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Backpack - Glacier National Park

Epic week-long traverse of Glacier National Park--Montana. A one-way shuttle trip from Kintla Lake to Logan Pass--six nights, 76 miles, 20,000'+ gain. Expect amazing views, amazing mega-fauna, off-trail explorations and a wilderness experience like no other in the grandest of mountain parks. Special Leader's Permission Trip--see Leader's Note for more details.

  • stenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 76.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 20,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 8,500 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2.0 MPH

We will meet in the early morning of the trip start date at of near the Apgar Ranger Station in West Glacier area of Glacier National Park.  We will position one or more cars at Logan Pass and then proceed with additional car(s) to Kintla Lake in the far NW section of the park.  Drivers may need to get vehicle entry permits to access The Going to the Sun Road and the North Fork Road.  More information will follow.

This is a special trip to a very special place.  Glacier NP is just gorgeous and has superb wildlife--Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Moose, Wolves, Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Wolverine and many more.  Expect to see all of these, except Wolverines and possibly Wolves.  We will very likely, though, hear the wolves howling.  The mountains in Glacier NP have a unique appearance.  They are sedimentary  in origin with broad horizontal striations and are quite a different feel from the local Olympics or Cascades Mountains in Washington. 

Here is the proposed trip itinerary:

This is a Special Leader's Permission Trip due to the unique permitting issue necessary for this trip to happen.  The permitting issues are as follows:

1)  All hopeful participants, up to six (6) will need to enter the "Early Permit Lottery" on March 15th for Glacier NP backcountry permits via website.  All will need to have an account set up with before the  lottery date.  There is a fee for this (not list yet, but likely $10) charged by, payable on March 15th when you apply.   The lottery selection will give you a date when you can register for campsite, based on what is still left at that time. see

2)  Glacier NP only allows four people per campsite--and that will be a tight fit if each has their own tent.  We will be lucky if we get our preferred itinerary with one campsite available each night.  For a group of six we will need two campsite each night.  Odds of two campsite being open each night at each camp (six camps) is much less.  This trip will then allow six (6) participants if we get two campsite per-night or only four (4) participants if we get only one campsite reserved per-night.  If you are selected to go on the trip and get the earliest lottery date, you can be on the trip.  The leader will be on the trip. The others beyond the next two on the list could go (up to six total) if we get a second permit.  I prefer to not have more than six on the trip.

3)  Permits in Glacier NP are $10 for the base permit, plus $7 per person per-night.  That is $42 per-person for 6 night. This would be $168 total for four people or $252 for six people. The $10 base fee is likely covered by the lottery fee.  The earliest lottery winner would need to front this money (pay for the entire group permit) and do the work of permit registration with the directives from the Trip Leader.  Others on the permit will need to remit their cost-$42 back to the permit holder.

Special Registration:

Due to the special nature of this trip, participants will be chosen by application.  It is vitally important that we can work together well as a team, have similar goals and expectations, all have similar conditioning and travel speed and all observe safe wildlife practices.  Those that have been on a previous backpack trip with me will have a leg-up, because I know you and you know my style.  Those that I don't yet know can provide references from those I know and respect in the Mountaineers.  I am planning for a group up to six.   I will choose group members that I believe will have the highest compatibility and skills for success.  I will respond to all applicants by or before March 10th.

Please use the Permission tab on the right sidebar to send in your application.  Send in your application ASAP.  I will respond back with my selections by March 10th.  Please address all of the questions/concerns below:

1) Tell me about your backpacking history.  Have you done long trips of about a week or more?  Please describe details and date.  Can you gain 3,000' in a day with a full backpack?  Can you store in your pack and carry seven days of food for a six night trip?  Note:  You will not need a bear-canister.  They have bear-poles (high bars) at every camp.

2)  If you have not been on several backpack trips with me, please give a reference of someone at the Mountaineers I can consult with about your appropriateness for this trip and your success on past trips.

3) There will be dangerous wildlife on this trip including Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and Moose.  They will likely be on or near the trails and camps.  Are you comfortable with this possibility?  Will you bring required bear-spray? Will you follow Glacier's wildlife safety protocol? 

4)  There will likely be some creeks/rivers to ford and there will be several off-trail explorations to areas, ridges and/or peaks.  Are you okay with this type of travel?  None will be dangerous or too tricky but may have some challenge and unsure footing.

5) Will you reimburse the person registering us/getting the permit your $42, within a week of their gaining the permit?

6) Are you willing to enter the Glacier NP Backcountry Early Lottery to help the group increase our odds of gaining the permits for the itinerary listed above?  This costs $10.  Will you work with the leader to choose his itinerary and then pay for the entire group if you have the earliest lottery date? 

7)  What sort of conditioning, earlier season backpacking trips will you be doing before this trip, this year, to demonstrate proper conditioning for this seven-day trip?  Do you have any health issues that could affect your ability to do this trip comfortably and successfully?

8) Do you understand that both the itinerary and dates shown are approximate and may change according to the campsites that are available on certain days?  They won't change wildly, but may be a day or two earlier or later than listed in the posting.   These things I can't control.

9) This trip requires a lot of logistics, permits and financial investment.  On a scale of 1-10 (10 is high), what is you commitment to making every effort to coming on this trip if you chose to register? Please do not request permission now and decide later if you really want to come.  Do the work upfront to decide if you can really do this and then stick to it.  If you can't make this sort of commitment then this trip is likely not for you.

10)  Is there anything else you would like me to know?  Is there any more information you need from me in your decision making?

Thanks all, I hope you can join me.  This should be an epic and memorable trip.  Rob


Glacier National Park

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Bear Spray
  • Rope to hang your food
  • Trekking poles
Trip Reports