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Glacier or Yellowstone?
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Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
Glacier or Yellowstone? on 04/23/2012 14:28:34 MDT Print View

I'm planning on doing a 6 day backpacking trip June 30- July 7th after I do some work stuff in Bozeman and Missoula but, I can't decide on Yellowstone or Glacier?

Which one you think is best for isolation & a 6 day loop?

Any insight would be great!

Ryan Tucker
(BeartoothTucker) - M
2 cents on 04/23/2012 14:43:34 MDT Print View

i am not an expert but i guess it would depend on what you are looking for...i do believe a relatively uncrowded spot can be had in either area. peaks? wildlife? fishing?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Glacier or Yellowstone on 04/23/2012 15:19:37 MDT Print View

What Ryan said. Also, mileage desired?

Generally, early July is the leading edge of prime backpacking season in both places. Permits should be workable for most any route. There should still be some snow in high places, but most routes will likely be passable without an axe. River crossings will be a concern (more a factor in Yellowstone). Bugs could be quite bad. Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier should almost surely be open.

The classic northern circle in Glacier should be quite good that time of year. Highline Trail north, over Stoney Indian Pass, up to Elizabeth Lake, over either Red Gap Pass or through Ptarmigan Tunnel (which might not be open), then either Swiftcurrent or Siyeh Pass. The later could be extended south over Gunsight Pass, though that route might well call for an axe. None of the creek crossings should be especially problematic.

Yellowstone has a lot of pesky river crossings which will limit your options. E.g. I wouldn't want to cross the Bechler that time of year, nor the Yellowstone River south of Yellowstone Lake. A loop starting and ending at Old Faithful, around Shoshone Lake and with an out and back down to Three Forks on the Bechler, would be quite nice and have good variety.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Isolation on 04/23/2012 15:38:35 MDT Print View

Peter, Dave offered some superb suggestions. Either park will be great if you've not seen them. Keep one 'isolation' thing in mind though--the campsites at GNP are shared by other campers (pit toilets or outhouses, bear poles; your private tent site isn't all that far from your neighbors), whereas in YNP when you reserve a site you have it all to yourself (always a bear pole, seldom a pit toilet). Another difference between the two parks is that the sites in GNP generally don't allow campfires, and nearly all of them in YNP do allow you to burn wood.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
Glacier or Yellowstone? on 04/23/2012 18:41:53 MDT Print View

thanks for all the insight. I haven't been to Glacier before and only Yellowstone as a kid in a car. They both sound amazing to me. My main goal of the trip is to expose myself to bear country and put in a good physical challenge. I'm hoping to do the CDT next year and want to use it as mental training for the future. I''d like to do about 13-16 miles a day, about 80 total for a loop if possible. I want to see as much as I can in the time I got.

Edited by czechxpress on 04/23/2012 18:46:07 MDT.

Josh G
(shuag) - F
Bears on 04/25/2012 13:02:01 MDT Print View

In the past few years the bears in Yellowstone have become 'more brave' so to speak. My father lives next to the area and tells me the stories on a regular basis. Just a couple of weeks ago they had to put down another one that wouldn't leave people alone. Bring Spray and watch out for the no hiking zones. - They do exist - This is where the rangers pile the dead animals that get hit by the cars and die next to public places. They are located in the back country of Yellowstone in multiple areas. Piles of dead animals that the bears come in and feed on at regular intervals. Unpublished information you don't know about unless you are a local.

I know of someone who was back country hiking and accidentally found one of these areas. Suffice it to say he got out fast because he realized where he was.

Russ Porter

Locale: Anchorage
Winds? on 04/26/2012 11:48:01 MDT Print View

Have you looked at the Wind Rivers?? A large loop is really possible and you don't have to mess with permits at all.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
glacier or Yellowstone on 04/27/2012 16:33:36 MDT Print View

I will definitely keep a look out for the that type of area, I would hate to run into 10 bears feasting on dead animals...

I have thought about the Winds, tried to take a trip there the same time last year but, the snow pack was really high. This year I I'm thinking either Glacier or Yellowstone just because it is near where I will be next to my clients.

For those that go to bear country, do you take 'cooking clothes' with you?

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Wind river range on 04/27/2012 23:38:35 MDT Print View

National Parks are crowded, Yellowstone is actually kind of small in my mind, and crowded. I would go either Glacier or Wind river range. Glacier is waaaayyyyyyy more isolated than yellowstone.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Glacier or Yellowstone? on 04/27/2012 23:44:58 MDT Print View

How about the Beartooths, just NE of Yellowstone? Or the Bob Marshall just S. of Glacier?

Travis Naibert
(outwest) - F
Yellowstone! on 04/28/2012 00:19:45 MDT Print View

If you are going to be in Bozeman I would vote Yellowstone. The park is much closer to Bozeman than Glacier is to Missoula, and the park is bigger and surrounded by more great wilderness. I would suggest driving from Bozeman south through Gardner and the north entrance and then (with permit from Mammoth VC) hiking north of Tower junction from the park into the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness and then back into the park (many possible loops) for the most isolation, or go up the Lamar river valley and over to Pelican Creek and Yellowstone lake for a (potentially) less remote but ridiculously beautiful trip. The southern part of the park also offers some good backcountry isolation as soon as you get away from Shoshone or Heart Lakes, which are very crowded areas. Another cool option would be to get a ride down to the park to Mammoth and get a permit to start at the Mt Holmes trailhead and then hike through the northwest corner of the park and through the gallatin national forest along the entire crest of the gallatin range and ending back in Bozeman (Hyalite canyon ~14 mile S of town). Or...jeez the greater yellowstone ecosystem has many great hikes (many outside the park) that will give you good isolation.

Even if you weren't going to do the CDT in the future I would avoid the CDT route in the park, as it is generally less than the best parts of the park.

About average snow pack in the high mountains in MT now, but we've had a warm spring so the valleys and foothills have melted out much sooner than normal and you should have no trouble with snow in July.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Yellowstone on 04/28/2012 08:17:04 MDT Print View

This was a mild winter in the Northern Rockies and there should be some great hiking in both the Yellowstone and Glacier areas. I can certainly recommend the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, from Hellroaring or Blacktail to Gardiner. Fairly easy hike, great scenery, and this area gives up its snow early. And you might hit the salmon fly hatch, which makes for great fishing. Get Bill Schneider's book on Yellowstone hikes for an idea of what's good at that time of year. By the way, the Yellowstone backcountry is remarkably uncrowded, though you'll see some folks on the more popular trails.

I second the recommendation for the Absarokas and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas; in fact that week I shall be in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, doing trail maintenance. Both are magical places.