Every year, Josh and I go to Glacier National Park to explore the grandest of glacier made soil. We live only four hours away from such beauty but let me tell you what, four hours makes a huge difference in scenery. The last seven years that Josh and I have been together, we have explored so many different areas of West Glacier and every time we come home, we feel as if we should have stayed another five days just to see more. We plan to explore every inch if it’s possible. For now, I’ll fill you in on the places we both love about Glacier National Park!
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier and lies within the Apgar Village. Apgar Village is this cute little touristy village where gift shops and the visitor center is located. I always enjoy visiting Apgar simply because the tradition we had built over the years. Skipping rocks in the ice-cold McDonald Creek, indulging in huckleberry ice cream, and staying a night or so in the cabins there. You can also rent bikes, canoes, and boats; I have yet to but eventually I’ll do it.
The park services also have these awesome red shuttles to take you to The Going to the Sun Road. We did this once and we decided there were too many people on the shuttle so we got off on the next spot (we have already been to the top of The Going to the Sun Road.) We weren’t worried one bit about missing anything. I mean, we have seen it all, from cows to grizzly bears. Glacier is bear country and coming across one is not unusual.
Idaho has bears too, but not glacier bears. It’s rare to come across one where I’m from. Last year, Josh, his mom, and I were on top of Logan Pass in September. When out of no where, it started snowing, like a lot. In September! I guess it’s pretty normal but we weren’t prepared to head back down the pass while the air was filled with white fluffy stuff. Well, we decided to hang around a bit until it stopped snowing. Luckily we did because guess who showed up for meal time? Momma Grizz and her cub.
The rangers panicked and tried to get all the tourists back to the ranger station but did any of them want to listen? Many of these tourists probably never seen a real live bear in person before. So many people huddled up in a group (including us) outside the ranger station watching Momma Grizz teach her cub how to hunt for ground hogs. She pounced like a fox and dug holes like no other. Dirt and snow flying everywhere when all of a sudden, Momma Grizz decided to burst into a full on sprint towards the trail about a 50 yards in front of us, leaving her babes behind. What? Who knows what she was thinking? Everyone could have become dinner this evening. But thankfully, I think she just needed space. Obviously. Momma Grizz and her cub went elsewhere to find dinner.
Speaking of food, since Glacier is bear country, overnight visitors must keep all food and smelly things in their cars while not using them. If not, you might get a not so friendly visit from Momma Grizz and her cub and they don’t like to share. A few years ago, I was unaware that toothpaste counted as “food” in a bears mind. So here we are, at Kintla Lake (one of my favorite places), I leave my toothpaste on the picnic table. I woke up the next morning, nowhere to be found. “Did a bear get it?”
Nope, just Lyle. Lyle is the ranger that lives at Kintla Campground all summer long in his cabin. I look forward to seeing Lyle every year because he is this older gentleman, probably in his late 70’s or 80’s that loves his job as a ranger. A strict ranger at that. Lyle took my toothpaste and gave me a warning! He told me he stored it away in these heavy-duty bear vaults they have for campers. Well, I’m just glad Momma Grizz didn’t take it. One thing I’ve learned from Lyle is nature knows what to do, always.
I remember one year, a baby squirrel fell out of a tall tree and we all saw it happen. The saddest thing ever, coming from an animal lover that I am. I wanted to save it. To save it from dying, but Lyle told everyone to leave it alone. It happens in the wild and people should accept it. If the baby squirrel was meant to live, it would. And if it were meant to die, then it would die. But the coolest thing happened. The baby squirrel got up and started wobbling away back into the brush. It wasn’t time for that little guy.
Life lessons with Lyle; “Nature Knows What To Do”.
Sometimes when I try to apply the “Nature Knows What To Do” motto to my life, turns out, sometimes I really don’t know what the heck I’m doing. A couple of years ago, we decided to backpack around Bowman Lake with Josh’s brother and wife. This is about the time we are really getting into backpacking and still noobs. Well I am for sure. I never fully became good at backpacking because I’m cheap. Cheap gear, cheap shoes. I decided that I didn’t need to buy new shoes because I just never wear hiking shoes, like ever. So I wore a pair of Champions from Payless that were a half-size too big.
What was I thinking?
Well, I started to form blisters on my feet so I decided to whip out my never-failing flip-flops. I live in flip-flops all spring, summer and fall long. So I thought no big deal to hike the rest of the trail in them. We hiked about 7 miles into a communal type tent area at the head of Bowman Lake and my feet were solid. We enjoyed getting to know our neighbors around the community fire pit. We ate so many s’mores that night! I have no idea why we brought that many. Oh well, who says no to s’mores?
“Would you like s’more s’mores?”
We weren’t the only ones who wanted s’mores that night. Little miss Bowman Lake Doe decides to creep up on our tent sites while we were eating at the designated “kitchen” area. You know that one sneaky child that is persistent? Picture that in deer form. She was not scared of us at all! Every time we left our tent site, she came back even closer. She would stare at us from afar like full on stare downs. I swear a deer is my spirit animal. I always come across these deer that mess with me.
Have you ever had a deer mess with you? It’s nonsense!
Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery
The last place I want to mention is the Polebrige Mercantile. A cute little bakery that is located in the middle of no where in West Glacier. It’s a long drive to get to this yummy backcountry bakery but is so worth it, especially for me! It’s on the way to my favorite Kintla Lake Campground. The cool thing about Polebridge is that everything is homemade. Homemade cookies, brownies, breads, and even gluten-free products.
My favorite goodie that I must get every time I visit Polebridge, is the huckleberry bear claw. It is to die for!! I feel bad that Josh cannot eat anything with gluten in it, but thankfully they provide gluten-free options that are just as tasty! They also have freshly baked bread that is so soft and flavorful. The jalapeno bread is my favorite by far. It makes great sandwiches. Talking about all the food at the Polebridge Mercantile makes me want to go there this weekend.
Maybe I’ll plan a weekend trip back to West Glacier, I mean it’s only four hours away. So why not?
Other noteworthy sites to see is Avalanche Gorge and Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake in Logan Pass, Fish Creek Trail, Trail of the Cedars, and the Apgar Bike Trail. There are many other places to visit in West glacier, but these are all the places I’ve been to over the years. Everywhere I have been thus far, has not disappointed me in the least!
Do you have any memories in Glacier National Park? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear about them. Thanks for supporting us and our journeys. We appreciate all of you!