Glacier National Park has always been on my list, among many others, of national parks I wanted to visit. This past summer, I finally had the opportunity to visit this stunning park. Friends will often ask us what our favorite place was that we visited while on our 6 week trek to the Western United States. Although I cannot name just one place, Glacier certainly tops that list. Seriously a stunning place! With the number of glaciers receding, now more than ever is the time to visit this beautiful park.
It has been estimated that there were approximately 150 glaciers present in 1850, and most glaciers were still present in 1910 when the park was established. In 2010, we consider there to be only 25 glaciers larger than 25 acres remaining in GNP. A computer-based climate model predicts that some of the park’s largest glaciers will vanish by 2030 (Hall and Fagre, 2003). This is only one model prediction but, if true, then the park’s glaciers could disappear in the next several decades.
While visiting Seattle I bought a handbook by Moon on Glacier National Park. I knew from what little research I had done this park was massive and I wanted to be prepared to make the most of our time there. With only 4 days set aside for the park, planning our trip was of the utmost priority. (Note: we ended up staying 5 days, wish we could have stayed more).
During our stay we visited Bowman Lake/Polebridge area, Lake McDonald, Avalanche Creek, Logan Pass and Many Glacier. Because Glacier National Park is so expansive and with so much to see, I decided to break up this travel blog post in a few parts. Each post concentrating on an area.
First up for today’s post, the Bowman Lake/Polebridge area.
This spectacular view of Bowman Lake was moments from our campsite.
Bowman Lake is located on the western edge of GNP, near Polebridge. To reach this remote area one must drive 30 miles north of the West Glacier entrance. That 30 miles is mostly gravel and the drive can take an hour or more. We were lucky to score a campsite at Bowman Lake, with only 5 remaining when we arrived.
Our quiet & relaxing campsite.
This area of GNP is remote with little services available. Stock up on important items before arriving. The town of Polebridge boasts a rather fun local/tourist hangout called the Northern Lights Saloon and the Polebridge Mercantile for last-minute supplies. Up here in what’s called the North Fork, rustic is defined, no electricity, no pavement and no cell service. Because of this, many people stay away. Another reason we loved it so much, quiet and away from it all.
We spent an evening enjoying ourselves with many of the locals at the Northern Lights Saloon. Dining on a delicious dinner of rainbow trout and imbibing a few too many Montana microbrews. Needless to say we were pretty lazy the next day, recovering from all of the fun of the night before. While enjoying some much needed rest, a young buck napped next to our campsite most of the day, moving with the shade. Our stay here was restful, peaceful, and simply beautiful. No major hiking here, we were saving ourselves for the next stop.
Our “neighbor” for the day enjoying the shade and a nap.
Bowman Lake at sunset the next evening. The water was like glass!
In order to score a campsite at Avalanche Creek Campground we had to get an early start. At 6 am we were off in search of our next home base. After securing our space & setting up camp we headed over to Logan Pass, to beat the traffic rush along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. With 34 miles of winding, curvy, and a 2 lane mountainous road, getting ahead of the traffic was a must. We arrived before the visitor’s center opened and enjoyed the early morning light as it touched the surrounding mountains.
Another beautiful day greets us as we drive across Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun road.
A couple of views of Going-to-the-Sun road. What an amazing road, especially early in the day before the traffic hits.
Hidden Lake Nature Trail at Logan Pass.
Morning greets Logan Pass.
With our early morning start our next stop would be Many Glacier on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. Stay tuned as Many Glacier & Iceberg Lake will be the next Travel Thursday post.