We spent four days there in mid September, the trailing end of the busy season.
I don’t know much about the West Glacier part, we rushed through it on our way home. There are tons of activities if you like go-carts, zip lines and trinkets. It is just like Gatlinburg TN without Dolly Land. If you are headed east, it’s a great place to stock up on supplies and do laundry since things will get VERY bare in that direction.
US 2 over Marias Pass is an easy, pretty drive along the Flathead River. There is a rest stop at the top with an OK view of the south end of the Park. Also a NFS campground (Summit, 12 sites) which is spread out but has minimal sun and no views. Elevation is right at a mile up so it may be windy and chilly. Once you start descending the east slope the dense trees go away and the terrain opens up. There is much less rainfall there.
The Burlington Northern main line follows US 2 for many miles, be aware of this when camping and try to pick a spot a mile or two north or south and well away from any crossings. It is very busy hauling freight and coal. Amtrak has two stops, one in West Glacier and one in East Glacier. The East Glacier stop is a short walk from the huge, cool old hotel, so it is busy with visitors, many from other countries. There are mouldering 1930s cottages and tourist shops along the park road road for a mile or so, but nothing really worth a visit.
There is gas outside ALL the entrances on this side, but prices will be 30 to 40 cents higher. Browning is the only “big” town (with 1026 souls). The Blackfeet Reservation dominates the entire area. Be very aware of their laws about firearms. If you have any, they must be empty and secured completely out of reach. NO concealed or open carry! Browning itself has cheap gas, a grocery store, post office and a few odd shops, and a museum, but other than despair nothing is present. It is known to be a rough town and you probably wouldn’t want to go bar-hopping there. Expect a lot of visible poverty and a few street beggars. The Museum of the Plains Indians is interesting if you like that sort of stuff. I found myself bored silly, but Jac liked it a lot. The Cenex north of town has a prominent sign posted "No Sticky-Fingers Allowed", with a long list of Blackfeet folks who were banned. The names were astonishing but I didn’t feel it would be OK to take a picture…. https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/native-american-indian-names/blackfoot-names.htm ...
Two Medicine is a wonderful place, we spent four nights there. It is right under the craggy peaks and the boat launch/ day use area is a good spot for time lapse video of glorious sunrises. It can be ferociously windy and camping is limited now, but if you can snag a spot it would be better than St Mary. There were no generators allowed in that section in season, but they may have relaxed that rule when it went Primitive. Running Eagle Falls and Nature Trail is a delight, with short and easy access from the entry road. The camp store is closed this time of year. Bears are around, the rangers had to chase a sow and her two cubs from the campground by firing a rifle several times. Even when walking park roads you each need to ALWAYS carry bear spray and keep your heads swiveling! Narrow brushy trails are nerve wracking, keep talking or clap your hands loudly to alert any big predators to your presence. You can buy spray in the Apgar and St Mary gift shops.
US 89 is the main RV route north from Browning to St Mary and Going to the Sun Road. At Kiowa Junction there is major MAJOR construction and the entire highway should be avoided They are ripping out the hillsides and rerouting and recontouring the road bed. Expect 30 minute delays, pilot cars and one way traffic. It is NOT a place to take a trailer. It might be OK on a dry day without the Ollie.
MT 49 goes from East Glacier to Kiowa. The south part is fine as far as the turnoff to Two Medicine. Further north it is Not Recommended For Trailers. It is fun in a truck - the roadbed is heaved, repaired, potholed, washed out and extremely undulating.
To get from East Glacier up to St Mary, go into Browning, gas up at the big Cenex a mile north of town, and take MT 464 as a 70 mph bypass. It is straight and smooth with some great views of the Park mountains from the higher hills. Watch out for free range horses on the reservation, especially just north of Browning. You may see them grazing on the shoulder! The Blackfeet love horses but some owners don’t care if they lose one to a collision…
St Mary park entrance is busy with tour and shuttle buses. There is adequate RV parking. Since the GTTS road closed for construction on the west side of Logan Pass (September 16), it may be worse. It’s now the only way to access the high country near the Pass.If you want to hike up there, take the shuttle and don’t even think about parking your truck up there. There are several short hikes to viewing areas along the road that are worth visiting. Sunrift Gorge is gorgeous. Parking lower down should not be a problem.
St Mary Campground is just OK, it has plenty of room for an Ollie and adequate sun exposure, but it has no views. One section is prone to flooding. It may be posted Hard Sided Campers Only due to problem bears. This is the best choice to stay on the east side of the Park, unless you luck out and find an open spot that is large enough in one of the other smaller campgrounds. I suggest that you stay here two nights. Explore the second day and keep an eye out fo rougher camping options that would be closer to the scenery. You can always claim a spot and leave a small tent or chairs there, and go get your Ollie that day to shift it.
Many Glacier is drop dead beautiful, but crazy busy with back-country hikers. It allows low elevation access to a bunch of spectacular trails.The road in is very nasty, potholed and uneven. It is a disgrace for a national park. Parking will be very tough around the trailhead and hotel. You can go past that turnoff and find a spot along the road and walk back.The hotel has a nice affordable restaurant with stellar views out the back windows. The campground there is very tight and heavily treed and not a good spot for an Ollie. Plus it will probably be full of hikers and their tents.
Waterton Lakes National Park - we did not go there since we could not do a Canadian border crossing, but it would be an excellent day visit. It’s about 30 minutes north of the Many Glacier entrance on a very twisty road.
RV camping outside the Park - practically none. The Blackfeet do not seem to care to exploit tourist dollars. Most of the small towns outside The Res have an RV camp of some sort. Choteau to the south is a neat, prosperous town (it’s the county seat) with a nice little city campground and a $5 dump/ potable water station.
Cell signal is spotty at best, you will be able to connect at the entrances and in the bigger towns, but forget about it completely once you are inside the Park. The campground hosts post weather reports in the busy season, that may not be an option this time of year. On a hike you should always carry enough clothes for unexpected rain or cold, and carry basic survival stuff in case you get stranded. A satellite communicator like an inReach provides great peace of mind and a limited degree of two-way communication. A big handgun is OK in the Park if you are legal in MT to carry one, but it is a crime to actually fire it inside there. It cannot be carried inside any Federal facility like a visitor center, so if you are using the shuttle system it probably has to stay at the trailer….
I am still working on organizing pics, I will post some later.