Journey through Glacier National Park 6 Days Itinerary : Days 1-3

11th Feb 2015
Photo of Journey through Glacier National Park 6 Days Itinerary : Days 1-3 by deepanshu garg

Our idea was to enter the Glacier National Park and go through what gave us time on the road that runs through it. Although the sky remained quite covered, but at least it stopped raining. When we arrived at Radium Hot Springs we made a technical stop and took the opportunity to buy some sandwiches. To recover some time, we were eating them along the way. Slowly the miles were falling and we realized we were arriving at the border with the United States. As you can imagine, we left the camera in the back seat so there would not be any misunderstandings.

When we arrived at the Roosville border crossing there were not many cars so we did not have to wait long. Of course, we had time to read all the notices that were on the posters. The one that put us most nervous was the one that said that everything that had been bought outside the United States had to be declared.

The agent asked us where we came from, where we were going, if we had bought something. We explained that we were going to spend a couple of days in Montana and then return. The police looked surprised. We clarified that we would first stop in Minneapolis. Regarding the issue of purchases, we said that we had only bought gifts. And the truth is that we were not lying.

We continue on US93 through Whitefish, Columbia Falls and finally we reach Coram, the small town where our lodging was for the next two nights. In addition to single rooms and individual cabins the site has a huge place to park caravans. At the reception we were met by a very nice man who explained where our room was. He also asked us about our trip and what we were going to see in Montana. When we told him we were just passing through, he told us that the Glacier National Park was very good.

Finally he recommended a couple of places that he knew for dinner and breakfast. We went to locate the site for dinner and it was on the same road in the direction of Columbia Falls less than 3 kms away. We were back in the United States with the food, the atmosphere, and the people!

Day 2

We started to regain consciousness at 7:00 am accompanied by the sound of rain hitting the outside of our little cabin in Twin Butte. With the prospect of a breakfast at 8:30 and the almost total assurance that today we will not be able to visit practically anything due to the severe weather over Glacier NP, we are in no hurry to get up, not even to start preparing our luggage.

Through the windows, in addition to the expected drops of water glued to the glass, we see an unknown car that must belong to our neighbors, although we have not heard their arrival during the night. We stretched and reviewed photographs and videos with special attention to those of the bears a few hours ago while the interior of the cabin is lit up slowly by natural light.

When we planned the trip, we thought it was not a good idea to cross the border the same day we had the flight, just in case there was something unforeseen. That's why we prefer to spend the last part of our trip in the United States. The planning for today was very simple and quiet.

We knew that we were not going to be able to go through it as we had read on the park's website that from September 21 they close the Logan pass to fix the road. The first thing we did was go to breakfast where they had recommended us at the typical roadside bar. What a breakfast!

We were not aware of what we had ordered until they brought it to us. For breakfast today we have some spectacular french toasts. With maple syrup and, for those who tolerate it, a little bacon or butter on top, are a first bite of the exquisite day. Our new neighbors and dinner companions are a nice couple on honeymoon from Texas.

Once we had breakfast and with a full belly, we went to the park entrance. When we arrived at the port, the person who answered us told us that the National Public Lands Day was celebrated. The entrance to the park was free, so we saved the entrance cost.

Although we were warned at the entrance, a few kilometers there were signs that warned of the works and that the road was cut 50 km later.

The truth is that the weather did not favour us as the sky became increasingly gray with clouds that did not bode well. In addition the temperature was at 3 degrees.

So we continued forward and when the road allowed, we stopped to enjoy the scenery and take some pictures. One of the photos that follows is from the Bird Woman Falls (293 mts). The glacier that is just above is one of those that provides water to the waterfall.

And as announced, upon arriving at Logan Pass, we found the road closed. Also, since we were already out of season, the visitor center was also closed so we could not do much.

From this point a lot of trails come out, but as the weather was so bad (at the top the fog was quite thick), we did not try to do any trail.

Seeing that things did not improve, we decided to go down to the lower altitude areas to see if, at least, there was not so much fog. And although we had some downpour, we were able to make several stops to take pictures of what most caught our attention, like the little waterfall from Logan Creek.

While we were going down we came across one of the attractions of the park: the famous red tourist bus. As we did not have another plan until lunchtime, we stopped by the lookouts that we found on the road. Most were spots where there was some waterfall.

Lunchtime caught us near Lake Mcdonald, so we took advantage of it to buy some refreshments and eat the sandwiches we had bought in the morning.

After lunch we made another attempt to climb Logan Pass to see if the weather had improved somewhat, but just the opposite. The fog had become even thicker and the traffic on the road became a bit dangerous, so we decided to go back to the room and gradually prepare our bags.

Although we had to do an engineering work, in the end we got all the suitcases closed, although some little thing had to stay there. After going out to dinner (we repeated the same bar as the day before), we tried to check online to confirm the flight.

Day 3

Photo of Journey through Glacier National Park 6 Days Itinerary : Days 1-3 1/1 by deepanshu garg

We wait from the window for a small break in the downpour that does not stop dropping us to take the luggage to the car without getting soaked. But far from dying, the number of snowflakes that land on the lawn per second increases more and more. So there is no choice but to collect waterproof layers and optimize the travel necessary to bring our bags, backpacks, isothermal bags and shopping bags to the trunk of the Chevy.

While we update the family and social networks, time seems to be even more violent. It does not snow but the rain is strong, which advises driving with great caution. We do this, bypassing the detour to Waterton Lakes and taking the route that will take us, some 40 kilometers later, to the Chief Mountain border crossing.

Fortunately it seems that we are getting ahead of that Canadian storm that promises to wreak havoc in the next few hours, since according to the black clouds are left in our mirrors the driving becomes much more pleasant. Of course, the charming alpine landscape that characterizes this union of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is hidden behind the thick clouds.

We reached the control by which to leave Canada after having discovered and explored it for two weeks. After a mere process of a few seconds with a robust border agent we are already back in the United States of America, nothing more and nothing less than in the first hours. We circulate at 3,000 meters high, not bad for a reunion with the country of the stars and stripes. And during our first kilometers moving south we came across several herds of cows roaming freely on the road.

At a much better pace thanks to a simple rain much less dangerous than the flood with which we started, we reached the scattered houses that form the town of Babb and after passing it we reached the cabin. We found the office closed and some vague directions on how to find the management, but after a couple of laps we managed to find it.

The woman in charge of the complex regrets that our room is not ready yet, because with a storm like today, late departures increase. We pay the remaining half of the reservation and receive the key to the cabin anyway in case we want to leave our luggage, but we decided not to go and have a look until it is ready.

Without much to do due to the storm, we go to the nearby town of St. Mary where one of the two entrances closest to the National Park is located. We reached the visitor center of this access to the complex.

Together with the receipt of our payment they already give us maps and a park guide, a good summary of very useful information during the visit and something that we have missed in the access to Canadian parks. And from the minute zero the difference with the National Parks of Canada is abysmal. The care for the detail, the investment of the American government and the pride for its network of National Parks.

It's something we've never seen anywhere else. We receive a nice room with all kinds of details such as a large screen with the weather forecast, a detailed model of the entire surface of the park, a small museum on the history and fauna of the place and, most surprising, an auditorium with capacity for more than 200 people where every 30 minutes an introductory movie is shown with the benefits of the Glacier National Park.

We take advantage of the Internet connection to reassure the family about the trance on the road that we had to pass. Once the process is completed, we inform our plans and preferences to one of the always willing Rangers before asking for advice about how to distribute the hours that the weather allows us to enjoy the park.

Finally, we look for nearby self-service laundries in order to take advantage of today's circumstances and free ourselves from tasks and messages, thus trying that the next two days are entirely destined to take advantage of the scenario. The predictably charming Ranger who serves us at the counter confirms what we thought was our best option is to reserve for a possible sunny day what we are most interested in seeing at its peak, Hidden Lake Overlook.

We trust that when tomorrow at noon the worst of the storm we can attend our second most priority option Grinnell Glacier or Iceberg Lake, with her sharing our opinion that, although it is worthwhile to travel both. We approach the St. Mary Falls after a moderately short walk under a rain that will not disappear in the next few hours. We will follow your advice but before that you have to eat, which has already passed 13:00.

After a couple of failed attempts stopping next to coffee shops that turn out to be closed we tried our luck in the cafe. It is located door to door with a hotel with similar prices to our cabin that once ruled out by the horrible reviews it has received on Tripadvisor.

We entered the premises, which in reality is more a family restaurant than a cafeteria, and a rustic interior awaits us with nothing that seems forced or artificial thinking about tourists. Two waitresses are on duty, one urging us to take a seat and one that takes our order.

We ignore the Sunday special of fried chicken dish with soup and several sauces and we decided on a hamburger with cheese and what they say here as banana peppers, which is a very powerful type of pepper. The burgers are delicious as my mouth burns. The potatoes taste good and the enigmatic soup does indeed carry everything, including meat that gives it the appearance of stew.

There is no choice but to accompany it with soft drinks and water since alcohol is not served locally. We ended up satisfied and paying, including the tip. Now, let's try to get something out of this decaffeinated welcome to Glacier National Park with a short and accessible tour. After about 10 miles behind the wheel with how nice it was to think about kilometers we found the parking lot from which the path leads to St. Mary's Falls, a route that crosses mostly a forest that year Last burned after an incident in a picnic area.

However, as we would know later, the incident apparently had positive consequences for the ecosystem since the nature of the forest was dead anyway. Among the charred trees, the low visibility due to the rain and fog and the sleet that at times tightens strongly, is one of the most grotesque excursions of our trip.

Covered up to the eyebrows with supposed waterproof clothes some pieces more than others and after about half an hour dodging puddles and slippery stones we reached the bridge and the natural viewpoint in front of the falls. And they are not bad, but circumstances do not invite us to enjoy this goal more than about ten minutes.

From this bridge and adding another kilometer and a half more the road leads to other waterfalls, but as we know nothing about them. We decided not to take the risk. It's time to go back to the car, dying to get rid of a layer of clothing that is already completely soaked and that has not completely isolated our inner clothing from the ravages of the rain.

It's 4:00 pm when we're back inside the vehicle, and we take advantage of the fact that it's about an hour before we close the St. Mary's Visitor Center to make a new stop during which we reconnect to the Internet and request a brochure specific with information about all the excursions of the park.

Something before 5:00 p.m. is the time to discover at last how is our cabin number 5. It is not hard for us to find it following the indications that its owner gave us hours before, and what awaits us there is a construction much wider than that of Drywood Creek with a sofa accompanying the large bed, a bathroom with a slightly smaller prefabricated shower of the desired thing and, first time in the whole trip, without television in sight.

The interior is somewhat cold, so we put the heating with the dual function of warming up and helping us to dry the soaked jackets and boots. The trick works wonders and in just 10 minutes are ready for a new adventure. It's time to buy time for future days by washing clothes at a nearby service, even though the initial intention was to do our last laundry within two days taking advantage of the washer and dryer included in our next accommodation.

The best option that we have found online is a campsite near the entrance to the park by St. Mary's. It costs nothing to find it thanks to the good signage from the main road, and welcomes us with exactly what we needed. There is a room with about 15 washing machines and almost the same dryers, needing for the whole process a total of about five dollars in coins.

In a corner with sofas and TV a few elderly people are enjoying Casablanca in its particular version of neighborhood cinema every Sunday. Attached to the laundry is the gift shop and small grocery store of the camp, modest but enough to get out of a hurry in case of emergency.

In what we wait for the appliances to fulfill their function, Casablanca says goodbye with its titles of credit and the veteran division of the laundry leaves the place. A few minutes later the countdown of our dryer reaches zero and we are ready to pack our things and leave the campsite.

In doing so we see how the weather has improved slightly, stopping the rain at last and slightly increasing the visibility on the horizon, where the countless frozen mountains that make up the Glacier National Park are already sensed. The thing promises and a lot, and it makes us want even more strongly that tomorrow the sky opens and lets us see that wonder that is surrounding us without being aware of it.

We only have to go back to our cabin number five and prepare dinner, which this time will rely mainly on our particular microwave since the cold, humidity and muddy ground do not invite to make round trips to the common hut with full kitchen and dining room. We just stopped by her to get a can opener and a couple of cups and spoons for breakfast tomorrow, and found inside a London girl who immediately guesses our origin.

We dined pasta with tuna and a canned clam chowder, that cream of clams typical in the two coasts and that can be consumed in a low cost version in the rest of the country thanks to the supermarket preserves. Along with a couple of beers, a coffee with milk and a cookie for dessert we closed the dinner service.

It is 9:30 pm when we are ready to see one or two episodes of Masterchef before turning off the lights. Tomorrow, if everything goes as we expect, at noon the sky should give the starting signal to finally enjoy Glacier NP in all its splendor. We do not see the moment of that happening.