The Sierra Nevadas are harsh, the Guadalupes are treacherous, the Cascades are explosive, but the Rockies, they tug at your heart. In the northwest corner of Montana, the Canadian Rockies cross in to the United States and continue all the way to New Mexico forming one of the major backbones of our nation. While they are beautiful for the entire length of their run, the border crossing is a particularly magnificent show of their grandeur, and has been protected by the forming of Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park covers over 1 million acres containing rugged glacier capped mountains, melting in to crystal turquoise rivers that form aquamarine lakes. The rocks in these river and lake beds are matte hues of purple, red and blues; offering a contrast to the brightness of the water that we have not experienced in any other part of our travels. It is easy to be bedazzled by the water and equally inspired by the mountain peaks. True to its name, there are 25 named glaciers within the park. In the summer months, the softness of the blooming alpine meadows contrast the shimmering white ice above; and the thought of roaming grizzlies adds to the wildness felt all around. It is no wonder that Glacier is also referred to as the “Crown of the Continent”. But, what we found to be truly inspiring at Glacier was its welcoming quality. In spite of its rugged mountains and dangerous adventures beckoning, Glacier ushers visitors in to its soft embrace in a gentle manner. It is the effect of the Rockies in Montana. An effect that speaks to your heart.
Here are some of our favorite experiences in Glacier National Park:
Going-to-the-Sun Road. Although there is mixed lore behind the name, it is considered to be a marvel in terms of engineering that was completed in 1932. It is a real cliffhanger clinging to the side of the mountains pushing one higher and higher as if truly going to the sun. While the road itself will shock you, the views that it provides in the heart of Glacier will fill you with awe.
The Water. As soon as we entered the park near West Glacier, the first thing we did was stop at Lake McDonald to look at the water. Farther on, we were even more impressed by McDonald River. These photos don’t capture it completely. Please, go see it for yourself.
Bowman Lake. Kayaking on Bowman Lake in the western portion of the park was a highlight for us. The road to Lake Bowman is partially unpaved, but the reward for traversing this part of the park is great. Due to the more difficult road, this portion of the park was less crowded. With our non-motorized inflatable kayak, we were allowed to paddle the lake by filling out the self-check form at the boat ramp. There are also great trailheads at Bowman Lake, but be sure to take bear spray.
Swiftcurrent Lake. We did not spend much time in this portion of the park known as Many Glacier, but from what we did see, the beauty of Glacier knows no bounds. This is another great area for trailheads.
Mountain Goats. While mountain goats survive in other national parks, this is the only one we have visited where we were actually able to see some. We found them near the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Watching their splayed hooves navigate the sheer cliffs was a real treat.
And if, like us, your heart is not ready to let Glacier go, here is a video to further explore the “Crown of the Continent”…
Fun Facts & Tips:
- Campground: We stayed at the North American RV Park. With tax, it was $43 a night – on the pricier side for us. You can see a clip of that park in our A Full Week of RV Living – Day 1 video.
- Waterton Lakes National Park lies on the Canadian side of the border, and the two parks work together in preservation. There are several border crossings near the park, so that you can enjoy the Canadian side as well.
- In addition to its current wildlife, woodland caribou and bison roamed here when Europeans first explored the area.
- Unique to the parks we have visited, Glacier offers refurbished historic Red Jammer Buses for tours.
- Bear Spray is recommended on the trails here. While we were there, they offered it for rent at the Agape Visitor Center area.