By: Donald Saunders
At nearly one and a half million acres Glacier National Park in Montana is impressive and boasts over 200 lakes and streams, 50 glaciers and more than 700 miles of wonderful hiking trails. These numbers are impressive, but they do not even start to convey the breathtaking beauty of this national park.
They do not begin to describe how the mountains around Lake MacDonald glow pink in the setting sun and almost force you to stand transfixed to this view until darkness falls. Neither do they describe the huge field of tall bear grass stalks with their white flowers which simply shout at you to roll back the years and run through the meadow like a child.
But your first point of call should one of the visitor centers in Apgar, Logan Pass or St. Mary where you can find out all about the area and pick up some excellent hiking guide books.
One of the best ways to get to see many of sights of the park is to drive along the famous 50 mile Going-To-The-Sun Road which was built in 1932 and skirts around Lake MacDonald before crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass some 6,700 feet above sea level. From Logan Pass it then descends down to Saint Mary Lake which is an awe inspiring body of water.
If you want to go hiking then there are plenty of options and the area near Belly River offers some glorious scenery and numerous campsites where you can take a rest. For those people who are looking for a longer trip then you can backpack in from Canada, crossing Brown Pass and ending at Bowman Lake.
Another great site is the Hole in the Wall campground which offers 20 waterfalls and thousands of lovely wildflowers. Look upwards and you will see the water coming from a waterfall which pours out of a natural hole in the rock face which gives the area its name.
If you would like a taste of adventure then how about a whitewater rafting trip? You can either join a group of eight people on a larger boat or brave the water yourself in a kayak. Even beginners find that it an easy trip and there are few rocks to contend with, but it will nevertheless give you plenty of fun as you rush down the Flathead River.
For those who like an easier life there are also the Red Bus tours. Millions of visitors have enjoyed seeing the park from these open-topped buses, but take along lots of sunscreen as the sunshine in Glacier during the summer months is very strong.
If you are driving yourself then a good place to stop off is the Trail of the Cedars boardwalk. This area has been free from fire for more than 500 years because of the high moisture content and the result is some of the biggest cedar and hemlocks to be found anywhere. If you are patient you will also spot a flying squirrel or two and, as night begins to fall, you will hear the owls hooting.
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