Montana & Alberta, Canada - Trip Report, August 2017

AquamarineSteph

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
We just returned from the adults only ABD Montana & Alberta, Canada trip. What a great adventure! If you have never seen this part of the US or Canada, you are in for a treat!

I have to figure out the logistics for posting a photo here. Then I plan to do a trip report which includes our three pre-days in Whitefish, Montana. We (we being me and my other half) flew from Nashville to Minneapolis/St. Paul to Kalispell, Montana to arrive at Glacier Park International Airport. We found it amusing that the plane that flew us into Montana was much larger and newer than the plane which flew us from Nashville to Minneapolis.

Just for a first try, let me see if I can post this first photo...

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  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    This itinerary was actually supposed to be my 2nd ABD back in 2009, but that was during the infamous plummeting economy that caused ABD to have to cancel several ABDs due to lack of enrollment. So I ended up going to Alaska instead (which *was* wonderful!) Somehow, I've never circled back to try this one again. I'm looking forward to seeing your report. Maybe it will get put back on the list. :)

    Sayhello
     

    AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Pre-Adventure, Nights 1, 2 and 3


    We arrived early for this trip for a variety of reasons, but most important for the purpose of this trip report is the fact that the Adventure only offers one arrival transfer for the entire group on day 1 of the Adventure. I didn’t want to risk missing that ride, so we arrived early, flying into Glacier International and staying in nearby Whitefish.


    There was another reason we arrived early. I had read in an older trip report for this Adventure that the person was glad they’d arrived early because they wanted to explore Glacier National Park a little more that what the Adventure allowed. So we planned to do some hiking and exploring on our own as well before we joined the group.


    (Note - Many hotels in both Kalispell and Whitefish offer free airport to hotel shuttle service, but the place where we stayed did not offer any other free transportation services. Since we wanted to see things, that meant renting a car.)


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    Anyway, moving along to Glacier National Park. It’s a hiker’s paradise, and we tried to take advantage of as much of that as possible. The park service offer a free shuttle service which takes you along Going to the Sun Road and deposits you at or near many of the most popular trailheads. You can also drive yourself up the road and park at various locations. One of the most popular places to stop and hike is at Logan's Pass. They have a great sign there (photo op!) for the Continental Divide.


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    There are also opportunities to see wildlife there.

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    A couple of restaurants to recommend in Whitefish. Casey’s Pub and Grill was fun and served huge appetizers and terrific fish and chips. Loula’s Cafe (located in the basement of the old Masonic Hall) served the hands down best breakfast of the trip, and that’s even comparing it with extravagant buffet breakfasts at the two Fairmont Hotels which were part of the Adventure.


    Next up - we join the Adventure!
     
  • AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Adventure, Day 1


    We checked out of our hotel and dropped off our rental car at the airport. Glacier is a small airport. To return the car, you pull into the correct parking lot for your rental car company. Then you walk into the airport and drop off the keys in a box at the desk of the correct company.


    Then we went to find our guides who were set up near the baggage claim area. Our guides for this trip were Benji and Kaley. They took our luggage for us, and we only had to wait a little while for the last flight of Adventurers to arrive at the airport. Then we were able to get on the bus outside (driven by Matty) to take us to our first hotel, the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.


    (Note: Some of the people on our trip arrived early and went ahead and checked into the Glacier Park Lodge. There are two ways to do this. You can rent a car at the airport and drive back/forth both ways to reach the hotel and return the rental car. You can also take the train to the station outside the hotel. Amtrak offers service there, although I believe it may be seasonal. Given how far the first night Adventure hotel is from the arrival airport, I’d take the train to East Glacier or stay in Kalispell or Whitefish near the airport if you wish to arrive early.)

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    The hotel is very cool and historic. It does not have a/c which was not an issue. It does not have televisions in the room which was an issue for at least one person on the trip. It does have great wifi. The rooms are tiny, so I’ve included pictures of our room so you can see that these rooms were designed for an earlier era of traveler.


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    Private bathrooms were also added AFTER this hotel was originally built, so some rooms had steps up the bathrooms which were extremely tiny. There is barely room to turn around in the shower. I’m not telling you this to discourage you. The property is amazing. We had communal balcony outside our room which was lovely, and you seriously cannot beat the friendly service we received there. But you should know ahead of time that the rooms are historic and not like staying at the Holiday Inn.

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    After checking in, we had the welcome dinner outside on the lawn. It was chilly. Jackets were required, but the food was great. There was an open bar. (This was an adult only adventure.) And the entertainment was fantastic.


    Next up - the first full day of the Adventure.
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Where did you stay in Whitefish and would you recommend it?

    The rooms at Glacier Park Lodge (size and amenity wise) remind me a bit of our stay at Yellowstone in the Old Faithful Inn. My DD (10 at the time) said "No TV? No bathroom? Mom, you booked us the worst room ever!" I really enjoyed the lack of TVs and the communal bathrooms (reminded me of college!) but you can't please everyone.
     

    AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Where did you stay in Whitefish and would you recommend it?

    The rooms at Glacier Park Lodge (size and amenity wise) remind me a bit of our stay at Yellowstone in the Old Faithful Inn. My DD (10 at the time) said "No TV? No bathroom? Mom, you booked us the worst room ever!" I really enjoyed the lack of TVs and the communal bathrooms (reminded me of college!) but you can't please everyone.
    We stayed at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish. We actually WON a room there through an online contest after I had booked this trip. Shocked me to no end, but it was a gorgeous property.

    [edit to add- YES. I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Lovely place & comfortable room.]

    The rooms at Glacier Park Lodge each had a private bathroom, but it was tiny, tiny, tiny. The hair dryer was hanging from the hook on the back of the door. But this is an historic property, so you have to be prepared to trade a little comfort for its unique location and construction.
     
  • tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    We stayed at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish. We actually WON a room there through an online contest after I had booked this trip. Shocked me to no end, but it was a gorgeous property.
    That's wonderful! Congrats :)

    this is an historic property, so you have to be prepared to trade a little comfort for its unique location and construction.
    I am one who will trade quirky/historic/charming for a few amenities. Some of my traveling partners (cough cough, DD, DH, DF) not so much.
    That said, I also love Fairmonts which I believe were part of the trip. So all sorts of hotel rooms :)

    Really appreciate this trip report, I haven't read a lot about this ABD.
     

    AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Adventure, Day 2


    This was a fabulous trip, but my one complaint was on the two days like this one. The hotel started serving breakfast at 6:30. We had to be on the bus at 7:15. For some people, this is not a hardship. For me, 15 more minutes would have made all the world of difference.


    Anyway, this trip has several long days. The guides know this and plan accordingly, but I’m just giving you a heads up. I think it’s one of the reasons why so many meals are included on this Adventure. There are long days and many parts of them are spent in remote locations.


    First up today was the white water rafting OR the float trip. We opted for the float trip. Rubber boots and waterproof jackets are available to everyone on both trips. From what I heard, the rapids were WAY more exciting earlier in the season. BUT one person went headfirst off the rapids raft on this Adventure. On the float trip, we just did a little paddling and saw a law of birds and fishing people. The guide on our raft was fabulous. It was his first season doing this trip, but he clearly was good at his job.


    After that we had a catered lunch. Then it was onto the Red Bus tour at Glacier National Park. The Red Bus tours are also historic in nature. They allow water on their busses but don't like any other food or drink. Our guide, Mike, was a wonderful guy who is also married to the mayor of St. Louis. Go figure.

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    The Red Bus tours go up the Going to the Sun road, stopping briefly at Logan’s Pass. You can run to the restroom or the gift shop, but that’s about all you have time to do on that stop. (If you have the National Parks Passport book for stamps, you can get it stamped at Logan’s Pass. They also have the stickers for sale there for the book.)

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    On our way down to the other side of the road, we had one stop where we took a brief walk. Then we boarded our busses again and saw our first bear! The guides said it was the first time they had seen a bear on that road, so it was special for everyone. (Please note - I have no bear photos, but I'm hoping for some when the group photos are available from our guides.)

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    In the evening, you have a voucher for dinner in the hotel restaurant which includes an appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert. Normally you could purchase alcoholic beverages there and pay for them, but the Blackfeet nation was having a special event that started that day which meant that the hotel could not sell alcoholic beverages. Our guides arranged for us to make a stop before we returned to the hotel where beer/wine could be purchased on your own if you wanted something for that evening.


    Next up - Day 3
     
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    carpenta

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing. We enjoyed this trip and the was glad to have the opportunity to stay in historic hotels. Yes the rooms could be "rustic" but it is the natural beauty that surrounds you that is the real focus to us. No T.V. or internet? Now I call that a real vacation.
     

    Pooh2

    Dis Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 2, 2011
    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip and seeing your photos!
    We are headed to Glacier National Park next month for the first time. Really looking forward to it!
     

    AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Beautiful!

    I'd have a hard time with that early and that short of a time for breakfast and then to the bus!! YIKES!

    Sayhello
    We only had that tight turn around on two mornings. The rest of the adventure was not that bad on the early morning breakfast starts to being on the bus time.
     

    AquamarineSteph

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2013
    Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing. We enjoyed this trip and the was glad to have the opportunity to stay in historic hotels. Yes the rooms could be "rustic" but it is the natural beauty that surrounds you that is the real focus to us. No T.V. or internet? Now I call that a real vacation.
    See, I love the charm of old hotels that are still in existence. You can walk those halls and imagine early visitors arriving by train in a flurry of porters and trunks. It is an incredible place.
     

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