Touring - Glacier NP via Amtrak?
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06-03-08, 03:23 PM
I'm just starting to research a relaxed tour through Glacier for 2009. I have car camped in Glacier many times so I'm very familiar with the park and surrounding area. But I have not toured in/through the park. I'm trying to decide whether to drive out or use Amtrak. I will be coming from Minnesota and could take The Empire Builder to E Glacier or W Glacier and then tour through the park for several days. Yes I know it can be done in a day or two but I want to be there for at least a week.
After looking at the Amtrak website I don't think W Glacier would work because I don't think it has baggage service there. I could start and finish in E Glacier. Has anyone done a trip like this using the Empire Builder? Are there any issues with taking the bike and panniers on the train? If Amtrak is too much of a hassle I will drive out. I would then need to figure out where to leave the car.
Most of the campgrounds in the park have hiker/biker sites which are cheap ($5) and should work well for what I'm planning.
Any comments and feedback would be appreciated.
06-03-08, 03:48 PM
Maybe ship your bike to a motel or bike shop near there and then take the train? Keep us posted on how it works out, that is an area that I definitely want to either cycle tour or backpack.
06-03-08, 03:56 PM
One suggestion would be to start in Whitefish. It is about 20 miles from West Glacier, has an Amtrak station. Not sure about the luggage issues, but you could ship your bike to Glacier Cyclery.
My wife and I are doing something similar this summer. Shipping the bikes to Whitefish, and flying into Kalispell airport.
06-03-08, 04:05 PM
Camp at Many Glacier, take the east side tour bus up to Siyeh Bend* bus stop. Get off the bus there, hike over Piegan Pass, past Morning Eagle falls and back to the campground. You could take the boats across the two lakes and save a few miles of hiking. The boat token is a 5/16" washer, or you can pay cash.
This has "nothing" to do with cycling, but it was one of the best hikes I have ever done in my life. And, oh, don't go to ******* Lake.
*I think it was Siyeh Bend.
06-03-08, 05:25 PM
When I was in Glacier last summer, there was another guy on a bike at the biker/hiker area of the Avalanche Creek campground. He said he had ridden in on the train from the West Coast. I don't know what station he got off at though. I think you should call Amtrak and get the scoop on taking your bike on that train.
06-03-08, 07:30 PM
East Glacier has baggage service.
It's a very nice place to start a bike trip using Amtrak -
IF everything goes O.K.
Unfortunately, the last time I shipped my bike to East Glacier, it got dropped off at Whitefish.
I would encourage you to check the tagging of your bike carefully when you check it. Plus, stand near the baggage car to see that it is offloaded. Since the westbound Empire Builder gets into East Glacier in the evening, you should also watch other baggage stops (Minot & Williston, ND, Havre & Shelby, MT) during the day to make sure your bike isn't offloaded earlier by mistake. These are smoking stops so people get off the train and amble around, anyhoo. Just stroll forward towards the baggage car and watch as they unload.
The only thing I can think is that they had to get my bike box out of the way to unload other baggage in Whitefish and accidentally put the bike on the baggage cart, too. I can halfway remember seeing it thru the window out of the corner of my eye. You know, one of those - "That kinda looks like my bike" moments. Well - it was.
06-03-08, 08:04 PM
Thanks for the good feeback everyone. I will call Amtrak beforehand but of course things could change before next year.
Jamawani was your bike in a box, when they screwed up, or on a rack in the train?
Staehpj1, Glacier is an incredible place! The scenery will just blow you away. I too am a backpacker but have only dayhiked in Glacier. Most of my trips are solo but I didn't want to solo bp in Glacier.
I've always wanted to take the train out to Glacier and hopefully I can work it out with the bike. If not I'll drive out but only as a last resort.
Thanks again everyone. Bill
06-03-08, 09:39 PM
Your bike will have to be boxed to put it on the train. They will charge extra to transport your bike. You have to make sure that there is baggage service at the stop where you will be getting on the train, as well as where you will be getting off. I hate the idea of shipping your bike separately, but it might be a whole lot more convenient to do it that way.
I met a couple of kids that took the train from Cincinnati to W Glacier (I think it was West Glacier, I met them on the west side of Logan Pass, at least, but they might have biked from East Glacier for all I know) in 2003. They circumvented the extra fee for a boxed bike by putting their bikes in giant hockey bags. The bags were technically too large to not be stowed as checked baggage, but apparently the conductors didn't seem to mind, and they were allowed to carry them on, along with the rest of their gear. It was a pretty ingenious solution, but the rear derailer of one of the bikes was damaged en route, so I wouldn't recommend their method.
06-04-08, 12:59 PM
I did a tour around Glacier about 20 years ago and took the Empire Builder from Minneapolis. Back then it was an extra $5 for the bike box to take it on the train, and it was bigger than normal so I only had to remove pedals and turn the handle bars to get the bike in. Plus lots of room for extra gear which doubled as padding. Not sure what the situation is now, but keep us posted since I would like to try it again someday.
Our tour was to start in W Glacier and we were going to get off at Whitefish but found out at the Mpls depot that the Whitefish station was temporarily closed as a baggage stop. The only other option was E Glacier and the Amtrak attendend in Mpls was very helpful in lining us up with a phone and info to make a motel reservation in E Glacier. As it turned out the ride on Hwy 2 across the divide to the west side was a nice plus to the trip. I'd recommend that ride if you get a chance.
06-04-08, 01:18 PM
I can't help you with the specifics of Glacier Park. I take my bike via Amtrak on occasion. I pay $15 for the box and the bike goes as part of my checked baggage. If the panniers are clipped together you should be able to hand carry them as carry luggage. I have never ridden the Empire Builder, I usually use Silver Meteor or the Palmetto.
06-04-08, 05:07 PM
In fact, your bike must be boxed on the Empire Builder and in the baggage car.
Two Medicine is close to East Glacier, nice little climb.
Fabulous location, less visited than places along GTTS Road.
Hiker/Biker campsites, campstore.
There is a boat across the lake and great backcountry camping.
06-04-08, 08:16 PM
Jamawani, that picture brings tears to my eyes for the beauty of that place.....
And it worked fine. We stayed at the lodge within walking distance of the train stop. My one bit of advice is that I think it would be good to plan on something close by for the first overnight as you cannot count on the train to keep on time.
But it was a memorable trip otherwise and the biking was great if not tiring.
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