National Parks #2 (Glacier & Yellowstone)

In the late summer of 2015, I headed back west to explore National Parks, this time with my family.  The main attraction was Glacier National Park, which I skipped on my trip in 2009 and a return to Yellowstone National Park.  Despite the somewhat cold weather, we had a wonderful adventure.

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Saturday

The drive

We woke up to the same smoke we went to bed to, which was so thick that we could see lead than a mile.  We drove from missoula to national park through montana, which is about a 3 hour drive.  We took route 93 through flathead county and along flathead lake and were struck by how dry and flat it was.  The towns were small and much of the structures were in disrepair except for the head of the lake, which looked extremely wealthy.

The smoke was bizarre because it was so inconsistent.  In some places we could barely see 1,000 feet, yet in others it seemed like it was clearing up.

We drove through apagar en route to lake McDonald lodge.  The lodge was built in 1913 and shows it, but it has charm.

John’s Lake Loop

We set off for John’s Lake Loop through a dense forest, which was eerily beautiful and silent.  There were no sounds of birds, or anything living.  After some time, we emerged at the McDonald’s Creek cascade which produced an epic rumble that we heard from across the street.  The creek tumbles over ‘staircase’ rock.  New slabs must fall of frequently to keep the edges sharp despite all the flowing water.

Sunday

Avalanche Lake

The smoke cleared overnight opening up the views of Lake McDonald and encouraging us to shuttle up to Avalanche Creek.  We hurried up 2 miles to Avalanche Lake through dense forest and well marked trails that were steep at times.  The lake is surrounded by steep, impressive cliffs on three sides and is fed by several tumbling waterfalls.

On the way down, near the base, the creek has carved impressive gullies into the rock walls that surround it.  They are beautiful.

Horseback Riding

It was good.

Monday

Going to the Sun Road

Breath taking and white knuckling

Hidden Lake Overlook

Cold. Amazing views.  Saw a mountain goat with a juvenile.

Tuesday

Going to the Sun Road

Engineering marvel

Breathtaking views

Every pullout was amazing

Highline Trail Impressive trail-making

East-side

Johnson Glacier view

Tons of fire damage

Closed trails

Huge lake

 

Many Glacier

Apikuni Falls

Steep trail to base of Falls

Hiked up higher with Piero

Hotel is huge

Saw a bear and mountain goats on hillside

 

Wednesday

Lake loop

Ride to Grinnel Lake

Saw a moose and bear

Epic dinner at ‘Two Sisters’

Thursday

Waterton

Rainy weather led us to Waterton

Drove the Red Rock Parkway

Blackison Falls

 

Friday

All day drive to West Yellowstone

Sushi dinner

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Saturday

Norris – Bison, artist’s pots, geothermal

Old faithful – huge crowd, right on time, impressive

West Thumb – favorite geothermal area, cold, ‘Mud Volcano’ incl Dragon’s Mouth, ‘bison jam’

Canyon – looked at upper Falls then hiked the Canyon Rim – amazing colors

 

Sunday

Tower Falls

‘Bison Jam’ #2

Mamouth hot springs

Saw elk herd on the way out