First off, Glacier National Park is beautiful, and I’m definitely a fan of Montana. We spent the majority of this past week in Glacier, and since one of our friends stayed with us and we didn’t have great cell reception, it felt a lot like vacation. It was great!
Glacier National Park
Glacier delivered. We checked everything off our list from seeing a bear to touching a glacier. I won’t get into too much detail here but be on the lookout for a guide to Glacier blog coming soon.
Last Sunday, we woke up early to get a campsite inside Glacier National Park, and we were successful! We stayed at Apgar Campground, right beside McDonald Lake and the Apgar Village, until Friday.
Since we only had a few days in Glacier, it was nice to be inside the park to cut down on driving time. We were able to walk from the RV to the McDonald Lake in the evenings. The sunset is incredible over the lake – be sure to add it to your Glacier NP list!
Besides the great location, the sites themselves where spacious and shady. It was perfect for the dogs. If you only have a few days at Glacier, I highly recommend trying to get a spot in the park.
We got glacied (aka touched a glacier).
There is so much to see in Glacier. You could easily spend a few weeks in the park and not run out of things to do. Even though we camped on the west side, I knew we still wanted to see the east side AND see an actual glacier in Glacier National Park. On Wednesday, we woke up early and drove the Going to the Sun Road to the Grinnell Glacier trailhead. I could go on forever about the Going to the Sun Road, but to the glacier…
The hike is over 5 miles one-way, so 11+ miles total. Part of it feels like you’re in a different country – or Narnia or a Dr. Seuss book. The wildflowers, the mountains, the lakes and waterfalls – it looks fake at times. During the majority of the hike, there was a decent amount of fog which impaired the view, but it kept the temperatures cool, and in a way, made it look even more majestic.
On our thigh-burning hike up to Grinnell Glacier, we saw a bear! He was a ways off, but we were able to check “see a bear” off our list. We also saw a group of Big Horn Sheep up the side of the mountain.
The fog definitely impaired the view at the top of the mountain, but we touched the glacier! Seeing a glacier in Glacier National Park: check.
And on the way down, we found wild huckleberries right off the side of the trail: check! THEN, we saw a moose just drinking water and eating in the middle of the river. Moose: check!
We floated, and it was great.
I may have mentioned before that growing up at the beach made me (very) skeptical of lakes, but the lakes on this side of the country have proved me wrong. McDonald Lake is the prettiest lake I’ve ever floated in. (The lake by Grinnell Glacier is probably the prettiest I’ve ever seen.) It’s a bit cold, but if you visit Glacier, you need to float or kayak on this lake.
The water is crystal clear until you reach a point where it drops off and all you see is dark blue. Luke tried to swim down but couldn’t touch the bottom. We came to find out that the deepest part of McDonald Lake is over 400ft deep.
Later in the week, we planned to swim in a portion of the river, but the water was so freaking cold. If cold water doesn’t bother you, this spot has a deep pool and great jumping rock. It’s about 30 minutes from the Apgar Visitors Center going towards the Going to the Sun Road. You’ll see a little parking area and a spot that over looks the river.
Instead of floating, we hung out by the river on a little rock bank. Luke finally convinced me to jump off the rock, and it was worth the take-your-breath-away-kinda-hurts-it’s-so-cold water. One time was definitely enough though.
Columbia Falls + Whitefish
Thursday night we decided to explore the towns surrounding Glacier. We checked out the Columbia Falls Farmers Market. It’s the happening thing on Thursday nights. They have local produce, craft vendors, food trucks and live music. We walked around there for a while, and then drove to Whitefish.
According to the Montanan who sat beside Krisiann on the plane, Whitefish is where all the young people hang out. There’s a handful of breweries, great restaurant and amazing art galleries. We were sold on Whitefish.
At the first place we went to, Great Northern Brewing Company, we met some guys from North Carolina who were here on vacation. We ended up exploring downtown Whitefish with them and hitting up another tap room.
At this point, it was time for dinner, so we went to a place called Casey’s. The food, the mule drink menu and vibe was perfect. If you go, try to get a table upstairs at their rooftop bar. We went up there after dinner, and the views are great.
Friday was travel day. It took us about 6 hours to get from Glacier to our campsite outside of Bozeman. Travel days are always eventful – usually because something breaks or we’re searching for a campground, but this time we saw a bear.
As we were driving, Luke said this looks like a place we’d see a bear, and not 5 minutes later, Krisiann spotted one beside the river. Of course, we had to pull over and get a good look at this guy through the spotting scope. He’s the happiest looking bear in Montana.
Friday night, we grabbed dinner in downtown Bozeman at Montana Ale Works. The food was incredible. Everything we ordered was delicious. After dinner, we explored downtown a bit more. I really like Bozeman – it’s a bit bigger than Missoula and seems to have more going on in the evenings. That being said, I think I like the surrounding area and outdoor activities around Missoula better. All in all, Montana is pretty great.
Saturday morning, we planned to float the river by our campsite, but the temperatures were pretty cold. Krisiann and I aren’t down with the cold water, if you haven’t noticed. Instead, we drove back to downtown Bozeman to the SLAM art and music festival. We walked around and saw some great photography and paintings as well as tried a few samples from local distilleries.
After that, we grabbed a drink and lunch downtown and took Krisiann to the airport.
We have a little over a week left in Montana before moving to Wyoming. We don’t have much planned for this week besides work, so I’m excited to see what we find.
If you have any last minute suggestions for the Bozeman area, let us know!