East Glacier Scenic Drive – Treasures OUTSIDE Glacier National Park

June 2018 – America’s stunning National Parks get all the press, but sometimes the drive towards them is almost as beautiful. As we made our way to the eastern side of Glacier National Park in Montana via US-2, the image of a mountain reflecting in a pond caught our eye.

Mountain reflections in a lake at Glacier National Park Montana-min

US-2 is a beautiful drive. These pretty reflections made us stop.

We just had to pull over for a closer look. The day was a big gloomy but the landscape was lovely.

RV trip to the east side of Glacier National Park in Montana-min

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The wildflowers were beginning to bloom, a perfect foreground for these snow capped peaks.

Wildflowers and mountains Glacier National Park Montana RV trip-min

Pretty wildflowers were in bloom!

Huge snows last winter and a bunch of rain this spring has made all of the rivers and streams in Montana swell almost beyond the riverbanks, and there are waterfalls, big and small, everywhere.

Waterfall Glacier National Park Montana RV trip-min

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Hopping back in our rig, we drove alongside the eastern side of Glacier National Park on US-89, and the scenery got better and better.

Mountain views east Glacier National Park scenic drive in an RV-min

Spectacular views east of Glacier National Park.

Big rigs can’t drive the narrow and twisting Route 49 that goes to the Two Medicine entrance of Glacier National Park. Instead, we had to route through the town of Browning, but the views we saw as we headed north towards Saint Mary were fabulous.

Scenic Drive east Glacier National Park Montana RV trip-min

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Scenic drive East Glacier National Park Montana RV trip-min

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Suddenly the U-shaped valleys of Glacier National Park that were carved by glaciers eons ago came into view. Again, we had to pull over, if only to get a shot of our rig in such a setting!

Snowy mountains east Glacier National Park scenic drive in an RV-min

Rounded valleys carved by glaciers come into view.

RV trip east Glacier National Park Montana-min

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Upper St. Mary Lake is located inside Glacier National Park, and we loved exploring it two years ago, but Lower St. Mary Lake is located outside of the Park, and pullouts along the road offered some fabulous views too.

Lower St Mary Lake Glacier National Park Montana RV trip-min

Lower St. Mary Lake outside Glacier National Park

When the sun is out, St. Mary Lake is a rich and luscious shade of blue, but on this overcast day the air was perfectly still and the mountains were able to check out their reflections in the silvery water.

Lupines blooming at St Mary Lake Montana-min

Lupines were blooming on the hillsides.

Reflections St. Mary Lake Glacier National Park Montana-min

St. Mary Lake can be a vivid blue with waves twinkling in the sun, but we caught it on a pensive, reflective day.

Lower St Mary Lake reflections near Glacier National Park on RV trip-min

The water was like glass.

The most famous part of Glacier National Park is the Going to the Sun Road that traverses the park via Logan Pass between the east and west sides. This road is so high that it is buried in snow well into the Spring, and the risk of avalanches keeps the road closed until mid to late June (or even early July!).

Mountain reflections Lower St Mary Lake near Glacier National Park on RV trip-min

The east side of Glacier National Park may be its more beautiful side.

For Park visitors that arrive early in the season, like we did, the views outside the Park are almost as stunning as the Going to the Sun Road, and there’s very little traffic.

Lower St Mary Lake reflections near Glacier National Park Montana-min

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US-89 runs through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and some lucky souls have homes overlooking the lake. We spotted one on the far shore. How cool!

Reflections Lower St Mary Lake Glacier National Park Montana-min

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Out in the pastures we saw some horses romping around too. Beautiful!

Horses running near Glacier National Park Montana-min

Horses ran free in a nearby pasture.

Our goal this year was to visit Many Glacier, one of the most spectacular spots in Glacier National Park and a place we had never visited before. As we anticipated, our photos from there will fill an entire upcoming blog post! Once we finished our visit, we were back out on glorious US-89 once again heading south, this time with sunshine.

Mountain views east of Glacier National Park Montana on an RV trip-min

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At one pullout a dirt road beckoned us to take a walk towards the mountains.

Trekking down a road towards Glacier National Park Montana-min

Buddy leads us into the mountain views.

Stream and mountain views Glacier National Park Montana-min

A river runs through it.

The wildflowers were blossoming in all their glory.

In the past, we have searched high and low for fields of wildflowers to photograph, often with little success. But it seems that the best way to find anything super special in this life is not to go looking for it! Here we were soaking in the awe-inspiring mountain views when we discovered we were surrounded by fields of wildflowers.

Glacier National Park mountains with wildflowers-min

Mountains and wildflowers.

Wildflowers in northern Montana-min

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Buddy posed by some flowers for a pic.

Puppy in wildflowers in Montana-min

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The flowers inside Glacier National Park might be more plentiful and the mountains might be taller and craggier than what we saw on this special scenic drive outside the Park, but it was pretty darn gorgeous.

Glacier National Park mountains with wildflowers-min

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Wildflowers and views of Glacier National Park Montana-min

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Wildflowers east of Glacier National Park on Montana RV trip-min

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For RVers heading to Glacier National Park, the trek from the more heavily visited west side to the less visited east side is a 100 mile trip. But despite the extra miles it is well worth doing, not just for the majestic scenery inside the Park at Two Medicine, St. Mary and Many Glacier, but for the eye-popping views you’ll see on the way there and back!

RV trip to the east side of Glacier National Park Montana at St Mary Lake-min

US-89 is easy to drive with a big rig and there are lots of large pullouts where you can stop and savor the view.

Please note that there was construction on US-89 when we drove it in June 2018. We experienced long delays as a pilot car led groups of vehicles through the lengthy construction zone. Hopefully next year the road improvements will be finished and it will be a breeze to drive!

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Glacier National Park Entrances on the East Side:

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16 thoughts on “East Glacier Scenic Drive – Treasures OUTSIDE Glacier National Park

  1. I noticed in one of your pictures that your bikes are now covered on the back of your fifth=wheel. What type of cover do you use? Our bikes take a real beating from the dirt and grime from the road. Also, what do you use to protect the metal parts from corrosion? Thanks for the feedback.

    • We had a bike cover custom made for us by an industrial seamstress named Rachel in El Jebel, Colorado. It is made out of Sunbrella and has two very long zippers to close it and webbing sewn onto it to tighten it down and keep it from flapping. It is an excellent cover. Her website is Rachel’s Sewing Repair and her phone number is (970) 704-1553. As for corrosion, everything on our bikes is aluminum so they hold up well when wet and don’t rust.

  2. We stayed at the campground at Two Medicine a couple of years ago. So beautiful and was a great fine with hardly any other campers there. We are planning on returning again this year. Thanks for sharing…..

  3. Hi guys…we’ve been following you for years!! Love your blog and more the photos 😀. Sounds like we just missed you? Sad. We are in west Glacier now and plan to drive to east Glacier tomorrow for a few days…are you still there?? Write back

    • Too bad we missed you. We buzzed by the east side of Glacier for a very brief visit and left about a week ago. Enjoy your stay there. It is a stunningly beautiful area, and every entrance point into the park has something special to offer!! Thank you very much for following our travels for such a long time. We appreciate it!!

  4. As always, great post! I’ve not been east of the summit at Glacier, but to the west one of my favorite very out of the way spots is Polebridge. If you haven’t been there, I hope you’ll make it and enjoy.

    • Thanks, Bob. And the amazing thing is that this is all outside the Park. Lots of folks rush on by on their way to get to Glacier, but it is really worthwhile to take a few extra hours to stop at the pullouts and soak it all in! Puppy Chow loved the break from driving too!!!

    • Buddy sure does well in front of the camera, Pete, but he gets a lot of practice too! We’ve managed to position ourselves for a very prolonged late winter/early spring this year. Right now we’re in the third of five straight days of rain and 50 degree temps in south-central Montana. Who ordered this for mid-June??!!! But seeing the snowy peaks makes up for it!

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