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Glacier N.P. access in early May/Polebridge area


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Just returned from a great trip to Glacier area. Stayed in the Polebridge area in the upper NW corner of park. Very empty of people and the typical "being in a national park" feel. Just the Mercantile with its great bakery, and a BBQ/bar with great food. Downside this time of year is that the Park's gravel road on the other side of the Flathead River is closed except for a short distance on either side of the bridge. We were lucky in that the road Bowman lake opened just a day before we arrived (5/5) so we at least had access to one of the great lakes on the west side to do some awesome kayaking (We had originally  been hoping to do an overnight paddle/hike on Klintla Lake). If ever interested in doing a cabin stay, I would recommend going to VRBO website and check of the Snell cabin... a great base camp (and I took the above mountain shot from the front porch). there are also other similar options in Polebridge. Given the 30F temp daytime high change we experienced in the 2 days we were there (75 to 45 with some snow), the cabin was a good call.



As we then traveled to Apgar, I was really surprised to learn that there were no back country sites that had been checked or opened (though backcountry office was open..go figure). Additionally, even commercial entities outside the park were largely still closed. I had not gotten that impression looking quite a bit on websites before the trip (with exception of Going to Sun road of course)... in retrospect, perhaps I was using my Mt Rainier mindset that places would be open unless there were snow pack issues (which there were not this year). Others from outside Montana visiting we encountered seemed similarly surprised. That all said, we had a fun hike up to Avalanche Lake seeing mountains goats on nearby cliffs and great waterfalls.


We then went for a raft trip on the middle Fork on the Flathead river with the only outfitter that was open (Montana Raft Company) which was great fun.... though we were lucky as there was another group of three interested in the same morning which gave us the 4 minimum required. So the park is remarkably empty in early May (at least til Memorial day we were told), but be prepared for park access issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Sounds like a nice trip Jim and thanks for the photos. Have been to Glacier just once...amazing scenery.

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