Glacier National Park, MT

If it’s glaciers you want to see, go to Alaska :). Contrary to the park’s name, there are not that many glaciers left. There used to be 125 glaciers at one point, but they are melting away. There are only 25 left now and they say that in 30 years the remaining glaciers will disappear. What you will find in Glacier NP is lush mountains, rich wildlife and lots of lakes with turquoise water.

Glacier National Park, Swiftcurrent Lake

Glacier National Park, Swiftcurrent Lake

We had 3.5 days in the park. We arrived on 4th of July in the afternoon. Hoping to avoid the crowds, we started with the most popular spot in the park – Logan pass – the top of the Going-to-the-Sun road. Even with over 75F (20C) temperatures, there was still 6 ft of snow over there, but the hike to Hidden Lake (3 mi round trip) was open. Hiking through somewhat slushy snow was not easy, especially going uphill, but we made to the lake which was still covered in ice without any accidents. Hiking through snow in shorts and a t-shirt was quite an experience – well worth it!

Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass

Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass

Mama goat and her baby

Met mama goat and her baby. The way she looked at me, I don’t think she liked the paparazzi.

Hiking through snow

Hiking through snow

On the way down to Lake McDonald, we passed through the park’s natural car wash, also known as the Weeping Wall – basically driving under a waterfall.

Weeping wall

Weeping wall

At almost 10 pm, we drove to Lake McDonald to watch the sunset.

View of the park from the Going-to-the-Sun road

View of the park from the top of Going-to-the-Sun road. Notice the river at the bottom.

Here is that river up close

Here is that river up close

Sunset at Lake McDonald

Sunset at Lake McDonald

On the way to the hotel that night we saw lots of fireworks. Guess they are not afraid of fires over there.

4th of July fireworks on the way to the hotel

4th of July fireworks on the way to the hotel

The next day, we started with the park’s second most popular hike Cedar Trail (.5 mi) and the hike to Lake Avalanche (2 mi round trip). Some of the highlights of the hike – Avalanche gorge, mossy forest, and a nice alpine lake at the end of the trail.

Avalanche Gorge

Avalanche Gorge

On the trail to Avalanche Lake

On the trail to Avalanche Lake

Next we hiked to St. Mary falls (2 mi round trip) – nothing to write home about. In the afternoon, we moved south to Two Medicine area, where we took a boat tour on the lake and enjoyed the scenery.

Going-to-the-Sun road

Going-to-the-Sun road on the way to Two Medicine

Going-to-the-Sun road

Taking a break on Going-to-the-Sun road

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Two Medicine lake

Two Medicine lake

At sunset, we drove on an unpaved road to Bowman Lake, that’s where my first serious encounter with the Montana mosquitoes took place. The sunset was amazing, the landscape straight out of a postcard, but the bugs were relentless. Living in California, I sometimes forget about the existence of mosquitoes – big mistake!

Bowman Lake

Bowman Lake

The third day was dedicated to Many Glacier area. We took 2 boats on two different lakes to the trailhead to Lake Grinnell (~2 mi round trip). That was an easy flat trail with a swinging bridge and another pretty lake at the end. The wind wasn’t too bad on Swiftcurrent Lake, which allowed us to rent a kayak and explore the lake from the water level.

Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier area

Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier area

Lake Josephine

Lake Josephine

We got back early enough to have dinner in Hungry Horse at Elkhorn Grill. The bison burger and BBQ chicken was delish, the only complaint we had was the water, which tasted like pickle juice :)

Bison burger

Bison burger

BBQ huckleberry chicken

BBQ huckleberry chicken

Finally, on the last day, we ventured into Canada to see Waterton Lakes National Park, which is an extension of Glacier park across the border. On the way there, we passed through Glacier park early in the morning and caught some low clouds forming at the top of Logan pass.

Morning clouds near Logan Pass

Morning clouds near Logan Pass

In Waterton, next to the beautiful Prince Wales lodge, we took the steep Bear Hump trail (2 mi round trip) to the scenic overlook above Waterton village and lake.

Colorful pebble beach at Upper Waterton Lake

Colorful pebble beach at Upper Waterton Lake

On the way to Cameron Lake, we met a mama bear and her 3 very cute cubs. They passed right next to the car! This was the third encounter with bears on this trip, luckily all from the car.

Armageddon bear style

Armageddon bear style

Black bear cubs are so playful and awkwardly cute with their big paws .

Black bear cubs are so playful and awkwardly cute with their big paws .

We also saw plenty of mountain goats and deer. Waterton park was my second serious encounter with mosquitoes. I couldn’t even get out of the car without getting at least one bug bite.

No, it's not real.

No, this one is not real.

Wildflowers in Canada's Waterton NP

Wildflowers in Canada’s Waterton NP. This shot cost me at least 4 mosquito bites.

Curious deer

Curious deer

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake

Last stop was the Red Rock Canyon, where we dipped out toes in frigid cold water.

Red Rock canyon

Red Rock canyon

Lessons learned:

1. Bring bug spray

2. Bring bug spray

3. Stay on the east side of the park to explore Going-to-the-Sun and Two Medicine areas. If going to the Canadian side and Many Glacier areas, move to the west side for less driving.

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