Glacier National Park | 28/59

Glacier was probably the most anticipated park for both Madison and me.  We had heard legends of the epic beauty.  It was so fun to actually get there and experience it for ourselves.

We had also heard that the park can be VERY crowded in the summer.  We were still expecting some crowds, but we were so surprised to find almost nobody else visiting the park.  The roads were literally empty.

Our first adventure was to Avalanche Lake.  The hike getting there was all uphill, but we didn’t really notice until we were walking down!  It was gradual enough, and we were kind of wrapped up in conversation, that the grade didn’t even phase us.   The site of such a pristine lake was well worth the un-noticed struggle.

After seeing so many glaciers in Alaska, we were expecting blue-green lakes, but the special colored rivers were a total surprise!

We camped our first night in the southern part of the park at the Apgar campground.  We were “late” in the season, so we could pick pretty much any site we wanted.

Madison’s brother, Blake, is studying in Montana and was able to meet us in the park for a few days.  He and the kitty had some good bonding time.

In all the guide books, the Going to the Sun road is the highlight of the park – for good reason.  It was spectacular.   We took most of the day driving the road.  We pulled over at as many of the pullouts as possible and enjoyed the little things in their place.

We were pulled over at one of the stops along the road, and I looked up to see this little black bear just watching us from the ridge.  It just goes to show how much is going on right around you!

After our drive, we set off to hike to Grinnel Glacier.  We spent way more time on the road than we had anticipated, so we packed some head lamps to come back in the dark.  We had eleven miles to log, and it was already 4:00! As we passed hikers on their way down, they encouraged us to not even attempt this hike. Psh… we don’t mess around. We were prepared and weren’t worried at all.

We kept a quick pace, but took our time to stop and enjoy the views.  The colors were incredible.  Our walk out was full of purple rocks, turquoise water, and yellow trees.  It was hard not to get distracted as we tried to take in all the shades of nature.

One thing that this trip has taught me to treasure – hike dialogs, or hikalogs, as I like to say.  Actually, I have never said that; I made that up right now.  But really, there are so many things to be talked about!  And I honestly can’t think of a better place for discussion than on a hike!  It just breeds good conversation. The clean air clears your mind space and helps you think more deeply.

The best part of the hike for me was the alternation of the rock layers!  The purple and the turquoise!  The seas come and the seas go!  Love it.

No hike alongside a cliff’s edge is complete without a falling off picture!

We got to the glacier fed lake just as the sun was setting behind the ridge.  I had never been to a lake with floating ice chunks like this! I was kind of freaking out! It was AWESOME.

Madison jokingly (kinda) says I have a problem with never being satisfied.  She says I have to always take it to the next level – and that some day that is going to get me into trouble.  She claims the hike to the lake should be enough – that I shouldn’t need to stand on a floating piece of ice in the middle of the lake.  But the thing is, the desire stand on the ice chunk doesn’t take anything away from the hike up, it only adds to my over all experience.  And when would I ever get a chance to swim out to an iceberg?!  It was my shot.  (Okay, no more Hamilton references from here on out. BUT, upon further research, I did find out that I am 7th cousins 8 times removed with Alexander Hamilton (not even kidding) – SO, maybe I really did get the unsatisfied bit from him?)

It was exhilarating to say the least.  Yeah, it was cold, and I almost gave up when I wasn’t able to climb up on to the ice on the first jump.  But, I’m glad that I got to stand out there to experience all of my senses so intensely.  For this reason, I feel like I really got to know Glacier NP quite well. I like to make good connections with the parks. You could say, we bonded.

Madison–who has been known to legitimately get hypothermia at the beach!–was afraid that I was going to die out there in the icy lake.  Luckily, I was able to bundle up and was just fine.  I skipped some rocks with Blake to warm up; rocks skip well on ice.

It’s really hard to grasp the vistas that we were able to experience on the way out.  Like I said, we paused often to take in the views on the way up, but the fact that our goal was to go UP, we were unable to take in the enormity of the vistas behind us.  It wasn’t until we were heading DOWN that we were able to appreciate the glacial carved valley that we had hiked up.  That is, after all, what this park is all about.  It’s name is derived from the massive forces that created these u-shaped expanses. Glacier didn’t fail to impress.

Madison says that every park is her new favorite park. But, I mean look at her face, it’s pretty convincing. Glacier National Park is definitely at the top of the favorite list for sure though. We already miss it and can’t wait to go back. Like, Madison says in the vlog: THIS PARK IS MANDATORY FOR ALL HUMANS!

Watch us frolic around one of the most beautiful places ever:


  1. I completely agree that Glacier is mandatory. Personally I might even go so far as to say that Glacier, Zion, and the Grand Canyon are all tied for the MOST mandatory. I’m so obsessed with it. I wish I lived closer so I could spend more time there. Also, I agree that something about hiking creates the best conversation!

  2. Dawn from Camano Island

    Until this blog post, I thought “yeah, yeah. Glacier’s like the North Cascades & I’ve been there, done that.” But your photos down the valley really changed my mind! This place has earned the name GLACIER NP! So thanks for another great blog post & showing so much love for a place that it becomes unimaginable for an old-timer like me not to go there.

  3. Kate King

    Been through there twice. After seeing your post, I regret that we didn’t take the time to get off the main roads and tourist areas. We went on our bikes both times and burned out a clutch the first time because of all the stop-and-go due to road work and we were pulling a heavy trailer. Nonetheless, the many stops gave us more time to see the vistas from the road. We’re continuing to enjoy your adventures!

  4. Karen

    I’m always looking to visit parks when it’s not wall to wall people. Can you tell me what dates you were there? Looks wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *