July 13, 2020
Starting Location: Whitefish, Montana (Depart 05:30AM, MST)
Ending Location: Bozeman, Montana (Arrive 07:00PM, MST)
Driving Time: Harder to count this today because there were SO MANY sights and stops! +/- 2 hours to the top of “Going-to-the-Sun Road,” 2.5 hours out of the park, then 5.5 hours to our next destination.
Driving Miles: 450! We’ve now hit 1,000 miles!
It’s going to be hard to beat today. The amount of times we were overwhelmed by the combination of mountains and water throughout the day had our minds constantly blown. Abby yelled “WATER” every time we saw water, which I didn’t mind one bit. We didn’t have enough eyeballs to take it all in. I kind of wish I had chameleon eyes so I could’ve been looking all directions, but then I guess I wouldn’t have been the safest driver. Also, the colors today were amazing. So many greens, blues in the water, and multi-colored rocks! PLUS, wildflowers everywhere – Indian paintbrush and glacier lilies were my favorite.
Today was a day of constant awe. It was awesome sauce.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Our FIRST national park on the trip! Woot woot! This is both of our first times visiting this national park (AND Montana)… basically, it’s our “first time” visiting pretty much all these places until we get more East.
Like I said in yesterday’s post, this was my GOAL of the road trip. Though I FULLY understand this is a mere taste of this park and I will definitely have to return, I was stoked to add this to the itinerary. Glacier National Park opened on June 8th, but the whole East side of the park is closed for the remainder of the tourist season as decided by the Blackfeet Tribe because of COVID-19. This means ONLY the West Glacier entrance (and, therefore, exit) is open right now.
However… as of TODAY, JULY 13TH… the Going-to-the-Sun road opened ALL THE WAY TO RISING SUN! Prior to today, the road was only opened to Avalanche. See more for reference and today’s journey…
We got the pro tip from our host to head to the top of the road (Logan Pass) FIRST (we were planning a sunrise at Lake McDonald originally) so we could get parking at the top. This was a SOLID plan because eventually they weren’t allowing people into the lot until someone left. I did have to wait for a parking spot, but this allowed Abby to make advances on the vault toilet line so I could jump in after parking. Win, win!
When we entered the park, the ranger booth was NOT open, but we already had the America the Beautiful pass I purchased at Seattle’s REI prior to our departure. PRO TIP – a lot of the REI’s seemed to be sold out of forest passes (at least in Washington). AND I am not sure if other National Parks are staffing their entrances. So, be sure to be prepared! You MUST support the National Park System and pay your fees! All the NPS workers we encountered seemed happy to be back on the job and I don’t blame them. I mean, how could you be gloomy when you work in a place like THIS.
PRO TIP Part Two (promise I’m not charging you for these… yet): get gas BEFORE you get into the park because there’s no options there!
Every time we passed a gate that was open, we cackled as we commented, “haha, that was closed before today…”
We got to Logan Pass (Elevation 6,647 feet) around 7:30AM, passing the most glorious sights. The Weeping Wall was incredible (even if it was man made) and, once at Logan Pass, we did some wandering. I ended up on about a 3-mile hike through some intermittent snow crossings in my running shoes, watching other people be a little silly on the snow and rocks… but it was worth it for the view and leg stretcher!
We continued on past Logan Pass a wee bit (though not all the way to Rising Sun), where we had the PERFECT TIMING to get these pictures in the middle of the road. I felt like the performers on Crosswalk the Musical, running into the road and jumping around, then running off when a car was coming.
Have I told you that this entire moving process has been filled with serendipitous moments, blessings, luck, and clear signs that it is the path I am meant to take? Well, the opening of Going was another beautiful manifestation of perfect alignment of plans!
On our way out of the park, we found a spot at Lake McDonald for lunch. Our goal was to get to the edge of the lake and marvel at the different colored rocks, which is a result of different levels of iron! ALSO, “Lake McDonald is the largest of the lakes of Glacier National Park with a surface area of 6,823 acres. It is also the longest, at over 15 km, as well as the deepest lake at 141 meters.” [SOURCE]
We are still going strong with the music for our entertainment and haven’t yet tapped into our audiobook or podcast collection. For most of the day, we stuck with my country playlist and I especially enjoyed Luke Bryan playbacks and Billy Currington.
We later tapped into Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” and Goo Goo Dolls.
One of my favorite conversations we had today was about the difference between feeling “blessed” and “lucky.” We both feel that ‘blessed’ evokes more heartfelt sentiments – something more of divine intervention, you couldn’t influence too much, or is close to your values & heart. In contrast, getting ‘lucky’ takes a bit of walking out on a limb. For example, we were LUCKY to get to the top of Logan Pass and get a parking spot because we decided to get there early and take our chances, BUT we were BLESSED with the good weather and stunning views! Mother Nature is a BEAUT.
Breakfast were protein bars from Picky Bars and lunch was as below:
For dinner, we got take out from Sidewinders in Bozeman! The big “S”idekick pretzel and chicken pot pie I ordered were BOTH featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. There’s a Sidewinders in Bozeman and Jackson Hole (the latter of which was featured by Guy Fieri).
Air BnB in Bozeman, Montana! IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL here and we just had the most epic sunset, but I’ll wait until I get the photos off my camera to share.
Side Note: The cover photo is ALSO NOT one I took. It is a stock photo I downloaded because I like journals and maps. I will use it again. I may or may not have prepped these blog posts prior to the road trip to make sure I actually posted while we were traveling.
And by “may have,” I mean I definitely did. *wink face*
What are your top three essential items to bring on a road trip?
KRISTEN: (1) GoPro and Camera, (2) Sunglasses, (3) Journal!
ABBY: (1) Sunglasses, (2) Flip Flops, (3) PB&J – “that’s one thing, right?”