Lake Tahoe>Glacier National Park

I skipped my stops in the pacific northwest to spend the weekend in Lake Tahoe with my friend Lisa who introduced me to her wonderful children and childhood friend Meghan. Meghan lives in South Lake Tahoe, is a personal chef, and was kind enough to host us for the weekend.

After being on the road for a few days I decided a swim in Lake Tahoe was needed before meeting anyone. The water was freezing but just what I needed.

Over the next few days we enjoyed each others company, ate delicious food, learned about Pokemon, had a few squirt gun fights, drank around a fire and went to a really nice beach.

Even though Tahoe is over 6000 feet it did get quite hot during the day. I found the nights to be quite chilly. I guess the Summer season is short and Winter is long which makes sense as it is a popular skiing and snowboarding destination.

Though I really enjoyed some downtime there I did have to beat it on down the line to Glacier National Park as the weekend came to a close.

The drive was a long one. I was going to be heading 16.5 hours to Glacier National Park. Northern Nevada is quite boring and after about 9.5 hours and entering into Idaho I decided to call it a night in the town of Blackfoot, ID. I had crashed in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart here last year and thought it would be a good place for me to get some sleep again.

The next day I woke up early and drove the remaining seven hours to Glacier. The speed limits in the northern states is routinely 75 or 80 miles an hour so you can cover a lot more ground in a days time.

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There are many camping options at Glacier. You can reserve sites online early (my recommendation) or show up and try to find a campground with an open site when you arrive. Reserving online ensures that you have a site at your campground of choice and don’t have to waste half a day driving around trying to find an opening. I would recommend paying attention to amenities, location, reviews and the time each day the campground fills up (if not reserving online).

I was originally going to stay at Two Medicine Campground as they don’t usually fill until afternoon, but they were full. I proceeded to the St. Mary’s Visitor Center. I watched the park video, picked up my normal items in the gift store (stickers and a park pin) and went to talk with the rangers about my stay.

As it was getting later in the day, the ranger suggested staying at the Chewing Blackbone Campground which is run by the Blackfeet Indian tribe and close by. This wasn’t a good option for me as I really wanted to head out on the 45 mile “Going to the Sun” road through the park. I did find out that there was a Wal-Mart on the other side of the park so if worst came to worst I could always stay there.

Working upon a tip from a friend who lives in the area, I inquired with the ranger about bear spray. There were Grizzly and Black bears in the park and being that I was hiking by myself, felt like it was time to get a little protection. Usually people have bear spray then can’t leave with it because you can’t fly home with it. They then donate it to the park. The ranger was kind enough to take me into the back room, give me a free canister and show me how to use it.

Not only 2 minutes in the park I saw my first bear on the side of the road. It was quite a sight. As I continued down the road I started to get my first glimpse of the mountains and views that make this park so great.

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Going to the Sun Road

It was about 6pm and the sun was setting so the light beaming through and over the mountains was spectacular. It also turned out to be a great time to see everything the road had to offer. Around this time park visitors head to their campgrounds to cook dinner, start a fire and enjoy time together. At each scenic area to pull over I didn’t find more than three cars.

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The road was a huge engineering project back in the day and a repavement project started in 2008 was just completed. The reason it takes so long and is so hard is that much of the area is impassable due to snow much of the year. Logan Pass Visitors Center at the midpoint of the road lies about 6,600 feet so please keep in mind that altitude might play a factor in how long or what trails to tackle.

The eastern side of the park is more mountainous and dry. The western part of the park is more lush with more lakes and rivers.

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Lake McDonald

After not finding any other easy campground options on the eastern side I proceeded to Wal-Mart where I researched the next days plans. I was planning on getting to the Logan Pass Visitors Center early. If you don’t arrive early you will never find a parking spot. In doing research I decided to only hike the first four miles of the 10 mile Highline Trail that day and then hike back. This is the best section of the trail and takes you along a cliff face.

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Highline Trail
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Flower along the Highline Trail
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Highline Trail

Once I arrived back at Logan Pass I decided to check out the Hidden Lake Trail. The last portion of the trail to the lake was closed due to bear activity but we could get to the overlook. There is a great boardwalk for half of the 3 mile (round trip) hike. I saw marmots and a few mountain goats.

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Hidden Lake Boardwalk
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Hidden Lake Overlook

Once I came back to my car a few people were fighting over my parking space but that wasn’t my problem. I was off to see more cool things. I did s

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Wild Goose Island

Each park I visited had unique rocks and Glacier is no exception. I saw pictures of them before I arrived and I didn’t know if they were that colorful. Luckily they didn’t disappoint.

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Colorful rocks in a stream

After a long day I proceeded to head over to the campground I reserved a few months earlier. It was at the Many Glacier Campground. This campground is high in demand so reserve early. Each day over 20 cars line up at 5am to try to get one of the few campsites that open up. Most people don’t even get a site.

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Many Glacier campground has nearby showers, laundry, restaurant and general store. You are also walking distance from a river, hiking trails and the amphitheatre where you can visit at night to hear the ranger led program. On this night we learned about the Blackfeet indians and their efforts to save their language.

After the presentation I returned to my campsite, cooked up some sausages and eventually passed out in my hammock for the night.

The next day, after a good nights rest I started my way out of the park and on my way to North Dakota.

I loved this park and believe that I need to spend a week here eventually.  When I do come back I will bring a bike to use around the campground and a kayak to use to navigate the trout filled lakes in the park.

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