Glacier National Park

A trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, U.S.A., is something you won’t forget! From towering mountain peaks, to cascading waterfalls, to rivers that have worn the rocks smooth, this park is beyond beautiful!

We visited this park after spending time in Waterton Lakes National Park, which is just to the north in Alberta, Canada. We entered on the eastern side of Glacier National Park at St. Mary Entrance and began our journey west along the Going-to-the-Sun-Road.

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Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Our first photo stop was at Wild Goose Island.

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Wild Goose Island

The weather on the east side of the park was quite miserable, which happens because of the Continental Divide running through this park and causing different weather systems to occur. We were booked into a campsite on the western side of the park and so wanted to stop along the way, taking pictures as we went.

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There is often a lot of road construction in this park, as well as vehicle restrictions because of the width of the road and rocky overhangs in places. Check here for up to date information.

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A stop for road construction…not a bad view while waiting

We made a stop at Logan Pass Visitor Center to pick up lots of brochures and maps of the area. There is so much to do in this park that prioritizing becomes really important. You will also find information about the shuttles that run from different stops in the park. Take advantage of these once you are settled into your campsite or lodging, as they greatly reduce the congestion both on the road and in the parking lots.

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Logan Pass…6646 ft above sea level

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We got out and went for a bit of a walk on the boardwalk that they have here. The scenery is breathtaking with meadows and mountains blending into one another. Logan Pass is where the Continental Divide splits the flow of water into two, with water on the western side flowing towards the Pacific Ocean, and water on the eastern side flowing towards the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

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Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

We continued west to Lake McDonald and our campsite at Fish Creek. There is a small village at this end of Lake McDonald called Apgar. Apgar is where the western park entrance is located. There are camping sites and cabins here as well as a gas station, a general store, a restaurant, and a large gift shop. You can also rent bikes to travel along the paths here. 

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Lake McDonald from Apgar Village

We settled in for a few nights at our camping spot and decided which hikes we wanted to do while we were here. We zeroed in on two…Hidden Lake Trail and Avalanche Lake Trail.

Our first hike was the Hidden Lake Trail hike and we decided to park the car at the Apgar Visitor Center and ride the free shuttle service to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The shuttles run fairly frequently, but depending on traffic along the road they don’t always run on time. 

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Valley that the road travels through to Logan Pass.

Starting from behind the visitor center this 2 km hike each way takes you beside alpine gardens with mountains rising up on either side.

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Alpine area on the way to Hidden Lake

This trail can sometimes be foggy, covered in snow (even in July or August), and crowded, but the views when you arrive at the look-out are truly spectacular!

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Hidden Lake with Sperry Glacier in the far distance

You can choose to continue another 2.25 km down to the lake, but it is a steep descent and is sometimes closed because of bears feeding on fish from the lake. 

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Hidden Lake Trail

I would highly recommend this hike, even if it’s the only one you have time for!

The other hike we did, the hike to Avalanche Lake, starts just beyond Avalanche Creek at the trailhead for Trail of the Cedars. This 3 km hike each way takes you through an old-growth cedar and hemlock forest. Ferns and moss cover the ground creating a green carpet beneath the trees.

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Old-growth forest on the way to Avalanche Lake

Once at the lake you will notice the waterfalls on the other side which spill down the mountains.

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Waterfalls cascading into Avalanche Lake

You can follow the lake around to this far side where it is a bit quieter. If you have brought your fishing rod you can also fish for small trout that inhabit the lake. Once you have soaked up the scenery head back along the side of the Avalanche Lake and then back onto the trail.

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Avalanche Lake looking back towards the trail at the far end.

If you have time while driving on the western side of the park, stop at McDonald Falls, the Lake McDonald Lodge, or anywhere along the shore of Lake McDonald for some stunning pictures of the reflection in the lake.

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Lake McDonald reflection

Even a short time in Glacier National Park will definitely leave you appreciating the beauty of it. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is an amazing highway to drive and should be added to everyone’s road trip bucket list!

 

 

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