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Glacier National Park: A Photo Review
What to Expect at Glacier National Park
Overwhelming is the word that best describes how I felt about Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana when I first visited. Glaciers, mountain peaks, canyons, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, creeks, wildlife, forests in unspoiled condition are what make this such a remarkable destination.
I entered through the west entrance near the town of West Glacier. The fifty mile east/west drive along Going to the Sun Road leads through forests and past Lake McDonald in the early miles. The views of the lake, forests, river and waterfalls are beautiful, but more subdued than later scenery. My suggestion is that you take in these things, but keep in mind that the best is yet to come. Don't spend too much of your time in the early miles on the west side of the park.
If you enter through the east entrance near the town of St. Mary, you will have a variety of views including mountains and meadows The road begins to climb up to the hight point of Logan Pass much earlier than on the west side.
Entrances to Glacier National Park
There are two main entrances to Glacier National Park. West Glacier is on the west end of the Going to the Sun Road and St. Mary is on the east end. Many Glacier, on the northeast side of the park, offers access to Many Glacier Hotel, Swiftcurrent Lake and trails for day hikes and backpacking. Two Medicine is on the southeast side and leads to Two Medicine Lake and Lower Two Medicine Lake as well as day hiking and backpacking trails. East Glacier is 4 miles from Two Medicine in the southeastern corner of GNP and leads to Glacier Park Lodge and various trails. Polebridge is the entrance in the northwest to the wildest part of the Park.
Six Ways to See Glacier National Park
There are different ways to see and experience this jewel of the National Park system.
- By car. You can simply drive through on the only road that crosses the entire park, Going to the Sun Road. You will see the heart of what Glacier has to offer. There are many, many turnouts so that drivers can pull over for pictures to be taken. It is easy for the person driving to miss much of the scenery, so use the turnouts freely.
- Tour vehicles. The Red Bus Tours will drive you across the park starting at a variety of locations for your convenience.
- Boat tours, Glacier Park Boat Company provides tours that cruise on several of Glaciers beautiful lakes.
- Day hikes. There are hikes for everyone at Glacier. Follow the link to find information including trail length, elevation change and trail difficulty.
- Backcountry camping. I recently went on the sixteen mile out and back backcountry hike to Cosley Lake. In the near future, I will be hiking the Dawson-pitamaken Trail in the Two Medicine part of the Park. These hikes are typically done without a guide, although a backcountry permit is required. These permits can be purchased for five dollars at any of the Rangers' Stations in the Park and also at the Backcountry Permit Station in the village of Apgar.
- Ranger guided.hikes
Link to a Glacier NP Map
Where to Stay in Glacier National Park
When visiting Glacier, you can tent camp, RV camp or stay in one of the many motels and lodges in and around Glacier. Camping and lodging in and around Glacier NP.
I recently used St. Mary Lodge in St. Mary. The rooms were excellent with awesome panoramic views of the Park. Food at St. Mary Lodge was very good. I suggest anything with Huckleberries. The gift shop in the Lodge has a great selection of clothing and gift items. I came away with a new hat and jacket.
Visitors' Centers and Ranger Stations
- Apgar Backcountry Permit Office, Apgar Village
- Apgar Visitor Center, Apgar Village
- Logan Pass Visitor Center, Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road
- Many Glacier & Two Medicine Ranger Stations
- Park Headquarters, Near West Entrance
- Polebridge visitors' center.
- St. Mary Visitors' Center
National Geographic Detailed Map Book of Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park includes the entire national park area, with detailed trails, and topographic information. Includes the Lewis and Clark Range, Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, Great Bear Wilderness, Flathead National Forest, Columbia Falls, Horse Reservoir, St. Mary Lake, and much more. Includes UTM grids for use with your GPS unit.
Wildlife at Glacier National Park
You will likely see some wildlife during your visit to Glacier National Park. I was in the park from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Here is a list of the animals I encountered.
- Grizzly bear. This was a young bear that was the size of a Saint Bernard dog. He was standing just inside the trees at the edge of the road leading into Two Medicine. A park Ranger came along and informed bystanders that the new law requires visitors to be at least one hundred yards from bears in the park.
- Moose. Our best view of a moose was at Red Rock Lake. The trailhead for this hike is in Two Medicine. The male or bull moose was in the lake up to his neck, eating the vegetation under water. He then moved to a clearing in the trees where we were able to watch for several minutes. These animals can grow to be seven feet tall and weigh up to 1600 pounds.
- Elk. At dusk we saw a herd of elk about a quarter mile out in a meadow on the east side of the park.
- Bighorn sheep. We saw the bighorn sheep near the visitors' center at Logan Pass. They came down to nearly road level to graze and apparently watch the park visitors.
- Coyote. This animal was running along the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to our presence.
In addition to these, there are wolves, mountain lions, wolverines, mountain goats and black bear. Here is a link to a list of birds in Glacier National Park.