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Glacier

It's been several years, but we camped near Saint Mary lake and went to a local restaurant near the east entrance of the park - it was a small diner-type place and its well-known for its pies. If you ask around someone will know the name. I still remember the pie, and it was the best I have ever had.

Also, if you are driving up from the Tetons to Glacier you will pass the Montana Bread company on your way - I recall them having excellent bread and sandwiches.

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Thanks Kate and Rieux! We'll probably be in Jackson for one or two meals. We're planning to spend most of the time in the parks (and eating Xanterra food), but we're certainly willing to drive a bit for a memorable (food and/or scenery) meal.

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Missoula

Immediately two places in Missoula sprang to mind: Iron Horse Brewpub and Butterfly Herbs. And then I remembered it was 1994 when I was last there. <slapping forehead> But a quick Google search shows that both are still in business. At any rate Missoula is (was, anyway) a liberal college town in a sea of conservatism, and in my (limited) experience such places are always worth looking into for Something Different. Please post about your trip once you're back.

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Jackson

A few years ago we were in Jackson with a small group of friends. A highlight of the trip, of which there were many, was a lunch we had at the Rising Sage Cafe at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, a few miles north of Jackson. The food was better than expected, but the best part was the setting, outside on the patio overlooking the National Elk Refuge and Sleeping Indian. An enchanting place to spend part of a summer's afternoon. The museum's architecture and collections are worth a look as well. Chief, the painting of an American bison by Robert Bateman, haunts me still.

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Jackson; Grand Teton; West Glacier; Butte; Yellowstone

I fear that I must disappoint Rieux. Park Cafe's pies have taken quite a dip, the slice I had was doughy and uninspired, even though it was a flavor recommended by the staff. We did find pie bliss elsewhere.


The good
- Rendevous Bistro in Jackson is excellent, relaxed setting with good food and knowledgable staff. This was a clear favorite of the trip.
- Snake River Grill in Jackson is also very good, in a see and be seen sort of way. The interior was straight out of Architectural Digest (fancy Western ski lodge). Maybe a bit too much artiface for my taste, but the food is undeniably good and the staff knows how to make you (in our case, dirty unwashed hikers) feel important.
- Peaks at Signal Mountain Lodge (Grand Teton) has decent to good food, great views and good service, and quite possibly the best blackberry pie I've ever had. Flaky, light as air crust and tasty filling. Get this pie.
- Belton Chalet, near West Glacier, serves very hearty and tasty fare. This is not food you can eat everyday or even every week, but it really hits the spot after a good dayhike. - Izaak Walton's, near Marias Pass (this is an alternate to Going to the Sun Road when traversing from East Glacier to West Glacier) is very good. Fun interior and theme, good waitstaff, good ingredients cooked to proper temperature and somewhat creatively (for the region) sauced. The desserts are also delicious.
- Kalispell Grand Hotel - nice alterntive to chain hotels. This place is 100 years old and neat as a pin. Their breakfast has a nice selected of homebaked goods and they give out tasty cookies in the afternoon. The only downside is that the location can be relatively noisy.
- Johnson's of St. Mary - hearty and tasty food, the supper options are very good. The sides (esp. mashed potato and gravy) came out of the box. Good soup. If you have a big appetite and are not picky, consider the Zack's Bear Attack option. It will make the most disgusting chain fast food offerings look sedate by comparison. Ours also happen to be really tasty.
- Uptown Cafe in Butte - Good food for the price. Nothing world changing, just good food with good service, at a good price.

The acceptable
- Yellowstone Lake Lodge Dining Room - a major step up from our other Xanterra experience at Mammoth Dining Room (see below), but still not good. The prices are high, the cooking temperatures are off, and the saucing is pathetic. Still, if you're in Yellowstone and don't have a choice, this might be one of your better meal options.
- Park Cafe (outside of St. Mary) - decent diner food with lots of atmosphere and friendly staff. However, the much vaunted pies were not good. Thin doughy crust (they tried for flaky, but maybe it just sat too long and ended up doughy) and the fillings were not that tasty. This is a long way from Peaks.
- Vimy's (Waterton) - The food is okay. We sat at the lounge and it was a nice place to relax.
- Pioneer Grill at Jackson Lake Lodge (Grand Teton) - average to decent diner foods. The service can be erratic as the location is staffed by 18 and 19 year olds, some of whom are ditzy. It's a big diner setup, which might be an interesting place to take the kids.

The awful
- Mammoth Dining Room. Stale cold bread, overcooked meats, and badly prepared brought back my worst middle school cafetaria lunch experiences. Clumsy inexperienced staff.

Other matters
If you plan to backcountry hike, buy bear spray at the start of the trip. Otherwise you'll freak yourself out. The bears are definitely here, especially in Glacier National Park.
I found hiking much better in Glacier and Grand Teton. Yellowstone's soil doesn't support the diversity of plant life, so there's less to see.
Most of Glacier's classic hikes don't really open until mid July, which is a major drawback of going early in the season (in addition to the uncertainty about Going-to-the-Sun road opening). The upside of going early is that the crowds are small and it was easy to find accommodations and parking spaces.
There are lots of bison in Yellowstone. Also, lots of idiots who are willing to walk within 5 feet of a bison to pose for pictures.

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Other matters

If you plan to backcountry hike, buy bear spray at the start of the trip. Otherwise you’ll freak yourself out. The bears are definitely here, especially in Glacier National Park.

There are lots of bison in Yellowstone. Also, lots of idiots who are willing to walk within 5 feet of a bison to pose for pictures.

My Aunt worked out there for a few months, hilarious what tourists would do. They also parked their cars all next to one anothers as there was a big elk that if he saw his reflection in a car would think it was another Elk and charge. You can also hike with bear bells...

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We were told several times that bear bells and bear whistles may actually attract bears. We put off buying bear spray because they cost about $30 and cannot be taken on planes.

The supposedly best option is to hike in a large group and talk loudly, especially before blind corners. When confronted with a bear, give them space to pass. We did all that, and had a bear that slowly followed (freaked out) us on the trail for several minutes.

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