Glacier National Park, located in northwestern Montana on the
Canadian border, is characterized by alpine glaciers, turquoise
lakes, and Rocky Mountain wildlife. The jagged crest of the
Continental Divide lies in the heart of Glacier National Park,
splitting Glacier into two climate regions: Pacific fronts bring
heavy precipitation and moderate temperatures from the west; dry
continental air with desiccating winds creates a colder and more
severe environment to the east. For almost three million years,
ice was the major erosion force in changing the landscape. These
glaciers reached their most recent maximum extent about 20,000
years when the thickness of ice in some valleys was a much as
3000 feet. The last of the Ice Age glaciers melted away between
10,000 and 20,000 years ago. About 1300 a.d., the global climate
cooled slightly, resulting in the renewed formation of today's
alpine glaciers. In 1850, there were estimated 150 glaciers in
the park. With a warming of the climate, only 26 glaciers remain
in the park today. Scientists predict all glaciers in Glacier
National Park will be gone by the year 2030.
Getting there ...
We had an early morning flight at 6:30AM. Compared with our
trip to Big Bend last year, we arrived at the airport a little
after 5AM. We found the lines for luggage and security were not
long at all (because of economy downturn?), and after about 15
min we were sitting at the gate and having Burger King for
We arrived in Missoula at about noon, and were ready to head to
Glacier after a quick lunch. However, we quickly found we were
stuck in a long section of road construction and a storm. I
thought we had time to go through the park (via Going-to-the-Sun
road) to "preview" the park scenery, but we decided to
go around the park via Highway 2 to East Glacier Park where we
stayed at the Glacier Park Lodge for the first 2 nights.
The Second Day ...
- I drove into the park but found it was too cloudy to have
any good light. The sun only broke out for a few minutes
for me to get this shot..
I decided to go back to the hotel to take a few interior
- Running Eagle Falls
our scheduled boat tour on Two Medicine Lake at
10:30AM, we got to the park early enough to take
a short nature trail to the Running Eagle Falls.
It is an easy quarter mile walk to a small
waterfalls which actually flows out of a cave.
- Two Medicine Lake
We planned to take the boat ride and hiked to the Upper
Two Medicine Lake from the boat dock. The boat ride was
calm and smooth with good introduction information. The
weather started to change when we got on the boat. After
we started the hike, it began to rain. It rained harder
and harder that we were all soaked even we were hiding
under the tree canopies. After about 1 mile, we reached
the Twin Falls (only half way to the Upper Two Medicine
Lake), we decided to turn back to the boat dock because
we were not well prepared for hiking under this weather.
When we were back at the boat dock, we found we were not
alone: there were a few other groups from the same boat
ride waiting there already, all wet and freezing.
- Appistoki Falls
We went back to took a break in our hotel room to dry up
our clothes and shoes. We taught Linus and Iris a card
game "Gong Pig" while we were relaxing in the
room (and it became the family favorite game for the next
The sky was clear and our gears were also dried up after
a few hours, we decided to go back to the park to hike a
short trail to Appistoki Falls. Unfortunately, the cloud
and rain seemed following us that the moment we were on
the trail, the weather began to change. Before we reached
the waterfall, it rained again! We had to walk quickly
back to the trailhead, and we were all wet again before
we got to the car.
The Third Day ...
- Sunrise at Two Medicine Lake
- St. Mary
After we left Two Medicine region and headed toward St.
Mary, the sky was getting cloudy again. Iris was car sick
so we stopped by the St. Mary visitor center to have some
fresh (and cold) air.
We planned to do a short hike around the Sun Point, but
we were cursed again. When we started the hike, it began
to rain. Although we had better rain gears this time, we
decided to cut the hike and went back to the car.
- Logan Pass -- Going-to-the-Sun Road
We continued our drive on the Going-to-the-Sun road to
Logan Pass, which was on the Continental Divide along the
road. It was so foggy that we did not even know we were
there until we saw the parking lot sign in front of us.
When we got off the car in the parking lot, we could not
even see where the visitor center is. It was getting
colder that the thermometer showed only 35 F. We could
not really do anything except staying in the small
crowded visitor center, so we decided to move on to the
west side of the park.
- Trail of the Cedars
Trail of the Cedars is one of the most popular short
nature trail in the park that it has the boardwalk
winding through towering cedar trees.
When we got to the campground parking, we had to stay in
the car for a while to wait for the rain to stop. But
when we hit the trail, the rain started again and we had
to walk fast to finish the loop trail.
On the way back on the Going-to-the-Sun road, it started
to snow when we were close to Logan Pass. We felt like
that snow was falling on one side of the car and raining
on the other. We were all surprised to see snow falling
in the middle of August.
The Fourth Day ...
- Many Glacier
We had an early 9:00AM boat tour ride at Many Glacier so
we had to leave our room at Rising Sun before 8AM. The
boat tour included a cruise across Swiftcurrent Lake,
then 400 yard short walk to Lake Josephine and another
cruise across this second Lake. We joined the ranger for
a hike to the Grinnell Lake. It was an easy 2-mile round
trip hike, however, it started to rain when we were on
the trail. The rain and mud made us uncomfortable to move
around in the dense forests. We found many ripe
huckleberries on the trail and we figured that they were
quite tasty (no wonder grizzlies love these berries). On
our way back on the boat, someone spotted a bear on the
shore. Our boat driver was kind enough to circle the boat
back and forth a few times to let us find the bear.
When we got back to Many Glacier Hotel, we were quite wet
that Linus had to dry his shoes and socks at the
fireplace in the lobby while we had a lunch. After lunch,
although the rain had stopped, it was too muddy to do any
serious hiking. We found there was a horse stable right
at the Many Glacier parking lot which offer 2-hour
horseback ride, and we decided to sign up the 2:45PM ride
for a different experience. Just 15 minutes before the
horseback ride schedule, it started to rain hard again
that we had to cancel our reservation and we were able to
get our refund (which was quite an exception according to
one of the wranglers). We began to form a theory: we were
cursed on this trip when Iris said "rain, rain, come
again, go away another day...." when we arrived at
Glacier on the first day.
- Waterton Lake
After some debate, we decided to head to Canada to visit
Waterton Lake. Waterton Lake National park was
established in 1895. In 1932, the governments of Canada
and the United States linked Glacier and Waterton Lake
together as the world's first International Peace Park.
We only had time to drop by the Prince of Wales Hotel
area for less than an hour.
The Fifth Day ...
- Sunrise at Swiftcurrent Lake, Many Glacier
- Logan Pass -- Hidden Lake
It was the best day and weather since our stay in
Glacier. We were finally able to see all the majestic
mountains around Logan Pass. We took the trail to Hidden
Lake starting from the visitor center. The first 1.5 mile
starts as a boardwalk, climbing moderately through fields
of wildflowers, and reaches an overlook point. The
cloud/fog was floating above the Hidden Lake that the
lake was not even visible from the overlook point. After
the viewpoint, the trail started to descend gradually,
and became more rocky and had much less hikers.
After a lunch break at the lake shore, we started to hike
back up on the trail. Iris and Linus were walking fast and
ahead of us quite a bit. Suddenly we saw a family of Mountain
Goats appear in front of Iris on the trail. We were all
frozen without any movement, and then backed off slowly to
the side of the trail to give more room to the goats. The
mother goat passed us first, and two baby goats tried to
follow. I knelt down to take a few pictures when one baby
goat was approaching. My movement seemed scare the baby goat,
and he made a few cries for mommy. Finally, the baby goats
passed by us and followed their mother's footsteps downhill.
The Sixth Day ...
- Sunrise at St Mary Lake
I went to the Wild Goose Island for the iconic view of
the Glacier National Park. The light was good, but it was
too windy to have a good reflection on the lake. On my
way continued to Logan Pass, I was surprised to see a
bear (a black bear, I think) was walking on the road, and
I had to stop to let it cross. I quickly got my camera
and took several shots (but none of them came out sharp
enough since I was in such a hurry). Luckily on my way
back, I saw a bighorn sheep jumping to the roadside. This
time I was much better prepared and got several good
shots of the sheep.
- Sunrift Gorge -- Baring Falls -- St. Mary Falls
We did a series of hiking along the St. Mary Lake,
starting from the Sunrift Gorge, and continuing to the
Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls. It was a good route
because when we returned from the St. Mary Falls, we took
the park shuttle bus back to the Sunrift Gorge and saved
us about 1 mile of walk.
- Avalanche Lake
After a lunch break back at the Rising Sun, we headed to
the west side of the park to Avalanche Lake. It started
at the trail of the cedars, and then climbed gradually
through the dense forests. Avalanche Lake is rimmed by
steep cliffs on three sides, with numerous waterfalls
cascade downward from the hills.
The Last Day,
- Lake McDonald
We had to leave early (before 7AM) to avoid traffic
delays to catch our flight at about noon in Missoula. One
the way, we had a quick stop at the Wild Goose Island for
the early sunrise, and had a short restroom break at Lake
McDonald, where we did not have to time to visit/hike in
Going Home ...
|The traffic back to Missoula was much
better than the first day when we just arrived. We got to
the airport more than an hour earlier and our flight was
delayed for more than half an hour, so we had plenty of
time to relax at the airport.
Glacier National Park, named the "Crown of the
Continent" by John Muir, is a true nature wonder
that is worth many and many visits.
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