Since we met, J and I have always been divided on one thing: I love the ocean, he loves the mountains. However, the more we explore together, the more we’re able to see what each other when we explore the great outdoors.
It’s true in that I was initially mostly excited to drive the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park, the parkway made famous by Jack Torrance in his little yellow Beetle in the opening scenes of The Shining. However, as we did our research, I couldn’t deny that I was drawn by the breathtaking glaciers that dotted the park in photos. I love to hike as much as my husband does, so hitting some trails was definitely on our to-do list.
When we arrived on the first day, we started by taking a renewing dip (and by “renewing” I mean “extremely quick”) in Saint Mary Lake. From there we followed a trail to Saint Mary Falls and, beyond them, Virginia Falls. Along the trail, we encountered more than just other hikers. We’d heard that a few bears had been spotted around, and as we made our way back to the parking lot, we spotted a black bear not 20 feet off the trail in the woods to our left.*
On our second day, we finally made it to Logan’s Pass. It’s one of the key visitors’ centers in the park and makes a great “base camp” for day hikes in the area. If we’d had more time, we would have loved to tackle the Highline Trail – which only serves at the perfect reason to return again some day soon.
Instead we joined the masses headed for the Hidden Lake Overlook. That trail continues to cascade down to the edge of Hidden Lake; however, rangers had closed that portion of the trail due to grizzly bears in the area that were feeding on spawning fish in the lake.
Despite the trail closure, there was no shortage of wildlife. Near the crest of the trail, herds of mountain goats shared the pathway with us. While it’s crucial to stay as far away from wildlife as possible, doing so is simply impossible when mountain goats choose to walk directly alongside of you!
Today only few glaciers still exist in the park, and it’s estimated that by the year 2020, Glacier National Park sadly will no longer contain any glaciers at all. I can say without a doubt that driving through the park is probably the most awe-inspiring drive I have ever taken in my life. Going-to-the-Sun Road twists and turns and twists again as it winds down out of the mountains, wrapping itself along the curves of these ancient giants.
Sometimes there is no better feeling than being completely isolated in your own corner of the world, and Glacier National Park is the perfect spot to find that feeling.
*Glacier National Park is home to black bears and grizzly bears. When in bear country, it’s vital to pay attention to all posted signs and instructions from park rangers, carry bear spray, make noise while hiking, and hike in groups of three or more. For more information, please refer to the National Park Service’s website.
First Night Accommodation: Campsite at St. Mary’s Campground, east side of Glacier National Park
Facilities: Flush toilets, running water, cold showers (and only three showers were functional for the entire campground)
Privacy: Treed sites, quiet campground
Nearest town: St. Mary, Montana (gas, food, lodging, dining)
Cost: USD$23 per night
Would I Stay Again: Yes
Second Night Accommodation: Campsite at Wayfarers State Park on Flathead Lake, west of the park
Facilities: Flush toilets, running water, paid hot showers
Privacy: We were in site #3 which offered no trees, shade or privacy. People were quite literally walking through our site.
Nearest town: Bigfork, Montana (gas, food, lodging, dining)
Cost: USD$18 per night plus $3 per shower
Would I Stay Again: Probably not, unless we were able to avoid sites #1-3
The National Park Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the park service in 2016. To commemorate the occasion, the NPS has started the Find Your Park movement, encouraging people to explore amazing places and share incredible stories. I was not paid or asked to write this post. My thoughts, views and opinions are entirely my own.
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