Tips · Travel · United States

What We Wish We Knew: Montana, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park

When planning this trip, finding any good or any info at all was TOUGH. Lucky for you, we are here to share with you everything we wish we knew when going on our Montana adventure. Before we dive in, make sure you check out our trip post HERE!

What we Wish We Knew

  1. It takes a million years to get anywhere. Okay maybe not a million years, but despite our hotel being in the closest major town outside Glacier National Park, it took about 2 hours to get to the first lodge aka where all the good stuff starts!  What We Would Do Next Time: We’ll probably opt to pay a little extra to stay IN the park and thus cut down on all that excessive driving!
  2. The hikes in Glacier are definitely on the intense and long side, which on it’s own would be fine but add the drive time it takes to get to the trail head and you end up with a 6+ hour hike with 4+ hours of driving and things start to get a bit dicey. That ended up really limiting which trails we could hike especially when you throw crazy fog into the mix. What We Would Do Next Time: Plan out our desired hikes (with alternates if we have to change due to weather) in advance so we can plan to stay on the correct side of the park and/or pay the extra money for a guided hike with transportation so we don’t have to worry about the driving!
  3. Our vacation style definitely errs more on the side of jam packed activities, so we tried to plan our weekends to be a bit more relaxing. That meant that we ended up with only 1 full day and two partial days in Yellowstone, which definitely wasn’t enough to see more than the highlights. What We Would Do Next Time: Honestly, we’d probably split this trip into 2 trips or add a few days. You can easily spend a whole week in Yellowstone and not get bored.
  4. We planned our vacation around the Labor Day holiday, which seems perfect: less vacation days needed and less crowded since school is starting back up. It turns out we lucked out and it was the perfect time to visit Yellowstone since the wildlife was active and the shorter days were perfect for picture taking. Up in Glacier, however, it meant the bad weather was already starting (Going the Sun Road closed only a week or so later due to snow) and so we ended up with lots of rain and low hanging clouds. What We Would Do Next Time: While we would definitely consider going back to Yellowstone during this time of year,  we’d definitely want to visit Glacier in late June, July, or early August, preferably on the earlier side so we could see the wildflowers at their prime!
  5. Hiking in both Yellowstone and Glacier is no joke. You are starting from a higher altitude than most people are used to and only going higher, oh and did we mention there are bears! What We Would Do Next Time: For starters, we’d prepare a bit more with more difficult hikes. Secondly, we’d get a slightly larger group together (it’s not recommended to hike in groups of less than 3, plus more people to split driving among!). Lastly, we’d pick up bear spray at Walmart before getting anywhere near the parks since they seemed to have the best price. That way we don’t have to decide between figuring out bear spray rentals or buying an expensive bottle you probably won’t use that you can’t even take back on the plane with you.

We hope these tips help you plan your Montana Adventure. Have you been to Glacier National Park or Yellowstone? If so be sure to share what you wished you had known before your first trip!