July 18th ~ Glacier National Park
After a visit the day before at the visitor’s center, we knew that parking lots in prime areas, such as Avalanche and Logan’s Pass often fill up early, so we hoped to beat the crowds with a 6:30 a.m. departure.
This road connects the west side to the east side, cutting through the center of the park.
By the numbers:
- The road is 50 miles long running from the west entrance at Apgar to St Mary’s and takes an average of two hours to drive
- The speed limit is 45 at lower elevations and 25 at higher elevations.
- There is a vehicle size restriction, which means most RV’s, trailers or 5th wheels can not make the entire trip. The maximum length is 21 feet, height of 10 feet and width of 8 feet. Solution – there is a free shuttle service along this route.
- Part of the road is closed to bicycles from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
- There are zero gas stations in the park.
- There are no restaurants along the drive, so pack a lunch, bring water and snacks.
With the huge snow fall each year, the road is usually closed until June, but sometimes does not open until July. The season is very limited, which results in a large number of people trying to visit this wonderland in the approximate three-month window.
And a bit of trivia:
“The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet (24 m) of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as the Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4,000 tons of snow in an hour.” ~ Wikipedia
The scenery along the drive did not disappoint as we motored to the Logan Pass Visitors Center for our first hike up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. The trail to the overlook is 1.35 miles one way and rated easy to moderate (if icy).
It was a little unnerving in a few spots as there were patches of snow and ice that we had to negotiate while handling a 460 foot elevation gain.
Wild mountain goats crossed our path on three occasions which was a bit of a thrill, as momma’s sharp horns looked a little intimidating, and we knew she would protect her young if she felt threatened.
Columbian ground squirrels were a bit of a pest as they begged for food. We knew not to feed them, and had been told that even they can get aggressive and bite.
We were well rewarded by the view when arriving at the lookout.
And a few more from this gorgeous hike:
We topped off the hike with a picnic lunch at Logan Pass where we enjoyed a view of wildflowers and mountain.
St. Mary Falls
Our second hike of the day was a 1.6 mile round trip to St. Mary Falls. This trail drops 260 feet, but then gains 285 feet. Not wanting to worry about parking, we took the free shuttle bus from Logan Pass to the St Mary Falls Trailhead.
The falls were beautiful, but for me, the highlight was simply the walk itself with incredible vistas of the small lake below and brilliant flowers that dotted the landscape under burnt out trees from the fire a couple of years ago.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I am able to experience the magnificence of Glacier National Park, and share it with such wonderful friends.