For the first leg of our National Park road trip, we spent a few days at Glacier National Park. It was definitely my favorite! Just driving in the park is almost enough – everywhere you look are crazy mountain views, waterfalls and animals. You are literally driving on the side of a mountain the whole time!
WHERE WE STAYED: Lake Five Resort
TRANSPORTATION: We rented an RV for this trip, but rented a separate smaller car when arriving in Montana to drive the winding roads throughout the park.
WEATHER: We went at the end of August and it was pretty warm the whole time. The only time we got chilly was climbing to the top of the mountain. The “normal” weather was like shorts/leggings and a long sleeve or warmer.
DAY 1: TRAIL OF THE CEDARS + AVALANCHE LAKE
We wanted to take our first day pretty easy so we went to the Trail of Cedars which is a short 0.5 mile hike through a bunch of cool trees and it’s on a wooden walkway which is nice. We opted to keep walking to Avalanche Lake which was definitely worth it. It’s a crystal clear lake with cool mountain reflections. The whole thing took us 2-3 hours and was pretty easy.
We then checked out West Glacier Village. They have a small restaurant (not the best looking food), an ice cream shop (really good!), souvenir stores and a mini grocery store. The grocery store has most staples, lots of alcohol and even some pre-made meals like sandwiches and salads.
DAY 2: WHITEFISH, VORTEX + HIDDEN LAKE
The guys decided to go white water rafting, so we planned a girls morning. First we stopped at the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery. It costs $12 and is worth it…maybe? The tour includes a tilted house and mysterious garden. It ended up taking over an hour which wasn’t great for us since we were trying to do a lot that morning. The tour guide was super nice and entertaining, but it ran a little too long for us. The tilted house was crazy and made us feel dizzy! The garden was only okay and the guide goes over the same things over and over again throughout the property.
Next, we drove to the small town of Whitefish. It was so cute! There a bunch of places to get coffee/tea, pastries or a full on meal. There are a bunch of cutesy shops and souvenir stores. My favorite was Mum’s Flowers. They had the prettiest flowers, pots, cute party supplies, cards and more.
After regrouping back at the campground, we decided to do the Hidden Lake trail. It’s about 5 miles long and takes you to a lake (obviously). The trail was easy overall and a lot of it is on wooden walkways. We saw a bear from a long distance and got super close to mountain goats!
DAY 3: GOING THE SUN ROAD
Our last day was our big park day. Going the Sun Road is the main thing you’re supposed to do at Glacier. There are a ton of stops throughout the drive and the views are stunning. Here is what we did from the entrance of the park to as far as we could go towards St. Mary’s (a lot of the park was closed when we went).
- Heaven’s Peak: a cool lookout (short stop for a photo)
- Weeping Wall: a waterfall down the side of the mountain (short stop for a photo)
- Logan Pass: this is the main parking area and the starting point for a lot of trails (including Hidden Lake), there is also a gift shop here. Make sure you get there early (or late) because it’s always pretty crowded.
- Siyeh Bend Trail: this is the big hike that we did! It was about 9 miles there and back. We got a spot right on the road near the trailhead, but you can park further away if needed. I would say the trail is moderate to hard (for a novice hiker like me). Some parts are easy and normal. Some are extremely uphill. The ending portion is very steep and up the side of a mountain. It got superrrr cold and windy. Definitely bring layers to take off/put on. I think the whole thing took us around 6 hours (including a lunch break).
- Sunrift Gorge: there are a bunch of trail options here – we just randomly walked around and did a shorter one.
- Wild Goose Island: where The Shining intro was shot!
The actual drive through isn’t long, so it’s just about how long you want to spend at each location and how many things you want to see.
Next we left for Yellowstone National Park!