Category Archives: Glacier National Park

Big Water Boasts Big Adventure

One of Glacier Country’s greatest assets is our rivers. Just the mere mention of Western Montana conjures visions of sparkling waterways winding through some of the country’s most scenic landscapes. Our rivers are wild and free, and they all offer diverse adventures, from fly-fishing to scenic multiday float trips to adrenaline-pumping whitewater excursions. A Western Montana vacation isn’t complete without a day (or more) on the water. 

Whitewater rafting is one of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer day in Western Montana. Photo: Donnie Sexton

As winter turns into spring, snowmelt means our rivers begin rolling at peak volume and vacationers and locals alike flock to Glacier Country for whitewater rafting adventures or lazy, scenic floats (later in the summer).

BITTERROOT RIVER

The Bitterroot River—one of Montana’s more scenic waterways—offers a peaceful float down the panoramic Bitterroot Valley, with views of the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains. Flow is slow to moderate, which makes for a gentle, pleasant trip, ample wildlife viewing and plenty of fishing. Don’t forget your camera on this picturesque float!

CLARK FORK RIVER’S ALBERTON GORGE 

The Clark Fork River’s Alberton Gorge is a popular rafting destination and serves as a whitewater headquarters in this part of the region. The 16-mile Class III rose-colored canyon stretch is perfect for beginners and families looking to get their feet wet (literally) on a hot summer day. The Gorge is close to Alberton, Superior and Missoula, offering paddlers and rafters adventure on and off the water.

KOOTENAI RIVER

It’s been said that the Kootenai River is as close to the Zambezi as you’re going to get in Montana. This remote northwest corner of Big Sky Country is worth the drive and offers Class I scenic floats on the upper and lower Kootenai River, but adrenaline seekers can navigate the middle Kootenai River for Class IV+ whitewater and a view of the rowdy Kootenai Falls—some of Montana’s biggest water. 

FLATHEAD RIVER

Looking toward Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork of the Flathead is a designated Wild and Scenic River, and all of the West Glacier rafting companies run the whitewater stretch as well as scenic floats on the lower parts of the Middle Fork and the North Fork of the Flathead (also a Wild and Scenic River). The North and Middle forks comprise Glacier’s western borders and offer breathtaking views into Glacier National Park. Whitewater difficulty varies with flow levels, the scenery is unimaginable and the water is an unforgettable crystal-clear aqua. This is definitely one of the most gorgeous parts of the state—and the country for that matter—to be on the water. In fact, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft is offering a half-day whitewater rafting or scenic float trip for two. (Make your way to the end of this blog post for more information.)

The West Fork of the Flathead River runs through West Glacier. Stop on Belton Bridge to catch a glimpse of one of the more peaceful portions of the river. Photo: Emily Hall

GO WITH A GUIDE:

Guided rafting trips are always your best bet and the safest way to exploreWestern Montana’s rivers. If you’re new to rafting, but you’re ready for the adrenaline rush, go with one of Glacier Country’s many experienced rafting companies. Western Montana outfitters and guides customize floats to your comfort level, whether you’re looking for the thrill of our biggest runs, a scenic raft trip or a family float.

Western Montana river guides focus on quality of experience with half and full-day interpretive trips and multiday floats. All of our guides are Montana lovers. They’re enthusiastic, highly trained, professional, friendly and as knowledgeable about the area as they are about how to keep you entertained (not that the scenery alone isn’t capable of that). Some of our guides have happily been at this for over 30 years!

Sometimes one day on the river just isn’t enough. Multiday rafting experiences are offered for those who long to sleep under the star-studded big sky and enjoy steaming, organic coffee riverside in the cool quiet of a Montana morning. If you’re not up for experiencing Montana’s backcountry by foot, overnight rafting is the way to go. Guides do all of the work, from setting up tents to cooking delicious, locally sourced meals, while you sit back and enjoy Montana by boat.  

When you’ve reached the river takeout, end your rafting trip on the best note possible by heading to the nearest watering hole for a local Montana brew and a chat with the locals, who, chances are, also spent the day on the water.

A group of Western Montana adventurer’s make their way through the raging waters of the Flathead River.

RULES OF THE RAFT:

Water is wild and safety is a priority. First and foremost, go with a guide! You’re in good hands with licensed, professional Western Montana river guides, who basically live on the water. It’s important to listen to their instructions…they know what they’re talking about. And, as always, wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Also be sure to wear the right clothing (including a hat) and sunscreen for a hot, sunny day on the water. Bring your camera, and, if you’re getting into whitewater, be prepared to get splashed.

Guide companies rarely ride just one river. To help you sort through your options, here’s a list of some of our region’s finest guides and outfitters, all of whom have made their life’s work out of ensuring your river adventure is second to none.

 


 

Glacier Guides and Montana Raft have been riding Montana’s wild and scenic rivers for 30 years.

RAFTING GIVEAWAY: Glacier Guides and Montana Raft is giving away a Half-Day Whitewater Rafting or Scenic Float Trip for Two, plus, they’ll help outfit you for a day on the river with GGMR Nalgene water bottles, Chums sun/eyeglass retainers, sunscreen, lip balm and GGMR hats!

Enter to win here:

Best Day Hikes in Western Montana: Part II

Last week in Part One of this series, we explored some of our favorite day hikes in the southerly region of Glacier Country (if you missed it, you should definitely go take a peak). This week, we’re finishing the list by heading up the map toward Highway 200, the Jewel Basin, Tobacco Valley and the Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park.

If you’ve already read Part One, skip ahead. For our friends new to the blog, we have a couple pointers to help keep you safe and happy:

Rules of the Trail:

  1. It’s always a good idea to wear layers and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. It gets a little cold around here (in case the name “Glacier Country” didn’t tip you off), though temperatures still reach into the 80s and 90s during summer. Wear broken-in hiking footwear so uncomfortable feet don’t distract you from our breathtaking views.
  2. Be bear aware! Make noise and carry bear spray. You’re in bear country, and no matter how wild you think you might be, we can assure you the wildlife have you beat. (It’s also never a good idea to try to feed the wildlife).
  3. Make room in your pack for water, snacks and a camera. It’s good to stay hydrated, and good to have a camera ready to capture your Montana moments.
  4. Always stay on the trail. Wandering Montana’s splendor is easy to do, but it’s important not to lose your way. We promise you won’t miss out on anything.
  5. Ask the locals. Montana is full of secrets and who better to ask than a Montanan?

Now that we’ve got our safety suggestions out of the way, here’s your much-awaited Part Two:

Huckleberry Mountain Lookout

Photo courtesy of Kristal Martin (IG: @kriszm_)
The hike to Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout is on the west side of Glacier National Park. After getting back from this beautiful hike, venture into Apgar Village or West Glacier in search of huckleberry pie. The search is half the fun.

DIRECTIONS: Head to Glacier National Park from West Glacier and Apgar Visitor Center. About two miles into Going-to-the-Sun Road you’ll take a left onto Camas Road. Find the trailhead six miles in on the left. The trail is six miles in, six miles out and climbs 3,400 feet in elevation. If this trek sounds like more than you bargained for, keep driving up Camas Road to find the much tamer 1/2 mile Huckleberry Nature Trail.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
PERMIT: National Parks Pass
HIGHLIGHTS: When “huckleberry” is in the name, it means there could be bears nearby. Bring friends and make noise so you don’t get into trouble.

Gable Pass

The Gable Pass trail system takes you through a beautiful alpine meadow with views of Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain (pictured). Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: Gable Pass is northwest of Babb on the east side of Glacier National Park and begins at the Lee Ridge Trailhead. To get here, take Highway 17 (Chief Joseph Highway) north. You’ll find the trailhead about half a mile before Chief Mountain Trailhead at the International Border Crossing (you should see a sign that says “Customs 1/2 Mile Ahead”). Find parking for the trail in the pullout about 150 yards north at the top of the hill.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
HIGHLIGHTS:  View Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain from this lush alpine meadow.

Ross Creek Cedars

DIRECTIONS: For a truly awe-inspiring stroll, head to Ross Creek and walk among the over 400-year-old western red cedars. If you’re coming from Thompson Falls, take Highway 200 northwest to Highway 56. You can also reach Highway 56 from Highway 2 heading east from Troy or west from Libby. South of Bull Lake on Highway 56, turn east onto Forest Service Road 398 (locally known as Bull Lake Road). Drive this paved road 4 miles to a parking area.

ROUND-TRIP: 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: Drive 2 miles farther up Bull Lake Road for a scenic view of the Cabinet Mountains and Bull River Valley.

Mount Aeneas

The view from Mount Aeneas on a bluebird sky day. Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: From Highway 83 north of Bigfork, take Echo Lake Road north and take a right onto Foothill Road. Follow Foothill until the road turns into Jewel Basin Road. Continue about 11 miles up Jewel Basin to Camp Misery Trailhead. Follow the old service road behind the gate 1 mile before the trail narrows and turns into trail #717. Follow the signs half a mile and stay on #717. From here, the trail takes quite the elevation gain. Follow the switchbacks up the mountain to get to the ridgeline for views of Glacier National Park, Flathead Valley and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

ROUND-TRIP: 6 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: This is a great mountain goat viewing area.

Little North Fork

DIRECTIONS: From Rexford, travel 7 miles south past the Koocanusa Bridge. Take Road 336 and follow for 1 mile to the marked trail.

ROUND-TRIP: Under 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: This short hike takes you past a sparkling waterfall.

Powerhouse Loop Trail

Thompson Falls is adding 1.5 miles of ADA-friendly trails to Powerhouse Loop in the summer of 2017. The additions will lead visitors to Thompson Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of the Sanders County Community Development Corporation

DIRECTIONS: After exploring Thompson Falls, head west on Main Street (Highway 200). Turn left on Pond Street, and take another left on Maiden Lane. Here you’ll find the PPL Montana Power Park and a great parking spot. Walk into the park and head to the powerhouse gates. To the left of the gate, you’ll see signs pointing to the trail. The signs will take you in a nice loop leading you back to Main Street and your car.

ROUND-TRIP: 2.3 miles
BONUS: Dog-friendly

Swift Creek Trail

DIRECTIONS: North of Whitefish Lake, Swift Creek has multiple trailheads perfect for a variety of visitors. To get here from Whitefish, drive north on Baker Avenue and continue on as the road turns into Wisconsin Avenue. Then head east on East Lakeshore Drive around the west side of Whitefish Lake. You will pass Big Mountain Road and continue another 5.9 miles before reaching the trailhead.

ROUND-TRIP: 3 – 6 miles
BONUS: The Swift Creek area includes an ADA accessible trail leading to the Swift Creek overlook.

Fall in Montana: Driving Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road

Last week, my favorite travel partner and I hopped on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and rode it from Whitefish to East Glacier Park. (You can read the full post on our train trip in Montana here.) And you guys, it was such a fun adventure! But our trip didn’t end there.

After disembarking the train, we decided to head into Glacier National Park and drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road. From East Glacier Park, we took Looking Glass Highway (Highway 49) above the Two Medicine Valley and made our way to St. Mary and the east entrance of Glacier National Park.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in the state.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in Montana.

After a quick stop at St. Mary Lodge & Resort, we headed into St. Mary and started driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. And you guys, it was incredibly beautiful!

Take a look…

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

I'm confident I could have sat here for hours.

I’m confident I could have sat here for hours.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Hi.

Hi.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Debbie taking in the view.

Debbie taking in the view.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Fresh snow on Going to the Sun Mountain.

Fresh snow on Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it's so pretty it almost looks fake. But it's not, I promise.)

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it’s so pretty it almost looks fake. But it’s not, I promise.)

After driving up to Logan Pass and back down again, we had some free time before we needed to return to East Glacier Park and catch our train home. So we did what any two Glacier National Park-lovin’ gals would do: we drove to Many Glacier.

Take a look…

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company's wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company’s wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

A few things to note if you plan to visit the east side of Glacier National Park in fall:
-Rental cars are available from spring to fall at Glacier Park Trading Company in East Glacier Park.
-Plan for cool weather. While it was gorgeous when we went, we did bust out our scarves and coats at Logan Pass. Weather in the mountains can change quickly, so always be prepared.
-Bring water.
-If you plan to visit Glacier National Park in the fall and want to stay in one of the historic park lodges or motor inns, plan to book your travel early (like now).
-Don’t be afraid to stay outside of the park. There are plenty of lodging options just outside the park that tend to stay open later in the season.
-If you time it right, you can catch dinner at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park. They’re open for dinner through September 30.
-The Going-to-the-Sun Road is slated to be open in its entirety through October 16, weather dependent. You can check the road status here.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

Happy 100 Years, National Park Service

This week, we’re officially commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service. While we’ve been celebrating all year (you can read more about how we’ve been marking 100 years of stewardship here and here), the official century mark is Thursday, August 25. And you guys, that’s a BIG birthday.

Cheers to 100 years.

Cheers to 100 years.

And here’s the thing about birthdays: in my family, we always celebrate them. When it’s your birthday, everyone in attendance at your dinner, party, etc., takes a turn and tells the birthday boy or girl what they love about him or her.

So, in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, here’s a few things I love about our national parks.

1. The national parks are truly America’s best idea. If you’ve ever been to a national park, especially Glacier National Park, you realize what an incredible place it is. There’s nowhere on earth that’s quite like Glacier and there’s a real reverence, peace and sense of awe that accompanies every visit.

A red travels along the Going-to-the-Sun Road as part of the FDR commemorative trip in Glacier National Park. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

A red travels along the Going-to-the-Sun Road as part of the FDR commemorative trip in Glacier National Park. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

2. They are more than just a pretty face. Sure, pretty much all of our national parks are beautiful. But they’re so much more than that. In Glacier National Park, evidence of human use dates back 10,000 years and today, this park has a diverse past that’s home to American Indian history, mining, hunting, fur trapping and settlers. Meanwhile, in Yellowstone National Park researchers have found that there were places in the park that were used around 11,000 years ago and that Salish (who called the Bitterroot Valley home) spent time in and around the park 3,000 years ago.

Blackfeet tipis. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

Blackfeet tipis. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

3. National parks were created for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. If you ask me, creating national parks was one of the most selfless things the government has ever done. Sure, national parks can get crowded and maybe people don’t always observe rules, safety regulations, etc. but the point is that they are there enjoying our most precious places. PS: if you are visiting one of the national parks in the West, read this blog and follow the rules

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to Yellowstone National Park. Photo: YNP Flickr

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. Photo: Yellowstone NPS Flickr

4. I love how they make me feel. There are some places (you could easily switch out the word places for people or experiences) that have the ability to make you feel at peace. For as long as I can remember, Glacier National Park has been that place for me. And I can’t really put into words why, all I know is how I feel when I spent time in the Crown of the Continent.

One of my favorite places: Two Medicine.

One of my favorite places: Two Medicine.

5. National parks are always within reach. There are certain people and places that I know without a doubt that I can call or visit when I need them. If you ask me (let’s just pretend you did), our national parks and national historic sites have been cultivated to be within reach of all people, no matter where you’re from, how much money you make, your abilities or what you believe. The National Park Service is more than just national parks; it’s many of our country’s national monument and other historical properties (including historic trails, heritage corridors and battlefields). Plus, the National Park Service offers several fee-free dates that give everyone the opportunity to visit a national park site near them.

Many trails in the park are accessible for visitors of various abilities, including Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

Many trails in the park are accessible for visitors of various abilities, including Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

If you want to join me in celebrating the National Park Service Centennial, leave a comment and let me know what YOU love about our national parks.

A few things to note:
-Montana’s Glacier National Park is hosting an InstaMeet on Thursday, August 25. The public is welcome to attend; meet in the Apgar Village parking area at 6 p.m.
-Many units of the National Park Service are hosting InstaMeets. Check out the full schedule here and plan to attend one near you.
-Entry into all national parks is free August 25 – 28, 2016.
-See more centennial events taking place in Glacier National Park here.
-Be sure to share your national park love by using #FindYourPark on twitter and instagram.
-Check out more happenings and celebrations for the National Park Service Centennial here.

xo,
TT

The Best Hidden Gems in Glacier National Park

When I think of Glacier National Park, the first thing that comes to mind is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. After all, the 50 miles of this two-lane highway takes travelers to some of the most stunning landscapes in Glacier Park. But I have to tell you that there’s so much more to the Crown of the Continent than just driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The tunnel on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The tunnel on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

In an effort to help you get the most of your visit to Montana’s Glacier National Park, I’ve rounded up some of the park’s best hidden gems. 

1. Going-to-the-Sun Road. Okay, we all KNOW this is not a hidden gem, but the timing of when to drive it is indeed a hidden gem. My best advice: go early in the morning (as in be through the park entrance and on the road before 8 a.m.) or in late afternoon (we’re talking after 5 p.m). Most of the visitors to the road are hitting it during late morning, mid-day or afternoon and to be honest, the road gets really crowded during this time of day during July and August.

Taking in the view from a roadside pullout.

Taking in the view from a roadside pullout.

2. Take a boat tour at Rising Sun. While there are many places to take a guided tour with Glacier Park Boat Company in Glacier National Park, Rising Sun (located on the east side of the park on St. Mary Lake) is one of the lesser-visited destinations. Plus, this lake cruise is different from some of the others, due to the incredible landscapes and history of this side of the park.

Little Chief cruising on St. Mary Lake. Photo: Tyrel Johnson

Little Chief cruising on St. Mary Lake. Photo: Tyrel Johnson

3. Enjoy a cocktail at Many Glacier Hotel. Truth time: there’s limited lodging availability at Many Glacier Hotel during July and August, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this incredible place. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s well worth making the drive to the Many Glacier Valley and enjoying a cocktail (I recommend the huckleberry smash) on the massive deck that overlooks Swiftcurrent Lake.

Taking in the view of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Taking in the view of Swiftcurrent Lake.

4. Cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road with Sun Tours. Offering three tours daily (two tours depart from the east side of Glacier Park , while one departs from the west side), Sun Tours provides an incredible look at the Backbone of the World from the perspective of the Blackfeet Tribe. For more photos of what to expect on a tour, check them out on instagram.
Sidenote: I’ve taken one of these tours and they are amazing! Not only do you get to sit back and soak in the beauty of the park, but it’s incredible to be able to learn about the park from Blackfeet tribal members. 

Views of Mount Oberlin, Birdwoman Basin and Mount Cannon. Photo: Sun Tours/Bear Star Photography

Views of Mount Oberlin, Birdwoman Basin and Mount Cannon. Photo: Sun Tours/Bear Star Photography

5. Visit Kintla Lake. It’s no secret that I love Polebridge and Bowman Lake, but if you want to explore a place that’s even more off-the-beaten-path than those two, head to Kintla Lake. While it’s located in the North Fork of the park and is fairly close to Polebridge and Bowman, it takes longer to get there which means one thing: fewer people. Plus, it’s beautiful.
Sidenote: the road out to Kintla Lake is pretty rugged, so be sure you have a high-clearance vehicle (SUV, truck, etc.) and take your time. 

Kintla Lake. Photo: Tim Rains/NPS

Kintla Lake. Photo: Tim Rains/NPS

Happy summer!

xo,
TT

Hello Glacier National Park (AKA for the Love, How is this Real Life)

Confession time: sometimes I wonder out loud to myself, “Is this real life?” Because you guys, I have to tell you that there are days where I legitimately wonder how in the world I’m in this exact spot at this exact moment to be able to experience this life.

This is my "REALLY LIFE?!" face. Or it's my "Don't cry because life really can be this good face." You decide.

This is my “REALLY LIFE?!” face. Or it’s my “I cannot believe this beautiful life” face. You decide. PS: sorry for this giant photo of me that’s currently staring you down from your computer/iPad/phone screen. 

Take for example, a recent afternoon spent in Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

I was traveling with a group of friends and we had a few free hours to explore the Crown of the Continent. Since it was the first trip to Montana and Glacier Park for most of them, we did what any group should do: we took a red bus tour and boat tour.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I'm currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I’m currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

After stopping to take in one of the best views in the world (Lake McDonald from Apgar Village), our red bus driver Glenn took us along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge for a guided boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company on the DeSmet—a historic wooden boat that calls the waters of Lake McDonald home. And for 45 blissful minutes we cruised the waters of the park while taking in snow-capped mountain peaks and learned about the history of the boat company and this region of the park from the boat’s captain.

This view never gets old.

This view never gets old.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

I'll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

I’ll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park

You guys, I have to tell you something: riding Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road on a bike is one of the best things you could ever do.

Hello, you gorgeous thing.

Hello, you gorgeous thing.

Sure, parts of it are hard (at least it’s hard if your name starts with a T and ends with an -ia) and yes, you may wonder how in the world your legs can and will keep pedaling uphill as you slowly make the elevation climb from the valley floor toward the tunnel and up to the loop but I’m here—alive and well—to tell you that those things are well worth the experience of biking in one of the most beautiful places in the world—Glacier National Park.
Sidenote: while parts of this road may be difficult if you don’t bike regularly, it is totally doable and quite literally one of the best things I’ve ever personally done. 

A bit of backstory: in mid-May, I grabbed three new friends who were here exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country and we headed for Glacier National Park with one mission and one mission only: to pedal our bikes up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

You and me, baby. (And yes, apparently the bike is now my baby.)

You and me, baby. (And yes, apparently the bike is now my baby.)

And pedal we did. To sum it up in three words: it was awesome.

Here’s the other thing: I had done this before, back in the days of yesteryear, and I drive this road regularly. But there is nothing that compares to biking the road in spring when it’s just you, your bike and your riding companions making your way up the road before Glacier National Park opens it to vehicular traffic.

Take a look…

This view, and moment, is one I won't soon forget.

This view, and moment, is one I won’t soon forget.

Low-hanging clouds made this day even more magical.

Low-hanging clouds made the day even more magical.

Stopping for a moment to record this moment with friends. PS: don't mind the line on my forehead. The "one size fits all" helmets don't apply to this big-headed girl.

Stopping to record this moment with friends. PS: don’t mind the line on my forehead. The “one size fits all” helmets don’t apply to this big-headed girl. The good news? My head was very safe. 

This view during spring can only be seen by hikers and bikers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This view during spring can only be seen by hikers and bikers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

For this Montana-lovin' girl, this is perfection.

For this Montana-lovin’ girl, this is perfection.

Heading back down the road through the tunnel.

Heading back down the road through the tunnel.

I had to stop time and time again to soak this experience in.

I had to stop time and time again to soak in this experience. 

Wind-swept hair + watery eyes ironically equal my perfect May day in Montana.

Wind-swept hair + watery eyes ironically equal my perfect May day in Montana.

If you want to bike in Glacier National Park, here are a few things to note:
-You can bring your own bike or rent one. If you’re renting, I recommend picking up a rental bike at Great Northern Cycle & Ski in Whitefish. While their whole team is fantastic (special shout out to Craig and Stella!), Willy gave our group incredible service and detailed explanations about our bikes when we picked them up.
-Plan to ride in spring before the road is open to car traffic.
-Take advantage of the brand new and free bike shuttle service. The biker shuttle runs daily from Apgar and Lake McDonald Lodge to Avalanche Creek now through June 26, 2016 or when the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens to vehicular traffic, whichever comes first.

xo,
TT

Celebrate National Park Week in Montana

This Saturday kicks off one of the best weeks of the year: National Park Week! And one of the greatest things about this week, besides the fact that our country’s best idea deserves a week of celebration, is that entry into every national park in the United States is FREE. Kind of awesome, right?

BFFs at Glacier National Park.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

As a girl who grew up a short drive south of Glacier National Park (and spent part of every summer in the park), you all know that I’m a big fan of all things Glacier.
Sidenote: if you’re a new reader, welcome! For some background on my love of the Crown of the Continent, you can check out past posts about Glacier National Park here, here and here

And while I could sit here and write about how awesome the park is (which is totally something I love to do), this time I’d rather show you. Or better yet, I’d rather have my friend—and amazing photographer—Jacob Frank show you. As part of National Park Week, Jacob will taking over the @GlacierMT instagram and sharing images from Glacier National Park. And as someone who is a big fan of Jake and his photography, I’m so excited to have him taking over our instagram page! If you haven’t yet, be sure to follow @GlacierMT as he’ll be posting photos there from Tuesday, April 19 – Sunday, April 24.

A sneak peek at some of Jake's photography.

A sneak peek at some of Jake’s photography.

A couple other things to note:
-National parks throughout the country are hosting Instameets on Saturday, April 23. Find one near you here.
-If you’re anywhere near Montana’s Glacier National Park, plan to join Ranger Jake, Andy Austin and other park lovers at the Apgar Village public boat dock at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 23 to shoot sunset at Lake McDonald.

See you in the park!

xo,
TT

#PictureMontana + Celebrate America’s Best Idea: National Parks

For those of you keeping score, I’m sure that by now you know that I LOVE Montana. It’s just that this place that I call home has such a special spot in my heart and I can’t image loving anywhere quite as much as I love Montana’s big blue sky, dramatic temperatures, salt-of-the-earth residents and magical moments. It’s safe to say that I’m totally obsessed and love sharing my Montana with all of you!

Taking in the view of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Photo: Mills Wilderness Adventures

Taking in the view of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Photo: Mills Wilderness Adventures

And, because I’m a lover (and not a fighter) of Montana and Glacier National Park, I’m really excited to be celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service this year. In fact, I’m so excited about the 100 year anniversary that I got together with some folks who love our national parks almost as much as me (just kidding: I think we’re currently tied in our love for the parks) to really kick off this summer in style. My partners in Montana-lovin’ crime: Expedia.

My pals over at Expedia love national parks so much that they’ve actually partnered with Brand USA to sponsor the movie National Parks Adventure, made by filmmaker Greg MacGillivray and narrated by Robert Redford. Sidenote: swoon. And the best news: the movie premieres February 12, 2016 and is (most likely) coming to a theater near you soon.

And while I’m excited about the movie (word on the street is that my boo Glacier National Park makes a cameo in the film), I’m really excited for what else Expedia is doing: they’re sending their team of viewfinders to the top 10 national parks in the United States. Um, pretty awesome right?

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon national parks. Photo: NPS flickr

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon national parks. Photo: NPS flickr

But you know what’s even more awesome? Expedia is bringing their entire Viewfinder team to Montana this May and will be exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country on an epic #PictureMontana road trip. And y’all are invited to come along!

This girl is THIS excited for #PictureMontana!

This girl is THIS excited for #PictureMontana!

Starting May 13 and ending May 20, we’ll be hitting the road (and if you can believe, it, I get to road trip with them!) and exploring this corner of Montana with highlights that include Missoula, the Mission Mountains, Flathead Lake, Whitefish and Glacier National Park. Simply follow the hashtags #PictureMontana and #GlacierMT on instagram and twitter during the third week in May for a peek into Western Montana.

A few other things to note:
-Passion Passport and Expedia are giving away a trip to Glacier National Park!
-Mark your calendars and catch a showing of National Parks Adventure when it comes to an IMAX theater near you. PS: Montana, it’s playing in West Yellowstone on May 1.
-For more information about #PictureMontana, be sure to follow us at @GlacierMT on instagram and twitter and connect with us on facebook here.
-Join the celebration of our country’s national parks by using #FindYourPark to share your memories or favorite moments in national parks on social media.
-Join us on May 18, 2016, in West Glacier for a “Happy Birthday, National Park Service” party. We’ll be sure to share more details as we finalize party plans.

Looking forward to exploring Montana and celebrating our national parks with all of you!

xo,
TT

A winter snowshoe in Montana’s Glacier National Park

Earlier this week, some of my favorite girls and I had a hankering to get outside. As we were brainstorming some ideas on where we could go and what we could do, we started thinking about our backyard playground: Glacier National Park. Of our group, I was the only one who had ever gone snowshoeing in the park (you can read more about that day—which included seeing a bald eagle pluck a fish out of the waters of Lake McDonald—here). And if we’re being honest, that was something that needed to change. So we loaded up the suburban and headed north to spend the day snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.

The obligatory group photo op at the west entrance.

The obligatory group photo op at the west entrance.

After we arrived, our first stop was Apgar. No matter how many times I’ve visited this special place in Montana (with this group and others), I always make sure to take the time to pop into Apgar Village and see the many moods of Lake McDonald.

The clouds created a dramatic scene.

The clouds created a dramatic scene.

The low clouds created a serene, somewhat charming view.

The low clouds created a serene, almost charming view.

En route to Lake McDonald Lodge, the starting point of our snowshoe trek.

En route to Lake McDonald Lodge, the starting point of our snowshoe trek.

After we parked at the lodge (sidenote: check out the most up-to-date road report for the Going-to-the-Sun Road here) and geared ourselves up, we made our way up the road and were quickly surrounded by snow-covered trees, glimpses of mountain peaks and snippets of a beautiful blue sky.

My happy place.

My happy place.

Growing up in the mountains, this scene is like food for my Montana-lovin' soul.

Growing up in the mountains, this scene is like food for my Montana-lovin’ soul.

My work boo (and favorite adventure partner).

My work boo (and one of my favorite adventure partners).

Blue sky is also my boo.

Blue sky is also my boo.

Exploring untouched snow.

Exploring untouched snow.

Taking in the view.

Taking in the view.

Looking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Looking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This family was the cutest.

This family was the cutest.

And sometimes, after a great day in the park, you just need to run (in slow motion) in your snowshoes.

xo,
TT