June 28, 2021 – Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge Lobby
Totem Pole at Lake McDonald Lodge
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Big Horn Sheep
Lunch at the Backslope Brewing

This morning we got up about 3:00am, had breakfast and by 4:00am headed out to the western entrance to the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The park is located on the Canada-United States border and encompasses over 1 million acres of land, 700 lakes, 200 waterfalls, 1,000 species of plants and hundreds of species of animals. The size of this protected land exceeds 16,000 square miles. The Going to the Sun Road is considered one of the most beautiful parts of the park and due to the high traffic, they require all cars to have a permit to enter between 6:00am and 8:00pm. We tried without success to score a permit to enter the park during normal hours, but were unsuccessful. In order to enter the park without a permit we needed to enter the park prior to 6:00am.

Archaeologists believe that Native Americans arrived in the area some 10,000 years ago. In 1895 the natives authorized the sale of 800,000 acres of the mountain area to the US government for $1.5 million. The natives were allowed to maintain usage of the land for hunting. By 1910 the Great Northern Railway had built a number of hotels and chalets throughout the park to promote tourism. By 1932, the automobile became popular and a 53-mile road called Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed, allowing more visitors to access the park. The park received more than 3.5 million visitors in 2019.

We arrived at the park about 5:00am and avoided needing a permit to enter the park. We spent the next eight hours exploring the 50-mile road that bisects the park from west to east. The road is a two-lane road that meanders through the forest passing lakes and water falls. The mountains soar to about 10,000 feet above sea level creating beautiful vistas. The road has many turn-outs and small parking lots for cars to get off the road and take photos. The park is remarkably clean with no litter or trash in sight. Walking trails and camping grounds are available along the route as well.

Inside the park we visited the historic Swiss chalet-style Lake McDonald Lodge built in 1913. The lodge is located on Lake McDonald. We saw several Big Horn Sheep, many waterfalls, creeks and rivers. Everyone found the park stunningly beautiful so if you get the opportunity to visit one day, you definitely should.

While no one was happy that we had to get up so early to visit, everyone agreed that the beauty of the park was worth the early morning. After our visit to the park we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Columbia Falls. The menu was very unique in that they had everything from fish and chips, fried pickles and Asian rice bowls to hamburgers. We finally arrived back at the house about 3:00pm and all were exhausted from a long day. After naps we decided that instead of dining out for dinner we would let everyone forage for themselves from all of the leftovers in the refrigerator. Then it was early to bed.