US Rocky Mountain Summer trip to WY/MT (Not Yellowstone) - Overland route and campsite suggestions

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DRAX

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Here's the preliminary on-road route from where we live.


This will likely be a 3-week trip with the first stop ("B") being for my wife and her cousin to do a hike in the Wind River Range. The main overlanding part of the trip will begin around Missoula, I don't really have a schedule or plan other than exploring the area and heading up into Glacier. We've already been to Yellowstone as well as the Black Hills of SD, never been to Glacier and only passed through Missoula but that was enough to make it want to spend more time in that area.

This will likely be around the middle of July depending on the snow and COVID situation, hopefully Glacier won't be under the same COVID-related partial closure this summer. I want to go at a time when the bugs are few, which I would assume means going as early in the season as possible. If anyone has campsite or trail suggestions for me to plot in Gaia, that would be great! Any timing/season info would also be helpful for planning, our youngest daughter will be traveling with us so we have to do it during her summer break which (Mid-June to Mid-Sept or so). Not looking for crazy Jeep trails, but we had no problems with Corkscrew Gulch, Hurricane Pass, Ophir Pass, the Alpine Loop, and similar trails in Colorado.

Planning this trip is one of the only things keeping me from losing my sanity right now. :)
 

USStrongman

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Finding a way to Beartooth Pass is a must do if in the area. It is stunning. Camping at 11k' and some trails in the area near the top of the pass. Grizzly country too.

IMG_2940.JPEGIMG_2968.JPEG
 
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Tim Roberts

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Here's the preliminary on-road route from where we live.


This will likely be a 3-week trip with the first stop ("B") being for my wife and her cousin to do a hike in the Wind River Range. The main overlanding part of the trip will begin around Missoula, I don't really have a schedule or plan other than exploring the area and heading up into Glacier. We've already been to Yellowstone as well as the Black Hills of SD, never been to Glacier and only passed through Missoula but that was enough to make it want to spend more time in that area.

This will likely be around the middle of July depending on the snow and COVID situation, hopefully Glacier won't be under the same COVID-related partial closure this summer. I want to go at a time when the bugs are few, which I would assume means going as early in the season as possible. If anyone has campsite or trail suggestions for me to plot in Gaia, that would be great! Any timing/season info would also be helpful for planning, our youngest daughter will be traveling with us so we have to do it during her summer break which (Mid-June to Mid-Sept or so). Not looking for crazy Jeep trails, but we had no problems with Corkscrew Gulch, Hurricane Pass, Ophir Pass, the Alpine Loop, and similar trails in Colorado.

Planning this trip is one of the only things keeping me from losing my sanity right now. :)
Hello, that’s going to be a great trip! My only input is on timing and bugs! I spent three days in Glacier at the end of August in 2019. Weather was great and to my surprise, bugs were no issue at all! I had all the sprays but never used them. We stayed in the Apgar Campground for this stop and it was very nice! Hope this helps, have a great time!
 
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Boort

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Hello, that’s going to be a great trip! My only input is on timing and bugs! I spent three days in Glacier at the end of August in 2019. Weather was great and to my surprise, bugs were no issue at all! I had all the sprays but never used them. We stayed in the Apgar Campground for this stop and it was very nice! Hope this helps, have a great time!
My experience with W. Glacier in Mid July was the opposite. The skeeters and green flys were annoying on the NE side of Flathead lake, but when we were camped on Bowman and Kintla lakes the hatch was Sooooooo bad Nothing could stop them. Not campfire smoke, not DEET spray, Not Goretex. The mosquitos were land and bite, the green flys did not even land they seemed to bite while just flying past. We had planned to spend 3 days 4 nights camping, hiking and fishing the upper west side lakes but after 2 nights we headed out, canoed Lake McDonald, enjoyed going to the Sun Road and went into Canada for some more Benedryl, Hot showers, Killer Steak dinner at the Lakeside Chophouse and a night in a local hostel to let the itching stop before continuing our trip.

Boort
 

Tim Roberts

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My experience with W. Glacier in Mid July was the opposite. The skeeters and green flys were annoying on the NE side of Flathead lake, but when we were camped on Bowman and Kintla lakes the hatch was Sooooooo bad Nothing could stop them. Not campfire smoke, not DEET spray, Not Goretex. The mosquitos were land and bite, the green flys did not even land they seemed to bite while just flying past. We had planned to spend 3 days 4 nights camping, hiking and fishing the upper west side lakes but after 2 nights we headed out, canoed Lake McDonald, enjoyed going to the Sun Road and went into Canada for some more Benedryl, Hot showers, Killer Steak dinner at the Lakeside Chophouse and a night in a local hostel to let the itching stop before continuing our trip.

Boort
Wow, sounds like a terrible time, I sure hate mosquitoes! Don’t know why it was so different on your trip, I guess I lucked out! Have a good day.
 
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Boort

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Wow, sounds like a terrible time, I sure hate mosquitoes! Don’t know why it was so different on your trip, I guess I lucked out! Have a good day.
It was 2 bad days out of a 2 week trip that we both look back on as a favorite. Yeah we got to talking to folks and learned that it was a mix of bad timing on a really bad year.

Boort
 

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DRAX

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Slight route change (possibly). It's looking like we won't be heading through WY as my wife and her cousin will be doing their backpacking trip separately which means a much shorter route to MT from where we live. We'll likely venture into northern WY but largely stick to MT and maybe some of ID and northeast WA.
 
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genocache

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May I suggest finding Hell Roaring Creek, the headwaters of the Missouri, Going up by Lima MT and doing Big Sheep Creek Rd loop. There is a campground just off Sheep Creek, Deadwood Gulch Campground.
In Missoula pay attention to the hillside terraces, an indication of the water levels for Lake Missoula that supplied the water for the Ice Age Floods which sculpted the Channelled Scablands of Washington State during the last ice ages.
 
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DRAX

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May I suggest finding Hell Roaring Creek, the headwaters of the Missouri, Going up by Lima MT and doing Big Sheep Creek Rd loop. There is a campground just off Sheep Creek, Deadwood Gulch Campground.
In Missoula pay attention to the hillside terraces, an indication of the water levels for Lake Missoula that supplied the water for the Ice Age Floods which sculpted the Channelled Scablands of Washington State during the last ice ages.
Thanks for the suggestions! I'll check those out and mark them in Gaia.

Side note, I see you're in Boulder Creek. How long have you lived there for? I basically grew up there (from like 10 years old until I was 17, 1986-ish to 1993-ish).
 
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genocache

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Thanks for the suggestions! I'll check those out and mark them in Gaia.

Side note, I see you're in Boulder Creek. How long have you lived there for? I basically grew up there (from like 10 years old until I was 17, 1986-ish to 1993-ish).
I was moved to Santa Cruz when I was around 2-1/2, Went to Holy Cross, Moved to BC in 1990, My kids went to SLV, oldest graduated in 96.
 

DRAX

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I was moved to Santa Cruz when I was around 2-1/2, Went to Holy Cross, Moved to BC in 1990, My kids went to SLV, oldest graduated in 96.
Then you may remember Secret Springs water which later turned into Rainbow's End coffee shop. My dad owned both of those as well as the building (he bought the building back in the mid-80s or so), which I think he sold within the past couple of years so he could retire. We were living off Bear Creek Rd when the quake of '89 hit, that was some craziness.
 

genocache

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Then you may remember Secret Springs water which later turned into Rainbow's End coffee shop. My dad owned both of those as well as the building (he bought the building back in the mid-80s or so), which I think he sold within the past couple of years so he could retire. We were living off Bear Creek Rd when the quake of '89 hit, that was some craziness.
It was Coffeetopia when I moved up here, I think, I didn't drink coffee back then. Owned by Ron(I think it still is) lives up Moon Meadow. I live off View off Bear Creek Rd.

Even despite the fire it hasn't changed much. Still lots of motorcycles on the weekends and nothing for kids to do. Big Basin burned up in the fire so that is all closed off, If you drove through town you wouldn't know the fire was so close, it only came down to 9 in 2 places.
 

DRAX

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It was Coffeetopia when I moved up here, I think, I didn't drink coffee back then. Owned by Ron(I think it still is) lives up Moon Meadow. I live off View off Bear Creek Rd.

Even despite the fire it hasn't changed much. Still lots of motorcycles on the weekends and nothing for kids to do. Big Basin burned up in the fire so that is all closed off, If you drove through town you wouldn't know the fire was so close, it only came down to 9 in 2 places.
Yup, after the water business it was an arcade and then Coffeetopia, which was someone else, and then when that went south my dad (Ron) took it over and named it Rainbow's End. Small world!
 

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Glacier NP is doing a timed entry system to drive the Going to the Sun road this year when it opens, so be sure to check that out when you know your dates if you still plan on visiting the park. Kinda a pain but hopefully will make the drive more enjoyable if there are less ppl on the roads (and horribly parked on the shoulders and such). Eastern WA has tons of great trails that are infrequently visited, compared to the rest of the state. You will probably see lots of moose like we usually do! Esp the area along the panhandle of Idaho. You won't regret driving any random forest roads out there.
 

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Glacier NP is doing a timed entry system to drive the Going to the Sun road this year when it opens, so be sure to check that out when you know your dates if you still plan on visiting the park. Kinda a pain but hopefully will make the drive more enjoyable if there are less ppl on the roads (and horribly parked on the shoulders and such). Eastern WA has tons of great trails that are infrequently visited, compared to the rest of the state. You will probably see lots of moose like we usually do! Esp the area along the panhandle of Idaho. You won't regret driving any random forest roads out there.
Just heard about this. It appears that you need to have a ticket from recreation.gov to drive Going to the Sun Highway. The tickets are free but there is a $2 service fee. 4/29 is the earliest date you can get your tickets for the 60 day window after that date. Going forward it will be a rolling 60 day window. 2/3 of the tickets can be acquired in that timeframe with the remainder available 2 days prior to travel date. They said they are looking at issuing 4600 tickets per day. Check the park website for further information. You cannot get a ticket at the park. Only on line. There are certain exceptions for people who have reservations for lodging or events in the park. Check the website before going to avoid certain disappointments.
 
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DRAX

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Alright, we're less than a month out from our departure date. I've got a reminder set to get online to try and get our timed-entry pass secured the day we're supposed to leave since that's the soonest I can try and get tickets.

It's also looking like Missoula itself is going to be toasty but the weather in the mountains should be quite pleasant. We'll likely end up staying the first night in a motel in Missoula or nearby as we're probably going to do 2 long drive days to get there which means getting into the area around sunset. Then we'll have a full day to get the lay of the land. I'm hoping we'll be able to find a nice spot on a river or one of the remote lakes, but who knows. I suspect it will be pretty crowded around there and we may have difficulty unless we're way off the beaten path, but maybe we'll get lucky finding a spot mid-week.

I've got various roads/waypoints saved in Gaia but no real plan other than doing our best to get into Glacier for a day or two.
 

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Have you modified your original map route on the first post? It's always hot in the Western Summer. In 2003 it was 116° while riding the GDBMR. Not fun, but when yer on a schedule, and we survived!
I think I drank 5-6 liters of water that day.....89.JPG
 

DRAX

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Have you modified your original map route on the first post? It's always hot in the Western Summer. In 2003 it was 116° while riding the GDBMR. Not fun, but when yer on a schedule, and we survived!
I think I drank 5-6 liters of water that day.....View attachment 201706
I might have modified it, originally we were going to go through WY with a stop in the Wind Rivers but my wife is doing that backpacking trip another time, so no WY on the route currently. The map/route linked in my first post is just the main roads and not actual camping stops, we'll be branching off around Missoula and Glacier to camp at higher elevations and among the trees where it should be closer to 80F highs if we're lucky. Biking in those temps would suck! Eww.