Glacier National Park. 1,014,000 acres in size. Established in 1910. A Biosphere Reserve. 50 glaciers, and precipitous peaks ranging above 10,000 feet. 563 streams and rivers. 155 miles from the nearest city. “Spectacular” is too gentle of a word to describe it.
While our first day is miserable, weatherwise (rain, temperature in the 40s, and 60 mph winds), the weather clears up for our 2nd and 3rd days. We take full advantage of it by going on three impressive hikes: Avalanche Lake, Iceberg Lake, and Siyeh Pass. Iceberg gives us having the extremely rare treat of encountering THREE adolescent grizzly bears! (Their mother had apparently been killed.) They are frolicking only 30 or 40 feet from us in a meadow, and we watch them, speechlessly, for about 30 minutes. (Adult grizzlies are in the 900-pound size range, but as adolescents, they are less colossal.)
The thought that terrifies me as I watch: “Where is Mommy Grizzly, and what will she do when she discovers how threateningly close we are to her teenagers?”
We pass through areas with wonderful wildflowers and waterfalls, and breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and valleys. Iceberg Lake is a striking blue color—so cold that even fish cannot live in it. It is surrounded by huge, vertical walls (forming a classic glacial cirque), and does, indeed, contain icebergs. On our final day, Siyeh Pass turns out to be an unexpectedly dramatic treat. Not only are the views fabulous (see photo below), but we also come face-to-face with a family of mountain goats (see photo above), and trek near a huge glacier.
We drive back and forth on the main scenic east-west road through the park (Going to the Sun Road—a 50-mile long cliffhanger) several times, and are amazed by how spectacular the views were along the road. One sight in particular—Goose Island—is especially unforgettable.
There are so many trails and sights that we did not see in Glacier! I’m sure we will both return there again. By the end of our hikes, my camera, my face, and my blister-filled feet needed serious rehab.
This YouTube video consists of photos I shot during my adventures at Glacier National Park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXR543SpU4w