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August 16, 2018

Top 5 Travel Destinations: # 1 Glacier National Park, Montana

 

My all time favorite place everrrrrrr:  Glacier National Park.  It’s a vast area of land filled with towering glacier carved mountains, turquoise lakes, and epic hikes.  You can easily get lost in its beauty and spend a week here.

Things to do:

  1. Going to the Sun road
  2. Grinnell Glacier Hike
  3. Many Glacier Area
  4. Two Medicine Area
  5. Logan Pass
  6. Ptarmagan Tunnel Trail/Iceburg Lake Hike
  7. Twin Falls Hike

 

Where to fly: We flew in to Spokane, WA and drove 4 hours to the west entrance. (prepare for a lot of driving to the park and within the park

Where to stay:  We camped at the Two Medicine and Many glacier campsites.  We made reservations for Many glacier here:Many Glacier Camping  There are cabins and a hotel in Many Glacier.  Cabins sell out quickly and the hotel is said to be $$$.

Timing: You need at least 4 full days plus travel time to enjoy the entire park, best times to visit: Mid July-August

We visited Labor Day weekend and the weather was so unpredictable.  The week prior, there was a massive drought and there were active wildfires throughout the park.  The week we went, the rain and snow came through, extinguished all the fires, and brought freezing temperatures.  We actually didn’t camp in our tent.  We rented a van with “stow and go” where the seats fold down in to the ground (Dodge/Chrysler brand).  It was a lifesaver because we just folded the chairs down and slept in the van.

Tips:

  1. You will need bear spray to hike in Glacier, it is prime grizzly and black bear country.  Familiarize yourself on how to use bear spray and what to do if you spot a bear (information can be found here: Bear Safety)  If you’re hiking,  make a lot of noise especially when approaching a blind corner.  We purchased spray at a local store but you can try any ranger station to see if they have extra spray.  When we left the park, we gave our spray to the ranger station since its not permitted on planes.
  2. The weather is VERY unpredictable: be prepared with extra food and water on hikes, bring extra layers just in case the weather changes (rain jacket and wool sweaters), carry a whistle and beer spray.
  3. Get gas before entering the park.  Gas is hard to find and you will be doing a lot of driving
  4. Carry a map with you at all times
  5. Let someone know which hikes you’re doing each day
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask a ranger.  They are VERY knowledgeable and you can learn so much from them.

 

 

Going to the Sun Road

Undoubtedly the most scenic drive I have ever taken!  We made so many stops on the way and it seemed like each stop offered a different view.  Read the signs and cool facts that are posted.  Take your time and soak in the views.

The road was closed the first day we went so we had to drive ALLLL the way around the park.  Watch the weather and plan accordingly because it is not unusual for the road to close.

 

Grinnell Glacier Hike

This is one of my favorite hikes.  We took the boat tour to cut a large chunk off the hike.  It was a gorgeous and short ride and well worth it.  You start at Many Glacier lodge, cross the lake, get off and hike a small bit to the next lake where you take another boat across another lake.  To book your tour head here: Boat Tour

From the spot where the boat drops you off, you’re about 4 miles from the Grinnell Glacier viewpoint.  It is a breathtaking hike.  You start in the trees.  Once you emerge, you will get your first glimpse of Grinnell Lake.  You hike for a few miles and reach an area where you hike on the side of the mountain- it’s STUNNING. At this point, you will be tempted to turn around because the trail starts to get steep.  Don’t give up.  The view of the glacier is great (well, what is left of it).  On your way down, plan accordingly because the boat picks up every 30 minutes.  We ended up running and screaming for the boat to wait for us when we got to the bottom.  They waited!

 

The boat ride over to the start:

The bridge at the beginning of the hike

That is the gorgeous Grinnell Lake below

Grinnell Glacier (what is left of it) to the upper left corner

We saw a big horn sheep on our hike down.  It blocked our path for at least 10 minutes but what a great way to be delayed!

Grinnell Falls

 

Many Glacier Area

This is probably the most popular area in Glacier.  It is the start of many hikes, it has campsites and cabins.  It’s one of the only spots in Glacier with showers and washers/dryers.  There is a convenient store as well.  We sat at the convenient store and enjoyed the views one morning and were rewarded with views of mountain goats on the steep mountains across the way.  Its amazing to see these animals scour the side of these mountains.

We camped here for a night.  It was COLD but we were glad to have a place to shower and wash our wet clothes.

Victory beers after a hike are the BEST

A mountain goat skimming the side of the mountain

 

Two Medicine Area

We camped a day here and hiked to Two Falls.  It is relatively quiet with few amenities. We were unfortunate to see it in the rainy, cloudy weather but even then, we still found so much beauty in it.  We woke up to 2 towering mountains and a gorgeous lake- those views alone make me want to revisit this area.

 

 

Logan Pass

The gorgeous area at the midpoint of Going to the Sun road.  There are  lot of hikes that begin/end here.  We really wanted to see Hidden Lake, and climb Reynolds Mountain but the trails were snowed out and it was too dangerous.  Even without doing these hikes, this place is breathtaking!  Spend some time at the visitor center and take in the views.  Enjoy the glacier carved mountains with a cup of hot chocolate.

This was the beginning of the trail to Hidden lakes- and the snow is why we couldn’t do the trail

 

Ptarmegan Tunnel Hike

This hike was long and started at Many Glacier.  The endpoint is a tunnel that allows you to see the other side of the mountain.  From what I read, there are sometimes bears that like to hang out in the tunnel so make a lot of noise and ask people who are descending from this hike.  When we went, we could only make it to the very base of the hike to the tunnel.  The last .75 mile hike was snowed out and we had to turn around.

This is as far as we could get before the entire path got completely snowed out

 

 

Twin Falls hike

This hike is located in the Two Medicine area.  We stopped here because the Going to the Sun road was closed and we had to go all the way around the park which, in turn, made Two Medicine a pit stop on the way.  It was a very dreary and rainy day while we were there.  We asked to rangers on recommendations for hikes considering the weather (they are THE most knowledgeable).  Since we did not plan on stopping here, we had to rely on the recommendations of the rangers.  There is the option to rent canoes to go on the lake here.

 

 

WANT TO SEE MORE FROM THIS TRAVEL SERIES?

# 1 Travel destination: Glacier National park

# 2 Travel Destination: New Zealand

#3 TRAVEL DESTINATION: BANFF & JASPER NATIONAL PARK

#4 TRAVEL DESTINATION: OREGON

#5 TRAVEL DESTINATION: UTAH

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