My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Photo Essay: Exploring Glacier National Park

2011/06/20by Donna Hull

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:

Waterfalls

montana-glacier-national-park

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

glacier-national-park-centennial-st-mary-lake

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

off-beaten-path-montana-polebridge

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.

Scenic views

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.

Glacier hikes

montana-swiftcurrent-lake-glacier

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.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie McMinn June 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Gorgeous! I’ve never been to Glacier, but I’ve been to glacial areas here in NZ and know how stunning they can be in person. Lucky you being close enough to visit Glacier more often!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Melanie, I’ve been to New Zealand’s glaciers as well as Glacier National Park. The uniqueness of New Zealand’s glaciers (or at least Fox and Franz Josef) is their location in a temperate rainforest. Glacier National Park is more rugged and alpine in nature.

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Living Large June 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Simply breathtaking. I’ve never been either, but your photo essay makes me want to go! 

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Thanks. It is a beautiful national park.

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Sheryl June 22, 2011 at 1:04 am

Wow. These photos are amazingly beautiful!

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Leigh
Twitter:
June 22, 2011 at 4:46 am

I’ve only been to Glacier once – a long time ago – but I’m moving to Calgary soon – so I see many visits to Waterton Park & Glacier National Park on the horizon. The photos are lovely. I remember the incredible blue of the waters.
Sorry I missed you at TBEX – was looking for you.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Leigh, Waterton Park is next on our list, maybe for this fall. Unfortunately I had to cancel my trip to TBEX due to a bad virus. Hope to see you at TBEX12?

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Christine June 22, 2011 at 4:49 am

So very beautiful!

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Corie June 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I was lucky enough to work at Many Glacier hotel for 3 summers…..always love looking at pictures of my favorite place on earth.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Corie, I imagine that working at Many Glacier was an awesome experience. You must have some interesting Glacier NP stories to tell.

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Kamicia June 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Because the glaciers are rapidly diminishing, going to GNP has been at the top of my to do list for a long time.  I finally made it last summer.  It was more then I imagined.  Each day was filled with wonder and amazing views.  I saw bears each day, hiked each day (including Grinnell Glacier), and took advantage of the ranger lead hikes and birding walks. My friends and I had an amazing time!  I look forward to going back soon!!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for sharing your Glacier NP experience. I’ve yet to see any bears. Hopefully that will change on my next visit.

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CamelsAndChocolate June 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Oh Donna, way to hit me where it hurts! I was most excited about going to Glacier of anywhere on our six-week trip, and alas, Going-to-the-Sun Road wasn’t open, and the little bit of park that was was so waterlogged, we only got to drive on the main road and didn’t get to do any hiking whatsoever. Painful!

I also heard good things about Polebridge–someone on Twitter say they have the best huckleberry bear claws at the Mercantile (and I am a newly converted huckleberry fiend!–but due to road conditions, we couldn’t make it up there towing our trailer. Next trip, I’m only going to do Glacier–and I’m going to fly into Spokane the first week of August, when the road is guaranteed to be open, and give myself a good 10 days to see the area!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Kristin, September is an excellent time to explore Glacier. But before you head out to Polebridge, ask one of the park rangers at the visitor’s center to make sure that they’re open. The food at Northern Lights Saloon is surprisingly good, too. I saw your photos of rafting in Glacier. They made me shiver! I can’t imagine how cold that was on such a rainy day.

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MyKidsEatSquid June 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

Beautiful pictures. I can tell in the first one he was playing with the shutter speed (ISO), right? I’ve been trying out new techniques myself. 

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MyKidsEatSquid June 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

Beautiful pictures. I can tell in the first one he was playing with the shutter speed (ISO), right? I’ve been trying out new techniques myself. 

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Vera Marie Badertscher June 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

I think we’ve talked before about how much I also love Glacier National Park. We went across the border to Waterton and want to go back up there and stay in that wonderful Canadian park.  Not everyone realizes that Glacier/Waterton is(are?) an International Park.
I’m also curious about the special effects Alan may have used to get those gorgeous painting-like photos.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
June 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Vera, we have discussed Glacier National Park before. Slowing the shutter speed gives that dreamy, painter’s look that you see in the top two photos. In the waterfall photo, he also used a filter on his lens. Being a purist, he does very little post processing to his images.

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NJ March 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

Loved the photos! Would definitely try to visit a national park after reading this!
NJ recently posted..DESTINATIONS: Ireland- Travel Tips For a Week In the Emerald IsleMy Profile

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Yes, the National Parks in the U.S. are a treasure.

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