I ended a two week road trip by going to Glacier National Park with my siblings. We had been planning this trip since Christmas and I would receive a text every few months asking if I was still coming. The park is not exactly close to where I live in California or really close to anything at all, but after visiting Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, I drove to Montana before making my way back to California.
I had a limited amount of time to see Glacier, so I knew before I arrived that I would be returning. It has been at the top of my list for years, because it looks beautiful in pictures and so many people call it their favorite park. After driving all day, I spent my first night outside the park in Lost Johnny Point Campground, which I mention because it can be very hard to get a spot in Glacier, but this was a beautiful and rustic campground right on the water and only 30 minutes away (and I booked it only days before).
I was taken by Montana immediately and would be happy to move there if it was always August.
Like in Washington and California, the wildfires in Montana were very bad this Summer, so the air quality was a problem. You can see in my pictures that smoke was visible in the air and you could see fires burning in the park. I had no problems with the air quality on the ground, but it did mean that campfires were not permitted, which is half the fun of camping. It seemed like the right call and I was surprised that campfires were still permitted in Washington.
I arrived before everyone else, so I started the morning by hiking to Apgar Lookout, which is just inside the West Entrance. The trailhead is at the end of a gravel road. I am still cautious around the black bears we have in California, but grizzlies scare me much more, so I tried to make noise as I hiked through the tall grass to avoid surprising anyone. A moderate hike brought me to a fire lookout. The views were not amazing, but this was the one part of the park where crowds were not an issue.
I stopped at the visitor center briefly and then started up the Going-To-The-Sun-Road. It is a long drive and I did not complete it, but nothing compares to the views. It reminded me of both Yosemite and Zion. Every peak or valley that would be a singular point of interest in another park was one of many in Glacier. I drove a little beyond Logan Pass before turning around. Everyone arrived and we set up camp at Fish Creek Campground where we somehow managed to comfortably fit nine people. That night we went to hear the ranger talk about the effects of climate change in the park.
The next day, my brother, sister, and I hiked to Avalanche Lake. Voluntarily going on a hike together is not something anyone could have predicted when we were growing. There was the hike from the trailhead and then there was the hike to the trailhead from the car. Glacier is a very popular park without the infrastructure to accommodate everyone. The hike to and around Avalanche Lake was beautiful with 360* views.
We spent the afternoon by Lake McDonald, perfecting the sport of throwing rocks at other rocks. There was a fire burning on the other side of the lake and it seemed to grow larger as we watched it.
It was hard to come all the way to spend so little time in the park and to return home when there are other parks so close, but I can only fit so much adventure into one Summer. I hope to return next year to see more of Glacier and visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton.