DUST IS A FOUR LETTER WORD ↣ Adventures around Glacier National Park
Five days was just enough to taste the wealth of sights and activities the areas around Glacier National Park have to offer. Driving the famous Going to the Sun Road, we felt humbled by the breathtaking mountains, waterfalls and valleys greeting us around every bend. Throughout the trip, we saw an abundance of wildlife roaming about - moose, grizzly & brown bears, deer, elk, mountain goats, gorgeous butterflies, critters and birds. Armed with omnipresent bear spray, every morning we set out on hikes - some 1.5 miles, some 10 miles - in pursuit of adventure, replenishing our post hiking stomachs with delectable mountain game and plants local to the region.
Our Otherworldly Hike to Iceberg Lake
This hike was the highlight of my time in Glacier! At 10 miles round trip, it's one of the longer hikes in the park - but the advantage was it takes you through a variety of impressive climates. The trek was instantly rewarding and treated us to surreal views the entire way.
We ventured through cheerful wildflower meadows, dense forests, and cooled off at rocky waterfalls until we eventually encountered the stunningly clear iceberg lake! After hiking five miles in midday heat reaching the lake was like finding paradise!
Though way too cold to swim in, I was tempted to dip a little - but I only lasted about 15 seconds before the pain became too much - so I fled!
Perching on rocks, we took in the magnificent sight we felt so lucky to reach. It was calm, peaceful and still.
“If you want to see wildlife make sure you're out at dusk.”
That was the best advice I got before this trip - and it proved true. Most of the wildlife we saw came out to drink from lakes or munch in the fields at dawn or dusk. So while everyone else had showered, kicked up their feet and was knocking back glasses of vino, we were in pursuit of magnificent creatures!
National park or water park?
The name of the park alludes to a frozen landscape - but the park was named Glacier because that's what carved the impressive valleys we see today. Presently there are just 25 glaciers - and a lot of meltwater. The park is covered in waterfalls - from massive falls crashing like thunder in the distance to delicate streams spilling onto the roads. Everywhere we looked water was dripping off of moss, rocks and trees...so much so that we were able to refill our water packs throughout our hikes!
Finding peace in the middle of Lake Mcdonald
I rented a kayak and paddled around lake McDonald for a few hours, just myself and my camera - and some yummy snacks of course! The views of peaks before me were just astonishing. I paddled away under the warm summer sun, pausing to dip my legs into the refreshing lake water. I pulled to shore, and after a quick bear check I cooled off with a dip in the lake, the water so clear you could see the stones in water over 12 feet deep!
Lake Bowman was in a remote area of the park. Driving hours on the bumpiest, dustiest roads we'd encountered, once we reached this stunning lake we immediately saw it was 100% worth the effort!
As far as I was concerned, when out west there were some mandatory experiences that went with the territory. Aside from the delicious food and gorgeous scenery, I needed to finally experience my first rodeo.
We were two city gals, sticking out like sore thumbs in the bleachers, but we quickly befriended some locals sitting next to us who explained the different competitions we would see that night. We were shocked to find out the local kids can start competing at age 4! We watched in awe as men grabbed bulls by their horns, cheered as couples lassoed bulls together (how romantic), and witnessed those cute 4 year old cowboys in the making try to stay on their bucking bulls.
Now I will finally be telling the truth when exclaiming "It's not my first rodeo, y'all."
Dancing the Night Away With Cowboys
Another mandatory experience in my opinion was country line dancing, so while chatting with our new friends at the rodeo we found out just where one goes in Whitefish for a night out on the town. The next night we hit up the Blue Moon Barn for some authentic country western dancing. Dressed in jean shorts, a plaid top and my hair pulled into pigtails, all I was missing were the cowgirl boots! Four burly men played music for hours, and dozens of cowboys and cowgirls took the floor. Not ones to sit on the sidelines of course, we danced the night away.
Huckleberries are deliciously fresh in the region (and a favorite snack for bears!), so local bakers, mixologists and chefs creatively infused their dishes with this berry. My favorite find was a huckleberry soft serve, the perfect treat after a long hike in the sun. Bison, beef, and elk were the meats of choice out west. The elk was fantastic - gamey and flavorful. Each night I enjoyed it prepared various ways, including this slider below topped with house made lamb bacon, and another night inhaled pasta with a rich elk ragu!