4th of July in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Travel Blog

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Great Falls, MT to Glacier NP

 

Happy 4th of July!

 

The kids enjoyed the joyous atmosphere at the KOA this morning at the playground and pool.  I handled adult stuff- reservations, phone calls, RV prep.  Then I grabbed them from the pool and after a whirlwind Walmart stop and gas, headed up to Glacier up Hwy 89, which has been a terrific road from Yellowstone.  Some of the hills were several hundred feet in elevation change, but it was scenic, empty, direct and fast. 

 

We arrived at Glacier NP in just 3.

Most photographed view of Glacier NP on Going-to-the-Sun road
5 hours - upon visiting the St. Mary Visitor’s Center, made our way to the St. Mary’s campground. 

 

We were lucky.  I’d made a reservation at Fish Creek Campground on the west side of the park, only to find out that Going to the Sun Highway, the road that traverses the park, was not yet open due to snow.  So we’d have to drive WAY around the park to get to the campground and again in the morning to get up into Canada on the east side of the park.  ReserveUSA, the NPS reservation concessionaire, said by phone this morning they would charge me MORE than the night’s campground fee we’ve already paid if I changed, cancelled, or failed to show for my reservation there.  I decided to wing it and asked in person at the St. Mary Campground if they had campsites and could switch my reservation.  Yes and yes.  So with a phone call, they transferred the reservation, end of problem.

 

Well it turns out that the Going to the Sun Highway opened all the way across the park just two days ago on Wednesday!  However, RV’s over 21 feet are not permitted past Sun Point, but Glacier has a free shuttle service here which started yesterday.  We decided to drive up to Sun Point and then catch a shuttle to the highest point, Pike’s Peak, but that didn’t happen. 

 

Ironically, at Sun Point, we met the only thunderstorm of our trip!  Fearful of lightening strikes, we retreated back to our campground, which is delightful.

Thunder! Oh no! At Sun Point, no less
 

 

The Going-to-the-Sun Highway is 75 years old this year!  The portion that we drove was not frightening at all and the hills were only moderate.  We found Yellowstone driving to be much more precarious.

 

It is stunningly beautiful here and the air is so sweet with flowers blooming and spruce!  We thought the Triple Divide overlook, with the pyramid mountain that allows rainfall and snowmelt to flow into 3 separate river systems, was particularly cool.  We’re on the Continental Divide up here and the triple division is very interesting.  I’ll try to upload a picture when our internet is fully functional.

 

Of course the Wild Goose Island overlook, with the most frequently photographed view of the turquoise lake ringed by snow-capped mountains was incredibly beautiful with the clouds moving in for a storm.

St. Mary Visitor's Center at Glacier

 

We really do need to rest up.  I’m planning an early crossing into Canada tomorrow - we’re just 15 miles or so from the border here.  Our Wild West Adventure is over for this portion of the trip until we return for in September.  It’s time to switch the books and information to Canada!

 

We’re really excited about Canada and Inuvik!  The next 13 days will be the most intensive driving of our entire trip, but we think the effort to make the Great Northern Arts Festival and Inuvik’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will make it all worthwhile. 

 

Did you know that Glacier is actually the world’s first international park?  It is a World Heritage Site that is technically called Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

  The Waterton portion is in Canada.  Of the 20 World Heritage sites in the United States, this is the 6th World Heritage Site of our trip (Carlsbad, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Pueblo de Taos, Yellowstone, and here).  We’ll hit the Alaska site, then on our way back down, the Redwood, Yosemite, and hopefully Chaco Culture site.  That would be half the sites in America.

 

We do plan to stop at another World Heritage site in Canada on the way to Calgary- you’ll love this name:  Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.  Here’s their website description: (http://www.head-smashed-in.com/  )

 

 

Located 18 km north & west of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada at a place where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the great plains, one of the world's oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jump's known to exist -- Head-Smashed-In.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In has been used continuously by aboriginal peoples of the plains for more than 5,500 years.

Why is this place a World Heritage Site?

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is known around the world as a remarkable testimony of prehistoric life. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump bears witness to a custom practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6000 years.

Thanks to their excellent understanding of topography and of bison behavior, they killed bison by chasing them over a precipice and subsequently carving up the carcasses in the camp below.

 

 

I sure hope we don’t witness any chasing or carving tomorrow.  Sounds like a can’t-miss type of place to me!

 

 

 

 

 

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Most photographed view of Glacier …
Most photographed view of Glacier…
Thunder!  Oh no!  At Sun Point, no…
Thunder! Oh no! At Sun Point, n…
St. Mary Visitors Center at Glaci…
St. Mary Visitor's Center at Glac…
Ranger at Glacier- she was very ni…
Ranger at Glacier- she was very n…
Ciao Baby in very nice St. Mary Ca…
Ciao Baby in very nice St. Mary C…
The Triple Divide (the centered pe…
The Triple Divide (the centered p…
The Triple Divide- water flows int…
The Triple Divide- water flows in…
Glacier National Park
photo by: mrgishi