Sunday, June 2nd – Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
We left Kalispell, MT to make our way into Glacier National Park through the West Glacier entrance. The ranger informed us that much of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the road that takes you through a good chunk of the park, was closed. This was unfortunate, but there was still plenty to see. We checked out the Apgar Visitor Center gift shop and Lake McDonald before snagging a camp site at Apgar campground.
Then we drove along the Going-to-the-Sun Road up until it ended at Avalanche Creek. After we found parking, we hiked the Cedars Nature Trail through fragrant trees and green mosses, which led to the Avalanche Lake trailhead.
We hiked along the trail to Avalanche Lake which offered some pretty amazing views.
We had just gotten there, but Glacier National Park was becoming one of our favorite parks so far. The scenery was gorgeous and there were hardly any crowds. We returned to the parking lot, threw a few stones across the river, then returned to camp to lounge and wander around the Apgar/Lake McDonald area before calling it a night.
We hiked to John Lake and visited the gift shop again before we left the West Glacier area. It was lunch time, but we both were in the mood for breakfast. So we drove until we found a place that served breakfast late called, “The Halfway Motel and Restaurant.” It was a very nice, family owned restaurant and we got our share of calories while we were there. The old man sitting on the stool next to me noticed how much I ate and told me, “You better go for a hike or else you’re going to get chubby.” I planned on it!
We saw a waterfall off the side of the highway and it started to rain before we made our way into Lewis and Clark National Forest.
We had a very cloudy drive through East Glacier Park, so unfortunately we didn’t get to enjoy the scenery. From there we hopped on Route 49 to US-89 North, and got to see our first sign for the Canadian border. This area of the park was a lot flatter than what we had seen in West Glacier, but there were lots of wildflowers.
We went to Saint Mary Visitor Center where we watched the park film in their theater, then got some suggestions from the ranger about camping, hiking, and such. After that, we headed on over to Saint Mary campground and lounged around between our site and the nearby lodge before nightfall.
We drove to the Jackson Glacier Overlook where we met an older couple from Alabama. Trevor is constantly yelling “Roll Tide” whenever he sees stickers or hats or t-shirts representing Alabama University. It’s a conversation starter. They were also headed to Banff in Canada and oddly enough, had been standing with us when we saw the black bear in the distance in The Tetons. Moving at the same pace I suppose!
We headed over to Sun Rift Gorge to try out one of the ranger’s recommended hikes. She had told us we can avoid grizzly bear encounters by singing. Although my horrible singing voice would scare off any bear (or human), I wasn’t really up for singing, so I occasionally clapped and kicked rocks instead. We passed by a little waterfall before we saw the mountains across Saint Mary Lake. There were tons of wildflowers along the way to Saint Mary Falls, and something strangely smelled like Old Bay. It was amazing how blue the water was. It was beautiful!
I really recommend getting your butt to Glacier National Park ASAP! This park once had 150 glaciers present in the early 1900s and now that number has been reduced to 25. It is predicted that all the glaciers in the park will be melted and gone between the years 2020 and 2030!
Once we got back to the van, we ate some snacks, made coffee, then drove along US-89 to Babb, MT to get to the Many Glacier Park area. As we were approaching the park entrance, a small grizzly came walking out of the brush. We were thrilled! “Wow! Look, a grizzly!” Then shortly after that, another one followed. We were even more excited! “Wow! Look, two grizzlies!”
Then they walked out in front of our van and proceeded to have an adult sleepover in the middle of the road. “Wow! Just…wow!”
Once they were done putting on a show and wandered back in the woods, we pulled up to the pay station. The ranger smirked and said, “So, what was going on down there?” We laughed about our bear porn experience and made our way to the end of the road so we could slowly cruise on back. After seeing more Bighorn Sheep and great scenery, we left Glacier and headed for the Canadian border.
To be continued…
Jump Back to Part 43: Big Sky Country
Start Over at Part 01: The Blue Bubble, Freebies & A Rude Awakening