We took the end of our vacation and a long weekend to drive to Glacier National Park in Montana. The Seattle area is the largest metropolitan area to the park, airport wise, but there are closer cities and towns. While we are living in Washington we wanted to be sure to visit this natural beauty. We had a total of 5 days to drive there, visit, and get home; to be honest it was a bit rushed in some ways but perfect in others.
We drove to the Washington/Idaho border on day 1. And wow was Eastern Washington pretty! It reminded me of Arizona in a lot of ways. It was a lot dryer and flat. You could see for miles upon miles. The next day we drove across the panhandle of Idaho straight into Montana! In my research I realized that on our way to the park was the National Bison Refuge and well, we just had to stop and see the animals!
The refuge had a variety of animals that you could see from your car as you drove around the park. The views were incredible and the animals were awesome! We didn’t stop too much along the drive so got through there is about 1.5 hours but you can definitely stretch it out if you want to.
Then onto Glacier! The main part of the park is accessed along the 50-mile Going to the Sun road. You cross the Continental Divide and can see some amazing rock formations made by glaciers. There are gorgeous lakes, waterfalls, and rivers everywhere. We did a total of two hikes. The road itself has a lot of pull-outs to allow for pictures or hiking. Also, pro tip: if you’re driving slowly pull into these so people behind you can pass (seriously we were behind a very slow car on our last day when we just wanted to get back to our hotel and it was infuriating!). But the views, rock formations, water, everything was beautiful!
The first hike we did was to a secluded lake called Hidden Lake. It was a fairly easy hike and along the way we saw some animals and found the lake. It was crazy windy up there when we got there but it was pretty.
The second day we drove across the park and reentered at Many Glacier on the Eastern side of the park. We did a grueling hike up to Grinnell Glacier. I was sore for DAYS after but it was worth it because we saw bears, mountain goats, and a glacier!
We ate our lunch at the glacier which is super cool! They don’t think there will be many active glaciers in the park in about 15 years so this was a great opportunity to get really close to one.
The hike had spectacular views, including the 3 lakes that the glacier ultimately feeds:
And the glacier we ate our lunch at:
At the end we were exhausted so that slow driver was not appreciated. But we had a great dinner at our hotel.
On our way back we stopped in Spokane for a relaxing and wonderful night. We had beers by the river, went to the movies, and heard some live music. It was the best way to end our vacation.
Some highlights of where we ate and stayed:
The Lodge at White Fish: This hotel was a bit of a drive to Glacier National Park, about 30-45 minutes. It is in its own other recreational area so may not be the best place if your main destination is the national park. But the rooms were spacious, had big tubs, and a nice restaurant.
Check out all of the places to buy huckleberries. My favorite was the huckleberry shake. Since we were hiking we bought most of our food at Safeway and ate in the park.
The Davenport Hotel: This historic hotel is located in downtown Spokane. It was recently renovated and is reasonably priced for how fancy it is. It’s walking distance to many restaurants and stores as well.
No-Li Brewhouse: A great microbrewery right on a river in Spokane. The food and beer was good, definitely a great place to kick back and relax.
Frank’s Diners: Great breakfast! Located in a converted railroad car, the food is classic diner food and delicious.
Anyone else travel to Montana? What did you think? Any favorite places that we missed?