How to See Glacier National Park By Bike & Train

Oct 2nd, 2019

Pam Murray of Charlotte, North Carolina won an Amtrak train trip with roomette and bike fees for two to Glacier National Park—just for registering for Bike Your Park Day in 2018. The Amtrak trip was part of the Bike Travel Weekend and Bike Your Park Day sweepstakes. Pam documented her trip, which included planes, trains, automobiles—and bikes. 

Thanks to Adventure Cycling and Amtrak for the train trip with roomette and bike fees for two to Glacier National Park. What a great trip! And I got to take my friend Geoff Fey who said he always wanted to go to Glacier. The scenery is so gorgeous that there really are no words to describe it well. I mean even things like majestic, stunning and awesome pale in comparison to the experience of being there. This was the first time I’ve taken my bike on the plane. And I was grateful to have a roomette and roll on bike service on Amtrak. Trains and bikes take longer but as the Tao saying goes "the journey is the reward."

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam started her trip by flying to Portland with her bike and riding across the river to Vancouver to see a friend.
Pam Murray

Day 1

Fly to PDX with bike. Thank goodness American Airlines changed the baggage fee to only $40 to fly with my bike. I was nervous about putting the bike in a box but Eric from Trips for Kids/Recyclery helped me and the bike made it unscathed. Homeland Security does open the box but the bike was okay. Can you tell I’m concerned about my bike? 

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam and sculptor Jennifer tour public art in Vancouver by bike.
Pam Murray

Day 2

Wow. The temperature is cool and the humidity is low. What a nice change from North Carolina. Rode across the river to Vancouver, Washington to visit my college roommate Jennifer Corio who is a public sculpture artist (Cobalt Designworks). I’m navigating the way I always do with a cue card written down from a route I’d planned on Ride with GPS. I’m glad I downloaded the offline maps and GPS generally works so I could see where I was relative to the route. Had to stop to ask for directions many times since paths, bikeways are not as well marked as streets.  In Vancouver, we took a bike tour to see all of her sculptures. Rode 22 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam and John, the owner of Rivelo and the namesake for John’s Irish Straps. 
Pam Murray

Day 3

Rode back to Portland. Went to a Rivelo, the Rivendell bike dealer and Chrome Industries. Grabbed lunch, tea, went to yoga class, dinner at Nong’s Khao Man Gai and ice cream at Fifty Licks. Back to pack the bags for Seattle and Glacier. Rode 27 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam enjoyed Ian’s Pizza in Seattle before boarding the train to Glacier National Park.
Pam Murray

Day 4

Rode to Portland Amtrak Station to go to Seattle. We had a four-hour layover so we met up with Colin of Wheeltalk Seattle (podcast) after we went to Ian’s Pizza where we got our Bike Benefits and thanked them for being on the Seattle Bike Benefits Bingo card this year. Colin met us and took us by the Space Needle to Pike Place Market where I picked up some nectarines and Rainier cherries. We got to the train station in plenty of time. I should’ve checked my bag so I wouldn’t have to ride around with it. I know for next time. I couldn’t pedal up Yesler, and had to get off and walk it. Too much weight! Glad to get 14 miles riding around in Seattle. The train ride was long– about 14 hours or something like that. We boarded the train, had dinner, took a shower, went to sleep, had breakfast, got our stuff together, then got to East Glacier Amtrak station at 9:44 am the next day. Lost wifi after Seattle. Rode 14 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam and Geoff explore Glacier National Park by bike.
Pam Murray

Day 5

Arrived at East Glacier, rode to the cabin and dropped off our bags. Headed to lunch at the diner then to the Lodge to figure out hikes, trailheads, shuttles. We decided to rent a car for the next day since the trailhead to Grinnell Glacier was 55 miles away. We got everything squared away then rode to Two Medicine to hike. Beautiful ride to the trailhead. We saw a bear crossing the road and later saw a mountain goat near the lake. Short hike at running Eagle Falls. Beautiful vistas. Then a nice ride back with a stop for provisions at the gas station. Rode 33 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam rides to Two Medicine in Glacier National Park.
Pam Murray

Day 6

Rode to pick up the rental car to go to Many Glacier to the Grinnell Glacier trailhead. We hiked most of the day. Come to find out it was a difficult hike. I was afraid I’d be sore and not able to ride the next day. Drove through Glacier National Park from east to west through Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun road through St. Mary’s and West Glacier. It was cloudy but there was a clearing so I blew up my air mattress and laid out under the stars. We could see the Milky Way, lots of stars and even saw a shooting star. Rode 6 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam and Geoff on their way to Grinnell Glacier.
Pam Murray

Day 7 

Got a ride for us and our bikes to Two Medicine to do a few more hikes before we had to leave. Saw a moose and a mountain goat and went to a Aster Falls. Amtrak was nice enough to let us drop our bags at the station during the day since we’d checked out of the cabin earlier in the day. The train was late so I rode to the playground at the school since I’d be on the train for a long time. We barely made it back to the train and hurriedly rolled our bikes on board. We had a late dinner, shower and went to bed, got up the next day for breakfast then arrived in Seattle. Rode 19 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Getting ready to board the train in East Glacier.
Pam Murray

Day 8

We only had a couple hours in Seattle but managed to grab Dim Sum. It was easier riding because I’d checked my bag for the next leg to Portland. You need to know in advance which bag and stuff you can check and what you want to take on the train. (I wanted my pjs and shower stuff and snacks.) We also had time to go by Peloton Cafe, another Bike Benefits business who was on the Seattle Bike Benefits Bingo card this year. Stopped at Pike Place Market again for more cherries. Dinner in Portland. Rode 11 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
Pam in Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Pam Murray

Day 9

I had a day to ride around Portland by myself. I went to the Community Cycling Center, got a piece of blackberry pie at Random Order Pie shop, back to Rivelo to get a Randi Jo feedbag. Then went to find North St. Bags to check them out. Picked up a couple reflective straps which can be worn as leg or wrist straps (good for signaling at night). I had to box my bike for the flight home and have dinner and pack before the red eye flight back. Good idea but I’ll never do that again. Bad in reality. My sleep got so messed up. Glad to be home but hard to leave the beautiful mountains of the west. Rode 20 miles.

Glacier National Park, bike travel, bike touring, Amtrak, Pam Murray
A mural at the Community Cycling Center in Portland.
Pam Murray