Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana and adjoins Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park on our international border, forming Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park World Heritage Site. That’s a mouthful, let me clarify.
Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park was established in 1895 and Glacier National Park was established on May 11, 1910. In 1932 the governments of Canada and the United States linked these parks as the world’s first International Peace Park. Both parks were designated Biosphere Reserves in the 1970s and in 1995 this International Peace Park was designated as a World Heritage Site.
We heard from so many other RVers that this park is special, that the 50-mile Going to the Sun Road that climbs through the park is not only an engineering marvel but also one of the most scenic drives anywhere. Unfortunately for us, those wildfires we experienced in Coeur d’Alene were pushing lots of smoke into this park too. Additionally, the day we traveled the Going to the Sun Road was mostly cloudy so the views were very limited. Disappointing for sure, however, we made the best of it and had a great visit anyway.
Although we did travel the entire 50-mile road from the west entrance to the east entrance and back again, there are many other sections of this 1.1 million acre park that we would love to explore at some future time. We got to check out the Apgar Visitor Center just inside the west entrance, Lake McDonald along the way to the Logan Pass Visitor Center at 6,646′ as we crossed the Continental Divide and then Saint Mary Visitor Center at the eastern end of Saint Mary Lake before turning around for the return trip. We just didn’t want to invest the time to drive to the other sections with the smoke so heavily impacting the views.
One of the key spots in this park is Logan Pass. With all the traffic here, just getting a spot to park requires arriving by 8:30 AM. Arrive 15 – 20 minutes later, like us, you circle the lot for twenty minutes or more waiting for one of the early-birds to depart. From the Visitors Center here, we hiked the Hidden Lake Trail to the lookout point. Continuing on from there toward Hidden Creek quickly brought us to our first mountain goat sighting, just a few feet away from us. As we continued down that trail, we found many more mountain goats and marmots too. We could only imagine how spectacular the views would have been without the smoke and clouds…maybe next time.
We stayed at a fellow Boondockers-Welcome-club-member’s property in a town called Kalispel, MT while we were in this area. This couple was so friendly and instantly made us feel welcome at their home. They told us about the wildfires just north of the Canadian border, not even fifty miles from their house. Also, they warned us to prepare for a 20 – 30 degree temperature drop between Kalispel and Logan Pass. Great local knowledge that saved us from waiting in line at the gift shop to purchase sweatshirts as many of the other park visitors had to do!
The day we spent in Glacier our hosts were out in the woods searching for and picking huckleberries. When we returned from our explorations for the day, they greeted us with smiles and a baggie full of freshly washed huckleberries. Neither of us had ever tried these before so they warned us about their tart flavor, at least as compared to blueberries. We loved ’em on our cereal the next morning!
Although we planned to go to the park for a second day of exploration, the smoke from the wildfires had us reconsider and opt for a visit to Kalispel instead. Turned out the Kalispell Brewing Company’s tap room was open for business so we did our part to support the local economy! We enjoyed a few craft beers on the rooftop patio after having strolled around the quaint town for awhile.
Siobhan loved our hosts’ property so much she “threatened” our hosts with her interest in staying, permanently! If not for the smoke, we might still be there…