Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Land Acknowledgement: This is the land of the Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis people. They were stewards of this land from time immemorial. Click the link above to learn more about these native people.

We made it into Glacier National Park after a gorgeous drive and started setting up our campsite around 6:00 pm. We had a great spot right near McDonald Lake and not too close, but not too far from a bathroom (IYKYK :). We haven't done much camping in bear country, so the first night I think we were all a little weary, but with a successful night one done we felt much better about it.

Our first full day in Glacier was dedicated to the Going-To-The-Sun-Road. They are not lying when they say the views are amazing. It felt like every turn offered another breathtaking vista or unbelievable sight. We also stumbled upon a great app called gyPSy guide. It essentially has audio tour guides of the most popular roadtrips around US, Canada, and even Australia. The narrator does an excellent job of giving information and history about the area you are driving through. He's very chatty and pretty fun and gives some excellent off-the-beaten-path pointers. More than once we would have missed some rather cool things without his commentary. We highly recommend (just don't ask Kasen about them. He may give a less than stellar review - mostly because his commentary interrupts his music :)! So with our gyPSy guide going we travelled the entire Going-To-The-Sun-Road stopping off at places like Lake McDonald Lodge, Logan Pass (unfortunately the hiking trails were closed at the top of the pass due to aggressive grizzly bear behavior), the Weeping Wall, and Wild Goose Island. A highlight was a mountain goat family sighting right off the side of the road - what a fun animal! We made it back to camp just in time to catch the Ranger Program and then to bed!

The next day we spent the morning in West Glacier. They've done a great job of keeping the vintage feel of the town, but sprucing the shops up a bit - there's a restaurant, bar, market, camp gear/gas station, putt-putt golf (?!), gift shop, and post office. We grabbed a loaf of bread to make some ham sandwiches for lunch before heading off to the town of Whitefish.

Whitefish was a fun little town! Lots of cute independent shops and restaurants and we lucked out on picking the one night they had their local Farmer's Market. It also had lots of great booths, food trucks, and live music. We decided to grab some dinner at a local bakery serving pizza (which was delicious!) and came back to the Farmer's Market for dessert (ice cream, cotton candy and shaved ice!). We hit the Ranger Program before bed (they were really well done - this one was on edible foods found in the Glacier National Park). Unfortunately, around 2:00 am a thunder and lightning storm came through and we decided to all cram into our car to sleep which proved to be difficult. Once the storm passed we finally went back to the tent around 5:00 am for a few hours of sleep.

We struggle out of bed at 9:00 the next morning to make it to our 10:30 River Rafting Trip. After running a bit late we made it on the bus which took us 8 miles up the middle fork of the Flathead River. Our guide, Mason, was fun and we had a great three hour float down the river. The late season meant low water levels, so the rapids were mild, but still enjoyable. After rafting we spent a down afternoon of napping and playing games. A dinner of spaghetti and a great Ranger Talk about lichen rounded out our day.

Our last full day in Glacier we decided to do the Going-To-The-Sun-Road again and try to hit a few spots we didn't get to on our first round. We got to check out the Dancing Cascade Falls and hike the Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass (apparently the aggressive grizzly had moved on :). Of course the day started out sunny and then as we headed up the pass we could see some clouds gathering and Kyle and Noelle ended up getting a bit wet during the hike (Kasen and I had headed back a little earlier and just missed the rain). Even with the rain, the hike was totally worth it - lots of beautiful waterfalls and even a big horn sheep sighting way up on the mountain!). The highlight of the day was not only one, but TWO bear sightings - a grizzly bear and a black bear! Both of them right next to our car about 20 feet away. We've felt very lucky with the animal encounters!

With the storm brewing we decided not to brave the Going-To-The-Sun-Road in the rain, thunder, and lightning (I was already white-knuckling it on a sunny day, those drop offs are no joke!) and decided to go around to East Glacier. Which ended up being a nice drive along the Flathead River and got to peek at the picturesque Glacier Park Lodge. We tumbled into bed at 9:20 pretty exhausted, but it was a good, full day.

We headed out at 10:00 after a quick stop at the Visitor Center for the kids to get their Junior Ranger badges and West Glacier for coffee and we were then on our way to Missoula for 3 days.