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Glacier National Park

 

Glacier is a great national park because you are able to "get inside" the Rocky Mountains.  At this point in northern Montana the Rocky Mts. are only 35 miles wide.  You can cross back and forth and hike all over them.  These are some impressive mountains and, of course they are covered with glaciers.  There are similarities to the Tetons in that the peaks are ragged and tower up 5 or 6 thousand feet but they are arranged in a cluster of mountains rather than a straight line. 

The Going-To-The-Sun Road (50 miles long) allows you to get right in the middle of these mountains.  The road is scary but wonderful.  Of all the roads we have driven so far this one is the best as far as giving you the feeling that you are close to the mountains.  It is no more scary than many others but because the mountains are surrounding you, peak after peak, it has to rank as the best "scary" road so far. 

The area is very green with trees and green plants, partly because the west side receives a lot of rain due to the pacific winds.  The ragged peaks, the lakes, the green colors, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the wild flowers all add together to make the whole area just beautiful and it reminds you of a paradise.

Glacier reminds me of New York State's Finger Lake Region in part because of the glacially carved valleys and the long, narrow lakes that run along the bottom of them.  The valleys and the lakes are often parallel to each other also.  The big difference, of course, is the elevation of the mountain ridges in between the lakes.

Early in the 1900's the park began touring visitors around in vintage looking but uniquely designed limousines that carried 25 or so people and had roll back canvas tops for easy viewing of the mountains.  The so-called "Red Jammers" took visitors up and down the Going-To-The-Sun Road.  These special limos have recently been refurbished and are busy every day taking visitors on the same trips.

There is a great deal of hiking trails in Glacier.  Too many for us to do but serious hikers have a gold mine.  There are 1 to 5 mile trails and there are 5 to 20 mile trails.  You can hike all day to arrive at a Swiss Chalet for the night.  In the 1930's visitors used to either horseback ride or hike from all day and the Northern Railroad built several grand lodges and several smaller chalets for the visitors to end their day in style.

The hike at the top of the mountains (Logan Pass) on the Sun Road is a great hike up to very near the summit and gives you a breath-taking view of a mountain lake called Hidden Lake.  The 3 mile round trip to Virginia Falls and St. Mary Falls is great.  The water in the streams and lakes of Glacier is unbelievably clear.  You can look through the shallow water and see every little pebble.  The deeper water is the most beautiful blue.  A ranger told us the blue is due to the fine dust from the glacier run off that is in he water like a talc powder that reflects back the blue and green light rays.  

The east and west sides of the park are quite separate because there is only the one road from side to side and it is 50 miles of hair-raising driving and takes about 2 hours minimum.  There are several days worth of activities on the east side as well as the west.  After 3 days camped on the west side, we drove around the south of the park (easy drive) and camped on the east side for a couple days.  The Many Glacier area on the east side is again breath-taking and offers much to do in hiking and boating.  From the east side you can easily access the Canadian sister park named Waterton National Park.  Waterton also offers a wonderful area including a lake surrounded by mountains and a quaint little town at the northern end as well as one of those grand lodges.  The south end of the lake is actually in the USA and not reachable from within the US except by foot.  Waterton Park also seems to have more wildlife.  We saw 5 adult bears and two cubs as well as a moose.

Glacier National Park is a spectacular place to visit.

For photographs take this link to the Cross-Country Photo Albums and select one of the several Glacier albums.