Glacier National Park Montana – Photos Sep08

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Glacier National Park Montana – Photos

For our first full day at Glacier National Park we opted to have a Red Jammer chauffeur us along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This most famous road goes over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass and traverses the entire park from East to West. It also has a great story behind it, one that illustrates the potentially glorious result that can come from fighting against the attitude of “but that’s the way we’ve always done it”. A young landscape engineer named Thomas Vint was brave enough to suggest the now stunning, but then extremely dangerous, route for the road. It’s a National Historic Landmark as well as an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and spans 53 miles (85 km) across the width of the park.

A fleet of 1930s red tour buses were built to offer tours of the road and they are lovingly called “jammers” because the driver had to jam the transmission’s gears hard to control their speed. The red buses were rebuilt in 2001 to run on propane (with gas) and this is where Ali and I found ourselves that morning, in the very back seat of a red bus along with 15 other people.

Going-to-the-Sun-road

Going-to-the-Sun-road

The bus picked us up right at our campground and took us into the park at the St. Mary Lake entrance. The back seat was a little squishy so it was tough to get comfortable and find room for your legs and arms, but our charming driver jumped right into a story. Within moments we were passing by the same lake that Tom Hanks ran by in the movie Forest Gump. The lake that he said was so beautiful it was like there were two skies, one up above and one in that lake.

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Don’t forget that you can click on the images to view them a little bit bigger – some of this stuff is just too hard to appreciate in a small image. Click, click, click!

St. Mary Lake - Forest Gump Lake

We saw signs of the dare-devil engineering all along the way, waterfalls passing through bridges and carefully perched turns in the road that placed you square in the way of a breath-taking view. I appreciated not being the driver, but to be honest my view through the windows and open roof wasn’t perfect. I imagine the best way to see it would be on the back of our scooter. Ali and I could have split the drive – me on the way over, her on the way back. Oh well.

Glacier National Park Montana

Glacier National Park Montana

Glacier National Park Montana

Glacier National Park Montana

Our halfway point was the lodge at Lake McDonald. The red bus let us all out there to enjoy a lunch before we started the drive back. We won’t go into details, but one of the other restaurant options had to close that day which put an unreasonable strain on the lodge restaurant and their young staff. Suffice to say we were eventually seated, and ordered, but we ended up having to eat our lunch out of a styro-foam box in the red bus. Poop! But while we waited we did get some good photos outside and the bar served wine in plastic cups – yippee!

Lake McDonald Glacier National Park Montana

Lake McDonald Glacier National Park Montana

The ride back was over the same terrain, but at a different vantage point. If I hadn’t been so uncomfortable, I would have really enjoyed my outside seat for this leg of the tour. We really liked hearing all of the history and explanation of the parks best sights from our guide, but next time, we’d take our own car, drive as slowly as we wanted without caring and we’d stop at every turn out.

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They call it the “Crown of the Continent”.

Come and experience Glacier’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude.

Hmmm. Well – there was this pool too, right at the campground.

St. Mary KOA Pool

Oh shame, shame – we caved! We put on our swim suits and spent the entire next day at the pool in the KOA. We really did struggle with the decision that morning – should we go hike? We should do something inside the park for pete’s sake, right? One of the top five most poignant things Allison has ever said, was said that day.

It seems that “should” doesn’t come in my size.

We sorted photos, wrote in the blog and watched the cutest little boys play in the water fountains for hours, while the sun kissed our skin and we reveled in the act of being still. Observing others is an experience too and sometimes it can be just as tasty as living one of your own.