“Far away in northwestern Montana, hidden from view by clustering mountain peaks, lies an unmapped corner – the Crown of the Continent.” These are the words of naturalist George Bird Grinnell, written in 1901, upon exploring Glacier National Park. From my vantage, the sentiments are not exaggerated. Glacier is devastating. An accidental glance will pause any passerby. The Park is a collection of coniferous forests, alpine meadows and waterfalls waiting to be discovered. Grinnell Glacier, the parks most photographed glacier, is a 12-mile trek with 1,840 feet of elevation gained. Head south to the parks east entrance, Saint Mary Visitor Center, to drink in American’s most scenic drive, Going-to-the-Sun-Road. As the only road to traverse the park and cross the Continental Divide, these 50 miles of uninterrupted beauty is accessible only a few weeks out of the year. Late summer is perfect for the lazy drive. Hidden Lake, a delicious 5.4 mile moderate hike, is an open oasis of alpine meadow and wildlife. Keep your senses clear as bighorn sheep, grizzles and the occasional wolverine like to make an appearance. If you prefer sleeping under the stars, head to Two Medicine Campground. The campground surrounds Pray Lake and offers impressive views of Sinopah Mountain. Take the small bridge that crosses Two Medicine Creek for access to a handful of desirable day hikes. And when you need to fuel up after miles added to your boots, or before, try Nell’s. Those buttermilk flapjacks you can afford to devour.
- Kristen Blanton, Wildsam Travel Fellow
1,583 square miles
Park Rangers, Grizzly, Marmot