Glacier National Park in Montana obviously if full of glaciers, but they've slipped from 150 to 27 in the past 100 years or so. However, there are still lots valleys carved by ancient glaciers that left unique shapes in the mountains of the park. The highest peaks rise to just over 3000m and the park has an area of over 4000 square kilometers full of lakes and vast coniferous forests. This is a great place for activities such as fishing, hiking, and camping in remote valleys. There are "rangers" the information center will brief you about possible meetings with Grizzlies or even cougars! Personally, I found my encounter with the white mountain goats much more reassuring!
At an altitude of almost 1400 m, St. Mary Lake is the second largest lake in Glacier National Park, spanning more than 15 square kilometers. Its clear, cold waters rarely exceed 10 ° C and contain different varieties of trout. It is one of the park's 300 lakes (only 130 are named). Some are accessible by car, while others can only be reached after several days of walking. The third photo shows Lake McDonald. Around the lakes in the park, and with a little luck, it is possible to observe the national icon of the United States: the bald eagle.
Bowman is one of the largest lakes in Glacier National Park, and standout beauty even among the park’s charmers. The lake is at the end of a narrow, bumpy one-lane road which leads from the rarely-used park entrance near Polebridge. At the lake is a campground, picnic area, and trails. Though busier than up-river Kintla, Bowman is still renowned for its solitude and its views – jagged, fearsome peaks rise beyond the lake, some of which are accessed by steep trails leaving from near the campground. Other less precipitous trails also leave from here and head to Akokala Lake. Bowman is good for canoeing and kayaking but note that winds coming off the mountains can rise in a hurry. Motors of less than 10 hp are also allowed.
Summer skiing is fairly common around the nation, and die-hards willingly trek across miles of bare ground to reach their sacred patch of July snow. Not so at Logan Pass, however, where glistening snowfields lie just yards off the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the only road which crosses Glacier National Park. The park service allows skiing for anyone who is willing to haul their skis or board up the mountain, but does ask that hikers stay on snow or rock and off of tender and fragile tundra. Like all hikers in Glacier, you also must stay away from the wildlife – and wildlife is definitely something you will see here. Bears of both varieties regularly roam these mountains, the highly rare wolverine often crosses the ridge tops nearby, and mountain goats seem to think the trails belong to them, not you. It depends on the year, but the good skiing usually wraps up in early August or late July – and honestly, by then it’s time to hit the trails anyway.
The trail to Iceberg Lake is one of Glacier National Park’s most popular – and for good reason. The moderate 5-mile trail winds through open forest, past an impressive waterfall, across staggering alpine tundra, and ends at the lake which is peppered with icebergs most of the summer and positively dwarfed by the incredible cliffs rising above. The cliffs rise so steeply, in fact, that it’s hard to truly appreciate the size of the landscape – much less fit it all into your camera’s viewfinder. The lake is oriented generally eastward, meaning it catches morning light, and this is also a good time to start your hike so you avoid crowds. Note that the trail passes through prime grizzly bear habitat for much of its journey, so go armed with bear spray and a talkative two-year old. The winter of 2013-2014 featured one of the most incredible avalanche cycles in memory, and a slide of historic proportions washed over much of the head of the valley, downing mature timber which will be visible for decades as a reminder of the power of these natural wonders. Hikers, however, rarely have to worry about slides on the Iceberg Lake trail since it’s practically inaccessible in the winter and spring months.
My dad bought everyone huckleberry and chocolate double scoop ice cream cones and brought them over to the table. Spending money on ice cream – must be a special occasion! Just 20 yards to the left was the old-school motel we stayed in as a family some 30 years ago, and from stolen peeks in the windows it did not seem to have changed a bit. Neither has the lake, really; though Glacier is much more crowded now, it’s still true that 95% of the visitors to the park go to the same handful of places – it’s easy to find a quiet spot to enjoy the view even when the parking lots nearby are full. And so it went. Cooper shoved his half-eaten cone into my hand and ran across the pebbly beach to the dock. Mountains hulked beyond. Everyone else finished their cones and as another family wandered over looking for an empty table by the lake, we got up and left, on to the next sight.
Going to the Sun Road is plowed now, but it's still not open to cars. That means you can reach Logan Pass -- after a 16.8 mile bike ride. Riding the famous road is actually fun when it's you and several dozen people on two wheels -- and not a car in sight. Two hours of huffing later I've made the pass, parked my bike next to a seven-foot snowbank, and begun the climb on skis. Oberlin is a dark rocky mass that guards the pass and is a visible landmark from the visitors center. I traverse about a mile before ascending a snowy headwall to overlook Bird Woman cirque. From there it's a steep ridge walk without skis to the summit. Today, unfortunately, the wind is rising, clouds are lowering, and thunderstorms are threatening. I abandon the summit attempt and retreat to my skis, earning dozens of nice summery snow turns on the way down.