Glacier National Park
We had another drive day (there was going to be a fair share of those). We drove from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park in Northern Montana. The scenery was amazing and the car ride was, well, a car ride.
We managed well enough. We completed some more mad libs, played the ABC game, and answered some fun questions about the trip and our lives (I have a book of questions and the kids are very much more willing to share information about their lives when played as a car game with chocolates involved as an incentive).
Lily and Grace also played a game where they tried to make each other laugh while not laughing themselves and we made some hilarious videos too. Of course, there was also some movies, electronics, and reading (for me- I finished the book, The Giver. Great read BTW – and very quick).
We stopped for groceries and made it to the new cabin for dinner. The new cabin was fantastic and much better (read more modern and newer) than the last one. It also had water that smells like water. I am not sure if it was just us or if it was the entire area, but Yellowstone and all the water and all the everything smelled like sulfur…ugh. This water here is delicious and smells delicious and makes for fantastic showers. So after dinner. we all took baths and showers to rinse off the remnant of Yellowstone.
We stayed at a cabin right outside the entrance to Glacier National Park at Glacier Raft Company. The cabin was comfortable and convenient with a living room, kitchen, bedroom with 2 beds and bathroom. There was a pull out in the living room as well as a gas stove which was lovely and we enjoyed it as the temperature was 34 at night (JUNE!!!)
The staff was helpful and friendly. They offered raft adventures from the site (though we were not able to take advantage due to the cold temps and the height and weight restrictions which Grace did not meet) They also offered a game and book library from the registration center on site so we could borrow board games and books for our stay. We chose to stay for 3 nights allowing us 2 full days to enjoy the park.
Glacier Park – Day One
On the first morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the cabin before heading to the park to figure out our day. We had our mind set on a difficult hike to see icebergs in Iceberg Lake but changed things around a bit when we found out the main road through the park was still closed (50 feet drifts – FIFTY, what?) AND the trail to the iceberg lake was still closed AND Iceberg Lake was still frozen over –so the icebergs didn’t really stand out from all the rest of all of the ice.
The ranger suggested a couple of options for us on our side of the park (the west side) but as is our luck all the glaciers – ALL – are on the other side of the park. Yes -the other side – the side that we couldn’t get through the park as it’s still closed – so we had to drive 2 hours around the park to even see a glacier. Now here’s the thing – we drove 8 hours north to GLACIER national park so how could we not drive the extra 2 hours (4 round trip) to see a glacier? So the day ended up being ANOTHER (unscheduled) drive day.
It was rainy for some of the day, but the skies turned blue as we got to the other side so maybe that was perfect? EXCEPT- there were still cloud remnants and guess what they covered?? THE GLACIERS!!! Are you kidding me? So we drove 8 hours, plus 2 hours and still no glaciers at GLACIER national park. As the weather had cleared, we decided to take a hike to see one of the waterfalls and hope that the clouds lifted before we had to head back.
The climb to the waterfall was beautiful and the kids did great. There were signs posted to remind us that we were entering bear territory so we had a bear spray at the ready and proceeded to sing the whole way up the trail so as not to surprise any bears – scare them with our voices –sure, frighten them with our “singing”- obviously…but surprise them – not a chance.
Glacier Park Boat Company
After the hike, we rode back to the Many Glacier Hotel to take a boat ride. On the way, we saw a black bear that was not black but more of a blond obviously, the name is deceiving.
We took the boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine where we FINALLY saw 3 glaciers. Woo hoo!! We also learned what defined a glacier vs. all the other large amounts of snow coverings: 1.They are 100 feet deep! 2. They cover 25 acres, and 3.They move. (We are learning every day on this trip- very educational!)
The glaciers were nice though it was a tiny anti-climactic as on the cruise we also saw 2 moose and a HUGE grizzly. The crazy thing is that we saw it from the water and it was walking down the hiking path!!! AND there were people on the path that we could see from both directions walking unbeknownst to them right toward the bear.
It was crazy – the kids wanted to yell at the people to warn them – but we were too far away. The tour guide on the boat assured us that the Grizzlies in Glacier are 90% vegetarian (see, more learning!) as the feeding season is so short and they have to conserve as much energy as they can for the winter. Therefore it is a better expenditure of energy for energy to just eat berries (up to 50 pounds per day) than to spend the energy chasing live food. (Although if a person just walks right into them how much energy does that really waste?) There were no reported fatalities so that is good.
We then headed back to the cabin for baths, a UNO match, and cocktail hour and some snacks. I could really get used to this vacation thing. 🙂
Glacier Park Day Two
On morning two since we had already explored the far side of the park, we had an easy morning before heading out. The kids played outside, explored the campground, found a turtle, played volleyball, and made some spears so they could fish or hunt. We are not that primitive but they were entertained and I am pretty sure I will be too if they actually try to fish with them.
At the park, the first stop was to the ranger station to turn in the work for another Junior Ranger badge. The tally was Joe, Luke, and Grace – 4, Dax – 5, and Lily – 6! They had the privilege of meeting, participating in a ranger talk with, and receiving their badges from one of the oldest AND longest employed rangers in the entire park system.
Ranger Doug is famous. He has worked for Glacier National Park for more than 50 years!! He is close to 90 years old and full of all kinds of stories and history. It was pretty special.
We decided to hike to Avalanche Lake, a 2-mile uphill hike, to a glacier lake. If the 2-mile uphill part was not sufficiently difficult, it started to rain when we were about halfway up. The kids were AMAZING! I think they sort of liked the rainy and getting muddy part and we saw 2 deer right on the trail maybe 10 feet from us. The boys were a bit ahead of us and they saw 2 more deer who were somewhat aggressive with each other. The boys thought it was cool to watch.
We made it to the top and the lake was beautiful. It was surrounded by at least four waterfalls all of them pouring from the surrounding snow-capped mountains. The temperature was not bad but the rain prohibited the time we spent out in the open on the beach. The hike up was through a cover of trees that blocked the rain and also reminded some of us of the Dark Forest from Harry Potter. The trees were so dense it was dark even though it was daytime and there was moss growing that gave a spooky feel.
We came back to the cabin early for dinner and a game of UNO spin which we borrowed from the office. The next day the plan was to head to Washington- state number five.
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 6- Stop #8 Yellowstone
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 7 – Yellowstone to Stop #9 Glacier National Park
- Ultimate Road Trip Post 8 – Glacier National Park to Stop #10 Seattle
- Ultimate USA Road Trip with a Big Family – Planned Stops