When I think national parks, Yosemite and Yellowstone immediately come to mind, but Glacier National Park is not to be missed and slept on – it deserves the recognition and attention given to the more popular national parks.
Glacier was the first national park of my trip; it was then followed by Yellowstone and Grand Teton – in my opinion, the order was perfect. We started with the high-intensity Glacier and ended with the serene Grand Teton – and, of course, the valley and wildlife infused Yellowstone sat pretty in the middle of it all. Luckily, the day before we arrived in Glacier the park announced that the Going-to-the-Sun Road was officially open for the 2018 season. Our trip would not have been the same if the spectacular and scenic 52-mile highway that runs through the park and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass was closed.
Of all the hotels/lodges reserved, this was the one we were most nervous about – mainly because the pictures online did not do it justice. We originally wanted to stay at Lake McDonald Lodge (sold out), but I’m glad we ended up in Apgar Village Lodge. Though it was a bit cramped (especially the bathroom), it did have two rooms and was very clean. We ended up loving Apgar Village. It was close to everything, quiet, near Lake McDonald, and had a delicious restaurant (Eddie’s Cafe & Mercantile).
Gorgeous lodge that resembled Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World, but smaller. Also has a beautiful view of Lake McDonald (hence the name) and a huge fireplace in the lobby. It is more populated than the Apgar Village Lodge and doesn’t have the same homey, relaxing appeal.
- Go Hiking
My first hike of the trip was Avalanche Lake Trail and oh boy was it a good one. It was about 4-5 miles total and worth every second of it. Summer is a pretty popular time in Glacier, so I wasn’t scared a bear would come out and attack me (although, we had our whistle, bell, and bear spray handy).
It was about 50-60 degrees (reason why I was sporting my yellow Glacier hoodie) in the morning when we started the hike – it got warmer as the day progressed. The views were spectacular – snow was still visible, mountains seemed like they were magically placed, and overall, it was a spiritual experience.
While enjoying the view, I witnessed a marriage proposal – yes, romance is still alive! I wouldn’t mind getting proposed to with Avalanche Lake as a backdrop.
I also completed St. Mary’s Trailhead – it was only about 2 miles total. Going to St. Mary Falls was easy (all downhill), but coming back was a bit more exhausting. The views were gorgeous. I felt like I was living in the moment and enjoying every bit of the walk. I will say, not much beats the feeling of accomplishment when conquering a trail.
- Drive to Logan Pass
Logan Pass is the highest elevation reachable by car in the park. The early morning drive was phenomenal and filled with inexplicable sights. I was truly humbled by the grand mountains and high elevation. What I saw, cannot be put into words or even adequately captured, even with the best cameras.
Once we arrived at the Logan Pass Visitor Center and got out of the car to explore, I was shocked as to how chilly it was. Upon arriving, I also saw various people with skis and visible snow/ice on the ground and mountains – I was truly confused as to what season it was. Safe to say, I was definitely not adequately dressed to complete a hike at this temperature.
- Spot Wildlife
We were feeling a bit down about barely seeing any wildlife in Glacier and then…we saw a mountain goat! It crossed right in front of us as we were passing the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Let me tell you something, that goat does not skip shoulder day!
We saw a couple of deer in Apgar Village or maybe it was the same deer – I am still not sure.
- Motor Boat Rentals and other lake activities right in Apgar Village
The water was incredibly clear and gentle and the air fresh as can be. I recommend renting a motor boat and enjoying the juxtaposed view of the water and the mountains. We even did some sightseeing of the secluded houses/lodges along the lake (I wouldn’t mind having a view of Lake McDonald from my house…).
Eddie’s NEVER once disappointed us. The food was incredible (especially, considering it is “park food”). We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – everything I had was fresh and delicious. I tried Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager and Moose Drool Brown Ale for the first time – they have officially been added to the list of beers I love.
I also had Bison meatloaf for the first time here and it was phenomenal – it was my favorite dish of the trip. And don’t get me started on the Huckleberry Cobbler….it was worth every bite! I am going to miss having Huckleberry everything once this trip is over.
This place was a recommendation from a cashier in St. Mary Village; she said they had the best pies. We decided to give it a shot and wow, she was right about the pies… The chicken sandwich was also delicious. The place was adorable – I couldn’t stop taking pictures of everything. Interesting part is that since the tribe elections were taking place the restaurant was not serving alcohol (first time I have ever heard that as a reason for not serving alcohol).
- Buy bear spray and other bear deterrents (bells, whistles, etc.).
- Buy and carry snacks on hikes (dried fruit, trail mix, beef jerky, etc.).
- Don’t forget your binoculars for animal sightings (we did).
- Pack backup batteries and chargers – the photo opportunities are endless!
- Don’t wear shoes on hikes you would mind getting full of mud.
- Layers!!! It is a bit chilly, even in Summer.
My Dad swears Glacier is his favorite national park and I don’t blame him. Unfortunately, Glacier does not get the hype it deserves. It differed greatly from the other national parks we visited on this trip. In Glacier, we were engulfed by huge, rocky mountains – which left me feeling smaller than normal (standing at 5’0, I feel small pretty much all the time) and in some way closer to God.
I cannot wait to go back and revel in the alluring sharpness that is Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park VLOG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTOAQnzJ2oU&t=177s
Yellowstone blog post COMING SOON!