The beauty of Glacier National Park: All about our adventure
My family and I visited Glacier National Park on July 5-8 2017. I was born and raised in Montana (until I was 11) and was still astounded by the beauty of Glacier National Park. I had visited the park once before when I was very young and knew I had to bring my family back. We planned a 17 day road trip, Yes 17 days. Everyone thought we were absolutely crazy, however we absolutely had the best time. Travelling for 17 days with a 10 and 6 year old certainly had some crazy moments but the adventure and memories we created will last a long time. We spent 3 days & nights in Glacier (wish it could have been longer). We also visited Yellowstone National Park and Moab Utah.
Below is the itinerary we set and stuck to for Glacier:
Day 1: Entered the Park from the West Glacier Entrance , spent day at Lake McDonald
We drove from stunning Flathead Lake to West Glacier . We booked camping at Fish Creek Campground in January for our July visit. 6 months prior is when the reservation system opens. I booked the first day we could and would strongly suggest you do the same thing. Fish Creek campground is very close to the West Entrance of Glacier and sits on Lake McDonald. Our first stop was at the Apgar visitor center. We picked up all the maps and information we could get our hands on and headed to set up on pop-up camper. When I travel I always do my research (mostly on Trip Advisor) but also read a ton of blogs from Pinterest. I typically create a Pinterest board to gather all the great information I can find. Click to view my Summer travel research.
TIP: One absolute must when travelling to Glacier is bear spray. Buy it ahead of time to save $$.
At Fish Creek we booked 176 on the D loop based on the location to the lake and close to the restrooms. We absolutely loved the site. After setting up, my kids wanted to check out the lake. We brought kayaks down to the lake. It is such a stunning view out in the middle and had so much fun. I would highly recommend it. And to our surprise the lake temperature was not too cold. After our kayak adventure we went back to the campsite to make dinner and answer all the questions so my kids could get their junior ranger badges. The program that night and every night we attended had lots of great information about the park. At the end of the program my kids officially became junior rangers. One thing I do want to mention is how late it stay light outside. Do not expect darkness until AFTER 10:30 PM.
Day 2: Going to the Sun Road
Going to the Sun Road is one of the most popular and best ways to see a lot of the park. We completely lucked out since the road fully opened 3-4 days before we arrived. It takes weeks and weeks to plow all the snow from the road. Check here for road updates. Almost every pull out on the 50 mile road is absolutely beautiful. We stopped at many of the pull outs once the road starting climbing up. Mountains, Waterfalls, Scenery: All breathtaking. We started out early to give us enough time to make the most of the day. So many highlights on the way up! Recommended stops include Trail of the Cedars, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier Overlook, Sunrift Gorge and Sun Point.
We love to hike and advice led me to take on the hike behind the Logan pass visitor center (Hidden Lake Overview). Signs warned us the trail was 85% still covered in snow. The hike was so fun (and very slippery) for my whole family. Hiking in snow was way more challenging but the views are worth it! One of the coolest parks was seeing Mountain Goats on the hike. Its amazing to see animals in their natural environment. Check our the photo gallery at the bottom too!
Logan Pass hike (Hidden Lake Overview):
After our hike, we ate lunch then continued down the Going to the Sun Road toward St Mary. We stopped for another snack along the way. Take advantage of snack breaks when you can because there are not too many places you are able to stop. We passed more stunning scenery before making a stop at the St Marys visitor center so my hubby could get some work down. There are not many places for good wi-fi but would highly recommend the visitor center. While my hubby worked we took advantage of our time and watched a movie about the park/history, got another stamp for my kids National Park passport books and talked to a ranger. Since Many Glacier was only a 30 minute drive we continued on and so glad we did.
Many Glacier area is worth the trip! A lot of blogs I read said it reminded them of Switzerland and I agree. We stopped at the Lodge (ie: stunning hotel) first to find some information. Its a beautiful place. I (not we) decided on another hike. My family was hesitant after our snow hike but reluctantly agreed. We took the Lake Trail loop. It was flat and very easy.
We ended the day driving the whole road back, without stops it went fairly quick. Again was so happy to have the sun set to much later. Ended the day with over 24,000 steps but worth everyone of them!!
Day 3: Trail of the Cedars
Day 3 was our relax/easy day since we were so busy the day before. We took the kayaks out again on Lake McDonald. Visited Apgar visitor village. So cute and would highly recommend you stop there. We also decided on a small hike and heard amazing things about Trail of the Cedars. The two days before the trail was closed due to bears so we were happy to find it open. It is a very easy hike for all ages.
Hope you enjoyed my recap and that you get to experience Glacier National Park with your loved ones.