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Glacier National Park

 

Lisa and Lilia at Saint Mary's FallsFrom the Quintero’s in Cascade we made the roughly three hour drive northwest across the wide open plains of central Montana to the eastern reaches of Glacier National Park.  Definitely lots of big sky country during the drive, brilliant cumulus clouds rushing across the plains as far as the eye could see.  The Rockies came into view as we closed in on our destination of Saint Mary, striking jagged peaks reaching skyward out of the rolling plains.  Lisa had booked us into a quaint little establishment called the Rising Sun Motor Inn just inside the eastern boundary of the national park, a collection of cabins below the cliffs of East Flattop Mountain. 

Picturesque Saint Mary's Lake and Wild Goose IslandLilia slept almost the whole way from Great Falls to the national park, so upon arrival we took advantage of the remaining daylight and ventured to the Saint Mary’s Falls trailhead a few miles from our accommodation for a quick afternoon hike.  Glacier is an amazingly majestic and breathtaking part of the world, the only other places I’ve visited that exhibit a similar kind of natural grandeur are the Rockies around Lake Louise and the Chamonix Valley in France.  It was hard to concentrate on driving through the park with such natural splendor to take in.  I did my best but the photos here just don’t do the place justice!

Lisa and Lilia at Saint Mary's FallsLook out!Saint Mary's FallsThe river from Saint Mary's Falls draining into Saint Mary's LakeSnack time at Saint Mary's FallsSam and Lilia at Saint Mary's FallsSaint Mary's Lake looking east toward Rising SunPicturesque Saint Mary's Lake

Sunrift GorgeOne of the most popular spots to take photos in Glacier is high up on the Continental Divide overlooking picturesque Hidden Lake.  On our second day in the park we ventured out early after breakfast, stopping off at tranquil Sunrift Gorge for a few photos before the sun broke through the forest and took a short walk down to Baring Falls while we were in the area.  Always a little nerve racking walking through the woods when there’s bear excrement on the forest floor, but we tried to make as much noise as possible and Lisa had a can of pepper spray at the ready should worse come to worst.  Fortunately the only place we ran into a bear was alongside the road on the way up to Hidden Lake, but we were expecting to see one around every blind corner on the hiking trails in the park!

The Going To The Sun Road – the only road traversing Glacier National Park from east Sam and Lilia hiking to Hidden Lake with Clements Mountain in the backgroundto west, crossing the Continental Divide along the way – had only opened two days before we arrived in the park due to too much snow blocking the plows.  As we drove from Sunrift Gorge up the breathtaking valley above Saint Mary’s Lake we slowly made our way out of the lush forest, above the tree line and up into the snowpack.  Jackson Glacier came into view as we wound our way around Siyeh Bend, by the time we made it to our destination at Logan Pass on the top of the Continental Divide we were completely surrounded by snow.  We waited for Lilia to finish her morning nap before heading out across the snowpack to Hidden Lake Overlook, a short walk past Mount Oberlin and Clements Mountain, made a little tricky by the fact that the trail was buried under a few meters of snow!  Lilia unfortunately had her last of four baby molars coming through while we were in Glacier so was a little out of sorts and very lethargic.  I think the altitude may have been getting to her a little as well…  She spent most of the day asleep in the pack under her sun shade, which is too bad because she missed out on some amazing vistas and breathtaking scenery.

Sunrift GorgeSam and Lilia taking in Saint Mary's Lake above Sunrift GorgeSunrift GorgeBaring FallsLocals gearing up for a day of summer skiingMount Oberlin, Clements Mountain and Reynolds Mountain above Hidden LakeLisa hiking to Hidden LakeLisa and Lilia looking over Hidden LakeHidden LakeHidden LakeA skiier with Reynolds Mountain in the backgroundSam and Lilia with Saint Mary's Lake in the distanceGlacier National ParkGoing To The Sun Road through Glacier National ParkLisa and Lilia at Saint Mary's LakeLisa and Lilia at Saint Mary's LakeSaint Mary's LakeRising Sun boat dock on Saint Mary's LakeThe cabins where we stayed at Rising Sun

Saint Mary's LakeThe clouds came for our last day in the park, we had a spot of rain as well as we crossed the Continental Divide on our way to Avalanche Lake.  The views from the western portion of the Going To The Sun road heading down from Logan Pass were amazing, unfortunately there weren’t too many places to stop as we wound down the precarious route.

For our last adventure in Glacier we chose the Avalanche Lake hike, a meandering four mile (6.4 kilometer)out-and-back route through the cypress forest with tranquil Avalanche Lake at the halfway point.  Avalanche Lake sure was a sight to behold: a trio of waterfalls dropping down the towering cliffs surrounding the lake made for quite a memorable lunch spot.  Lilia was almost back to her rambunctious self after a couple of days of pain from her molar pushing through, which was nice for us to see.  A great hike this one, definitely don’t miss it if you find yourself on the western side of Glacier National Park!

Looking back up to the continental divide from west side of the national parkLunch stop at picturesque Avalanche LakeSam and Lilia hiking to Avalanche LakeLisa hiking to Avalanche LakeLisa, Lilia and Sam hiking to Avalanche LakeLunch stop at picturesque Avalanche LakeLunch stop at picturesque Avalanche LakeLunch stop at picturesque Avalanche LakeLunch stop at picturesque Avalanche LakeAvalanche LakeAvalanche LakeSam and Lilia at Avalanche LakeLisa on the way down from Avalanche LakeThe torrent out of Avalanche LakeThe torrent out of Avalanche Lake

After only a few days in Glacier we feel like we just scratched the surface.  There’s so much more to explore: the glaciers around Many Glacier, Two Medicine and maybe even a look at some mountain sheep in the Canadian section of the park, Waterton Lakes National Park.  I have a feeling we’ll back one of these days…

Saint Mary's Lake from Rising Sun   Saint Mary's Lake   $1000 for a set of elk antlers on the side of the road in Martin City

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6 Comments

  1. […] The Quinteros were such fantastic hosts for our few days with them.  Nelson and Cheryl: you guys sure know how to cook!  Everything was scrumptious, but I think a standout for me was Nelson’s arepas (a dish made of ground corn dough or cooked flour, popular in Colombia and Venezuela and similar in shape to the Mexican gordita).  Thanks so much for your hospitality, I’m sure we’ll be back for some more of those trout!  Great to finally get out to Montana to see where Lisa’s dad grew up, and Lilia sure enjoyed having so many adults around to give her attention.  Next stop in Montana: Glacier National Park. […]

  2. Tu Familia Quintero says:

    Thanks be to God you had good weather … no snow storms … AND no bears! 🙂 A grand closing to your Montana adventure! Y’all come back, you hear?!?! Love and hugs, Auntie Cheryl y Tio Nelson

  3. Idaho Youngs says:

    What a way to conclude your visit to Montana. I snowshoed up to Avalanche Lake on New Years day back in the 70’s when I was in college. Beautiful area as you pictures indicate. It was great seeing you all. The Idaho Young’s.

  4. GPAG says:

    Happy for your journey and hope you do make it back. This place of grandeur broadens life perspective.

  5. Auntie Anita says:

    There you are – the three musketeers huh?
    What an extraordinary trip – captured so finely with your beautiful photos and perfect writing to take us along with you. xxxooo

  6. Cathy Hudson says:

    More amazing photos with spectacular reflections on serene waters. No photos of the bear tho!!