Although most travelers stick to scenic drives and day hikes, Glacier’s backcountry makes up over 95 percent of the park, and many visitors come back year after year to explore these remote trails. In fact, backcountry travel has increased in recent years, causing environmental impacts that have necessitated more regulations.
Prepare well for such an outing; you’ll need a backcountry permit allowing you to camp at designated backcountry campgrounds (backcountry information line 406/888-7857 mid-Mar.–Oct., $5 per person per night, $2.50 youth 8–15, plus $30 per trip reservation fee, reservations accepted starting Apr. 16).
During the initial planning stages of a backpacking trip, be sure to visit the park website. Here you’ll find a backcountry application and detailed strategies for getting a permit for your ideal trip, a map detailing all backcountry campgrounds and noting which sites can be reserved, and lots of good information about backcountry safety.
Although waiting until you’re at the park to get a permit will save you the $30 reservation fee, it may severely limit your choices of where you can camp. Backcountry permits are available at the following locations:
Most hikers visit the backcountry in July and August; depending on the amount of snowfall the previous winter, even early July hikers can expect to encounter snow on the trails or dangerous high-water stream crossings.
A guide service, Glacier Guides (406/387-5555 or 800/521-7238, www.glacierguides.com), is permitted to lead trips in Glacier’s backcountry.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition