If Glacier National Park is on your bucket list, you’re not alone – thousands flock to Northwestern Montana every year between spring and fall to explore the glacier-carved lakes and valley. While less than 30 actual glaciers remain, the soaring mountains and sparkling lakes are enough to leave a last impression in your mind. If you haven’t added this to your next “make it happen list,” here are five reasons I fell in love with Glacier last summer.
1. It’s a hiker’s paradise.
With 700 miles of trails and hikes, there’s something for everyone at GNP. Stroll less than a mile to sweeping vistas and waterfalls, or pack your bag and take a two day backwoods hiking trip (permits required). Tip: Like popular trails in other parks, it’s always best to start early to avoid casual crowds and the hotter part of the day, but don’t underestimate the allure of exploring some trails in the latter part of the day when most people have started heading back to the lodging – just make sure you’ve given yourself time to get back to your car before dark.
2. Even if you don’t hike, there is something for everyone: the drives are fantastic – and so are the views from the water.
The Going to the Sun Road, which only opens in late June due to snow, is 50 miles of jaw dropping vistas between the east and west side of the park. You can also take boats across the lakes for scenic alpine views. (Just remember, some of those boats also serve as “shortcuts” for hikers in certain parts of the park, so the early morning ones will most likely fill up ahead of time.)
3. You really can get away.
We all claim we want to disconnect from our cell phones a little more. With limited to no cell phone service in many of the areas of the park, we’re forced to enjoy the moment instead of instantly trying to show everyone else back home. Use your phone to take all the photos you want to look at later– but you won’t be able to instantly post to social media, so put it away after snapping your memories and just soak it in. (Never fear, there is internet back at the lodge lobbies if you need to do some quick checks back with the real world – but you’ll find yourself caring less and less about that).
Ok, maybe you don’t know if you are into huckleberries, but don’t count it out until you experience the pure joy of changing your shoes after a day of exploring, getting some freshly made huckleberry ice cream from your lodge, strolling down to the lake, and watching moose feed in the dusk.
5. Your day might be unpredictable – and that’s a good thing.
Maybe you were planning to tackle a certain trail but it’s closed, so you find a new trail nearby a hiker told you about yesterday, and you end up loving it. Maybe you go exploring on the first day and see a bear and her cubs off in the distance. Maybe you meet a park ranger who’s worked here for 50 years and tells you all sorts of stories about what they’ve seen over the years. Maybe in the lodge at dinner, you might find yourself talking with other visitors from all over the world – or you end up sitting next to someone who’s from the town down the road from you and you strike up a conversation about how this has always been a goal of yours. Maybe your husband is wearing a Super Bowl 52 Champions hat the whole time and people on the trail can’t help but smile and high five you – every single day no matter what trail you’re on. Maybe you go in August and see lightning strike across the water – fueling a months-long forest fire which involves you evacuating the lodge one night and adjusting your plans for the rest of the trip. Maybe you turn a corner and see a mountain goat posing against sky like he’s just waiting for you to take a photo (you do). Or maybe you tackle a trail you never thought you would go to the end of – and conquer it. Life is full of maybes – Glacier Park will turn those into realities.
Thank you to guest poster Sophia Curcio for submitting these tips! I helped book her accommodation in Montana for this trip. If you’d like to read more about me, be sure to check out my travel agent services.