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Harry and Judy's RV Trip
13th Jul 2012 - Summer 2012
Day 25-Glacier National Park

Day 25-July 13, 2012-Glacier National Park
WOW!!! One of the best places on earth and one of the best ways to see it. We took the Red Bus, managed by the National Park Service and it was great. The road isn’t really treacherous like some we’ve been on (although there are some white-knuckled parts) but this way Harry can see the sights instead of concentrating on the road. Our bus was a 1937 (they have been running since 1935) and have been refurbished but have most of the original parts. The top rolls back and off so you get a view from everywhere, similar to a convertible. The drivers are called “jammers” because they could be heard jamming the gears on the mountain. They now run on either gasoline or propane to be green. They seat 17 plus the driver who narrates with lots of history and info all the way. The trip was 8-1/2 hours of beautiful scenery and the ever-present pine tree aroma.
The park is officially the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and lies in northwestern Montana and southern British Columbia, Canada. The closest we got to Canada was 12 miles south of the border. The American part covers over 1.1 million acres of pine and cedar trees, snow covered mountains, crystal clear lakes, wildlife, waterfalls and wildflowers in every color imaginable. Oh, and glaciers. There are twenty five glaciers and 762 lakes in the park and they are slowly disappearing over time. The main road through the park is called “Going to the Sun Road” and that’s what we mostly stayed on today. It’s over 50 miles of two lane road twisting and turning through the mountains, usually at a 6% grade. We started in West Glacier at Lake McDonald, a ten mile glacial lake with lots of boating. We climbed up to the summit at Logan Pass (elevation 6646’) and the Continental Divide. There’s a visitor’s center here and you can walk out onto one of the glaciers. It was blustery way up here, although on the way back later this afternoon it was sunny and warmer. Hit a high of 94 today but comfortable.
As we started back down the east side a little black bear walked across the street in front of us, climbed up on a rock ledge, turned around and seemed to pose for pictures before mooning us and leaving. We had already been told not to expect bears because there are only about 600 in the 1.1 million acres so what are the chances? Very nice surprise!
More views of the glaciers and then we drove out of the park, up to Babb, MT, through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, back into the park at St. Mary and through Swiftcurrent (aptly named) Valley to the Many Glacier Hotel for lunch. The hotel was built in 1915 and was really grand, right on St. Mary Lake, the big glacial lake on the east side of the mountain. We ate lunch in the Ptarmigan Dining Lodge, had some great “game sausage” stew, had the best table overlooking the lake, and then walked around. Learned the lakes are the beautiful blue-green color because of the effect of the glaciers grinding on each other over eons and creating “glacial flour”, microscopic particles which, when reflected by the sun, create this color. The closer to an active glacier the greener the water. It’s pretty to look at but not so good for the fish.
Back up the east side for the return trip on the same road. Saw two deer and cows grazing near the lake. At one point spotted two mountain goats on a snowy mountain. Saw the destruction made from an avalanche and the numerous fires in the past. It’s now afternoon and the same views look different because of the shadows cast by the sun. Under some waterfalls for well appreciated cool splashes, some more photo op stops and on to the rough white waters of McDonald creek, more like a raging river, then back to Lake McDonald at the end of the tour. This was surely one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been, a feast for the senses, the feel of the cool air, the sun on your face, the waterfalls (and snow, I guess), the smell of the pine forests, the taste of “game” stew and the crisp water at the top, and the sound of the birds, waterfalls, rushing water and wind. But for me it was mostly a feast for the eyes with sights that were indescribable and truly magnificent.
Stopped for dinner at a small mom and pop restaurant down the road from the campground, not much else around here but it was fine. Bought some local cherries (huckleberries aren’t in season quite yet, but soon) and some local “Moose Drool” ale that we tried at the hotel’s lunch today and really liked. Back to camp and compared stories with the neighbors who also went to the park today, then read a bit and crashed after a long day.

Next: Day 26-Relaxation
Previous: Day 24-Coram and Hungry Horse, MT

Diary Photos

Us at Waterfall



Jackson Glacier

Little Black Bear

Us at Ptarmigan Dining Lodge Many Glacier Hotel

Us at the Glacier

Our Bus

Goose Island

Mountain stream

Mountain Goat

What a view!

The road ahead

McDonalds Creek (2)

McDonalds Creek

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