Me and my girlfriend are going on a road trip in early August, and the first week will be spent at one of the two above locations. The things we're hoping for, roughly in order, are:
1. Beautiful alpine landscapes.
2. Good hiking.
3. Lots of animal-watching opportunities.
4. Relative solitude.
5. Ease of finding a nice (backcountry) camping spot.
It seems to me that Numbers 1 to 3 are covered handily in both cases, though if you have an opinion as to why one option wins out over the other in any of those regards I'd love to hear it. So, the deciding factors now are 4 and 5.
It's my understanding that Glacier gets many times more visitors per year, but it also seems possible that one could easily construct an itinerary that avoids the crowds and makes the difference negligible. Is that true? And, branching into point five, how does the number of people affect the ease of getting a campsite? Glacier is distinct from North Cascades in that it allows reservations for backcountry sites, so if we go for Glacier we'd probably be applying for a permit pretty soon (with this handy map
, which lets you click on the campsites to see whether there are spots available for a given date). There are a lot of campsites still available, though few for the whole stretch. Are any to be avoided if we go for Glacier? Does it really matter, since the park is new to us and we don't have any particular hikes in mind as of yet?
Conversely, if we go to North Cascades, is the timing going to be an issue? They only issue backcountry permits in person for same-day or next-day reservations, so I'm wondering what the chances are that we would get stuck in a lame spot, especially because early August is a pretty popular time.
My feeling about it right now is that I'm leaning towards Cascades on the basis of its relative obscurity (and the extreme ecological diversity), and on the assumption that getting a solid campsite won't be a huge issue. It's all conjecture, though, since neither of us have been to either park, so your help will be much appreciated.