Part 16: Great Falls, MT to Glacier NP, MT


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The Trip

We spent two nights in Great Falls, MT at an RV park.  We needed to do laundry and shopping and staying another day seemed like the right thing to do.  From Great Falls we headed north toward Glacier NP on the east side.  We did  a drive-by on the easy scenic things and then headed to our camp at Many Glacier.  The wind was wailing and it was starting to rain which put a damper on outdoor activities.  So, we hunkered down in the camper and watched movies from our hard drive.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

At the end of a rain squall, we had a brief sunset with a rainbow from our space at the RV park.

Next morning we headed north from Great Falls passing farms with substantial capital investments in infrastructure.  Wheat is big in this area and if you grow wheat, you must have grain elevators to store your harvest.  Usually the capital costs are shared in the form of a co-op.

Our path north took us along the front range of the Rocky Mountains providing awesome views of the fields and mountains.

When we arrived at St. Mary we got a view of the Glacier Buses.  These have been in service since the 1930s but have recently been refurbished with new chassis and motors.  These rigs are now based on propane-powered Ford truck frames.

We turned into the park at St. Mary and heading into the canyon.  The wind was howling and driving the rain from the mountains to the plains below.

Note the white caps on St. Mary's Lake.

The south-facing cliffs were free of snow.

The north-facing cliffs still had snow.

We stopped at an overlook point to get this shot.  The wind was blowing so hard that Kathleen had to brace me to keep me from losing my balance due to the gusts.

The upper end of the cascade was quite violent.

Despite the howling wind and blowing rain, having the sun behind us provided a rainbow in the valley below.

It rained off and on all night.  We hunkered down in the camper and when morning broke, most of the rain was gone.  The wind was still strong, but absent the rain it was less annoying.  From our camp, this was the cliff to our north.

To the south of our camp at Many Glaciers was this huge escarpment.

We pulled out of our camp and rolled into a parking lot close-by and spotted this Amish gal taking photos.  Despite the frumpy dress, she is only about 18.

From the parking lot, we could see some cloud-covered peaks further up the valley.  The road ends in this parking area.

We drove down the canyon to the Many Glacier Lodge and from the bridge that crosses the river we got a great view of the peaks up the canyon.

The rooms at the Many Glaciers Lodge had spectacular views of the lake and the peaks beyond.  The lodge reminded me of The Prince of Wales Lodge at Waterton, Canada which is just a few miles to the north across the border.

The cliffs and cirques in the distance were truly daunting.

Our exit from Many Glaciers gave us a good view of the south-facing cliffs.

On another trip here, we will stay at the Many Glaciers lodge.  It would not suck to wake up with this view.

A parting shot of the waterfalls at Many Glaciers.

Thor looked wimpy against the huge cliffs.

The south-facing portion of the canyon had massive cliffs.

We went south along the mountains and just north of St. Mary we got nice views of the peaks.

We had lunch at a cafe at St. Mary and on our exit from the parking lot we spotted this fellow in search of a snack.

South near Two Medicine the cliffs were still snow covered.  I think that the dead trees are due to bark beatles.

The needle-less trees and snowy cliffs left an otherworldly feeling.

Further south the trees returned.

We continued south to East Glacier, MT, then turned west and crossed over the mountains to West Glacier.  We took on diesel, ice and limes for our cocktails and headed north again toward the Canadian border.  Following a fork of the Flathead River we passed expansive meadows with great mountain views in the distance.

Our destination for the night was Bowman Lake inside the park boundaries.  Both Kathleen and I were astounded at the amount of oncoming traffic we encountered on the narrow dirt roads.  Bowman Lake, as it turns out, is a popular picnic destination and around sundown the folks return to their camps or hotels.  We setup camp and then walked to the lake shore to see what was there.  The view looking east was dramatic.

The peaks in the distance were still covered with snow.  It would have been fun to take a kayak across the lake to a truly remote camp.

The high winds and rain took its toll on our good spirits.  But, since the camper has hard walls, the wind did not really bother us all that much.  Many Glaciers is a must-see if you are in the area.  As usual for our visits to this area, the "Going to the Sun" road is still closed due to snow.  We'll save that one for another trip.

Tomorrow, we head south from Kalispell, MT toward La Junta, CO and some much needed repair actions.  We do not have a planned destination so we will stop at a location dictated by the waning daylight.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2013, all rights reserved.
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