For one of our trips in 2014, Bill and I took the Amtrak to Whitefish, Montana to visit Glacier National Park. Below are some of the things I enjoyed the most while we were there.
Once you reach the end of the Avalanche Trail – and even along the way – you realize just how spectacular Glacier is. Coming off the trail and viewing the reflection of the mountains surrounding the lake reminds you just how small you are in this world. As we hiked out to Avalanche Lake, I continually pronounced it Avalaunch Lake – which, according to “Planet Earth II”, is the British way of saying it, so I guess I was just channeling that. Throughout our visit, and to this day, I still tend to pronounce it Avalaunch. (It drives Bill crazy.) I don’t know why I do it. I guess Avalaunch Lake just rolls off my tongue more easily.
High Line Trail
A feat certainly not for those with a fear of heights, the High Line Trail affords anyone who dares to venture with amazing views and solitude. It does take some planning, however, as you start at one end and finish in a totally different spot nearly 12 miles away. We opted to park at The Loop (where we would finish the hike), and attempted to take the shuttle to the Logan Pass Visitor Center to pick up the trail from there. Each time the shuttle stopped it was full and we were unsuccessful in securing a ride that way. We did, however, request a ride from an older gentleman who had stopped to use the restroom and was on his way to the visitor center with his wife. It was an enjoyable ride – sharing stories of our travels along the way. Soon we arrived at the Logan Pass parking lot and went our separate ways.
Along the trail Bill and I encountered squirrels, marmots (including one so large we thought it might be a wolverine), a bear (well ahead of us), and panoramic views that will never be forgotten.
As part of the trek, we also ventured up the Garden Wall Trail to Glacier Overlook. This short, .6 mile off chute is quite steep and narrow – certainly not for the ill-prepared – but it was worth doing for the view of Grinnell Glacier!
Just west of the Highline and Garden Wall Trail intersection is Granite Park Chalet. Bill and I stopped here for a snack break. If/when we return to Glacier, we have discussed hiking to and staying overnight at Granite Park Chalet. We can then potentially revisit Garden Wall Trail with fresh legs instead of on wary legs that have been hiking for over 7.5 miles.
St. Mary KOA
During part of our visit, we stayed at the St. Mary KOA, and would most definitely stay there again! Their platform tent sites include beds with custom KOA mattresses that we would love to have at home. It had the perfect softness and was extremely comfortable. Perfect for a good night’s sleep after a long day of hiking. And the rustic furniture had exquisite charm.
Bears, and Sheep, and Goats – Oh my!
All throughout Glacier we encountered wildlife. On the first day (and nearly every day we were in the park) we spotted a few bear. Bear watching is Bill’s favorite activity when we are in National Parks that bears call home – so this made him quite happy. While in the parking lot of the visitor’s center we were surprised by a few big horn sheep who decided to run through. And as we were driving we saw a family of mountain goats standing on a cliff up above the road.
Muesli and Chocolate Chip Scones
One morning we decided to set out for the Lake McDonald area of the park and chose to enjoy brunch at the lodge there. I was delighted by the chocolate chip scones and muesli they offered! I enjoyed the muesli so much I debated asking if they sold it so I could take some with me. I refrained from making the request, but I still remember it to this day!
All the Moose!
While Bill enjoys spotting bears, I much prefer to see moose. (Which, of course, is far more difficult to accomplish.) In Glacier, however, we were quite fortuitous. A short hike from the parking lot on Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, Fishercap Lake is an absolute must if you are looking for moose in Glacier. Within two minutes of arriving at the lake, a moose emerged and we sat there watching for quite some time. We returned later and were graced with the presence of two moose! We did not spot any bull moose, but it was still a wonderful experience.
North Shore Josephine Lake Trail
The North Shore Josephine Lake Trail was peaceful, with very few people around. It also had nice scenery, a unique suspension bridge over a creek, and the perfect tree for resting on.
Typically when hiking (in National Parks or otherwise), there are absolutely no restrooms available. In Glacier, however, we came upon outhouses on several of the trails in which we embarked. Not only were they were a welcome sight, but they also had rustic charm!
Glacier National Park is a must see for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Especially if you enjoy mountains and wildlife. Be sure to add it to your wanderlist if it is not already there.