Yellowstone/Glacier N'tl Park kayaking?

-- Last Updated: Jan-14-08 12:30 AM EST --

I'm just starting to plan a 2 week trip for the end of June to Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. How are the crowds around this time? Is it difficult to get some of the first come/first serve campsites? Anything you recommend that we must see? My husband and I will be camping the entire time and want to bring the seakayaks. Anyone have any suggestions for paddling in either of these areas? We're looking for anything from day trips to a 7 day trip. There's a lot of info on the net so it's a bit daunting when I've never been to either of these areas!


Update: Thanks for all the info everyone! I have a lot of leads to pursue now. I didn't think there'd still be snow/ice on the lakes. Does anyone know when that's gone and when it starts to warm up a bit? We were hoping to avoid the summer rush. As far as mosquitos after sunset - we live in MN, our state bird is the mosquito - it's good to know to bring the netting though. If anyone has more advice/tips I'm still interested!

I’ve been to both parks
but it was back in the early 70’s. I hitch hiked from Illinois with my back pack. You’re right, both places are huge, You could never see much of either park in just a weeks time. Teton National Forest,just south of Yellowstone is another unbelievable place. And please, do yourself a favor. You’ve got to at least drive by the mighty Tetons just south of Yellowstone. The Snake River flows between the highway and the peaks. Could be a kayaking moment too? Help us out board? You’ll never see anything like it.

I’d love to return with kayakes just as you’re planning, so I too wait to see responses from this board.

some advice
I’ve paddle camped on Yellowstone Lake for 5 days…and did day paddles on several lakes in Glacier NP; get up early and beat the wind. In both parks it is amazing how at 0600 the water is like a mirror but by 1300 its rock and roll with the tops being blown off the waves.

Sea kayaking in either is a great way to beat the crowds…while at guyser basin we watched with several hundred but after getting into the kayaks we didnt see anyone else for days.

We rented from Snake River Kayaks (hope i’m remembering the name right) for the Yellowstone trip but flew up Feathercrafts for the Glacier NP trip.

I don’t have to tell you about griz do I?

OH, leeches…they are in Yellowstone Lake, you’ll discover them in the shallow bays when you are unloading your kayaks.

The end of June will be getting close
to the end of the high water runoff. The snow pack this year is looking pretty high so I would expect the rivers to calm down a little later, say July 7th to the 15th. Be prepared for faster colder water. Camp at fishing bridge if possible, it is close to both a Yellowstone lake paddle, and you can paddle the river there as well. It would be a good take out spot if you come down the Lamar valley. The Buffalo are more docile this time of year, the Grizzly are not. If you go south, the Tetons, and Jackson in general, is beautiful. Hit the Teton River in Driggs Idaho, and the Greys River for excellent camping, fishing, kayaking. On your way to Glacier you may want to see the Blackfoot river and flathead lake, they are both spectacular sites. Have fun.

Lots of opportunity
for kayaking (sea and WW) in the Glacier area. Lakes McDonald, Bowman, and Kintla are magnificant. Back country camping is available at Bowman & Kintla. Look at the Glacier Park web site for info and reservations as they are limited. Flathead lake has Wild horse Island as a nice side trip. There is WW on all three forks of the Flathead River. (class II-III)

Second McDonald and Kintla in GNP
I’ve paddled both from when I lived near there. Kintla is especially nice because there is a backcountry camp site, complete with bear poles to hoist your gear, at the east end of the lake. You can paddle in 5-6 miles, set up your base camp, and then day hike to some beautiful nearby glacial cirques. You may also hear wolves howl. For rivers near Glacier, the North Fork of the Flathead runs along the western boundary from a cool little town called Polebridge. I don’t remember the actual ratings, but the North Fork is pretty mild when it comes to whitewater. The Middle Fork is a little more active with class II-IV, if I remember correctly. Both are great and offer incredible views.

For Yellowstone, I haven’t paddled Yellowstone Lake, but for rivers you have the Gallatin and the Madison nearby. You can find some whitewater sections, but also lots of calm water and great views. Make sure to hit Boiling Hot Springs in Yellowstone along the highway between Mammoth and Gardiner.

Be ready…
we tent camped at Yellowstone back in '98. Being from KS we were truely amazed by the scenery, the mountains and Yellowstone Lake are gorgous.

During our visit we saw wolf, moose and elk. One night I awoke to the sounds of a wolfpack on a hunt and those howls sent chills up and down my spine. It really makes you realize you’re not in Kansas anymore.

One point of concern, we were eaten alive after sunset. I would get head netting for sure.

Gallatin and Madison
are fairly shallow and full of fishermen. LOL

My trip report is in Places2Paddle
We did 4 days on Yellowstone lake as said above it’s awesome, you are on your own in the backcountry, definitely reserve both front and backcountry campsites in advance. Be prepared for extreme quiet, we heard voices once, there was a powerboat setting about a mile away.

May be too early for camping permits
In at least some years, NPS did not allow backcountry camping on Yellowstone or Shoshone Lakes till about mid-July. They want to give the bears a head start on replenishing their lost fat (post-hibernation) before humans come along with their food scraps and cooking smells.

There is an excellent guide to paddling at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (see Shopping section here). We have used it as one of the resources to plan our own trips. Good opps for both camping and day trips. The book does not cover Glacier National Park.

Flathead Lake is worth looking at, too. We did a couple of day trips on it, and the water is beautifully clear. It is a HUGE lake. We’re going back there this spring.

When you come to the Flathead
plan on a paddle out to Wild Horse Island. There are lots of Big Horn sheep there. Cedar Island is nice too and the painted rocks are nearby.

Flathead Lake
You may also want to paddle on Flathead Lake a bit. It’s a little south of Glacier, it’s huge, and the scenery is beautifull

Grand Tetons
Paddling at Grand Tetons was fantastic. Yellowstone is huge and if you want to see the park dont stay in one campground or you will rack up a lot of miles and driving time. You can go right up through GT into Yellowstone and then on to Glacier. The post about the wind is no joke. It can go from calm to dangerous quickly.

Me too
Anyone else have anything about these areas - I plan on the same type of trip this year in about a month.

How is the weather June 1st and on.