My Top Ten National Parks of North America
1. Glacier National Park
Date established: May 11, 1910
Annual visitation (2014): 2,338,528
Size: 1,013,572 acres
Location: Northwest Montana
Number of visits: Three
Total days in the park: Eleven days
Where I stayed: I have camped out in St. Mary Campground and Rising Campground. I also camped one night in a campground just outside of the park. I spent one night in a tiny motel near the park and another in the Many Glacier Hotel. I absolutely loved the Many Glacier Hotel. There is a cavernous lobby with a huge stone fireplace and a grand balcony overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake.
Can’t miss sight: This is a tough one. First, there’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is an engineering marvel. Then there’s Logan Pass, which is where Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the Continental Divide. It is known for its top-of-the-world scenery. You’re among mountains and stunning meadows. There are a couple of amazing hikes that begin at Logan Pass. Hidden Lake, which is the destination of one such hike could also be considered a can’t miss sight.
My favorite view: Wild Goose Island Overlook, along the eastern side of Going-to-the-Sun Road is the most photographed spot in the park, and rightfully so. The mountain landscape surrounding that portion of Saint Mary Lake is astounding.
Favorite hike: This park is a hiker’s paradise. Glacier contains a few of my all-time favorite trails. I love the Hidden Lake trail and the Highline Trail that leave Logan Pass. The Siyeh Pass Trail is another phenomenal hike. However, I’m going to have to go with the Grinnell Glacier Trail. I’ve hiked it on two of my three visits to the park. I’ve seen amazing wildlife both times to go with the incredible scenery.
Bonus Points: The aforementioned Going-to-the-Sun Road is arguably the most scenic road in America. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’d have to say the Two Sister’s Café in Babb, just outside of Many Glacier offered up some spectacular food. My wife and I were talking about that place for weeks after we ate there.
If I Return
I want to return many times. I would love to stay in the Many Glacier Hotel again and would like to hike to one of the backcountry chalets and spend the night there, too. I’d probably return to a few of my favorite hikes, but I have a list of ones I still have to complete. I have to yet to hike to Avalanche Lake, Iceberg Lake, and Piegan Pass among others.
Why You Should Visit
If you really want to see the Swiss Alps, but don’t anticipate crossing the Atlantic anytime soon the scenery in Glacier is a great substitute. The Many Glacier Hotel was modeled after the grand Swiss mountain chalets and the mountains themselves resemble the jagged Alps on the other side of the world. The combination of alpine meadows, glacially sculpted valleys, rugged mountains, dreamlike lakes, and abundant wildlife make Glacier National Park a place that belongs on everyone’s Bucket List.
I wish it were closer and that the good weather lasted longer there (Going-to-the-Sun Road sometimes doesn’t open until late July due to all the snow it receives).