Author Topic: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...  (Read 3074 times)

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Offline acook006

Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« on: July 26, 2012, 10:37:58 am »
Hi there,
We are riding from Whitefish MT through Glacier and down around Flathead Lake in a few weeks...anyone have any can't miss stops or suggestions for places to stop? It will be a camping and occasional hotel stay trip. So far the only reservation is the Isaac Walton Inn. And any hot springs in that area?? 

Also, we are driving from Oregon to Whitefish and want to park our car there...anyone know of any locations that will allow that??  In the past a bike shop has allowed us to do that here in Oregon. 

Thanks much!

Offline valygrl

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2012, 05:54:25 pm »
Get pie at the Park Cafe in St. Mary
http://www.parkcafe.us/

There's a great cafe in Ovando, too if you end up there. 

And the Seeley-Swan valley (hwy 83) is nicer than either shore of Flathead Lake.  If you have to be on Flathead, I'd be on the west side.  Or, at least, get more recent info, I was on the east side in 2003 and the traffic was terrifying, on the west side in 2008 and there was traffic but plenty of shoulder.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2012, 07:51:31 pm »
... we are driving from Oregon to Whitefish and want to park our car there...anyone know of any locations that will allow that??  In the past a bike shop has allowed us to do that here in Oregon.

Ask at Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, one of the great shops for touring cyclists. If they do not have space, they will know who does. (406) 862-6446

Fred

Offline indyfabz

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2012, 10:02:33 am »
Hi there,
We are riding from Whitefish MT through Glacier and down around Flathead Lake in a few weeks...anyone have any can't miss stops or suggestions for places to stop? It will be a camping and occasional hotel stay trip. So far the only reservation is the Isaac Walton Inn. And any hot springs in that area??

+1 on the Park Cafe.

What route are you taking? If you are staying at Isaac Walton you must be doing Marias Pass. Hope you are not planning on skipping Going to the Sun. I have done both. No comparison. If you are going over GTS to St. Mary and then around to East Glacier to come back west over Marias, bring enough water and snacks. There is nothing on U.S. 89 or MT 49, very little shade and you start the day with about a 6 mile climb before hitting lots of roller and then climbing Looking Glass Hill (MT 49), which has some fantastic views:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/3676639154/in/set-72157620763740044

And don't miss the world's largest purple spoon in E. Glacier:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/3676640588/in/set-72157620763740044

Heading east to west on Marias, a few miles before you get to Isaac Walton, there is a place called Goat Lick:

http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/montana/glacier-national-park/review-189460.html

We didn't go down the steep hill to the area but saw goats on the right above the road.

Things can get pretty crowded in the park area. I would seriously consider making reservations for any indoor stays.

Offline acook006

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2012, 10:42:07 am »
Thanks Everyone!  We have pretty much wrapped up our plans for the park...are leaving Whitefish and heading east on 2, stopping at Izaak Walton for the night, then heading to 2 Medicine Lake on 49, then up to St. Mary to stay somewhere around there, then over Going to the Sun and stay at Avalanche and then back out to a mid trip hotel stay in Whitefish again.  From there we would then travel around Flathead clockwise but now maybe I should check into Seeley instead!  We have made our hotel stays but of course most of the camping is first come first serve so have been watching the real time campground status map closely to get an idea of when they fill!  Don't want to be stranded!

Offline indyfabz

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 09:10:19 am »
In the park there are hiker-biker spots at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Avalanche, Sprague Creek and Apgar. Think they are all $5/person. Don't know about Two Medicine. Sprague Creek has maybe three tent pads for hiker/bikers. However, they are surrounded by a large, open (but shaded) area. I stayed there in '99 during a group tour and then again in '00 the same night as a group tour that I was not part of. There was also another couple there. There were so many of us that we were allowed to pitch tents on the grassy area. I have a hard time believing you would be turned away. In '09 we were there in late June so crowding wasn't an issue.

Two things I like about Sprague Creek are that it's small and it's an easy walk to Lake McDonald Lodge (IMO, a "must see"), which is a good place to grab a beer and sit lakeside. There is also a camp store at the lodge complex. However, the distance from Avalanche to the lodge is a non-issue if you are willing to use the shuttle service. There is also nice hiking at Avalanche. The major downside to Sprague Creek is that it's close to the road, so there is more noise many times of the day. Note that there are no showers at any of the campgrounds in the park except for Rising Sun, where there are some coin-op showers.

Outside at park at St. Mary there are a few private campgrounds. We stayed at the KOA in '99. They had a couple of group sites.

At Logan Pass, try to do the relaitvely short hike to the observation platform overlooking Hidden Lake. Amazing view, and you will likely walk passed goats.

If you do get shut out on the west side of the pass, I recommend this place:

http://www.glaciercampground.com/index.htm

I stayed there before and after a backcountry hiking trip in the park. They only charge hiker/bikers $10 to pitch in the "meadow."

At the end of our '09 tour, we stayed at the Best Western south of the center of Whitefish on U.S. 93. Nice place with a hot tub that was more like a "warm tub."

Leaving the park, I recommend sticking to the ACA route. Not only is it nice back there, it avoids a section of U.S. 2 west of Hungry Horse that has no shoulder.

Bring plenty of sunblock. We got blasted by the sun on Marias. The stretch between Looking Glass Hill and St. Mary also has very little shade. But then you will enjoy a screaming descent into St. Mary. Think it's close to 6 miles. If I were riding your route, from Two Medicine I would try to make Rising Sun with a stop in St. Mary for lunch and any needed supplies. That would leave only about 2,000' of climbing to Logan Pass the next day. Get an early start and beat the crowds heading to the pass.

Finally, if you pay the entrance fee at Two Medicine, don't forget to save your receipt or you very well may have to pay again when you re-enter the park at St. Mary.

Have a great time!

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2012, 02:28:14 pm »
In the park there are hiker-biker spots at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Avalanche, Sprague Creek and Apgar. Think they are all $5/person. Don't know about Two Medicine.

There is indeed hiker/biker camping at Two Medicine, about six or eight sites towards the back of the campground. Two Medicine is a nice spot in the park to go to if you have the time, as it feels less crowded than other areas due to it not being on Going-to-the-Sun Road. (It's also the first place I ever saw a bear, incidentally.)

Offline indyfabz

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2012, 09:28:15 am »
In the park there are hiker-biker spots at St. Mary, Rising Sun, Avalanche, Sprague Creek and Apgar. Think they are all $5/person. Don't know about Two Medicine.

There is indeed hiker/biker camping at Two Medicine, about six or eight sites towards the back of the campground. Two Medicine is a nice spot in the park to go to if you have the time, as it feels less crowded than other areas due to it not being on Going-to-the-Sun Road. (It's also the first place I ever saw a bear, incidentally.)

It is very nice. I ended by backcountry backpacking trip there. The NPS says it was a very popular place before the building of GTS because of its accessibility.

Offline acook006

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2012, 11:10:55 am »
Feeling much better about this trip!  Talked to Glacier Cyclery and they tipped us off to parking at the high school, which the school district said was ok!  They also said they can help us with several routes other than Flathead Lake...I think we might head up to Lake Koocanusa instead...we will stop by their shop before leaving Whitefish!  Sort of follow a good part of the Northern Tier route.  Happy riding everyone!! 

Offline dbbcpa

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2012, 11:26:23 pm »
I just did the Going To The Sun Road about two weeks ago. I camped at glacier campground in the meadow for $10. They also had a pit Bar-B-Que open on weekend which served great food for a reasonable price. Bathroom/Shower were great. I would reccomend this place. It is about 1 mile west of the west entrance to Glacier National Park. I also rode back to Whitefish the next day. I was pulling an overloaded BOB trailer. Most of the way is flat or down hill with very manageable traffic. It is the best way to go. Avoid Hwy 2. The folks at Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish were awesome.

I also did the ACA Montana Cycle Divide tour and we went to Seeley. It was a very nice town with alot to do.

However you do it you are going to have a great time.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2012, 10:03:53 am »
I think we might head up to Lake Koocanusa instead...we will stop by their shop before leaving Whitefish!  Sort of follow a good part of the Northern Tier route.  Happy riding everyone!!

The road along the east shore of Lake Koocanusa (FYI, a combination of "Kootenai," "Canada" and "U.S.A.") is awesome. Have a friend on the NT right now. He just rode it a few days ago from Eureka to Libby and posted this:

"Magical ride along Koocanusa Lake  No cars and great views."

Mariner's Haven on MT 37 west of Eureka was nice when I was there many years ago. Heading through Eureka on the way to Canada in '09 we came across a good grocery store on U.S. 93 called Steins.

If you head up toward Eureka and pass the sign for Olney on U.S. 93, take the short detour into the center of town. It's maybe a quarter of a mile. Neat old merchantile there with a collection of old pop bottles. Recommend sticking to the ACA route. It gets you off U.S. 93 in several places. The roads are very nice.

Offline jimbo

Re: Whitefish, Glacier NP and Flathead Lake advice...
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 06:39:59 am »
 If you are still planning to bike around Flathead there are places to stay on the east side using MT # 83 ( 83 is recommended over 35). We camped at Swan Lake and Seeley Lake. ( For $25 you can stay in a cabin at Swan Lake Trading Post)