GETTING THERE: Glacier National Park is in northwestern Montana. The closest airport is Kalispell, about 35 miles from Glacier's main entrance at Apgar Village (closest to Lake McDonald and the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road), and 87 miles from East Glacier (closest to the Glacier Park Lodge and the Two Medicine Lake area). Several carriers fly into Kalispell, including Delta, Alaska and Continental airlines. I found a one-stop Northwest Airlines flight from D.C. in mid-July for $471 round trip.

BACKPACKING: Wilderness camping in Glacier's million-plus acres is restricted to 65 primitive backcountry campgrounds. All are reachable by an extensive trail network, with a wide range of hiking difficulty. (Permits for off-trail campgrounds are approved on a case-by-case basis if you can demonstrate substantial wilderness experience.) Campsites are first come, first served, and all parties must register at one of the park ranger stations. Fees are $4 per adult per night and $2 for kids ages 9 to 16; no fee for 8 and under.

To improve your chances of getting the sites and itinerary you want, reservations are possible for trips starting June 15 through Oct. 31 for an additional $20. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the park's rules for "Leave No Trace" camping and the very important guidelines for camping in bear country. For more information, contact Glacier's backcountry office, 406-888-7859, or download a backcountry guide at www.nps.gov/glac/pdf/04bcguideweb.pdf.

INFO: Glacier National Park, 406-888-7800, www.nps.gov/glac.

-- Steve Hendrix