What time you going to Glacier? We were there in Late June last year and GTSR wasn't open yet. :( if going early prepare for that.As many have stated, it depends on the trip - where, how long, what vehicle(s) I’m taking and what I plan to do.
First I decide what the trip is about - exploring, culture, hiking, backpacking, photography, visiting friends or some combination thereof. That leads to the location(s), length, timing and how “planned “ it will be. I’m usually solo, but sometimes meet friends along the way, which means collaborating with those folks. Also, is the place super popular? How hard will it be to find free camping? Should I reserve? Do I want a base camp or to move frequently? Do I need event tickets or access permits?
A good example is visiting Glacier National Park and the surrounding area. I’ll be there for 2 weeks this summer as part of a much longer trip. I want to do a little of everything in Glacier. A friend will fly out and join me for one week. I decided to base camp inside the park, specifically along the GTTS Road, as it negates the need for a vehicle entry pass. We’ll have access to the free shuttle and won’t need to constantly fight for parking. Although she will be in a ground tent, having my hard-sided camper means we won’t get relocated if bears become an issue (yes, this happened to me and the NPS put me on the far side of the park, two hours away. Yikes!). Because we planned, we will: Visit the Canadian side (Waterton Lakes); already have tickets for a boat trip that dovetails into our Grinnell Glacier hike; and will get to experience some very cool Native American culture at the powwow in Browning. We also know all our potential hikes, the Native America Speaks schedule, dining options (Two Sisters huck pie!) and a few other places we’d like to visit if time allows. We can always adjust if an opportunity arises, but having both a plan and knowledge of the options will make the best use of our time. More fun, less stress.
Research and PLANNING for the win on this trip.
If you guessed that I’m a super nerd, you would be correct. Itinerary, expense spreadsheets, packing list, downloaded maps, everything PDF’d and saved in files on my phone (w/hard copy backup) for this type of 8000+ mile excursion.
In contrast, my September trip has only a few planned items and I’ll be winging it for the remainder of the month. Still did my research, just no hard plans. Gonna ramble and explore…