A month and a half ago, we left Jojoba Hills Escapees RV community in Southern California. To the question we were asked many times while there, “where will you be headed as new full-timers?”, we finally came up with an answer…Glacier National Park. On Friday, the three of us arrived.
They say that the good weather window in the park can be as short as two and a half months. As you can see by our attire, we got lucky. But it didn’t last long. As I write this a couple of days later, it has been raining and snowing in the park. But on the otherhand, it is to be mid-70s by the middle of next week. Even so, Fall is definitely in the air.
The current rate for park admission for one car is $30. Yikes! So, it was with great pleasure that I presented our Geezer Pass to the ranger, and he waived us right through…for free. Woohoo!
After stopping by the Visitor’s Center, we checked out the adjacent Apgar Campground. This is the largest campground in Glacier N.P. with 192 spaces, 25 of which are large enough for a 40 ft. motorhome. And the beauty is that the sites are FIRST COME-FIRST SERVE.
There are loops A,B,C and D. Loop E is reserved for Groups. We drove all of the loops and found several that our 36 footer would have fit in. And because it was late in the season, there were sites available. But we WERE concerned about the tightness of the loop roads and trees quite close to the roads. We probably would have been okay but, ultimately, the weather made our decision for us. As is typical, the campground is heavily forested with glimpses of sun throughout the day when the sky is fairly clear. When it is raining or close to snowing, that would not be fun. So, we decided to camp outside the park.
Our first glimpse of the beauty of Glacier was almost immediate. The southern end of Lake McDonald is just inside the west entrance and connected to West Glacier Village and Apgar Campground.
At the other end of Lake McDonald, is the Lake McDonald Lodge. This is a view looking northward from the dock behind the lodge.
Built in 1913, this historic chalet-style lodge has a location on the eastern shore of beautiful Lake McDonald that is quite picturesque. There are 82 guest rooms split between the three-story main lodge, a row of cabins, Snyder Hall and Cobb House.
Main lodge rooms are located on the second and third floors. Large/small cabin rooms are located along a tree-lined pathway adjacent to the lodge.
As we drove throughout Glacier National Park, we saw plenty of these tour cars. We found out later that they are actually known as Red Jammers, manufactured back in the ’30s by the White Motor Company. While the buses are called reds, the bus drivers are called jammers because of the sound the gears made when shifting on the steep roads of the park. The “jamming” sound came from the unsynchronized transmissions, where double-clutching was a must.
The buses were modified between 2000-2002 by Ford Motor Company to run on propane or gas to lessen their environmental impact. The bodies were removed from their original chassis and built upon modern Ford chassis. The original standard transmissions were also replaced with newer automatics, removing the trademark “jamming” sound. Reportedly, there are 33 of these buses used throughout the park.
Just another stunning view of what glacier carved mountains and valleys look like. We were just a bit early for Fall colors, but as we traveled through the Park, we got glimpses of color that was on its way.
One of the most popular hiking trails in Glacier National Park is the Highline Trail. This photo is at the start of the trail which begins at Logan Pass, the highest point of the Going to the Sun Road within the park. The trail looks innocent enough here, but just around the corner I found out why it is called the Highline Trail.
Because it was quite cold and windy at Logan Pass, Sharon chose not to hike the Highline Trail with me. But one of the things she was REALLY hoping to see while in Glacier was a Big Horn Sheep or a Goat.
No sooner was I on the trail, like within minutes, and there in a meadow grazing was this Ram. And then, he started approaching us so that he could cross the trail. We were NOT going to stand in his way.
This is what I encountered once I hiked for about 10 minutes. Click to enlarge this photo and you will see that this “trail” is little more than a catwalk as it traverses the face of what is known as the Garden Wall, well above the automobile traffic directly below. I wanted to be able to say I had at least experienced “The Highline”, but unfortunately, my “hike” was cut short by the severe wind on the “wall” and I was forced to turn back. I’m such a sissy.
When visiting Glacier, you have to pick your weather days. Things can change rapidly it seems. We looked at the weather forcast and decided that this day was going to be perfect for a drive on Going to the Sun Road from West Glacier over to East Glacier. And it was.
This photo is a glimpse of St. Mary Lake as we were on the east side of the Park and were heading back west. Trees and shrubs were just starting to change color with Fall being just around the corner.
I’m including this photo because it is relevant to Glacier, which was certainly occupied by many different Native American tribes at one time or another. When traveling through western Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon, it is impossible not to become appreciative of the influence tribes and bands had on the various areas. Amazingly, this “modern” photo was taken in 1914 at a time when the Blackfoot were still gathering on the east side of Glacier in the Two Medicine Valley.
Although we totally enjoyed this, our first visit to Glacier. ultimately the weather caught up with us, including rain and snow in the park. The forecast called for more on the way and so we decided to move on, heading in a westerly direction toward the San Juan Islands of Washington. But we’ll be back. Next time approaching from the east side.