We arrived in St Mary’s at the East entrance of Glacier National Park, Montana, at around 4 pm in the afternoon, this drive was part of a road trip we were taking to Canada. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to quickly check into our hotel, St Mary Lodge and Resort, and then go straight on into the Park.
We had booked the hotel through the National Park website and it was literally right outside the East entrance to the Park, so very convenient. Like many National Park Lodges it was quite pricey for what it was, which was basically a small, outdated, rustic but clean room, but for us the convenience far outweighed the need for a fancy room!
So after a quick check in, and dumping our bags into our hotel room, we jumped back into our car and drove through the Glacier National Park entrance and on into the park. It was such a pretty day that we decided to try and drive along most of the length of Going-to-the-Sun road which runs for nearly 50 miles through the middle of the park, pulling off to take photos whenever we could and to be honest this was quite frequently as one stunning view was followed by another! The road it’s self is an experience, quite narrow in places and an engineering marvel.
We drove all the way through to Lake McDonald on the Western side of the park, where we stopped for a little while to admire the lovely Lake McDonald Lodge that was built in 1913 and sits on a picturesque location on the eastern shore of the Lake.
Lake McDonald is known for it’s rainbow coloured pebbles and rocks, and we could see them but we had a hard time getting a good photograph of them because the lighting wasn’t quite right as it was late in the day. We realized that it would be too late for supper by the time we got back to St Mary, so we grabbed a quick snack sandwich from the shop at Lake McDonald. We jumped back into the car and headed back east through the park enjoying all the views from a different angle as we retraced our drive back to St Mary’s. We even got to see Mountain Goats as we drove back over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass.
The Going-to-the-Sun road had been quite busy earlier, but as we were now well into the evening it was definitely quieter and easier for stopping and taking photos.
The sun we setting just as we got back to the hotel in St Mary, so we decided on an early night so that we could get up early in the morning. The plan was to go back into the Park to explore until lunch time, then continue on our road trip up to Canada.
We were surprise when we awoke the next morning to find it very cloudy and dreary. Thankfully it wasn’t raining, so we continued with our plan and hoped as the day progressed it would improve. Our first stop was at the parking area by Baring Creek, where we admired the pretty area where the Creek passed under the road and then hiked the short 0.7 miles down to see the Baring Falls. Once back at our car, we continued on up the Going-to-the-Sun road as we hoped to get to the Logan Pass parking area before it filled up. Unfortunately, despite getting there around 9.30 am, it was already full, but thankfully there were a small area of parking just down the hill from it that was still available, so we parked there and walked the short distance up to Logan Pass, and the highest part of the park.
It was still cloudy as you can see from this photo, but while we were there the clouds gradually started to clear away and the sun was breaking through a bit so we could enjoy the wildflowers.
From Logan Pass we decided to cross over the road and walk the first section of the Highline Trail as we had seen from the road that it looked rather interesting! And by interesting I mean, it was a craggy path cut into the cliff above the Going-to-the-Sun road!!
It turned out to be very cool, and not quite as scary as I originally thought, as there were a makeshift railing attached to the cliff face that you could hold onto and the path wasn’t too narrow. However, my husband isn’t great with heights and it did unnerve him a bit, so be warned. By now the sky’s were clearing and the mountain tops were once again in sight.
The Highline Trail is nearly 40 miles in length and considered strenuous, so way more than we had time for or could do, so after taking in the spectacular views we walked back to our car and drove back east back towards St Mary. For our final photo stop we stopped by Saint Mary Lake at Wild Goose Island lookout for a beautiful view up the lake into the park. While here we also saw a female Elk in the woods right by our parked car.
As we drove towards the East entrance we noticed a number of cars pulled off to the side of the road, so we slowed and were just in time to see a Black Bear and her 3 cubs disappear out of the car park by the boat launch area and into the woods. A very brief glimpse and no time for taking a photo, but still very exciting and the icing on the cake for a great visit to Glacier National Park.
Before leaving St Mary and continuing our drive north to Canada, we decided to grab a quick lunch in St Mary Lodge at the Snowgoose Grille. I enjoyed a Bison Chorizo Quesadilla and my husband had a Lamb Burger Special that they had on offer while we enjoyed the view towards the park.
Here are a couple of tips I can give you for your visit to Glacier National Park, firstly, arrive early or stay late into the evening for the quietest drive on the Going-to-the-Sun road and a much easier time parking.
Secondly, book your hotel well in advance, I think we booked ours at least 6 months in advance and even then there wasn’t much choice left!
Date of visit; 1st August 2017