John Muir called it “the best care-killing scenery on the continent,” and it’s true: Glacier National Park boasts landscapes that will melt your worries away.
So when the opportunity to explore Glacier arose this year, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I rounded up a few friends, packed my gear and made the nine hour road trip from Seattle to experience the magic myself.
We reached the west shores of Lake McDonald just as the day’s first light was appearing to the east. Lake McDonald, the iconic waterway at the park’s west entrance and the largest lake in the park, turned out to be a spectacular spot to experience the sunrise.
We drove to the east side of the park via the historic Going-to-the-Sun road, the only road that traverses the width of the park from west to east, crossing the Continental Divide. The fall colors were starting to turn, so we took our time, stopping to enjoy the bright yellows, oranges and reds on Logan Pass—the heart of the park.
Continuing eastward, we passed the crystal clear waters of Saint Mary Lake.
After driving the entirety of the Going-to-the-Sun road from west to east, we eventually reached the popular Many Glacier area on the east side of the park. We were greeted by the iconic view of Grinnell Point towering above Swiftcurrent Lake.
We set up camp at the Many Glacier campground using our tree tent in which we laid out our Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads and sleeping bags.
A tent view of my sleeping setup, complete with Therm-a-Rest’s Antares HD down sleeping bag, a Z Lite sleeping pad, and my personal favorite, the Compressible Pillow.
In Glacier, it’s not uncommon to see a diverse mix of wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and bear. This is a close encounter with a female bighorn sheep (ewe) and lamb, near Swiftcurrent Lake, Many Glacier.
After exploring the Many Glacier area, we drove the Going-to-the-Sun road back into the heart of the park, hoping to catch a sunset from Hidden Lake Overlook. We arrived back at Logan Pass and started our hike to Hidden Lake as the sky to the west became overcast and gray. Undeterred, we pressed on and finally arrived at Hidden Lake Overlook right before sunset. To our surprise, the western sky slowly turned into gold and eventually gave way to a multitude of pinks, purples and oranges.
We hiked back to Logan Pass and drove to Saint Mary Lake campground for our last overnight of the trip. I opted for a ground tent, along with my trusty Therm-a-Rest sleeping setup.
We woke early to start the long drive home. Driving westward along the Going-to-the-Sun road one last time, we stopped to watch our final sunrise over Saint Mary Lake. To our delight, a warm red alpenglow painted the landscape of mountains surrounding the lake. A great finale to an amazing trip. Indeed, ol’ John Muir got it right.