Glacier National Park

Happy almost-fall! These last few weeks have been a strange mix of sitting, starting school again, and getting back into the routine of the life of a student. I am working part-time (15 hrs a week) as a pricing strategy consultant, which keeps my weeks busy. Otherwise, just being a student and not getting the benefits of socializing in-person (I gave up my New Haven apartment when I found out that we would be “hybrid” for the two months that school would be in session this term) would have made my weeks very slow indeed. This past month we’ve been living in the White Mountains, and we’ve been having small groups of COVID-tested friends visit on weekends which has been giving me a sense of normalcy during these insane times. Once it gets cold in October we will be moving back to Boston, but to a larger managed apartment farther outside of the city (super excited for that Pelaton studio!).

Almost one month ago, after I finished my summer internship, we embarked on a two-week roadtrip through some national parks that we’d been meaning to visit but never quite got the chance to, because with that kind of time off we’d be flying to Europe or Asia. Since domestic trips are really the only ones feasible because of COVID, we decided to visit Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons (I’d hoped to add on some Utah national parks as well, but we decided to save those for another time). We ordered the America the Beautiful Pass, which is valid for one year and pays for itself if you visit more than 2 national parks in a year. I’d originally thought about getting a camper van and just living in the van for the full 2 weeks, but they were pretty much sold out by the time we booked, so we got a normal van to drive around (Enterprise does 1-way rentals with no drop-off fee) and stayed in little cabins or campsites along the way.

Our first stop was Kalispell, Montana, where we spent 3 days in Glacier National Park. Half of the park was closed because of COVID (the eastern side of the park borders a native american reservation, and they were taking strict precautions), so we didn’t get to do some of the famous glacier hikes. This also meant that we had to stay on the western side of the park and essentially drive on a in-and-out road through the park to get anywhere. Many of my friends said that Glacier NP was the most beautiful place they’ve ever seen, and I certainly understand the appeal! (Grand Tetons was ultimately my favorite, but I am so glad we made it to Glacier since it is pretty hard to get to). Here are some of the wonderful hikes and sights we did during our time in Glacier:

Hidden Lake Overlook

Parking at Logan’s Pass to get to this trail. This is a pretty easy/moderate trail since it’s paved, although it does have some elevation gain (plus Logan’s Pass is at 6’700 ft elevation anyway, so you might need some time to get acclimated if you’re not used to hiking). Logan’s Pass is the largest parking lot in the park, but it’s still small – get here super early or late (after 4:30 PM) to snag a spot. We easily parked here at 4:30 PM/5PM on both days. For hidden lake, I recommend not going down to the lake – the overlook is the best part! Visiting Glacier during August is ideal, since that’s when all the wildflowers are in bloom.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

So many pretty overlooks on this road – stop by them all! Just note that it gets chilly in the morning/evening here regardless of how hot it gets during the day, since Glacier is at high elevation. It takes around 2 hours to drive end-to-end through the park on the road.

Avalanche Lake & Cedars Trail

Such a pretty lake, and a very moderate hike! We stayed on east coast time the entire time we were traveling so that we could start early every day, and were very happy to start on this trail around 6 AM so that we could get parking. Apparently there’s bears on this trail frequently, so we did have bear spray that we carried around everywhere…but we never saw a bear.

Highline Trail

Best trail in the park. This is a longggg trail, but a beautiful one. We saw some mountain goats on the way! (They’re actually everywhere)

Lake McDonald/Lake Mary’s/relaxing by various bodies of water

Such pretty lakes in Glacier. One of our favorite afternoons was hanging out by McDonald’s Creek and swimming/reading for a few hours.

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