Glacier National Park

What was originally supposed to be a trip to three national parks (Glacier National Park in the USA and Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada) ended up being just a road trip to Glacier, since the Canadian border was closed due to COVID-19. It was still a great trip and well worth the drive across the plains. Which hey, have the badlands, so that was fun too. We’ll just have to go back and hit the Canadian parks someday.

Food and Beverage $30 per day

Average per person per day. We bought breakfast and lunch at the grocery store and ate dinners out. Includes adult beverages.

Lodging $61-$122 per night

Grand Forks was least expensive; Medora the most expensive.

Transportation $383

Gas for our vehicle. We drove 4900 miles at 30 MPG average.

Entertainment $90

We purchased a lifetime senior national park pass.

Days 1-4: Driving from Michigan to Montana

Planned Activities

  • Munising, Michigan
  • Park Rapids, Minnesota
  • Medora, North Dakota

Actual Activities

  • Munising, Michigan
  • Park Rapids, Minnesota
  • Medora, North Dakota

The Plan: Drive north through Michigan’s upper peninsula then across the northern USA to Montana. We plan on spending two nights in Medora to check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  

The Reality: The plan worked well. While we had long days of driving they were bearable. The national park had just enough stuff to keep us interested for a day and Medora was a surprisingly cute little tourist town to wander around in. 

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Drive from home

1,237 miles

Stay at

Terrace Inn, Munising
Walker Motel, Minnesota
Amble Inn, Medora

Get around by driving

Days 5-12: Glacier National Park

Planned Activities

  • Hiking (Avalanche Lake, Highline, St Mary waterfalls, Hidden Lake?)
  • Sightseeing in the park

Actual Activities

  • Hiking (Avalanche Lake, Highline, St Mary waterfalls, Hidden Lake Overlook)
  • Sightseeing in the park
  • Day trip to Whitefish

The Plan: Spend three nights on the east side of the park and five nights on the west side. IF the east side of the park isn’t closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Reality:  The east side was closed, so we spent all eight nights on the west side. Because the east side was closed we were also unable to visit the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas, which was disappointing. We enjoyed ourselves, though we probably could have covered what we did in five days. It was nice having extra time work around smoke from wildfires and rain.

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Drive from Medora

558 miles

Stay at

Meadow Lake Inn
Peacefull Retreat, Columbia Falls

Get around by driving

Days 13-17: Banff National Park

Planned Activities

  • Hiking
  • Sightseeing in the park

Actual Activities

  •  

The Plan: Spend five nights exploring the park and surrounding area.   

The Reality: US-Canadian border was closed. 

Days 18-23: Jasper National Park

Planned Activities

  • Drive the Icefields Parkway
  • Hiking
  • Sightseeing in the park

Actual Activities

  •  

The Plan: Spend six days exploring the park and the surrounding area. After some research we decided to devote an additional day to Jasper over Banff.

The Reality: US-Canadian border was closed. 

Days 13-20: Driving from Glacier back to Michigan

Planned Activities

  • Williston, North Dakota
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Grand Marais, Minnesota
  • Marquette, Michigan

Actual Activities

  • Williston, North Dakota
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Schroeder, Minnesota
  • Marquette, Michigan

The Plan: Drive back through the northern USA, again by way of Michigan’s upper peninsula, stopping at the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Lake Superior coast in Minnesota and Marquette.

The Reality: The national park proved a good stopping point on the way back, too. We hit rain and fog along the Lake Superior coast in Minnesota and Michigan but that’s not uncommon. We just did a little less hiking. There weren’t any reasonably priced lodgings in Grand Marais so we stayed down the coast. 

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Drive from Columbia Falls

1840 miles

Stay at

Microtel, Williston
Expressway Suites, Grand Forks
Superior Ridge Motel, Grand Marais
Quality Inn, Marquette

Get around by driving

Resources

  • The Glacier National Park website was a key resource both for planning the trip and for planning daily activities while we were there. Weather and parking can both influence those.
  • Hiking in Glacier.com was a great resource for hiking information. It categorizes hikes by difficulty, location, and features and lists recommended hikes. It also had helpful information on accommodations. 
  • The Theodore Roosevelt National Park website is a good source of information about this lesser known (at least to us) park.