Glacier National Park was one of my favorite places we stopped at on our road trip. The park is located in Northern Montana and extends up into Canada. The park is huge and I was only able to see a small section of it, but what I saw was breathtaking.
We stayed in Kalispell the night before so we entered Glacier through the West entrance. We were able to get a campsite for two nights at Apgar Campground on the southern end of Lake McDonald. The campground is large and the sites are very nice. There is running water and flush toilets but no showers. There are bear boxes at each site because both brown bears and grizzly bears are common in Glacier National Park.
After we set up camp we headed to the Apgar Visitor Center to get maps and trail information and the shuttle schedule. We wanted to take the shuttle because from what we had heard, driving on Going to the Sun Road can be a little scary and we just wanted to sit back and enjoy views stress free.
We hopped on the shuttle and began our journey. The road goes right along Lake McDonald so the views from the shuttle are really nice. Our first stop was at Avalanche Creek, which is where the Trail of the Cedars begins. This is one of the more popular trails in the park. It is wheelchair accessible because it is entirely on a boardwalk and it is less than a mile. It winds through a forest of cedar trees and past Avalanche Creek.It was a nice trail that I would recommend to people looking for something really easy.
From Avalanche Creek we caught another shuttle up to Logan Pass. The shuttles that drive on this section of Going to the Sun Road are smaller because the road is narrow and there are a number of sharp turns. Cars are allowed to drive on the road too and it gets very congested. There have been a number of accidents too due to people going to fast around corners. They are thinking about changing the rule and making it so that people have to park their cars at the visitor center and then take a shuttle to the top.
It takes about an hour to get to Logan Pass from Avalanche Creek. Sit on the right side of the shuttle if you want the best views of the park. Logan Pass is the epicenter of Glacier National Park. It’s where many of the most popular trails start and it is one of the highest points in the park, offering some amazing views. It’s also where you switch shuttles if you are crossing to the other side of the park.
The Hidden Lake Trail is one of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park so that’s the one we decided to do. It is a beautiful trail. You start out walking through a field full of wildflowers with views of the mountains in the distance.
There were a number of Park Rangers stationed along the trail because there was a mama bear and two cubs in the area while we were there so they needed to make sure no tourists decided to approach them.
Hidden Lake is Beautiful. It forms a horseshoe around a mountain, which I thought was really cool. This is where a lot of people stop to take a break and have a snack, so we sat down and ate our sandwiches. The place is a popular spot for ground squirrels, which are adorable, but beg for food and will crawl on you trying to steal your sandwiches.
The trail usually continues further past Hidden Lake around to the other side of it, but the day we were there the last part of the trail was blocked off because there were bears feeding on a goat carcass. Yum. And speaking of goats, on our way back to the trail head we saw some mountain goats up on a cliff and then again grazing in the field. They are really cute and really fluffy.
We hopped back on the shuttle that was heading south and went back to Apgar to get the car. The entire shuttle ride was about an hour and a half, so keep that in mind when planning your day. We drove over to fish creek to hike the Rock Cliff Trail. It’s an easy one mile hike that leads out to the Western end of Lake McDonald. The water is so clear and the pebbles are all different colors. People were out kayaking and fishing on the lake having a good time.
We headed back to our campground for the night to make some food and relax. The next day we got up and took the shuttle out to Logan Pass again. This time instead of hiking at Logan Pass we caught the shuttle that goes around the Eastern side of the park.
Our first stop was the Trail head for Saint Mary’s Falls and Virginia Falls. A few years ago this section of the park had a forest fire and many of the trees are still burnt. It was really strange to see. There were dead burnt trees growing out of lush green ground covered in wild flowers. It was pretty neat to see.
The hike to Saint Mary’s Falls is fairly easy. There are a few steep sections, but nothing crazy. The waterfall itself is really nice. It’s kind of a double waterfall, with two drop off points.
A lot of people stop here and head back to the shuttle, but if you keep going you eventually get to Virginia Falls. This section of the hike is a little steeper, but still not terrible. It’s definitely worth it because Virginia falls is amazing. It is very tall and you can walk right up to the bottom of it and walk around in it.
After hanging out at Virginia Falls for a little bit we made our way back to the shuttle stop and caught the bus to Sunrift Gorge. A couple of really nice trails start from this point. First, we hiked out to Baring Falls. This is a very short hike that has a cute little waterfall at the end of it.
From the same trail head you can hike out to Sun Point. This trail goes along the edge of Saint Mary Lake and has beautiful views of the lake with the mountain glaciers in the background.
At that point it was getting a little late and we had a two hour shuttle bus ride back to the car, so we decided to call it a day and head back to camp.
I loved Glacier National Park and I will definitely be going back some day. Two days was not enough time to even put a dent in everything there is to see. We didn’t get the chance to go out to the Two Medicine section of the park or the Many Glacier section, both of which are supposed to be gorgeous. I would recommend spending at least four days of you really want to see everything Glacier National Park has to offer.
Have you ever been to Glacier National Park? What were the highlights of your trip?