Camping trip to Glacier National Park

For some reason, Glacier National Park had been high on my list for travel. There was something about the idea of seeing a glacier that was exciting. And it being so far (a 24 hour drive) from my home made it that much more appealing. Getting there would be a challenge but that would add to the adventure. Once I got the idea in my head, I had to visit and three years ago I took my kids to the park on my own. We had such an incredible experience that I could not help but want to visit the park again and show it to my husband and his two kids. When we were planning a five week road trip last summer, with my kids begging to go back, we included Glacier in the itinerary.

Big Creek Campground

Our family had chosen to camp just outside the Glacier National Park at Big Creek Campground in the Flathead National Forest. The campground was pleasant, filled with tall, thin trees and a beautiful big creek running through it. Our campsite was close to the creek and the weather was perfect. We were looking forward to setting up camp and relaxing to the sound of the creek. My husband’s daughter took the two younger kids to play in the Creek and my husband, his son and I worked to get the tents up. While we were setting up camp, we discovered a deer roaming the campground. What a welcome! The deer explored our campsite and then continued on to visit the next site in the campground. This is the way to begin a visit to a National Park.

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Once things were set up, I went down to the creek to check it out. The creek was beautiful and the sound of the running water was melodic. After spending more time then intended by the creek, I walked back to the campsite where dinner was in process. We marveled at the view of the night sky while we ate. I was looking very forward to showing my husband and his kids some of what we had loved about Glacier two years prior.

Welcome to Glacier

We woke up early and packed our lunches, excited to embark on a full day of exploring the park. Fortunately our campground was only a few miles from the park entrance and we entered the park, heading toward Agpar Village. We planned to stop at Lake McDonald; a place the kids and I had enjoyed during our previous visit. I had found the lake to be amazing; the water very clear and set against a backdrop of mountains. My kids were less enthusiastic about the lake than they were about the ice cream that they remembered was available at Agpar Village.

The weather was overcast and it looked like rain. I went to feel the temperature of the water and it was cold. Definitely the kind of water that you would prefer to get nice and warm before jumping into. However it did not stop us; we all got into the water and even swam around for a bit. I would like to say the water was “refreshing” however the reality was that it was cold. We did feel invigorated after our swim, overcome by the beauty of our surroundings and the clear, fresh water. We dried off and ate our lunches, which we follow up with a treat from the ice cream shop. This was a great way to start our adventure.

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Swimming in the Creek

We piled back in the car and headed east on Going-to-the-Sun Road, the main road that you can take to travel through the park. We soon came across a parking area that seemed interesting and my husband pulled the car off to park and investigate. As we got out of the car I realized that this was Avalanche Creek, a place the kids and I had visited previously and had loved. We admired the rocks of all sizes surrounding the creek and took in the sound of the fast rushing water. After the icy waters of the lake I felt the water would be too cold to swim in so I left my bathing suit in the car. All six of us walked down a small hill to the creek and across the rocks. Some of the rocks had what appeared to be large craters filled with water. Despite the cold water, my husband waded in and was soon swimming in the creek. This was more temptation than I could stand and I had to change into my suit and go in after him. I followed him in, slowly going deeper into the water. Fortunately my husband helped me balance as the rocks were hard to walk on. The color of the water was a beautiful blue/green color and amazingly clear. And very cold! The cold water meant we could not stay in long, but I was able to get all the way in to the rushing waters. Both my husband and I were on cloud nine from the experience.

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Hidden Lake Trail

We continued on Going-to-the-Sun Road, passing the Weeping Wall (where water lightly flows down a rock face) and arrived at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. We had found a hike that was about a mile each way, and decided that we would take the hike together as a family. The kids were not thrilled at the idea, though all four were plenty capable and in good shape. We made a quick stop at the gift shop and found a few things we could not resist. We got started on our hike, amazed that the temperatures were not warm (it was July), and there was a light rain that would come and go. The trail, called Hidden Lake Trail, began on a wooden walkway that led up a steep hill. While the hike would be short, it seemed it may be a bit of a challenge! The walkway took us over hills with views of colorful wildflowers and snowy mountaintops. At this elevation, trees were sparse…and we even came across a few glaciers. It was pretty incredible to walk right up to one and touch it. Even the kids were impressed. The two boys were chilly and raced ahead while the rest of us took our time, enjoying the views.

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A Chance Meeting With Some Goats

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We continued our hike, keeping our eyes out in hopes of encountering wildlife. What we wound up seeing was our boys racing down the trail with excitement. They had seen mountain goats! The goats had actually crossed the trail right in front of them. They were pretty excited and I was pretty jealous. That got the rest of us moving pretty quickly, hoping to catch a glimpse of those goats. Luckily, we made it in time to see the goats, not far off the trail. The sight was amazing.  There were tiny goats along with adult goats. I had never seen anything like this and I could have sat and watched all day. We finally moved on and came across a lone goat next to the trail, eating and unworried about having an audience.

What a Day!

Around this time, the wind began to pick up and so did the rain. But none of us, not even the kids who had protested an hour ago, were bothered. We were thrilled to experience these amazing animals up close. After going a little further to the trail’s namesake lake, we turned around and headed back. It started to rain hard and it was cold. But I was smiling, thrilled with our experience. By the time we arrived at our car, we were all pretty wet and muddy. We changed out of our clothes and warmed up. Everyone agreed the experience had been amazing.

While we had hoped to see more at the park, the inclement weather was by then prohibitive. And there was no question, our hike ended the adventure on a high note. As we exited the park, headed to our next adventure, we felt euphoric. That day, we all agreed, had been incredible.

  • Updated March 1, 2017
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Ilyssa
 

Ilyssa is a mother of four who is employed full-time as a grant writer and who enjoys writing freelance articles in her spare time. Ilyssa has a great love of adventure and the outdoors, which she hopes she is passing along to her children. Last summer Ilyssa and her family took a five week road trip, camping and exploring most of the western United States. The trip inspired Ilyssa to work towards achieving flexible employment and/or financial freedom, so that she and her family may continue to travel and explore all nature has to offer, and not just for a few weeks out of the year.