Saturday, April 19, 2014

Glacier

On Wednesday, April 9th, we left Missoula, Montana, and continued even further north, passing again through the Flathead Nation, and ending in Columbia Falls, only a few miles away from the Canadian border.

The next day on April 10th we ventured into Glacier National Park, the only national park which straddles the Canadian border.  It is known as Waterton International Peace Park on the Canadian side.  I knew we were close to the border when we came across an Alberta Welcome Center!



Most of Glacier National Park was still closed for the winter, but a small portion was accessible during our visit.  We stopped at the park headquarters since the visitor centers were all closed.  We learned about which areas we could visit and picked up the Junior Ranger workbooks.

It turns out that the only portion of the park that we could visit was a 10-mile stretch of the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road which parallels Lake McDonald.  The majority of the famous road was closed, so we weren’t able to ascend into the higher elevations nor were we able to see any of the 35 glaciers that exist in the park.  Regardless, we made the best of the situation.  There really is no way NOT to enjoy the magnificence of Glacier NP.


So we took a couple of hours to enjoy the 10-mile drive, stopping many times along the way to marvel at the scenery.  It is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been – and we only saw a small portion of the park!  We saw the 500-ft-deep, ice-covered, glacier-cut Lake McDonald; the snow-capped peaks of Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught; and ice-melt mountain streams along our drive.  It was truly stunning.





























At the end of our drive we arrived at the Lake McDonald Lodge (which was still closed for the season) and took advantage of the warm weather to eat our picnic lunch on the picnic tables at the lodge. 

After our lunch we walked further along the Going-to-the-Sun Road beyond where automobiles were allowed.  We walked through grizzly bear country for about four miles as they were emerging from their winter hibernation.  It’s a good thing we didn’t realize until the END of our visit that grizzly bears were spotted in the immediate area only the day before our visit!







The destination of our hike was to see the McDonald Falls.  We had to walk through some wet snow along the way wearing only sneakers.  Since our feet were plenty wet, we opted not to continue the walk to the waterfall base and instead viewed the falls from the wooden bridge nearby.  After all, we Texans don’t own snow boots!


After our hike to the waterfall and back to the lodge, we drove back to the park headquarters to get the junior ranger badges, then left the park.  In total, we spent four hours in the park even though only 10 miles was open!

After dinner, Steve and our 16yo son went back to the park for some stargazing, but the moon proved to be too bright for any good viewing.

We would love to come back to Glacier National Park again someday – in the summertime!  We saw only enough of the park to whet our appetite for more!