Where is your favorite place to visit? Some people love big cities. Others long for the ocean. As for me and my husband of twenty-three years, we love the mountains. We love fresh, crisp air and the scent of pines. There is nothing better than strolling up a gently sloped path to the cadence of a bird’s song. Ahh . . .
One of my favorite places to visit is Glacier National Park in the corner of Northwest Montana.
I lived just thirty minutes away from Glacier National Park for fifteen years, and the sharp mountain peaks, the sight of mountain goats and rams, and the roar of glacial waterfalls is something to behold!
In fact, when I had to travel to the Austria Alps I looked around (spinning like Maria in The Sound of Music), and I told my husband, “This looks almost exactly like home!”
We’d traveled half-way around the world to gaze upon high mountain peaks that looked amazingly familiar to the ones back home.
If you are starting to consider where you want to spend your summer vacation, consider Glacier National Park. It’ll save you the plane fare to Austria! And if you go … here are five must-see stops!
Five must-see stops!
1. Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald is a beautiful lake just inside the park. Follow signs to the “village” area, and you’ll find a place to park, quaint shops, and a view that will amaze you. The lake is ten miles long and 500 feet deep. If you visit early in the year, you can even make reservations to camp in the park. Of course if you do make sure you heed the warnings about bears. They are often seen by visitors at the park!
2. Avalanche Gorge
While you’re driving along Lake McDonald be sure to stop at the Avalanche Lake trail. It’s a flat, wooden walkway about a mile long, perfect for kids and elderly people. If you’re more adventurous, hike up to Avalanche Lake. It’s a low-to-moderate incline with a fantastic view. But whether you stick to the wooden walkway or hike to the lake, make sure you stop by avalanche gorge. The green, glacial water pouring through the narrow gorge is breathtaking.
3. Going to the Sun Road.
Going to the Sun Road is an engineering masterpiece that travels more than fifty miles through Glacier National Park and over the continental divide. If you’d rather look at the massive peaks and deep valleys, you can ride a “Jammer” bus and get a tour guide to point out all the sights. Of course don’t plan your vacation too early. Snow accumulates high in these mountains, and it isn’t plowed until mid-June. It closes by mid-September. It takes approximately two hours to drive the road, but plan for longer because you’ll want to stop and take a lot of photos!
4. Lake McDonald Lodge
On your way out of Glacier National Park be sure to stop by Lake McDonald Lodge. It’s an older, beautiful lodge with on-site dining and a gift shop. Make sure you walk around the lodge to the lakeside. This is the side of the lodge that faces the lake, and it’s actually the front of the lodge. Before the roads were built visitors used to come to the lodge by steamboat. Even today you can take a steamboat ride on the lake.
5. Whitefish Lake
Whitefish Lake isn’t in Glacier National Park, but it’s closer to the town of Whitefish. It’s a wonderful place to hang out as a couple or with your kids. You can swim, rent a paddle boat, or jet ski. Whitefish Lake is popular with the locals, so you’ll get a taste of the real Montana!
As you can see, beauty awaits you in Montana. Your camera will get a workout, but don’t forget to just put away the electronics for a while and breath in the fresh, pine air.