Snowed under in Glacier National Park

12 Jul
2012
Posted in: Montana, Parks
By    6 Comments

One of the great things about mountain parks like Glacier National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park is that they give regular people easy access to the tundra. What, you don’t want to hike 8,000+ vertical feet or over 10+ miles just to get a glimpse of spring wildflowers at 10,000 feet? No problem, if you’re in Glacier, just drive up to the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center, park your car, and hike the Highline Trail or the Hidden Lake Trail. Now that there’s a voluntary shuttle system, you can even leave your car on the edge of the park or in the campground, maybe at Apgar, take the shuttle to the pass, hike the Highline Trail all the way down to the Loop, past the Granite Park Chalet, and pick up the shuttle again at the Loop. The shuttle system makes these kind of long, one-way hikes possible, and it allows you to enjoy the amazing views from the Going to the Sun Highway without worrying about tearing off your rearview mirrors or rear-ending the dude taking an iPad pic out the window ahead of you.

Or at least it would, if everything wasn’t still buried in snow.

We were warned by a crazy campground host on the way to Glacier that the entire park was still snowed in, that the pass wasn’t open, and that we wouldn’t even be able to get in. It wasn’t that bad, but every trail I wanted to hike was still snowed under. In July! It’s amazing. If you really want to hike the high elevation trails, you’ve got to visit Glacier in August or September, but you’ll be risking new snow in late September. And that means that everyone else is also trying to visit in August or September. May we suggest the shuttle?

In between the rain and snow and crowds, we managed to find some sun and incredible beauty on the trails that were open in Glacier:

Lake McDonald.

Lake McDonald.

Bear Grass was blooming in the lower elevations. Bear Grass has nothing to do with bears, or with grass.

Bear Grass was blooming in the lower elevations. Bear Grass has nothing to do with bears, or with grass.

Future huckleberries?

Future huckleberries?

Trail to Redrock Lake and points beyond.

Trail to Redrock Lake and points beyond.

A section of Redrock Falls.

A section of Redrock Falls.

The Many Glacier section of the park.

The Many Glacier section of the park.

Looking up Sherburne Lake towards Many Glacier.

Looking up Sherburne Lake towards Many Glacier.

Along the Going to the Sun Road.

Along the Going to the Sun Road.

The trail I was excited to hike: closed.

The trail I was excited to hike: closed.

Paul got this shot of people hiking the trail to Hidden Lake.

Paul got this shot of people hiking the trail to Hidden Lake.

A closer view of people on the "trail."

A closer view of people on the “trail.”

Dramatic clouds at Logan Pass.

Dramatic clouds at Logan Pass.

Paul got this shot of traffic on the Going to the Sun Road -- my worst nightmare kind of drive.

Paul got this shot of traffic on the Going to the Sun Road — my worst nightmare kind of drive.

Looking across the valley towards Hidden Lake.

Looking across the valley towards Hidden Lake.

Hiking through mossy woods near Avalanche Lake.

Hiking through mossy woods near Avalanche Lake.

Avalanche Lake reflection.

Avalanche Lake reflection.

Closeup of the waterfalls behind Avalanche Lake.

Closeup of the waterfalls behind Avalanche Lake.

Paul's black and white take on Avalanche Lake.

Paul’s black and white take on Avalanche Lake.

People at Avalanche Lake. We found a quiet spot and spent some time contemplating which waterfall we liked best (I picked lefty, Paul picked righty).

People at Avalanche Lake. We found a quiet spot and spent some time contemplating which waterfall we liked best (I picked lefty, Paul picked righty).

Us, refreshed by nature.

Us, refreshed by nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.crandall.3 Gary Crandall

    Wow, What spectacular beauty you have found along your journey. Quite the contrast from the concrete canyons from which you began. Mountains give a great perspective of how small we all are in the scope of nature.

    • http://www.drivinginertia.com/ Lisa M

      Well put!

  • http://rickmorganconsulting.com rickjmiv

    On Sunday we leave for Glacier. We will be volunteer camp hosts in Apgar for August and Septmber – Can’t wait. Thanks for your great pics!

    • http://www.drivinginertia.com/ Lisa M

      That sounds like a wonderful two months! Enjoy!

  • Katherine

    I’m surprised you encountered so many trail closures- we just left there after 2 days of hiking & paddling around, over 90 F both days & we did over 12 miles of trail yesterday- including Apgar Lookout, which looks out over West Glacier, Lake McDonald & a big chunk of the (huge) park.
    …one of my favorite parks yet. :)

    • http://www.drivinginertia.com/ Lisa M

      Mostly I was just crushed that the Highline Trail was closed…it’s one of the most amazing trails I’ve ever hiked, and I wanted Paul to see it too!