Wow! On a picture perfect August day, Claire and I visited Glacier National Park, The Crown of the Continent. It was an experience we’ll never forget.
We had always envisioned this day – at the midpoint in our cross-country road trip – to be one of the highlights. But as first time visitors to this park, we just couldn’t have imagined how wonderful it would be.
Knowing that we wanted to beat the crowds, we left our hotel early and drove into St. Mary, the eastern gateway to the park. On the advice of several friends, we planned to focus our visit along the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road – a National Historic Landmark and a National Engineering Landmark.
According to the National Park Service website:
The road officially received its name, “The Going-to-the-Sun Road,” during the 1933 dedication at Logan Pass. The road borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Local legend, and a 1933 press release issued by the Department of the Interior, told the story of the deity, Sour Spirit, who came down from the sun to teach Blackfeet braves the rudiments of the hunt. On his way back to the sun, Sour Spirit had his image reproduced on the top of the mountain for inspiration to the Blackfeet. An alternate story suggests a white explorer in the 1880s concocted the name and the legend. No matter which version is accurate, the road named Going-to-the-Sun still inspires all who travel it.
Logan Pass is among the most famous – and popular – spots along this 50-mile engineering marvel, so we headed there first. As the highest point along the road, the pass is part of the Continental Divide. It is also the trailhead for day hikes in multiple directions. We chose to strike out for Hidden Lake on the advice of the ranger, as this part of the park is above the tree line.
On this trail we encountered small waterfalls and snow packs…
Mountain goats (which Claire tried to become a bit too familiar with)…
And finally, the beautiful Hidden Lake.
Next we retraced our steps east so we could stop and see the one glacier visible from the Going-to-the-Sun road – Jackson Glacier (shown below) – and do some pullouts for the scenic views.
We took our second hike of the day to reach the St. Mary Fall – a beautiful, crystal-clear waterfall that feeds into St. Mary Lake situated along the eastern edge of the park.
And then we headed west, finally ending up at Lake McDonald where we had a late lunch at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge.
It was a wonderful day. As we relax in our hotel, getting ready for our long drive tomorrow to Seattle, we’ve both reflected on our time in Montana and the chance to see the unique landscapes that make up Big Sky Country.
More to come…