For years I’ve heard people tell me that I just had to make it up to Glacier National Park. It’s one of the hiking Meccas of the United States and as someone who loves a good hike, I knew we’d have to make it up to Glacier early into our road trip. My friends Chris and Rhonda live in Montana and I was able to convince them to join us for several days in Glacier. Six months prior to our check-in date, Rhonda and I were able to get campsites next to each other in Glacier, and in all the excitement, Justin texted his friend Sean and within five minutes, we had him booked for a week with us as well!! So going into this road trip, we were excited to be spending ten days in Glacier, and also excited that two groups of friends were meeting us there! Our crew consisted of four adults (Chris joining us just a day after Sean had to leave) and five kids and we all had a fabulous time.
Glacier is all I thought it would be, and more!! Each day was met with a new adventure and I felt we did Glacier proud. We did a huge amount of hiking, and each hike felt significantly different than the last. We hiked Avalanche Lake, the alpine trail of Hidden Lake at Logan Pass, the waterfall trails to St. Mary’s and Virginia Falls, and the Josephine and Grinnell Lake trails. We swam in Lake McDonald and fished in Saint Mary Lake. We tubed and kayaked down the North Fork of the Flathead River and ate an amazing sandwich in Polebridge. Justin and Sean spent a night hiking and camping out in the backcountry. We had a day exploring the Going To The Sun Road via the famous red bus tours, and ended our amazing trip with ice cream (for the kids) and a champagne toast at Many Glacier Lodge. The things we saw and the memories we made over our ten days in Glacier were incredible. But after our ten days, there was still so much of the park left to explore and I will definitely be coming back to Glacier again. My biggest regret was not hiking the 12-mile Highline trail, and I will be coming back someday to tackle that.
Glacier’s beauty is spectacular. I have never spent time in an Alpine setting and being up in Logan Pass made me feel like I was on the movie set of Sound of Music. It was incredible to be walking a trail and have mountain goats hanging out next to you. I took so many pictures of mountain goats, that it’s ridiculous! We were able to see marmots and mule deer too, but they really didn’t hold a candle to the mountain goats.
One day we spent tubing and kayaking along the North Brand of the Flathead River. Our plan was to head up to Bowman Lake to kayak and paddleboard, but by 11am, the parking lot was full and they were letting no one even close to the lake. The ranger saw our sad faces and was kind enough to suggest going along a dirt road a few miles and parking in one of the small pull-offs by the river. This proved to be one of the best suggestions, as we found a perfect place on the river where we could easily tube, swim and paddleboard in almost near isolation. I think we saw three groups pass us on the river that entire day, so it felt like we had the river to ourselves. After several hours of swimming and tubing, we kayaked and Rhonda paddle-boarded three miles down the river. Sean’s fourteen year old son and I kayaked the river while pulling Justin, Micah and Tabatha in their tube, which was tied to our boat. It tended to be pretty smooth sailing, though at the end we did run into some wicked stage 3 rapids. Justin and Rhonda had the bruises to prove that it was a great time on the river.
We did get very lucky during our stay in Glacier as well. For the first five nights we camped in Apgar, on the west side of the park, and spent the last five nights on the East side of the park. Just one day after moving to the east side, lightening stuck the west side of the park starting a very large forest fire that caused most of the west side campgrounds to be evacuated. So we were able to enjoy the sights on the east side of the park through a bit of a smoky haze, but this was far better than having to evacuate!!
I would consider Glacier National Park to be within the top five most memorable parts of this trip so far, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Its beauty is breathtaking and you truly feel small surrounded by the grandeur of the mountains and lakes.