Shrouded in smoke from nearby forest fires meant that Glacier National Park and its famous Going-to-the-Sun Road did not offer us the clear and incredible mountainous views we had heard so much about. Nevertheless, we spent a moody and calm morning driving the winding round that cuts through the national park, trying to take in as much as we could as far as the eye could see through the haze.
Glacier National Park in Montana is a designated international peace park connected with Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. There is one main border crossing on the outskirts of the park on the eastern side.
How to Get to Glacier National Park
The best way to see Glacier National Park is to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road. No matter whether you come from the north (Alberta) or the south (Montana and Wyoming – we had just left behind Yellowstone), make your way from East Glacier along Highway 2 to West Glacier. There’s some beautiful pull-outs along this road where you can get a first taste of the beauty that is to come.
From West Glacier, you will have direct access to Apgar at the start of the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the beauty of the national park. Entrance to the park is $30US and you’ll be given a wonderfully informative newspaper and map with purchase.
Camping at Glacier National Park
We camped at Apgar Campground near the beginning of the central route through the park. Lots A-E sit on the shores of Lake McDonald and welcome campers to a massive wooded area. The sites are spacious, spread-out, have access to water and toilets, and are calm and beautiful.
From the campground, you can walk 10 minutes to the lake, and 15 minutes into the village where there are a few stores, a gift shop and a restaurant. The tent site cost $20US per night, payable in cash and dropped off in a drop-box at each Lot’s sign post.
We woke up early and made our way out onto Going-to-the-Sun Road before anyone else in our campground in order to try and nab the best photo spots unobstructed by other people.
What to See on the Going-to-the-Sun Road
There’s loads of pull-outs and side-of-the-road stops designed specifically for people to be able to stop as much as they want as they drive this gorgeous road without blocking traffic.
As you drive along the road, you’ll catch sight of majestic mountains looming up all around you. The road wraps around and along these mountains, providing for views all the way through the valley (best viewed on a clear day). While we weren’t able to capture the famous shots that we were hoping for, the calm and mystical smoke gave an eerie feel.
We stopped at Sunrift Gorge to hike 75 feet (ish) to a lovely little waterfall. The trail winds through old trees and dead trees, all set in front of a backdrop of the mountainous park.
Our final stop in Glacier was the beautiful Saint Mary Lake. We stopped twice, once along the shoreline to take in the mid-lake views, and then once at the lookout point. This was my favourite stop on the road, as we could see the incredible panorama of the lake, as well as the iconic Glacier tour boats chugging around the lake.
Glacier National Park is stunning, but it is on my list of places to come back to so I can see what this incredible area is truly like in clarity.
*Including photos by Sam