I'm continuing my Summer 2012 Road Trip saga. If you'd like to get up to speed, following are the links to the previous posts pertaining to the trip that my kids and I took last summer:
Road Trip Success
Let the Road Trip Fun Begin
South Dakota Supreme: Part 1
South Dakota Supreme: Part 2
The Road Trip Continues Into Alien Territory
Travel Tuesday: The Road Trip Continues Into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Travel Tuesday: Washington Reunion
We left off last week in Washington. With us saying good bye to our dear friends and being sad about it. When we left Washington, we drove straight back to Montana to pick up my mom in Missoula. It was approximately a five hour drive, and once we picked my mom up at her hotel, we turned north and kept driving.
Next stop: Glacier National Park
|Waiting for our 1st shuttle at Glacier|
|The kids and me at Glacier National Park|
When we first decided to visit Glacier, my original thought was that we'd enter at the West Entrance and drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, all the way to the East Entrance. And then we'd continue on our way, going a different route from the one we took from Michigan. But then I started doing a little reading, and a little research. I realized that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not exactly for the feint of heart. Take a gander at the comments on Trip Advisor and see for yourself. Comments like "very narrow", "useless stone guard rail", and "steep grade" sealed the deal for me. I decided that we would enter the park ($25 per vehicle May 1-October 31, $15 November 1-April 30), park the van, and utilize the free shuttle buses.
Yes, in case there was any doubt in your mind, Glacier National Park is incredible. We had one day. We stayed longer than we intended and messed up our driving schedule for the day. It was not even close to enough. I would like to go back with a week to do nothing but explore Glacier. I would have liked to do some serious hiking, which we were not equipped to do. We did walk along the Trail of the Cedars, stopped and had a picnic, and went to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. From here, Bethany, Connor, Mattie and me went on a trail in search of snow (Lucy & my mom stayed back by the visitor center). Mattie pooped out, but Bethany and Connor did get to dip their toes in the snow in July.
|Hollow tree on the Trail of the Cedars|
When we did leave, most of us had terrible headaches. We figured it must have been from spending the day in the high altitude - over 6000 feet at times. I'm not really sure if we could have done anything to prevent that, or if it was inevitable.
My final thoughts on Glacier:
- One day is not enough, but if that's all you've got, get there early and plan on spending the whole day.
- Seriously consider whether you think you're capable of driving the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Those little stone guard rails, maybe two feet high at the most, did little to make me feel secure as we were winding along narrow and steep mountain roads at altitudes of 6000 feet and beyond. But the experienced shuttle drivers did make me feel safe!
- The shuttles are wonderful! Take full advantage of them. At times we were pretty packed in, but they were clean, comfortable, and I always felt safe in the hands of the drivers.
- Take way more pictures than you think you should. I thought I took a ton of pictures, but I wish I had taken lots more.
- Bring snacks and water bottles, and maybe even a picnic lunch that can be carried in a backpack. There are places to stop and eat, but not many. We had our own food and were glad that we did.
- Pay attention to the shuttle schedules. That could prove to be helpful.
- Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers. This was the only day of our entire trip that we wore long pants. At times we needed our jackets, at other times we were comfortable in t-shirts.
- Don't under estimate your kids. My kids loved Glacier. Believe it or not, kid friendly fun does not need to include costumed cast members or other scripted fun. We like that stuff too, but sometimes just being out in nature and looking for mountain goats - even if you never see any - is way more fun!
If you're wondering whether it's worth it to travel to this far flung corner of the country to visit Glacier National Park, the answer is absolutely YES!
After a long day of about 10 hours of seeing as much of Glacier as we possibly could, we drove south of the park and got on US-2, heading east...toward home.
|At Logan Pass Visitor Center|
|This picture cracks me up. The faces. The poses.|
|Trail leading to the snow. It is much longer than it appears in this photo.|
|Stunning view from the trail|
|At which point Mattie gives up|
|Looking back toward the Logan Pass Visitor Center from the trail|
|Waiting for Bethany and Connor|
|This little marmot stopped by to see us while we waited.|
|They did it! They touched the snow!|
|As visitors get closer to Logan's Pass, they have to transfer to smaller shuttles because the road is so narrow.|
|Taken from inside the shuttle|
|Cute General Store that distracted us from the shuttle bus schedule|
|Convinced that we're sleeping outside with the bears after missing the last shuttle bus of the day.|
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