Glacier National Park is located in northwest Montana on the Canadian border. The Continental Divide splits the park between East and West Glacier. When open, the Going-to-the-Sun Road connects the two sides of the park in roughly 50 miles, however when its closed, it takes about 2 hours to get from one side to the other. Despite its remoteness, Glacier sees millions of visitors annually. Glacier is known for preserving some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and is home to hundreds of our favorite furry friends (grizzly bears)!
We made our road trip to Glacier National Park at the end of May. It’s about a 10-hour drive from Salt Lake, which we broke up by staying the night in Dillon, MT.
Our first stop was to the Visitor’s Center in West Glacier, but shortly after we arrived, a Park Ranger suggested we drive over to East Glacier. East Glacier is known for being more scenic, having fewer crowds, and better hiking. Unfortunately, the Going-to-the-Sun Road was not open to vehicles yet, so it was about a 2-hour drive from West Glacier. We are always up for maximizing our time though, so if that’s where the best views were going to be, and the weather was going to hold up, we were determined to make it work.
In East Glacier we hiked to Running Eagle Falls, Paradise Point, and explored the Two Medicine area. We had hopes of making it to Many Glacier and St. Mary’s Glacier, but we had already done so much driving, we just couldn’t stand being in the car anymore. We BARELY missed grizzly bears x 2 while we were exploring the East Glacier side. Two different groups had seen bears crossing the road either right before or right after us!! So close, but so far.
After we arrived back to West Glacier, we stopped at Lake McDonald for a while. This is Glacier’s biggest lake, measuring 10 miles long and 472 feet deep. It’s absolutely stunning.
We headed back to our campsite at Apgar campground, started a fire, and enjoyed some dinner and wine.
The next morning, we woke up, drove as far on the Going-to-the-Sun Road that we could, stopping at the viewpoints, and then hiked Trail of the Cedars. This hike is one of the two wheelchair accessible hikes in Glacier National Park. The loop takes you along a raised boardwalk, through a forest of cedar trees and across a footbridge over Avalanche Creek, providing you with views of Avalanche Gorge. At this point you can either continue along the loop or head up to Avalanche Lake. I really wish we would’ve had time for that hike, but the weather and our time-frame just didn’t allow for it. Instead, we did a little more hiking along part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which was closed to vehicles, but open to hikers and bikers. We had hopes of seeing a grizzly from a distance, but stumbled upon some hidden gem waterfalls instead. We ate lunch by McDonald Lake and then were on our way.
Our next stop was to Darby, MT where we met our friend and her cute family at her husband’s family ranch. We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying each other’s company, playing lawn games, roasting s’mores by the fire, exploring and hiking around a nearby lake (Lake Como), and completing a compass course set up by her father-in-law who was a former marine. Weekends like this are what I live for.