go to Many Glacier, and it is a challenge to get a site in late July and August.
We made a reservation at the KOA in Saint Mary for our first night to remove the stress of where to stay when arriving late afternoon. We got up early and found a site in Rising Sun CG. After three nights we drove up to Many Glacier, leaving the TT at Rising Sun, at 5:30am. Even at that hour there was a line, but we did score a site. We drove back to RS and decided to stay there. RS is a great spot.

Also drove to Waterton for lunch. Definitely worth the trip.
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Old 11-19-2015, 11:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glacierrunne View Post
Remain flexible--if it is a dry Winter again like last year it could be smokey in the Park in August. Camping in Smoke is no fun--think about Forest Service campgrounds on Highway 2 south of the Park or Campgrounds near Libby if fires are burning in the Park.

We camped at St. Mary's in late August/early September this past summer, and boy, was it smoky when we arrived due to forest fires all over the Northwest. Thankfully it rained while we were there-- which we didn't mind to much, as it cleared out the air. HY 2, the Amtrak route that follows it, and some parts of the park were closed for a few days due to forest fires. There were vacant sites in St. Mary's but part of our loop was closed due to recent grizzly sightings.

If you can avoid the Labour Day weekend but camp just before or after it, the crowds should thin out some. Much past Labour Day, some of the campgrounds are closed. Best of all, is just to get out of the front country tourist destinations, or take the free park shuttle (or concession red touring cars) to go to popular places like Logan Pass, as the parking spaces can fill up. The roads to Bowman and Kintla Lakes in the western park of the park have rough sections (not 4wd, but high-clearance,) but you lose a lot of the crowds yet keep the breathtaking scenery.
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Old 11-20-2015, 12:20 AM   #14
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I have had really good luck with Summit Campground, a National Forest campground on Highway 2 between West Glacier and East Glacier. It's closer to the East Side and a great location to park the Airstream and then explore the park. I have never had any trouble finding a site there, even in the "high" season.

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