West Glacier, Montana – Winter camping with internet reception

Between Purcell and Cabinet Mountains, passing Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range, we drive along the Canadian border eastwards. Hwy #2 guides us through the wide valley of Rocky Mountains’ foothills. The surrounding is lovely, with not very rugged and high mountains grown over with trees that are mirrored in the crystal clear lakes.

We decide to look into a Verizon mobile phone provider’s outlet to solve the problem with the internet connection. Although you can find open Wi-Fi nets in most cities, it might not always be the place you want to overnight, and valuable travelling time has to be invested in daytime. Furthermore unlocked Wi-Fi nets involve a considerable safety risk when entering sensitive bank or credit card data. Unauthorized persons could hack into your computer and abuse the information. The same could happen when using an internet café’s computer. Besides, open hotspots become less. Even at supermarkets, fast-food restaurants or airports internet connection costs money more often than before: up to 10 $ per day. This is a probably avoidable issue on a short trip, but not on a long-term journey.

Verizon has no problems with foreigners, but instead of the worldwide GSM net that’s very widespread, this company uses the so-called CDMA standard. This means for us we have to buy a new internet stick. We get it including activation for 150 bucks. In return Verizon promises – compared to other providers – nearly complete area coverage in the entire US except a few unpopulated areas in high mountains. We will see.

In the afternoon we have to realize that the park road through Glacier Park is already closed for the winter season. Still we are allowed to go up the road for quite a bit before we have to turn. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is generally not allowed for vehicles exceeding 21 feet length and 8 feet width since narrow curves and rock overhangs curb the road. In summer there shall be vehicles bumper to bumper. For today we stay on one of the few “campgrounds” that are still open. The pick-nick area at Lake McDonald serves as campground during the winter. There is no water or other service, but pick-nick tables, fire pit, and even fire wood is provided. For 10 $, around half of the regular price. We think that’s really fair, and the place is very scenic. A first mobile internet test is successful: During my AT&T phone of course does not work in the park, Verizon still provides me with acceptable reception.

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