Sunday, July 18, 2010

Glacier National Park

Wow! We have wanted to visit Glacier for many years and feel very fortunate to have finally made it.

We approached Glacier from the east and drove along the Flathead River, where we caught our first glimpse of the incredible turquoise water seen in the rivers and lakes in this area. We were able to find a pullout big enough for the Bus, and got out to watch the rafters and kayakers coming down the river. It looked like a really fun float with a few rapids thrown in.

On our first car trip into the park we took the Going to the Sun Road, which is one of the world's most spectacular highways. Bisecting the heart of Glacier, the 50 mile long road follows the shores of the two largest lakes in the park and hugs the cliffs below the Continental Divide as it goes over Logan Pass. The road is undergoing a 10 year rebuild, but is still open. The drive and stops along the way left us pretty speechless - it's easiest just to share some of the pictures taken along the way. Don't forget you can click on any picture to enlarge.

McDonald Lake in the morning when it was a bit overcast.

McDonald Lake in the afternoon, still like glass.

Logan Pass didn't open until June 17 because of all the snow. One of the rangers told us they had to dig through a 78 foot drift to open the Visitors Center.
Jackson Glacier is one of the few remaining glaciers  in the park today. It has been estimated that there were approximately 150 glaciers present in 1850, and most glaciers were still present in 1910 when the park was established. In 2010, it is believed that there are only 25 glaciers larger than 25 acres remaining in GNP. A computer-based climate model predicts that some of the park’s largest glaciers will vanish by 2030. It's a strikingly clear effect of global warming.
A mountain goat and her baby are unaffected by the work on Going to the Sun Road. We were also very close to a young buck standing in the middle of a construction area, totally ignoring both workers and people in cars. I was too astounded to get a picture but we saw more deer along the way. 
Glacier is the first park where we have seen tour cars carrying so many tourists. They are owned by a private company and we saw too many to count. It seems to be a great way to see the park, as well as keeping the amount of emissions in the park down. There were also shuttle buses, which we have seen in other parks, but this seems to be a more interesting way to tour.
One day in the park wasn't enough so we came back for more. On one of our adventures we took a side road which winds in and out of the park to a little place called Polebridge which is really in the middle of nowhere. It has a restaurant and general store that sells awesome baked goods. They seemed to be doing a pretty good business.
Glacier is a magnificent park and is definitely one of our favorites. Hopefully we'll return one day. 

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