Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Glacier National Park – Part 5

glacier sunrise

Sunrise view out our back window

July 18th was a travel day for us around Glacier National Park, since there is no way to drive any RV through the Park. We had a beautiful 100 mile drive to St. Mary, Montana (east entrance to Glacier National Park). There are many more trails and access points on the east side of the Park. We followed Highway 2 which skirts the south boundary of the park for most of the way and crossed the Continental Divide. Along this stretch of road we had a black bear cross in front of us. In three trips to Glacier NP this is the first bear we have seen. The last 30 miles from Browning, Montana to St. Mary is a rough, curvy, and sometimes narrow road with a top speed of 40 and usually slower. The "town" has 2 RV Parks both charging $50 a night and both full. They sit on opposite ridges over looking the valley with great views in every direction. We bought diesel fuel for $2.58 before we left West Glacier and in St. Mary it is $3.29 a gallon! One of the two gas stations is charging $3.49!! Temps were high 80s but a strong wind helped it to feel cooler.

glacier 5 - 2

Kathy had the following thoughts about our drive from West Glacier to St. Mary:

Traveling over the Continental Divide today, we went from evergreen forests down to the rolling hills of the eastern side of the Montana Rockies. Passing through the western part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, you see vast ranches filled with horses, cattle and wildflowers of every shade! We even saw Fireweed blooming its brilliant flowers like fuchsias, half way up their stocks! Summer is half way through according to Alaska folklore!


Due to restriction of vehicles over 21 feet long and 8 feet wide on the Going to the Sun Highway, all RV’s traveling to the eastern side of the park have to go around through Browning and enter the park at St. Mary. It was about 104 miles from West Glacier.

glacier 5 - 4

We set up camp at the St. Mary KOA, just a few miles from the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park. With the great peaks of the Rockies south west of us, it is an inspiring and breath-taking view! It is a high plain river valley with mountains all around. Something about the area brings me back 200 years or so when this was a peaceful valley enjoyed by Native people called the Blackfeet. Living off the land and the buffalo hunts it must have been a thriving time. I can almost hear the wild ponies munching in the meadows while the village camp fires smolder. Even Meriwether Lewis had encounters with them during his expedition’s return from finding the Pacific.

Romantic, yes, but I bet this part of the west inspired so many artists over the years that tried to capture the essence of the Wild West in this area. There are no cities around, just wide open spaces, fresh air and the squeak of a ground squirrel sounding like a prairie dog! From our bedroom we can see the ice fields up in the high peaks. Sadly, they are the last of the glaciers of Glacier National Park, but we can enjoy the view while it lasts.

glacier 5 -5

glacier 5 - 6

More photos in the slideshow

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