Frequently Asked Questions
How long have you been in business?
We founded Glacier Guides Inc. in 1983 because no one else was providing ecologically sensitive backcountry guiding and interpretation in Glacier National Park. Four years later we expanded to include rafting on the area's two Wild and Scenic rivers.
Why choose Glacier Guides? Today, with more than 70 guides and support people on our staff, we provide the areas most comprehensive and professional hiking, backpacking and rafting services. We live here because we love it, and we are proud to show off our home. Spend your time enjoying the splendors of Glacier, and let us handle the details.
What about transportation?
All of our river and backpacking trips meet at our office in West Glacier. There are a few instances where guests meet our guides elsewhere (certain Day Hikes and some of our Custom Trips). If you are staying in West Glacier, we are happy to pick you up free of charge for your trip (advanced notice required).
Where we are located: 1 and a half miles west of West Glacier on Highway 2. Look for the Montana Raft / Glacier Guides sign on the north side of the highway between mile markers 151 and 152.
Airports: Kalispell, MT is the closest at 40 minutes away. Other options (3-5 hours) are Missoula (MT), Great Falls (MT), Spokane (WA), or Calgary (AB).
Shuttle Services: There are several shuttles from the airport in Kalispell to West Glacier. They vary in price and need to be reserved ahead of time. A free shuttle inside Glacier National Park runs along the Going-to-the-Sun road from July-early September. There is also a shuttle from Whitefish to Apgar that runs the same dates as the free shuttle in the park.
Train: Amtrak has a stop in West Glacier, and the train station is a mile and a half from our office and just down the hill from our lodge.
If you arrive by car, you may park your vehicle in our shaded parking lot by our office while going on any of our trips.
For more information (links and phone numbers) please see our blog on transformation.
Where can I store my luggage during an overnight trip?
We are located in a safe neighborhood (the bears haven't broken into the cars in years), so if you arrive by car, luggage may safely be stored in your locked vehicle. Alternatively, we do have a storage area available for extra gear that you won't be needing on your trip with us.
How do I make a reservation?
Please call our office at 1-800-521-7238 to make a reservation. Our friendly office staff will answer all your questions and offer advice as you make your reservation. You may also make your reservation right from our web site. We accept all major credit cards.
What should I tip?
We recommend 10-20%.
What's the cancellation policy?
We have several different policies, depending on the type of trip that you are going on. See our full Cancellation Policy.
Where and when should I go?
- When to Visit Glacier Park
- West-side information
- East-side information
- Information about the area
What should we wear hiking?
Please refer to our detailed packing lists for overnight trips and day trips to properly prepare.
How fit do we need to be for backpacking trips?
Daily mileage averages six to eight miles per day. A short day is 3.5 miles and the longest is 12 miles. The weight of an average pack is 35 to 40 pounds. If you are worried about the weight or have youngsters who need help, ask about our Sherpa Service. The highest elevation you can expect to attain is about 8,000 feet with the valley floors at about 4,000-5,000 feet.
All food, cooking gear, water filter and first aid supplies necessary for your trip will be provided. We have tents, sleeping bags, thermarests and backpacks available for rent.
What about the bears?
There are bears (black and grizzlies) in Glacier and we occasionally see them, but we've never had a problem in our 25 years in business. All our guides carry pepper spray just in case.
Where in Glacier National Park do you guide trips?
All of our backpacking trips visit remote parts of the Park, but for several reasons we cannot guarantee a particular hike ahead of time. We must take into account the interest and abilities of our guests, snow conditions, trail crew work, trail closures and availability of backcountry camping sites. We ask guests when making a reservation about special interests and abilities and always try to find an appropriate itinerary based on their requests.
Can we bring alcohol?We do not recommend bringing too much alcohol on our trips (weight is the main factor). You are certainly allowed to bring it though. Most people like bringing a celebratory beer for the trailhead at the end of the trip (let us know if you want to do this, and we can arrange for it to be put in your shuttle).
Professional guides, high quality rafts, Coast Guard approved lifejackets, waterproof bags, splash gear and wetsuits (we are the only company that does not charge extra for wetsuits), and transportation to and from the river.
What should we wear?
Cold weather- Fleece, poly-pro, wool, rain jacket and pants, warm hat. Please refer to our packing list for overnight trips and day trips to properly prepare.
(Rain jacket/pants and wetsuits are provided)
Warm weather- Shorts, bathing suit, sunscreen, shoes or sandals you can get wet.
*For your comfort, we recommend that you bring a towel and an extra change of clothes for after the trip.
(All these items are available for purchase at out office).
How long is the float?
Full day: 14 miles (5-6 hrs)
Half day: 8 miles (2hrs-June, 2-1/2 hrs-July, 3 hrs-Aug).
How many people fit in a raft?
We keep our group sizes small, approx. 8 people per boat.
Can I bring my children on the trip?
This depends on the time of year and what the actual river level is that day. Our rivers are free flowing and not dam controlled so it varies throughout the season. The following is a general rule of thumb:
Early season/high water (until mid June)- Children 10 and older.
Mid season/moderate flows (late June to early July)- Children 8 and older.
Remaining season/moderate to low flows (Mid July through Aug)- Children 6 and older.
What about cameras? Are pictures available?
We don't recommend taking cameras unless they are waterproof. There is a company that take pictures of all rafts going through the whitewater section (mid-June to Labor Day). They are available for you to check out and purchase when you get back to our office.
How safe are these trips?
Our guides go through extensive training each year, and we make every effort to run safe and enjoyable trips. Certain risks are inherent in running the river and you will be required to read and sign our
acknowledgement of risk
prior to any trip.
Can we bring alcohol?
We do not allow people to drink alcohol in any of our boats. You are allowed to bring some for after your trip or during dinner.
Do you offer group rates?
We offer group discounts for groups of 10 or more. Please call us for more information.
What rivers do you fish on?
We run our fly fishing trips on either the Middle Fork or North Fork of the Flathead River, both of which create the western boundary of Glacier National Park and are nationally designated Wild And Scenic. In addition, we have one launch per year on the Smith River in central Montana. This is a strictly regulated river with few launches, great fishing and beautiful scenery. We spend five days floating and camping along the Smith.
Do you provide equipment?
Necessary equipment and flies are included with all trips.
What kind of fish are found in the river?
These waters support native West Slope Cutthroat along with Rainbow and some Brook trout.
Do we need to wear waders?
No, because all of our fly fishing trips are run in stable and maneuverable drift boats although occasionally the use of an inflatable raft is efficacious.
Do you guarantee we will catch fish?
We can't guarantee it but almost every trip has caught trout.
Do we need a Montana State Fishing License?
Yes, you do for the rivers (if you are backpacking with us inside Glacier National Park you do not need a Montana License but you will need a copy of the NPS Fishing Regulations)
What License Do I Need to Fish
Montana FWP Online Licensing System
It is best to have a license in hand prior to meeting your guide at our office. We recommend printing one online or most fly shops and sporting goods stores in Montana sell them as well.