So far Glacier National Park is Patty’s favorite Park. We stayed in West Glacier KOA RV Park. After picking Kevin up at the Seattle airport, we drove 12 hours to West Glacier. Steve, Patty and Kevin each took turns driving. Unfortunately for Kevin, when he took the wheel there were concrete barriers, road construction and semi trucks to watch out for. He was a champ and threaded the RV through it all.
More than 90 percent of Glacier National Park’s 900,000 acres is managed wilderness. There are no roads, no developed campgrounds and only one road cuts through the center of the park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road offers views of stunning, dramatic mountain peaks, awe-inspiring cascading waterfalls, striking rock faces, glacier fed streams and powder blue ribbon trout rivers. Photographs hardly do the views justice.
Cliff-hugging Going-to-the-Sun Road is a narrow steep winding spectacular road bisecting the heart of Glacier National Park. It is 50 miles long following the parks two largest lakes, Lake McDonald and Saint Mary Lake. The road’s construction began in 1921 and completed in 1932. Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses the 6,646 feet Continental Divide at Logan’s Pass. Logan’s pass at the Continental Divide is where water falling to the west of the divide flows to the Pacific Ocean, to the east flows toward the Atlantic Ocean.
One day we traveled at dawn on Going-to-the-Sun Road. We were in awe of the majestic scenery of wilderness, forests of cedars, hemlocks, spruce, fir trees, rivers, mountains and glaciers. We saw wildflowers, birds, animals like mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk, moose, deer and a bear.
In Glacier National Park, the impacts of climate change were evident. Once home to 150 glaciers in 1850, the numbers were reduced to 50 in 1968 and today the 25 that remain are expected to be gone by 2030.
Fire in 2003 burned up to 146,000 acres, then in 2015, Glacier had low precipitation, above average temperatures and high winds causing the Reynolds Creek fire on the east side of the park to spread over 4,000 acres in one day. We could see the blackened trees stand out but new vegetation of small pines and beargrass are growing already. Beargrass is a lily flower that grows up to six feet tall. Native Americans used the stems and roots of beargrass to weave baskets, at times the beargrass plant is called Indian basket grass.
Kevin and Steve went fly-fishing for three days straight. They tried their luck on the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The water was cold and the rapids dunked the kayak during one of their fishing excursions for rainbow trout.
We constantly watched out for bears and had bear spray at hand. One afternoon, a mountain biker turned a corner on a path right next to our West Glacier KOA campground. He frightened a grizzly and unfortunately the bear attacked and killed him. He was a very experienced ranger and was born and raised in West Glacier. Helicopters searched for the grizzly, the hiking and biking paths were closed and television crews were reporting the incident.
We visited four different lodges bordering each side of the park; Glacier Park Lodge, Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Lodge, and Prince of Wales Lodge. Glacier Park Lodge has a three-story lobby columned by towering Douglas firs. Lake McDonald Lodge is a Swiss chalet with a hunting lodge atmosphere. Many Glacier Lodge is designed as a series of chalets, up to four stories tall. Built in 1914, stretches for a substantial distance along the Swiftcurrent Lake lakeshore. The building has a Swiss alpine theme both on the outside and on the inside. The outside is finished with brown-painted wood siding, and the window framing and balconies have wood sawn in Swiss jigsawn patterns. The Prince of Wales Lodge in Waterton Lakes National Park is north east of Glacier in Alberta Canada built in 1926. The Prince of Wales Lodge sits on a hill overlooking Waterton Lake and Waterton Village.
After breakfast at Prince of Wales Lodge, we drove along the Red Rock Parkway and hiked in the Red Rock Canyon with the strikingly colored red rocks and cascades of water.
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