Glacier National Park was on our agenda on our travel itinerary but we thought it would just be a two day stop over before meeting Matt’s parents in Montana. Little did we know that Glacier would wrap its charm around our hearts and we would extend our stay for a total of 7 days before sadly saying goodbye (at least for this trip).
I am smitten with the diversity of beauty and outdoor adventures you can explore in the park. We stayed mainly on a portion of the West side this trip which gives us lots of other areas to explore when we come back another year.
Most of Glacier’s campgrounds are first come first serve. This handy web page gives status updates on when campgrounds fill up so I was able to have an idea the timing for us to arrive in order to snag a spot before they filled up for the day. We scored a roomy shaded pull through site in the Apgar campground, loop A. We paid for two days but were able to extend our stay for another 5 days, since it is first come first serve. If camping isn’t your thing there are other lodging options in West Glacier, Apgar Village and McDonald Lodge.
One of Glacier’s main attractions is “Going to the Sun” highway that runs through the middle of the park. Vehicles over 21 feet can not travel past Avalanche (from the West) so the park offers a free shuttle service along the highway for visitors and hikers. We were so thankful for this option so we could experience the amazing highway scenery and explore different hikes. Patience is important when using the system as very popular option with lines and wait times but worth it since we didn’t have a vehicle option and parking along the highway looks more than challenging. A shuttle stop was right by our Apgar campsite so very convenient for hoping on and off.
Matt has plantar fasciitis so we had to be reasonable about the hikes we did (we want him to continue to heal!) but this didn’t limit us in seeing amazing sites for the hikes we chose to do. Hidden Lake and Highline Trail (only a portion) are ones to explore right by the Logan Pass visitor center. We experienced snow hiking, mountain goats and a glacier lake on the Hidden Lake hike. We only did a short portion of the Highline trail but one we will want to do it in full (11 miles) the next time we visit. Avalanche Lake was our favorite hike. Very populated which is a negative but also a positive when it comes to ratio of beer spray in the area! Next time we do this hike I would bring a swim suit for a quick dip in the glacier lake and a picnic lunch to sit and admire the waterfall views longer. There was road construction in Glacier so the only way to see McDonald Creek was to hike there via the John’s Lake Loop trail. The trail isn’t the greatest when you start from McDonald Lodge as it is a horse trail but as you get closer to McDonald Creek it is worth it to see the rushing water and rapids.
Some national parks let cyclists bike the main roads in the spring before the roads open to vehicles. We’ve always thought we would do this but decided to ride “Going to the Sun” highway during this trip. We got up early and left our campsite in Apgar by 6 a.m. and made it to Logan Pass a little before 9 a.m. It was such an amazing way to see all the nature beauty along the route. The first 14 miles to Avalanche can be done at a steady speed. After Avalanche until Logan Pass, just shy of 16 miles is a climb but worth every pedal stroke! The car traffic going up travel at slow speeds and were friendly and shared the road. On our decent back down to Avalanche we had no vehicle traffic behind us for almost the full 16 mile decent! Note that bikes are not allowed beyond Avalanche after 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. due to dense vehicle traffic. We still had time to bike back to Apgar but took the shuttle from Avalanche back to Apgar. Each shuttle has space for 2 bikes on the front racks.
McDonald Lake was literally across the street from our campsite and we made it a ritual each afternoon/evening to go there for a dip in the clear crisp (cold!) lake. So refreshing after a day of bike riding or hiking. On our last day in the park we rented a tandem kayak from Glacier Outfitters which gave us another way to explore a different side of the lake.
Highly recommend visiting Glacier National Park! Can’t wait to go back and explore more!