In the weeks leading up to our cross-country road trip, I often got asked the same question: “What are you looking forward to most?” This is a toughie. Being a travel junkie, I pretty much look forward to seeing any new place, even if it doesn’t seem interesting by typical standards. Camping in Ohio? Driving through Indiana? Visiting state parks in Northern Minnesota? Yup, I looked forward to all of it. When asked this question in reference to our road trip, however, I always gave the same answer: Glacier National Park. I had never been but had seen stunning images of its dramatic landscape. The real thing – as is usually the case – was even more spectacular.
My husband and I took a couple of days to make our way through the grand state of Montana. It’s a big one! A three-hour drive north out of Yellowstone took us to Bozeman, an appealing little town that’s worth a stop, if not a night. From there we went north to Whitefish, which is about 30 minutes outside of Glacier. Whitefish is a resort town with a little downtown area full of specialty shops and restaurants, as well as a nice city beach on a local lake. We ate dinner at Latitude 48 downtown and enjoyed our meals.
Like Yellowstone and Grand Teton, Glacier attracts a big crowd. We hoped to beat some of the masses with an early start, but we weren’t early enough. The big attraction in the park – driving the Going to the Sun Road – can be slow going at times, and finding a spot to pull off and enjoy an overlook can be tricky. I didn’t mind the pace, to be honest, and if one overlook was full there was another equally stunning viewpoint waiting just around the bend. Parking at the visitor center was a bit trickier. My husband and I ended up taking turns circling the lot in the car while the other went in to check out the displays and use the restrooms. We were ready to move on quickly.
If you’re looking for something a bit more remote with fewer crowds, Many Glacier is a good option. Getting there means exiting the park at St. Mary (end of the Going to the Sun Road) and re-entering again a bit north on 89. The Many Glacier hotel is an attractive property overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake with a picture perfect mountain backdrop. I’m sure the rooms cost a pretty penny, and I assume booking well in advance is a necessity. Something to consider for the future, perhaps! While in that neck of the woods we hiked the Grinnell Lake trail (approximately seven miles round trip), which provided some gorgeous lake and mountain views and led to a couple of lovely waterfalls.
We camped that night at Fish Creek Campground. While I was concerned about temperatures (I was scarred after our Yellowstone experience), the weather was actually quite comfortable. The campground itself is nice enough, and despite ominous signs at the entrance warning, “bears enter this campsite,” we were thankfully bear free.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Glacier National Park. Anyone around me could tell, as I kept exclaiming at the beauty that surrounded us. At the risk of sounding gushy, it really was jaw droppingly gorgeous. I probably said, “wow!” out loud at least five times during the day. One thing I know is that one day in the park was not enough. We will definitely be back.