8/1/22 to 8/5/22
We won the lottery! Well not really, but we felt that way because we wanted to visit Glacier National Park but didn’t have camping reservations or a permit to drive the Road to the Sun (a famous road that crosses the park). Low and behold Ross had been checking the reservation website and 4 nights became available on the exact nights that we needed. And then to top that off, we found out if you have a camping reservation it gives you unlimited access to the Road to the Sun.
We drove into the park, set up our campsite and because it was too hot to hike and leave Buddy in the Airstream we decided to hop in the truck and drive the Road to the Sun to familiarize ourselves with the park and see the highlights. It was a spectacular drive! Coming from Colorado, we are pretty accustomed to large mountain ranges, and these did not disappoint. The mountains are dramatic peaks and glaciers dot the landscape of them. What was most striking was how many waterfalls and lakes existed because of these glaciers.
The views were beautiful and the road was an engineering feat!
We were able to spend a few hours on the West Side of the park (we were camping on the east side at St. Mary’s) allowing Buddy to play in Lake McDonald, Ross to go for a swim and for me to do a quick watercolor painting. It was a perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.
The first morning we got up early to beat the heat and the crowds. We decided to hike the Three Falls Trail which was a 7 mile out and back trail that takes one along the edge of St. Mary’s Lake to Baring Falls, St. Mary’s Falls and then up to Virginia Falls. It was the perfect first hike and a great way to experience Glacier. The waterfalls were beautiful and very refreshing in the heat. It was a hot and windy day which seemed to be the pattern for the next three days.
Sue had hoped to paint in the afternoon but the winds were too strong to make it enjoyable. We did explore and found a historic Ranger cottage and barn from 1913 that had been restored which would make a great painting.
Our second longer hike was out to Lake Grinnell (below the Grinnell Glacier) in the Many Glacier area of the park. One starts the hike at the Many Glacier Lodge which is an old historical lodge in a gorgeous setting.
We hiked along Swiftcurrent Lake to Lake Josephine and ultimately to Grinnell Lake. One of the things that was so striking is how dense the vegetation was. The trail winds through marsh lands where the trail is partially on boardwalks, has swinging bridges and if you are not able to hike you can take some boats across the lakes.
We had our breakfast on the shore of Grinnell Lake all to ourselves and then when we decided it was time to head back before the crowds started to file in.
We were so thankful that we made the early start since we past crowds of people coming in. On the way back we came across some fellow campers (ironically parked right next to us at St. Mary’s) who spotted a moose with a gorgeous rack. Unfortunately the moose was lying down so this was the best picture that I could get.
The views were beautiful and we once again were graced with some great wildflowers.
The winds were getting stronger so it was time to retreat to the camper which gave us time to catch up on the blog, emails and phone calls. The forecast was calling for even stronger winds the next day so we took a walk over the Visitor Center to see where the best sheltered hikes would be. The ranger gave us a few suggestions and fortunately they knew what they were talking about. The following morning we did awake to some high winds so we headed out to hike the Beaver Pond Trail. The hike starts right near the historic ranger hut and we hiked it in counter clockwise direction. The trail begins as a climb up a hill along the south edge of St. Mary’s Lake. Wild raspberries were growing so we enjoyed them as a pre-breakfast snack before the bears could get to them. As the trail continued we went through an old burn zone (2006) which was interesting to see the old burned out trees and the newer re-growth, up to the pond, through Aspen trees and some gorgeous wildflowers. The winds were strong at points but overall it was a pretty sheltered spot.
We spent the afternoon prepping for the next section of our trip which was to head towards the Beartooth Highwayy in southern Montana just outside of Red Lodge.