Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Posted by Kelsey Johnson on 28th Aug 2020

Glacier is a beloved park in Northwestern Montana. Some of the most impressive scenery in North America is found in Glacier National Park. This park gets its name from the many glaciers and glacial forces that shaped it. This park is still home to over a dozen glaciers. It has massive valleys and peaks that have been carved by ancient ice flows. Throughout history, Glacier has caught peoples attention by its rugged peaks, clear water, and glacial-carved valleys. These rugged mountains hold special significance for the local Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Tribes.

Glaciers landscape attracted the attention of the Great Northern Railway in the early 1890’s. The railway was originally just seeking a route to the West Coast, but the president saw potential for tourism. Thus, Glacier was established as a national park May 11, 1910, making it America’s 10th national park. There are 375 historic properties in Glacier National Park. Among these are six National Historic Landmarks: Going to the Sun Road, Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Granite Park Chalet, Sperry Chalet, and the Two Medicine Store.

You can not leave Glacier without driving at least a portion of Going to the Sun Road. Going to the Sun Road has been awarded as one of the best mountain roads in America. This road is 50 miles long and takes you up and over the Continental Divide. There are many landmarks on this road such as: Avalanche Creek, The Loop, which is a crazy switchback, The Weeping Wall and the overlook for big Jackson Glacier. The Continental Divide splits the road at Logan Pass. At Logan Pass there is a visitor center and a bookstore that provides much needed shelter from the chilly highland weather. Around Logan Pass there can be found mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots that reside on the rocky slopes. It has been recommended that all visitors bring bear spray. Glacier is bear country and it doesn’t matter if you're walking a short way or miles, you should always be safe. Logan Pass is also a great place for hiking. There are several trials, including the family friendly trail called Animal Super Heroes and the Hidden Lake Trail.

There are many places for lodging, one of which is Apgar Village. It is located on the Western end and has lakeside hotels, restaurants, shops, and a visitor center. During the summer there is a scenic cruise that runs along Lake McDonalld. Lake McDonald is a favorite for most who go to Glacier. It is 10 miles long and nearly 500 feet deep. Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park. The clear, blue lake is surrounded by immense peaks, making it a perfect picture spot. Lake McDonald is known for its red, green and blue colored rocks. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and rowboats, and paddleboats. If you are looking for a great scenic photo, go to Camas Road, head north from the village to lakeshore access at Rocky Point, this area provides a great shot of the front of the mountain range. If you are looking for a secluded campground there is a rough gravel road that continues into the parks rarely visited North Fork Area, there are camping spots right beside Kintla Lake and Bowman Lake.

St. Mary is another place that provides lodging. It is located at the Eastern end. In addition to a lodge, there are cabins, several places to eat and a visitor center. If you are looking to see bear or elk, check out Two Dog Flats, which is a large grassy area located just beyond the eastern park entrance. At St. Mary Lake there are 90 minute boat tours where you would depart from a floating dock located at the Rising Sun Campground. At the Western end of St.Mary Lake are hiking trails that lead to 3 beautiful waterfalls. The East side of Glacier is bounded by the Blackfeet Nation and reservation towns like East Glacier. These locations also welcome visitors. Just outside of East Glacier is a lesser known part of the park called Two Medicine. The Blackfeet use to do their rites of passage at Two Medicine. Now there are trails that stroll around the three lakes and creek, leading to Running Eagle Falls.

If you are looking for some places to hike, Many Glaciers is where some of the park’s most popular hikes are located such as: 5.5 mile trail to the base of Grinnell Glacier, 6.6 mile hike to Swiftcurrent Pass, and a relatively easy 2.5 mile hike to Ptarmigan Falls. There are boat tours at Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine that include a quarter of a mile hike between the two.

Two private companies run tours inside the park. One is the Red Bus Tours, which operate in a vintage, oak framed vehicle from the 1930’s. The other option is a tour that is operated from the Blackfeet, and provide an authentic Native American perspective. Something to keep in mind if you are interested in visiting Glacier, the park is only open certain times of the year due to severe weather conditions. If you would like more information go to Glacier National Park is full of breathtaking scenery and it is no wonder millions around the world travel long distances to see it for themselves. Why not check it out for yourselves on your next family vacation?