Glacier National Park is over 1.4 million acres. But even that impressive size can’t begin to convey what is most significant about this park in Montana. For that, other facts are needed. Many of them.
For example, there is the fact that there are over 50 glaciers here. And the fact that it houses more than 200 lakes and streams. And 730 miles of hiking trails. And about 300 grizzly bears.
What all those facts won’t convey, though, is the sheer breathtaking beauty of every part of Glacier.
They won’t describe how the mountains around Lake MacDonald, glowing pink in the setting sun, will make you want to stand still until dark. They won’t tell you how the huge field of tall Beargrass stalks with their white flowers will make you want to run through the meadow like a child.
Stop at one of the visitors centers in Apgar, Logan Pass or St. Mary and you’ll find out about many more locations that offer equally stunning sights.
One of the best ways to see many of them is to drive along the famed 50-mile Going-To-The-Sun Road. Built in 1932, it skirts around Lake MacDonald then crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, nearly 6,700 feet above sea level. From there it descends down to Saint Mary Lake, another awe-inspiring body of water.
If you want to stretch your legs, you’ll have plenty of options. Backpacking in Glacier isn’t just for athletes. The area near Belly River offers scenery galore, and many campsites to take a rest. For those looking for a more extensive trip, you can backpack in from Canada, across Brown Pass, ending at Bowman Lake.
The Hole in the Wall campground offers 20 waterfalls and thousands of dew-bedecked wildflowers. Look up and you’ll see where the water comes from: a waterfall that pours out of a natural hole in the rock face, giving the area its name. Then wander over to take a closer look at some of the violet Butterwort flowers.
If you prefer a different mode of transportation, schedule a whitewater rafting trip. You can go in a group of eight on a larger boat, or brave the water yourself in a kayak. Even amateurs find it an easy trip with few rocks to contend with. But it will give plenty of adventures as you rush down the Flathead River.
For even easier movement, there are Red Bus tours. Two generations have enjoyed seeing the park from these open-topped vehicles. Bring lots of sunscreen, though. The sunshine in Glacier during the summer is full and bright.
If you drive yourself, you can stop at the Trail of the Cedars boardwalk. Because of the high moisture content, the area has been free of fire for over 500 years. The results are some of the largest cedar and hemlocks anywhere around. Be patient and you’re sure to spot a flying squirrel. Come near nightfall and you can hear the owls hooting.
Sure, there are lots of facts one could state about Glacier National Park. A thick book couldn’t hold them all. But you have to see it to discover one fact on your own. The fact that it’s simply wonderful.