Author Topic: Missoula to Glacier?  (Read 802 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Tandem Tom

Missoula to Glacier?
« on: November 28, 2013, 09:41:30 am »
Next year my wife and I will be riding cross country from east to west. we will be starting in Delaware and working our way to St. Louis where we will pick up the Lewis and Clark Route. As I am looking over the maps I see when we get to Missoula we could do a possible detour up to Glacier NP.
So is this something to consider? As it would only be for a few days does it make sense?
Thanks!

Offline raybo

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2013, 11:57:33 am »
By few days, do you mean 2 or 3 or 4 or what?

Let me say that Glacier NP is a great place to hike, see animals, stand in and look at stunning scenery, and easy to visit due to free bus rides.

I'd guess 3 days of biking to get there and, at least, one full day there (2 nights).

You might consider detouring into the eastern part of the Park (Many Glacier is worth an overnight), taking Going to the Sun Road over the divide, and then riding down to Missoula.

I'd recommend it.
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 05:02:20 pm »
Worth it unless you're on a very tight schedule. 

My daughter and I veered north from Missoula to (West) Glacier on our TA, spent a day, and then went west on the Northern Tier.  We took the Great Parks route up through Seeley Lake to Columbia Falls.  You really only need the AC map to find your way out of Missoula and Columbia Falls; at least when we were there towards the end of July, I'd have been happy to stay on U.S. 2 and skip the washboard gravel.  I think there are two critical turns, and there's not much chance of missing either.

Glacier is well worth the detour.  Beautiful place, magnificent views, gorgeous glacier lilies, but the water's cold as all get out.

Offline windrath

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2013, 07:56:03 pm »
Tandem Tom -

The detour is worth it.  It is a comfortable 3 day ride to get there or a fast 2.5 day ride.  You will want a couple of nights in Glacier to relax, enjoy the scenery, and plan your "ascent" to Logan Pass.  Then, a couple of days to ride back to Missoula.

Having been there a few times, I would really encourage you to do it - even if you had to rent a car to get there or come back.

There are a lot of blogs about Glacier - you can see some of the pictures at mine - http://www.windrath.info/lewis_&_clark/pages/day15.htm.

Good Luck!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2013, 11:16:47 pm »
I'd have been happy to stay on U.S. 2 and skip the washboard gravel.
A bit off topic, but I didn't find that short section of gravel to be any problem at all, and the particular section of US 2 that you miss is much worse for cycling than the rest of US 2 that you rode on.

I agree that Glacier is well worth the detour, but only if you ride up and over Going To The Sun Road. That ride over GTTS is going to stand out forever as the highlight of all the cycling I've ever done.

Offline scooper

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 08:00:40 am »
It's been a few years since I've been to Glacier. I've been to most of the national parks, Glacier is my fav. Unless things have changed, there are restrictions on bikes if you're going up the west side on Going to the Sun Road. You have to be at the top of Logan's Pass by 11 a.m. & can't get back on until 4 p.m. The east side there are no restrictions. If I were doing it again I would going up on the west side & go down on the east. The reason, the west side the road is rough, east side is good. I wasn't able to "let it go" down the west side because of the rough road.  Again, it's been 5 or 6 years since I've been there, things may have changed.
Have a groovy trip.
Scott

Offline indyfabz

Re: Missoula to Glacier?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2013, 10:02:47 am »
Unless things have changed, there are restrictions on bikes if you're going up the west side on Going to the Sun Road. You have to be at the top of Logan's Pass by 11 a.m. & can't get back on until 4 p.m.

Things haven't changed since at least '99 when I first rode it, but the above is not quite correct. Heading east, you must be up to Logan Pass by 11 a.m. Heading west, you may come down from the pass all the way to Sprague Creek Campground, located about a mile west of Lake McDonald Lodge, at any time. You may not head west or east between Sprague Creek and Apgar between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. There are no time restrictions east of the pass.

Tom: It's definitely worth it if you have the time. As noted, it's a comfortable 3 days from Missoula. I left the park and rode to Flathead Lake State Park in Bigfork the first night, Lake Alva (U.S.F.S. campground on MT 83) the second night and was in Missoula the next day. If you headed that way in the opposite direction, of course) you could make camp at Sprague Creek or Avalanche and the next day ride up and back down the west side sans gear. IMO, the west side is the more stunning side.

To get the "full effect," you might consider going from Missoula to St. Mary via MT 200, U.S. 287 and U.S. 89 and crossing Logan Pass east to west. Camp at Rising Sun in the park and it's only a few thousand feet of climbing up to the pass. However, I am not familair with the traffic conditions on most of that route so I am hesitant to endorse it. I have ridden U.S. 89 between MT 49 and the west entrance to the park at St. Mary. You would have several ups and downs and then a screaming 5-6 mile descent to St. Mary.

Re: Getting between Columbia Falls and West Glacier, I have done both the U.S. 2 option (east from Columbia Falls) and MT 486 to Blankenship and Belton Stage, taking Belton Stage all the way to U.S. 2. (both east and westbound). Aside from the eastern section of Belton Stage, it's unpaved when you leave MT 486. As noted, it can be washboardy. Conditions can vary based on time of year and weather conditions. (Heavy rain can ease some of the washboards.) I didn't find it unmanageable. It's pretty back there and much, much quiter than U.S. 2. You may even see a bear. (We were warned about them by a local who lived back there.) The reason to avoid U.S. 2 is that there is a section near Hungry Horse that has no shoulder. I chanced it going east because I rode pretty early in the morning when traffic was light. Not so sure I would want to do it later in the day with heavier truck and RV traffic. At a minimum, I would recommend the unpaved option heading west as it's a net elevation loss, which means you are climbing less on dirt.