Glacier NP solo?

3:51 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

any experience going solo in glaciers backcountry 5-6 nights in July?

how about hikes to hole in the wall, browns pass?

Gunsight pass trail, sperry glacier? Other trails worth considering?

friends cant go so contemplating it solo. hiked 1-2 nights in 08 and have to go back! WOW.

whats the latest with parks allowing weapons now. heard it just passed.

wonder how many people will be toting handguns v. bear spray.

any suggestions are welcome.


6:40 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,897 forum posts

While we have an indefinite moratorium on the always controversial guns-in-the-backcountry topic, I will briefly update readers on the firearms rule change that went into effect in National Parks on Monday.


New Firearms Law Takes Effect Monday - National parks now subject to state and local firearms laws

A change in federal law effective Monday, February 22, allows firearms in many national parks. People who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law can now possess those firearms in the national parks in that state. The new law (Sec. 512 of P.L. 111-24) was passed by Congress and signed last May by the President.

Prior to February 22, firearms have generally been prohibited in national parks – except in some Alaska parks and those parks that allow hunting.

State and local firearms laws vary. Visitors who would like to bring a firearm with them to a national park need to understand and comply with the applicable laws. More than 30 national parks are located in more than one state, so visitors need to know where they are in those parks and which state’s law applies.

“For nearly 100 years, the mission of the National Park Service has been to protect and preserve the parks and to help all visitors enjoy them,” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said. “We will administer this law as we do all others – fairly and consistently.”

Federal law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in designated “federal facilities” in national parks, for example, visitor centers, offices, or maintenance buildings. These places are posted with “firearms prohibited” signs at public entrances. The new law also does not change prohibitions on the use of firearms in national parks and does not change hunting regulations.

Park websites have been updated to include links to state firearms laws to help visitors understand the law and plan accordingly.

Sec. 512 of P.L. 111-24, an amendment to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, also directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow state and local firearms laws in national wildlife refuges.

According to, guns will be allowed in all but about 20 parks, and guns will be allowed in 551 national wildlife refuges.

Okay, topic closed for now. Let's discuss Glacier NP.

8:14 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

so what are your thoughts on GNP and a solo trip? I've heard just about everything from its the best backcountry experience (if solo)you could ever have to you shouldn't do it. looked into a guided tour but 1x1 is too expensive you have to pay for a min of 4 people. if you join a group of up to 5 others its a crap shoot as to who you'll be with or their ability. guide company said you may share a tent with another from tour which I'm not into. If anyone has done it solo I'd like to hear your experiences and what you may have done different knowing what you know now.

thank you


12:15 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
52 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

I'm often accused of being overly cautious, but my thought on the matter comes from a classic addage. If ya gotta ask...

No one knows your skill level better than you. You know where you've been, what you've encountered, and what difficulties the terrain, the circumstances, and your physical fitness have presented. If you're unsure about soloing GNP, it's because of some deficiency in either your knowledge of what to expect while you're there, or your knowledge of what to expect from yourself when you cannot rely on anyone else.

Now, if you'd have phrased it as "I'm going to solo GNP. What are some things others have experienced that I might not expect," then I'd feel differently.

FWIW, I wouldn't do it, but then I'm a relative novice whose limits remain largely untested.

1:15 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

I guess im not a phraseology expert.

I only need feedback from those who have the experience on a trip like this -- more specifically GNP. Im quite capable. thanks.

I don't have the local knowledge of the park that others may have so I have asked the question.

at the end of the day i will figure out if this is something I choose or not choose to do. there may be areas that one would recommend and other areas not. a local guide said the Nyack/Coal area would NOT be the best area for a solo 45 miler due to several reasons which most are not wildlife related. that is good feedback.

I have experienced a sow grizzly with 2 cubs within feet from my tent in the middle of the night without incident. Been within 100' of 3 bull moose staring me down and I quietly backed away. I big game hunt and feel quite comfortable around animals large and small.

Most of my concerns (about GNP) are unabridged water crossings (depth and current) or how far is help if one does get injured, ie sprains, falls, etc. Most GNP deaths are from drownings. I also don't need a trail that is 60% covered in blown down trees for 10 miles. a satellite phone is a good thing to have if solo and can be rented by the week.

Im trying to get info on Bowman to Kintla lake loop, Browns Pass, Gunsight Trail , Highline and Swiftcurrent pass to Iceberg lake.

there are alot of people out there with alot of experience that I am only trying to tap upon so I don't have to re-invent the wheel for something obvious. Having only been to GNP once, I need more info to gain a better perspective. anyone with backcountry expereince in this park should chime in whether it be solo in two's or groups of 5. isn't this what a forum is for?

I just prefer 1-2 people and it appears my friend can't make it this year so do I go alone or not go is the question I have to answer?

I would imagine in mid to late July every BC campground would be full and most trails busy so I don't think not seeing anyone for 6 days is an option.


1:57 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,897 forum posts

Unfortunately, I have not made it to Glacier yet, so I have no first-hand knowledge to share. I do have a guidebook I bought nine years ago when we were going to go...but we bought our house instead.

What are the specific solo concerns about Glacier that have been raised? If you have a lot of backpacking experience in similar terrain, including solo, and are willing to alter plans as necessary, I'd still consider going.

You also could contact the rangers at Glacier directly, tell them your experience level, and ask your questions of them. Say I'm planning X trip, and want to know about X stream crossing in X month. I bet they'd be happy to provide some feedback.

2:21 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

you have some fine points here Alicia. I have talked to a local guide company about the Nyack region, but have yet to talk with park rangers. although it is not illegal to solo hike or camp they don't encourage it for many of the reasons I listed above.

can you give me your email if I want to talk directly with you. your page shows you have alot of experience in all sorts of outdoor activities. I'm new to TS, but have many years of mostly hunting in the NW, Canada and Alaska. Solo BPking in other areas of Montana (big sky area just NW of Ystone.)

your options are very limited during emergency situations if alone. but everything has its risk. Whats is it to you is the real question.


2:23 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
2 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

i've also got the guide books, been researching online, looking at park maps, even youtube you can put in a trail and most likely see a video of it.

try it. youtube...glacier hole in the wall or gunsight pass trail....

but nothing beats talking with others who have done it!!

11:32 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
78 reviewer rep
440 forum posts


I'm hoping not to offend, but must say I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're concerned about. I think I hear you saying you're very experienced and very comfortable in the back country, including areas very similar to Glacier. I also think I understand you to say you've got previous experience on your own out in the woods, but at other moments I'm not so sure.

As far as the park goes, it's risks are similar in type but variable in size to/from those of, say, Yellowstone. What I mean by this is that both have similar wildlife, general terrain features, etc. The exception to this is the obvious geologic difference--Yellowstone is, in essence, one big volcano, and has a tremendous amount of hot springs and other geothermal activity that Glacier doesn't.

I've been in and around Glacier and the wilderness areas that neighbor it several times, both in groups and solo. On foot and horseback. Haven't done it in winter, but have seen seasons change there. I've not been there in last 4-5 years, so can't claim truly current knowledge, but I've not heard of major changes, at least that I recall at present.

I'm comfortable with the idea of a solo trip in Glacier--for myself. Can't and won't speak for others. As for whether the local rangers "encourage" solo trips, I'm not sure that I'd make too much of a lack of encouragement. I'd be disappointed if they weren't conservative about such recommendations to those they don't know well.

If it's water-related hazards specifically you're worried about, then discussion with local rangers and others with specific and current (pardon the pun) info, along with proper guidebook consultation, should yield reasonable recommendations. A good general rule about potentially nasty rivers and such is to get up-to-date information about flow rates, water levels, and so forth from people who make it their business to know.

Glacier (and Waterton, and the surrounding areas) are absolutely stunning in their beauty. I consider the title of "Crown of the Continent" well deserved. If you do undertake a trip to Glacier NP, respect it, and follow regulations and the usual bits about LNT, trail behavior, and camping common sense. In which case, I expect you'll have a great time.

2:41 p.m. on February 26, 2010 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,897 forum posts

I think others have given some good advice above.

If you've done your research, including contacting the rangers and other services for specifics, and are still unsure or uncomfortable with the idea, then consider a different trip or a modified version.

In my opinion, if you're going solo, especially to a new, challenging, and/or remote location, you should feel 100% comfortable and confident with the choice, regardless of whether or not you'll have a SAT phone, PLB, or any other emergency device on you.

Sorry, I can't tell you whether to go or not, but ultimately it's a personal decision you have to own. You know your ability and experience best.

I'll add, that I'm curious to know what you learn, what you decide, and if you do go, how it turns out. Good luck.

May 20, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Suggestions for good 2-3 day kid friendly hikes? Newer: Palm Springs/Mt. San Jacinto
All forums: Older: Mtn Hardware tents/backpacks Newer: Wanted: MSR Trekker Insert