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  1. #1

    Default Trip out west, destination: Glacier N'l Park

    Hi all!
    First off, this website is great! I've been spending the past two weeks searching it, and have found tons of great advice.
    I have tons of questions, but I'll start with the biggest. For the past 2 weeks I've been developing my idea for a roadtrip adventure for the month of June, before I head off to college. I have my heart set on Glacier National Park, coming from Pensacola, Florida. Along the way, however, I really want to get a feel for the 'west,' and I was considering travelling the first leg of the journey to the Grand Canyon/Zion/Petrified Forest general area, and then moseying up to Montana through Utah, Idaho/Wyoming (to catch some of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons) then back to Pensacola through South Dakota and generally the most direct way (I'm imagining major fatigue by this point). Also, I want to camp the entire way, and am going to be pretty stingy on food (lots of cooler meals!)
    I'm really big on taking my time to get a feel for places, instead of just racing to get somewhere. I was thinking about 4 weeks for this trip. I'm envisioning about a week to explore the Grand Canyon, Zion, and the Petrified Forest, a week to make it to Glacier (including seeing Yellowstone and Grand Tetons), a week for Glacier, and then a week to get home. My question is: is this too ambitious? I want to leave time for sidetrips and exploration, and for sure give myself a good 5 days or so for Glacier. I'm also grateful for ANY suggestions as far as neat, lesser known places to see (I'm interested in nature espeically and interesting little towns/local spots).

    Thank you for all your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default missing something?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You listed off a week to explore Northern Arizona, a week to explore from AZ to MT, a week at Glacier, and then a week to get home. However, I didn't see anytime built in there to actual make the drive west.

    I'd figure if you've got 30 days for this trip, you'll have about 20 days to do the exploration of the west, with the other 10 for making your trip to/from home. I think you'll have enough time to see things and do some surface exploration, but at the same time, there is so much to see just in that range from Arizona to Montana, you might not have enough time to go quite as in depth as you are envisioning.

    It will all be about striking a balance. A month will give you a great chance to see a ton of great things, but if you really want to explore one or two of those areas, you might have to just take quick tours through some of the others. Regardless, I don't see anyway you wouldn't have a great trip!

  3. #3


    Oh, as far as getting out I was just thinking I-10 through Texas (so a side trip to Marfa is possible) in around 2/3 days, and then driving up to Arizona.

    And I was envisioning 1 or 2 day explorations of the other parks I listed (Sorry, I was a bit unclear about that). I really just have no idea how difficult/long it will take to drive through the mountains.

  4. #4

    Default Glacier NP in June

    Hello Lauren,

    Sounds like a great trip and congrats on your upcoming high school graduation. In Glacier NP, you've picked a wonderful place to get up close and personal with the Rockies.

    But, be advised that the most popular activity in Glacier--driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road, is subject to a later than might be expected opening date. I follow the weather in Utah and Montana pretty regularly, and Montana's getting a lot of snow this year. I'm sure the Glacier NP folks can tell you what the average date for opening of the road is each year, and I'll bet that average date is late May to the first few days of June. In a high snowpack year, it could well be later. So, check ahead before assuming your long outbound trip from Pensacola will bring you directly to the prize, the GTTS Road. You might have to kill a few days elsewhere before claiming this particular prize.

    And be further advised that camping and hiking in Glacier brings with it lots of possibility of black bear or grizzly contact. Like in Yellowstone, you're going to need to be versed in bear country camping, and by that I mean even "car camping" at established campgrounds. The NPS folks do a good job of posting the requirements and warnings, but you'd be wise to brush up on the basics and be properly equipped beforehand.

    Have a great trip!


  5. #5


    Thank you for that advice. Yes, I definitely wanted to travel the GTTSR, and I think I remember seeing the average opening date as June 13. I will be sure to call ahead in May/June to check before I leave now, though!

    Concerning bears, and at the risk of sounding completely silly, I've had seen a few articles about "bear pepper spray"... Would this just be a waste of money or is it potentially valuable to have?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default um, no

    If you're close enough to a bear for pepper spray to be effective, you're already way too close - and I'd say the spray is more likely to make it really really angry than to scare it off.

    The timing of Going to the Sun is a good point that I hadn't thought about. Usually it wouldn't be an issue, but when I was there about 5 years ago, it hadn't opened yet and it was the last week of June. However, I also think that was a record for late opening - and they'd got a freak June storm which pushed the opening almost to July 1. Of course, with how this winter is going, who knows what you'll end up with.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default How to be bear safe

    Check out these tips. And these (more detail).

    The first article does mention pepper spray. I suppose it's better than nothing but I wouldn't want to be close enough to a bear to use it. Better to study up on all the ways to keep yourself from close encounters in the first place, imho.

  8. #8

    Default Bear country


    As always, Judy's tips are spot on. The real trick to avoiding bear encounters in camp is a wide separation between food preparation, consumption, cleanup, and storage areas and sleeping areas. A change of clothes into clothing NOT worn during prep, eating, and cleanup is good policy. Proper storage of food, well away from sleeping and suspended, is key, also.

    I agree that pepper spray is not something I'd rely on. Fine to have, I suppose, but proper preparation is far more important. You definitely want some on you when you hike, but making lots of noise and keeping your eyes open and senses of hearing and smell sharp will usually either run them off before you get there or allow you to sense their presence before you stumble upon them.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Prepping your gear

    One of the things that bothers me with prepping for camping in bear country is the issue of changing your clothes into clothes you haven't prepared food wearing. Only because it makes me think of the smells that could have permeated your tent, sleeping bags, pillows, etc.

    We often snack in our tent. While that would obviously be out in bear country, I'm assuming there would be residual smells of food in our tent fabric and in our sleeping bag fabrics, too. So I'm assuming you'll want to prep these items.

    And it seems very possible that these items would pick up the scents of the food we eat while driving down the road and that are stored in our coolers. So even if you prepped them at home, wouldn't they have picked up these scents while roadtripping to your bear-country destination?

    I'm thinking it would be a good idea to wash all of these types of items with the "no scent" products available at hunting stores before you leave home. And that it might be a good idea to purchase one of the "no scent" sprays that you could spray on your tent, sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping pad, etc. once you arrive at your campsite.

    Does that seem like a good idea or a waste of a few bucks? Anybody know?

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