May 2016 – After enjoying a bit of the cowboy life and ranching life of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, and then taking a zippy day trip over to charming Philipsburg, we took our RV north to Glacier National Park. This park is tucked right up against the Canadian border in northern Montana.
It was early May, and the main road through the park, the Going to the Sun Road, wasn’t completely open yet due to avalanche activity in the appropriately named Avalanche Creek area.
But the road was open as far as Avalanche, so we took full advantage of doing a few drives up and down its length.
We had been to Glacier National Park once before, back in the late summer of 2007, and we had dashed through the park so fast that we didn’t even notice the large and beautiful Lake McDonald that greets visitors coming in from the southwestern entrance. Oh my!!
The early morning air was very brisk when we drove alongside this stunning lake one morning, and the trees stood utterly motionless and silent. Hardly a breath of wind stirred their leaves.
The thick woods were lined with a lush carpet of moss, and the sun filtered between the trees.
The water was like a mirror, reflecting everything in its depths.
And it was so clear that we could see each and every stone on the bottom perfectly.
We stopped at McDonald Falls where the water coming down from the mountains rushed past us in a blur.
A few wildflowers were just starting to peek their heads out here and there.
It was one of those ideal mornings that you wish could last forever.
When we got to Avalanche, we noticed that cyclists were unloading their bikes from their cars to ride a few miles further up the road. Because the road was closed to cars up ahead, they could do this wonderful bike ride without having to share the road with anyone but other bicyclists. What fun! We hadn’t brought our bikes this time, but made a mental note for the future.
Nearby, the Hungry Horse Reservoir made for another lovely day trip. Again, we were blessed with crisp air and sunny skies.
The road winds along the south fork of the Flathead River and along the reservoir, offering pretty views of the river and reservoir the whole way. We got out at one point and hiked down to a pebble beach where a series of tree stumps made for an eerie scene.
A man sitting in a camp chair at the trail head and working on his laptop while soaking in the view of the river told us that he remembered the river before it was dammed, back when those tree stumps were towering trees at the water’s edge.
Crossing the Hungry Horse Dam, we got a terrific view of the mountains backing the reservoir.
This would be a great road for a bike ride too, and as we stood staring at the lake a cyclist suddenly zoomed by, his eyes fixed on the pretty view too!
But it was Lake McDonald over in Glacier National Park that kept drawing us back. We drove the Going to the Sun road as far as we could a second time, late one afternoon, hoping for a knock-your-socks-off sunset to top it all off.
The pebble beach at the Lake McDonald Lodge was very beautiful, and we got a kick out of exploring the cabins at the Lodge, many of which were in the process of spring cleaning for the summer season.
But we thought we might get a better view of the lake at sunset back at Apgar Village where there is a boat ramp that marches right out into the lake and offers a splendid panorama of the mountains.
We poked around on the shore waiting for this oh-so-sensational sunset to happen.
The lake undulated reflections of the mountains in shades of silver and blue.
A couple came down to the dock with a photographer and did a bunch of romantic shots with the mountain backdrop behind them. They had had the same idea of catching this majestic view at the golden hour, sealing their undying love with a beautiful photo at Nature’s golden hour. But the skies just didn’t deliver that night, and the best we all got was a hint of pink.
No matter. This place is gorgeous anyway!!
We were on a mission to continue our RV travels north, so we didn’t stick around for the Going to the Sun Road to open up all the way to the top a few weeks later. But we loved what we saw and will hopefully be back for some wildflowers later in the season.
This year we traveled north from Arizona ahead of the crowds by just a bit, and it made a big difference in many ways. Not only were there few crowds (and fewer people in general), but there was still snow on the mountains. However, the flip side was that the nights were often cold and many days barely got warm. Also, we arrived before the rangers had opened certain gates and attractions for the season.
But I have to say, there’s a special intimacy to a place like Glacier National Park when you have the scenery to yourself, even if you’re shivering!
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More info about Glacier National Park:
- Glacier National Park (NPS Website)
- Going to the Sun Road (NPS Website)
- Map of Glacier National Park
- Locations of all these places on Google Maps
Our RV travels in Montana:
- Ross Creek Cedars & Kootenai Falls – Giant Trees & Swings in Montana! 09/03/16
- Eagles and Hummingbirds in Libby, Montana 08/31/16
- Long Ride Travel by Horse and Bicycle! 08/29/16
- Whitefish to Libby – Big Surprises on the Back Roads of Montana 08/28/16
- “Going to the Sun” from Glacier National Park’s East Side – Breathtaking! 08/21/16
- Glacier National Park’s Quieter Side – Saint Mary 08/17/16
- Philipsburg, Montana – One of America’s Prettiest Painted Places! 05/24/16
- A Glimpse of Cowboy Life and Cattle Ranching in Montana 05/16/16
- Montana’s Bitterroot Valley – Elk, Horses, Ranches & More! 05/14/16
- Ennis, MT & Earthquake Lake – Small Town Charm & Airstream Trailers! 09/16/12
- Nevada City, MT – Rebuilding History in a Vanished Ghost Town 09/11/12
- Virginia City, MT – Living History in a Ghost Town 09/07/12
- Dillon, MT – Sculpture, History and Hot Rods! 09/02/12
- Big Hole, MT – Picture Postcard Perfect 08/29/12
- Darby, MT – Fun Surprises in the Bitterroot Valley 08/25/12
- BitterSweet Guitars in the Bitterroot, MT 08/23/12
- Bitterroot Valley, MT – Traditional Roots in the Modern Age 08/21/12
- Helmville Rodeo, MT – RV Camping with Horses 09/29/09
- Helmville Rodeo, MT – Bull-riders, Bucking Broncos and Cute Kids 09/28/09
- Stevensville, MT – Real Ranching and Grass Fed Beef! 09/05/09
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