Tomorrow is the first day of summer. To celebrate, the National Park Service offers free admission to national parks. Where would this baby boomer like to be? At Glacier National Park. Of all the wild places in the United States, Glacier is my favorite. Let me show you why:
Alan took this waterfall photograph while on a photo workshop with Marc Adamus. He can’t eve remember where he was but all I know is that it involved climbing up a steep hillside like a mountain goat. An easier option is the approximate 2-mile-round-trip hike to St. Mary Falls off the Going to the Sun Road. Add another 2 miles to your hike by continuing the one mile in and out to Virginia Falls. When the snow is melting, Glacier offers more than 200 waterfalls. Take your pick.
Lakes are everywhere in Glacier National Park. How many lakes? According to data from the National Park Service, you’ll find 762, although only 631 are named. Lake McDonald on the west side is the largest and also the location of Lake McDonald Lodge. Alan took this photo of St Mary Lake, the park’s second largest lake, on a moody, fall day.
Off the beaten path
Polebridge is a funky enclave on the west side of Glacier National Park. Boomers can also access Bowman and Kintla Lakes from here. Polebridge Mercantile provides services (and delicious baked goods) to campers, hikers and hardy souls who live in the area for the summer. Be sure to hang around for a meal at the Northern Lights Saloon. And if you’re visiting the park over the 4th of July, the most creative parade in the U.S. will be rolling down the gravel road at Polebridge.
Turn in any direction and you’ll find natural beauty at Glacier. But my favorite spot for the view is at Logan Pass. At 6, 464 ft, it’s the summit of Going to the Sun Road. This photo is taken from the boardwalk path as it leads across the tundra for the short hike to an overlook of Hidden Lake. In the summer, you’ll be accompanied by blooming wildflowers and sightings of mountain goats. If you’re visiting on tomorrow’s free admission day, you’re out of luck. The snowplows are still clearing snow (Montana had record snowfall this year), from this portion of Going to the Sun Road. Boomers can monitor the snowplowing progress at the National Parks Flickr page. Personally, I enjoy watching this Going to the Sun snowplowing video.
Twenty-five glaciers (from the same NPS data I referenced above) give this Montana national park its name. And, yes, they are shrinking. So you better lace up those hiking shoes quickly. The trail to Grinnell Glacier, 11-miles-round-trip, starts from the Many Glacier Hotel and leads to the foot of the glacier. A stay at Many Glacier Hotel is high on my boomer travel list. However, I’m waiting until June 2012 when the current renovation project is completed.
Do you have a favorite memory from a visit to Glacier National Park? Post a comment to share it with us. Now that Montana is our part-time home, we have lots of exploring planned for Glacier.
A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.