Although we were not as rested as we should have been due to the thumping ladies above our room, we did have a breakfast coming at the hotel. They had frozen waffles, bagels, French toast sticks, some fruit, yogurt, instant oatmeal, and dry cereal to choose from plus some orange juice and coffee. And then we were off to Glacier. It's so nice to have the Senior National Park Pass.
More gorgeous scenery,.
We knew that we only had one day to see whatever we could see in Glacier and get on down the road. The "Going to the Sun" road was closed when we headed north due to a big fire. Fortunately for us, it had just opened when we left Calgary. See the "OPEN" sign....that was a welcome sight. While we couldn't see all of Glacier, traveling the "Going to the Sun" would give us a good overview.
Since we came in from Columbia Falls, we were on the west side of the park.
We headed out in the direction to the famous road,
Another sign welcoming you to the park. Glacier National Park is considered the Crown of the Continent along with Waterton National Park adjoining it in Canada. It encompasses more than a million acres. There are 131 named lakes, parts of two mountain ranges, and a 1000 different plants. There are 250 grizzly bears, 500 black bears. In 1910, there were 150 glaciers......today there are only 25. There are also over 700 miles of hiking trails in the area.
While we elected to drive the "Going to the Sun" road because we were going to enter on the west and exit on the east, we might have chosen ride to take the tour in one of these Red Buses. They are 25' long. It is a 1936 White Motor Co. bus. And, you can ride one for free.....just make a reservation.
Beautiful Lake McDonald is Glaciers largest lake at 10 miles long and 472 feet deep.
It is a true glacial feature having been carved out by glaciers. It is surrounded on the north, east, and south sides by mountains. The continental divide is 14 miles away forming the McDonald Valley with rain draining towards the lake.
Another view of the cool touring buses.
The McDonald valley is supposed to be one of the prime spots for viewing Glacier wildlife. Couldn't prove it by us but the scenery is spectacular.
The Lake McDonald Lodge is located 10 miles in from the west entrance to Glacier. It has 100 rooms and was built in 1914. It is also where you catch the Red Buses.
The water in the streams so clear you can see every pebble.
We are now on the "Going to the Sun" road which is 50 miles long. The top of the bus in canvas and folds back so that people can better see the view when the bus stops at a turn off.
Some parts of the road are open year round but the majority opens mid to late June and closes about mid September. You can still drive up to Logan's Pass from the west entrance until about mid-October.
Plowing the road is a major challenge each year. There is very little in the way of barriers on the edge of the road. I figured that is how they get rid of the snow when they iopen the road.
Alpine water falls.
RVs over 21' total length including tow vehicles or toads are prohibited on the road from Avalanche Campground to Rising Sun picnic area. That should not come as a huge surprise as the road is very narrow with a big drop off on one side and rock faces on the other.
Also small low tunnels. The good thing is that there are occasional pull-offs if someone is crazy enough to drive too fast behind you, you want to take a picture, or you are having a panic attack. lol.
Sometimes you feel like you are hanging on the edge of the world but the views are worth it.
While there are six peaks over 10,000 feet in Glacier, Logan Pass is the highest elevation (6640 ft) reachable by car in the park. It is very popular and the parking lot is generally full between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. as it was when we were there. We drove around for a while hoping a spot would open up but cars were waiting like vultures to swoop in. This is another reason the shuttles are a good idea as they have marked parking spots. Two of the most popular trails, Hidden Lake trail and the Highline trail are in this are.
Weeping walls along the side of the road.
One thing the "Going to the Sun" road does not have is a bunch of switchbacks. The designing engineer didn't like them so he created the road with only one switchback which doubles back on itself.
Yes, that is the road hanging up there.
There were two fires still burning in Glacier while we were there. We were not allowed to stop on one section of the road further to the east due to the activity,
We arrived at St Mary Lake just in time to catch a boat ride.
Boarding the Little Chief.
Our ranger guide was really great. She has been doing this for a while and really knew her info well. They had to evacuate due to the current Reynolds Creek fire and were just able to return a couple of days ago not knowing if they would have any boats left. Fortunately, the boats were all okay.
She told us how important the fires actually are to the park as far as new growth and made us see another whole side to the issue.
This is the famous Wild Goose Island on St Mary Lake.
These are the boat docks on the far end of the lake.
See that little black dot left of the bush near the water.
Take my word for it.....it is a small black bear. We saw it as we were coming in to shore on the boat,
This is part of the St Mary Lodge Resort.
Beautiful flowers all along the balconies.
We were on our way out the east end of the park at this time and on our way down Highway 89. It was pretty smoky along a lot of this highway from the Thomson Fire. We took 89 down to Choteau, Montana where we got on to Highway 287. There is a nice little rest stop in Choteau.
Right next to the rest stop is the Old Trail Museum.
They are big on dinosaurs here too.
These are bear traps on display.
Old fashioned RV.....actually a sheepwagon.
There were some small shops located in some of the display buildings.
Back on the road again on our way to Helena, Montana for the night. They leave the light on at Motel 6 and pets are welcome.
Our tour of Glacier whetted our appetites for another trip with more time for sightseeing so it will remain on the bucketlist.