Glacier National Park is like no other park that I have ever been to before. The scenery is unlike anything else you can experience in the United States. There’s a reason this place is known as the “Crown of the Continent.” Glaciers, massive peaks, amazing wild life, lakes, and endless views. The famous “Going to the Sun Road” is everything it’s cracked up to be. This was the point in the trip when I was ready to cut the rest of our National Park road trip short and stay to explore Glacier for a few weeks. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty, and there was so much to explore in so little time. If you decide to venture up to Glacier, give yourself as much time as you can allow! You won’t regret a single moment. We were there in late June, but the temperature was still very cool! It was in the high 20’s at night and 50’s during the day. So, don’t forget your layers & if you plan to camp like we did make sure you have a good sleeping bag! I have a 0* bag that I use almost year round. But, I would rather remove layers if I get hot than not have enough layers and freeze my ass off.
It was the last week in June, which happened to be the same week the park opened the Going to the Sun Road. It was really busy upon arrival with minimal camping spots available. But, we had managed to score a camping spot at St. Mary’s Campground. Most all camping spots in the park are first come first serve, but there are a few spots you can reserve ahead of time if you are a planner unlike us! In order to get over to this side of the park from where we entered, we drove Going to the Sun Road. It was absolutely incredible! There was still so much run off from snow melt, with constant trickles of water falling down from above as you drove the one lane road. It’s about a 2 hour drive to get from one side of the road to the other, and that is without stopping. It felt like we stopped every 5 minutes because there was so much to see along the way! When we reached the top of the road where you can pull into the Visitor Center parking lot, it was sunset! I highly recommend taking in a sunset from that view point at least one of the nights while on your adventure. The parking lot was not only full of vehicles and tourists, but a huge herd of mountain goats. It was the weirdest thing because they were spread out throughout the entire parking lot just licking the pavement. Sure people probably drop some crumbs here and there, but it was bizarre to watch how intently they’d sit there and just lick.
When we set up camp and checked in with the ranger, he emphasized how important it was to make sure we do not have our dog off leash and to ensure we keep her food locked up. A few days before we arrived they had to put a bear down because a camper had left dog food outside and a bear got into it. At that point he will continue to keep coming back in search of food which is not good for the tourists or the bear! The animals in Glacier National Park are no joke! The day after we left, a ranger was mountain biking and surprised a bear which then attacked. So, make sure when you are hiking you have a bear bell or are constantly making noise! Surprising them is what causes most attacks. While we were driving is when we saw most of the wild life on our trip. Here’s a few we saw along the way in Glacier.
Take a look at the quick edit I put together from our short adventure before we continued on to Olympic National Park in Washington.
Since we only had a few days to check out the park we didn’t get to check out everything in the park we would have like to, but here’s my list of must do’s:
1. Going to the Sun Road
2. Lake McDonald
3. Go to the Canadian side of the park & visit Waterton Lakes National Park (You do need your passport in order to enter the Canadian side)
4. Grinnel Glacier Hike (10.3 miles)
5. Glacier Cedar Forest (Short Walk)
6. Hidden Lake Hike (5.4 miles)
7. Cracker Lake (13.0 miles)
8. Visit Many Glacier Hotel & Rent a canoe (or take a boat tour)
9. Avalanche Lake Hike (6.2 miles)
10. Historic Red Bus Tour