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Good morning all,

We are planning a trip to Glacier and looking for clarification if our Ollie II will comply at campgrounds within the park? One site indicates the overall length of the RV including the tow vehicle cannot exceed 35'. Other park information simply states the RV cannot exceed 35' with no mention of the tow vehicle. It would be appreciated if someone could clarify assuming we are able to obtain reservations within the park that we will meet the length specifications. The park and website contact information is not currently available.

Thank you for your help.

John 

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Posted (edited)

I know that Apgar, St. Mary, Many Glacier and Bowman are fine, but you may find some sites in each that are too small for both your truck and trailer.  I think Two Medicine also.  Bowman is rough to get to - not for everyone.  When we were there, sites were all on a first come basis so there was no way to plan ahead.  That may have changed, or may have been an early season thing.  I think both Mike and Carol and John Davies have been there more recently than I have so maybe they can pipe in.

But if you can reserve, we usually look at an aerial of the campground on google or apple maps when reserving individual spots.  That will give you a good idea of site size, how it's arranged, tree cover, view, etc.  

Most park limits are set pretty conservatively, but of course you never know.  And size limits are typically for the trailer itself unless they specify otherwise.  One thing to keep in mind for back in spaces is that your Ollie can overhang the rear of the parking pad by 2 to three feet.  The Ollie also seems to be a bit more maneuverable than other trailers of the same size.  The scenic route in from the east, for example, (49?) has a size limit shorter than the Ollie, but it was a breeze for us to drive and the trailer never crossed the center line once.

When are you planning to go?  I assume you know that the park is closed now - I don't know if they're taking future reservations or not.

Edited by Overland

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Overland,

Your reply is more helpful than you may realize. Thank you so much. I am aware of the satellite image, but frankly forgot about using that option. Thanks for that as well. You are correct - no advanced reservations, but since we plan to be there after Labor Day we may be in a better position. 

It's a major trip from SW Florida so we are trying to dot our eyes and cross our T's and the advice you gave helps a bunch.

Take care and stay safe.

John

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I want to respond to John, Overland, Mike & Carol, Mossemi, Top Gun and others who may follow by saying thank you for all of your guidance. The information you shared is so important and with invaluable details.

Thank you to each of you 

Safe travels.

J & J

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Keep in mind that you cannot take your Oliver over the "Going to the Sun" road due to over all length restrictions.   Spectacular place!  Bring your bear spray.

Edited by Neuman's
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Just a reminder, the park closes when the weather gets really bad, which may be as early as mid-to late September. Visiting after Labor Day (September 7 this year) will in NO way guarantee smaller crowds, especially on a pretty weekend when the locals from Kalispell come up GTS in their expensive play cars and motorcycles. Visiting late just means worse weather and more commercial activities, like a boat tour, that may be shut down for the season.

As I mentioned in my other thread,

"A reservation at a West Glacier commercial RV park would be prudent, if you cannot get one of the rare reservable spots, until you can locate a free spot inside the Park. Only a few Glacier campgrounds offer them, and in general most are unsuitable for a larger Ollie. As I mentioned before.... St Mary would be the best choice to the east, and the spots are larger there. But you can’t see anything ;( Apgar in the west is big too, but no reservations at all and only trees to look at from your folding chairs. Some CGs are tent only. Some you cannot tow a trailer to... it is a tough place to plan for a visit."

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/3627-glacier-national-park-post-season/

Bring a small Walmart tent. During your travels if you find a free site, pitch it, register and and leave it there , go get your Ollie and bring it back. Any other plan will just frustrate the heck out of you! There are a fair number of sites. Finding one that is long enough, free from brush, and easy to maneuver into, is the hard part. You cannot bring your Ollie over GTS, no way. ....  Going To The Sun Google maps ... You will have to detour the loooong way around the south perimeter of the Park. Do ideally pick a CG that is not too far away! Two Medicine would be perfect! It is drop dead gorgeous and quite easy to reach from the entrance at East Glacier (near Browning)....

John Davies

Spokane WA

West Glacier to Two Medicine CG ROUTE.png

Edited by John E Davies
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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@ Renagade, first good luck with your trip up here to Big Sky Country. Welcome! I have lived in MT (Bozeman) for well over 40 years and have been to Glacier countless times during all seasons and have watched the tourism in the park explode since the mid 70's. With that in mind while I agree with some of the responses here I also have a somewhat different perspective on a few things.

Weather: come prepared for winter. Montana weather is extremely volatile and at times just as unpredictable, and the park itself on any given day can have dramatically different weather compared to just a short drive out of the park. Given that you are from southern FL, your idea of winter and ours is on an order of magnitude different. On the other hand you might experience days that are sublime and think my suggestions are an empty threat, they are not. For instance just over a year ago, late May-early June, I left home in low 80 degree weather here in SW MT. Arrived in Glacier and the next day the weather turned upside down and stayed that way for 5-6 days. It was what most people would refer to as dead of winter or near so. Heat of the day, 42º, down to near freezing at night howling winds, some snow and often rain. This past fall, winter came early. Perhaps the 2nd or 3rd week of Sept, fall color died on the vine sub zero temps for a week or two with plenty of wet heavy snow. The day before the storm hit my wife and I were hiking in tees and shorts. This is not uncommon at these elevations and latitudes. The closer we get to the shoulder seasons the more volatile the weather can be.

Campgrounds: You can get RSVPS at Fish Creek just across the lake from Apgar as well as St Marys and Swiftcurrent in the NE section of the park. John is correct Two Medicine is beautiful but it fills in the short summer quickly every day. It also closes fairly early but don't recall how long after Labor Day, sorry. East Glacier is on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation so laws regarding many things including alcohol can be very different and for what ever unknown reason can change from day to day. Supplies in the area are limited at best IMO. Most hikes from Two Medicine campground tend to be quite long, some with serious elevation gains. In addition to Apgar, Fish Creek, St Mary's (by far my least favorite) consider Swiftcurrent as well as Avalanche Creek which also closes earlier than most. There are size limitations at Rising Sun Campground but you could probably squeeze an Oliver in to one or two of them the rest are far too small. Its also first come first serve. Avalanche Creek does not afford much in the way of views, it is deep into the forest but still a very nice campground centrally located for day tours, hikes and what ever your'e up to for the day. 

Travel, The route into Glacier: Most are beautiful drives. However I do not recommend the route from Missoula to Kalispell. While there is some beautiful scenery along this route the traffic is VERY HEAVY almost the entire year. It's become more trouble than its worth to me. However I would be remiss if not mentioning the state park campgrounds scattered along the shores of Flathead Lake, all are nice with awesome views and fairly good facilities. My preferred route at least from Bozeman is a trip up the Seely-Swan River Valley that terminates in Big Fork and from there about another hour (towing speed) up to Glacier. There are a slew of very nice USFS and BLM campgrounds along this route as well. The Front Range route through Augusta and Choteau Highway 89 are also very nice but the closer you get to the east side of the park count on steep narrow winding climbs and descents. Its a slow go after Browning assuming you continue on to St Mary's. Camping along this route is virtually a no go unless you decide to head due west into the Front Range where you can find some awesome USFS camps there. This would be a detour however. The southern perimeter route highway 2 will be an easy cake walk though a bit more exciting than what you normally might drive in FL.

From Mid August on tourism tapers off considerably both in Yellowstone as well as Glacier, due to kids/family back in school. However the weekends assuming really nice weather will experience quite a bit of day use and some camper influx from the locals out in Flathead Valley. It is worth noting, not once have I ever been able to get a drive up camp spot in Glacier even during the peak of summer season including but not limited to the 4th of July weekend. Bowman Lake can be overwhelmed with local day users during the weekends with nice weather. However don't miss this place, its about an hours drive up there from Apgar but not to be missed. Take the outside road. There is a nice hike along the north shore of Bowman Lake that will take you to the far end of the lake about 14 or so miles RT, but very little elevation gain a rarity in this park.

That should be enough to digest for now, good luck on planning your trip. Let me know if you have questions.

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1 hour ago, routlaw said:

@ Renagade, first good luck with your trip up here to Big Sky Country. Welcome! I have lived in MT (Bozeman) for well over 40 years...

Last September on our drive from Glacier NP to Yellowstone we stopped overnight in Bozeman for a look around. What a nice place to live!  Mike

Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Diesel

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28 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

Last September on our drive from Glacier NP to Yellowstone we stopped overnight in Bozeman for a look around. What a nice place to live!  Mike

Shame on you for not looking me up:)).  But thanks and yes its not too shabby of a place to hang out. Glad you got to see it. It is uber expensive here anymore. Real Estate is off the charts in recent years. Hope your trip was a good one and you didn't get caught in that early winter crap. Come to think about it I remember seeing an Elite II parked in the Target parking lot last year with TX plates on it. Might have been you?

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routlaw,

Your mention of Swiftcurrent, reminded me of my favorite hike in that area which took us to the Ptarmigan Tunnel.  Tried that hike again years later, but the trail was closed do to a moose kill, so we had to try a new hike and went up to the Swiftcurrent Fire Lookout.  Thank you for the memories.

Mossey

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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3 hours ago, routlaw said:

Shame on you for not looking me up:)).  But thanks and yes its not too shabby of a place to hang out. Glad you got to see it. It is uber expensive here anymore. Real Estate is off the charts in recent years. Hope your trip was a good one and you didn't get caught in that early winter crap. Come to think about it I remember seeing an Elite II parked in the Target parking lot last year with TX plates on it. Might have been you?

Had I known....!  It could have been us in the Target parking lot, some of the supermarket, Target and Walmart stops run together.  We stayed at a pleasant campground in the south part of town (Sunrise?).  We’re usually park or BLM campers.  I wanted to contact a real estate agent but someone in the truck said the winters would be too cold for her!  Our Montana week week was pretty good weather.

Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Diesel

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We made reservation  months ago for Glacier National Park and Yellowstone plus several other locations across the country.  Our reservations are for most of July 2020 and August.  Hopefully this covid-19 virus will not require us to cancel our trip.

Edited by Maverick

Horace & Dianne

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One last thought that occurred to me after my post from yesterday. 

Fires: In the last decade, perhaps longer, our summer air quality state wide (usually) has diminished greatly due to western wildfires. For those who don't live out west the next part will most likely seem improbable to you. Even if Montana doesn't have much itself in the way of fires we do get smoke and lots of it from other states. Its not uncommon in the least for the CA wildfires to inundate our skies here in MT, and its not just CA it could be BC, OR, WA, ID, NV or any other of the western states or provinces dependent on the prevailing winds at the time. Generally through out most of the summer, spring and early fall months the prevailing winds are from SW to NE but even this can change in a heartbeat.

This past summer of 2019 MT had very few fires itself due to the heavy snow fall and continued wet and cool weather throughout the summer months and for the most part we did enjoy for a change mostly clear skies and clean air and lots of rain. Our snowpack this winter is above average, a good thing, but even this is no longer a guarantee of a summer/fall season without fires. Please understand this information is not meant to discourage anyone from venturing up this way, but rather come prepared yet most importantly have some alternative travel plans should all hell break loose with fires. 

Here's hoping for a fireless season with beautiful blue skies… that we used to be known for. 

Rob

PS, I would like to make one correction to John Davies expose on traveling to Glacier from last year. Had not realized he had written up such an excellent piece, but in quickly scanning his prose I saw he mentioned "Kalispell State Park and Lake". There is no such thing, including a Kalispell Lake although there are a number of lakes nearby Kalispell. Perhaps he meant either Whitefish Lake State Park or even Flathead Lake to the south of the town. Again there are numerous state park campgrounds around Flathead Lake and even Whitefish Lake. My favorite by far is the one near the small touristy town of Big Fork called Wayfarers State Park. Its small but there are numerous spots to fit an Oliver into and all of the MT state parks do take reservations. Whitefish Lake State Park is also nice, but if you camp there expect to be woken off and on through the night with freight trains that run literally right next to the park. I'm talking a stones through if that. 

Hope this helps.

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15 hours ago, Maverick said:

We made reservation  months ago for Glacier National Park and Yellowstone plus several other locations across the country.  Our reservations are for most of July 2020 and August.  Hopefully this covid-19 virus will not require us to cancel our trip.

Best of luck, hope it all goes well for you.

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I was in charge of the National Forest, which borders Glacier on the west side - the Flathead National Forest.  I am very familiar with Glacier.  It is difficult to find  space, and often they are small and quite close.  An alternative is to camp in National Forest campgrounds outside the park, and make day trips if you cannot find something inside the park.  You can bushwhack up the North Fork of the Flathead River, and go in thru the Polebridge entry.  There are also National Forest camp grounds.  Across Highway 2 in Hungry Horse, is the Hungry Horse Reservoir..  Check out places there.  For real adventure, Drive up the East side of the Reservior to Spotted Bear Campground.  Very remote feeling, but you are long a few miles down from the ranger station.  The South Fork of the Flathead River is knock-down-dead beautiful.

Go to youTube and search Flathead National Forest.  There is a short video with amazing. landscape, an the fly over of the trail and river are in it.  The scene of the fly fishing off the big rock in the river is just up from the Camp Ground.  If you need to, you can call me for more details.  I am a retired Forest Service Supervisor.  We are considering a Oliver to take to Montana each summer.

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Good info, thanks Eddie.  We thought we might need to stay off the park when we went last September but we were able to get a nice site at Two Medicine Campground.  It’s good to know about the National Forest possibilities.  BTW, Olivers love being in Montana!  Mike

Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Diesel

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Two Medicine is a fabulous part of the Park.  Have a meal in the Many Glacier Lodge,  or drive out of the Park to St Marys Lodge.  Both built by the Great Northern Train Company to bring visitors.

We are thinking about an Elite II.  Have not decided, but seems about the right size for both Forest Service campgrounds and bushwhacking.  Just have not decided.

 

Make sure you search for the Flathead National Forest on youTube.

 

 

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9 hours ago, routlaw said:

PS, I would like to make one correction to John Davies expose on traveling to Glacier from last year. Had not realized he had written up such an excellent piece, but in quickly scanning his prose I saw he mentioned "Kalispell State Park and Lake". There is no such thing, including a Kalispell Lake although there are a number of lakes nearby Kalispell. Perhaps he meant either Whitefish Lake State Park or even Flathead Lake to the south of the town.

Thanks for pointing that out, it was a Senior Moment, I should have known better. I have corrected that other thread....

Flathead Lake State Park, West Shore

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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17 hours ago, Eddie B said:

I was in charge of the National Forest, which borders Glacier on the west side - the Flathead National Forest.  I am very familiar with Glacier.  It is difficult to find  space, and often they are small and quite close.  An alternative is to camp in National Forest campgrounds outside the park, and make day trips if you cannot find something inside the park.  You can bushwhack up the North Fork of the Flathead River, and go in thru the Polebridge entry.  There are also National Forest camp grounds.  Across Highway 2 in Hungry Horse, is the Hungry Horse Reservoir..  Check out places there.  For real adventure, Drive up the East side of the Reservior to Spotted Bear Campground.  Very remote feeling, but you are long a few miles down from the ranger station.  The South Fork of the Flathead River is knock-down-dead beautiful.

Go to youTube and search Flathead National Forest.  There is a short video with amazing. landscape, an the fly over of the trail and river are in it.  The scene of the fly fishing off the big rock in the river is just up from the Camp Ground.  If you need to, you can call me for more details.  I am a retired Forest Service Supervisor.  We are considering a Oliver to take to Montana each summer.

 

Eddie,

Sounds like you may be the right person for this question. We've never been to Montana. Would it be too much to expect to be able to boondock for 30 days or so in Flathead National Forest later this summer? Finding a spot? Being able to have reasonable drive to refill fresh water tank? Weather concerns?  Thanks,

Ed

Ed and Nancy Burgin


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8 hours ago, EdandNancy said:

 

Eddie,

Sounds like you may be the right person for this question. We've never been to Montana. Would it be too much to expect to be able to boondock for 30 days or so in Flathead National Forest later this summer? Finding a spot? Being able to have reasonable drive to refill fresh water tank? Weather concerns?  Thanks,

Ed

Ed & Nancy. No doubt Eddie B will have his perspective but in the meantime a couple of thoughts of my own.

Most, perhaps all USFS and even BLM campgrounds limit a maximum stay in anyone camp spot or campground of 14 days consecutively. You could certainly go form one place to the next quite easily. The same holds true for camping in Glacier, but again its quite easy to move around from within the park based upon my experience. The campgrounds in Glacier all have dump stations as well as fresh water fill ups too.

Understand the Flathead Valley is a very busy place especially in the summer (with subsequent heavy traffic), meaning you are never very far from adequate facilities such as dump stations and the ability to replenish water. USFS campgrounds by comparison tend to be considerably more primitive with far less facilities. However the vast majority of them do have fresh potable water that you can replenish easily enough in the Oliver. Columbia Falls and Coram are the closest to Glacier while Kalispell and Whitefish are just a few more miles further into the valley. 

So the quick answer to your question is, yes you should be able to do this but with a bit of moving around from campground to campground. Also I wouldn't rule out the many Montana State parks in the area. All are located in some very nice areas on Flathead or Whitefish Lake and have very good facilities including hot showers. 

Hope this is helpful.

 

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routlaw,

Yes, very helpful. Thanks for your input. We hope to get out that way when things get a bit more back to normal.

Ed

Ed and Nancy Burgin


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  • 2 months later...

FYI, the Blackfeet Reservation just closed off all roads into Glacier NP from the east side due to the Corona Virus. What this means is you can NOT camp from any of the east side campgrounds unless of course you're tent camping or in a van and only then you would be able to get into either St Marys or Rising Sun. The other accesses are via the reservation. I assume Glacier is still allowing people to cross over the Logan Pass to access St Mary's but you can not tow across the Going to the Sun Road and in fact there is a 21 foot limit on vehicles of any kind. The park service is not going to contest this closure by the Blackfeet Reservation. 

Suffice it to say this will put a huge burden on Apgar, Avalanche and Fishing Creek campgrounds. I'll wait till the fall before heading up there this year, assuming the park itself doesn't completely close down before then.

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On 4/21/2020 at 3:53 PM, routlaw said:

Ed & Nancy. No doubt Eddie B will have his perspective but in the meantime a couple of thoughts of my own.

Most, perhaps all USFS and even BLM campgrounds limit a maximum stay in anyone camp spot or campground of 14 days consecutively. You could certainly go form one place to the next quite easily. The same holds true for camping in Glacier, but again its quite easy to move around from within the park based upon my experience. The campgrounds in Glacier all have dump stations as well as fresh water fill ups too.

Understand the Flathead Valley is a very busy place especially in the summer (with subsequent heavy traffic), meaning you are never very far from adequate facilities such as dump stations and the ability to replenish water. USFS campgrounds by comparison tend to be considerably more primitive with far less facilities. However the vast majority of them do have fresh potable water that you can replenish easily enough in the Oliver. Columbia Falls and Coram are the closest to Glacier while Kalispell and Whitefish are just a few more miles further into the valley. 

So the quick answer to your question is, yes you should be able to do this but with a bit of moving around from campground to campground. Also I wouldn't rule out the many Montana State parks in the area. All are located in some very nice areas on Flathead or Whitefish Lake and have very good facilities including hot showers. 

Hope this is helpful.

 

We do not boondock 100% but have done enough to know the real limitation is black tank capacity.  When we camp "off-grid" where potable water is available, we use it and campsite drains if available.  You can always pump water into the fresh water tank or you can carry extra water in the TV and dispose of grey water responsibly.  "Black water" is not so easy.  Vault toilets reduce some of the demand, but if you will be using the "onboard facilities" and haven't opted for a composting toilet, keep this in mind.  I think of boondock camping in an RV as tent camping with a comfortable bed and accommodations for those necessary nighttime visits.  On extensive trips we try to fit in occasional SP or RV park stops so we can dump tanks, shower, and do laundry.

Ray and Susan Huff

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