.There are many reasons to travel to Glacier National Park including international relations, grizzlies, one of the most dramatic roads in the US, and the quickly receding  namesake glaciers.

 Mountain reflection Swiftcurrent Lake- Glacier National Park

Soaring glacier-sculpted peaks reflected in Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park.

World’s first International Peace Park

In 1932, Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in British Columbia, Canada combined to became the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first International Peace Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Clements Mountain Logan Pass- Glacier National Park

Clements Mountain as seen from Logan Pass, the summit of the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Disappearing glaciers

In the mid 19th century there were an estimated 150 active glaciers within the park’s 1,000,000 acre (405,000 hectare) boundaries. Today fewer than 30 active glaciers remain. Some scientists believe they could all be gone by 2020, so don’t just sit there.

Many Glaciers Hotel, a classic wooden lodge inside the park, is a comfortable, atmospheric and enormous place overlooking lovely Swiftcurrent Lake. But why do so many of our national park hotels make us think of The Shining?

Many Glaciers Hotel- Glacier National Park

Many Glaciers Hotel in Glacier National Park where, sadly, there are fewer and fewer glaciers.

Rowboat Swiftcurrent Lake -Glacier National Park

An aptly-named row boat on Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park.

Grinell Mountain Swiftcurrent Lake -Glacier National Park

Grinnell Mountain looming large behind Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park.

Turquoise Grinnell Lake -Glacier National Park

The distinctive milky turquoise color of Grinnell Lake is caused by melt water from Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Grizzlies galore

In 2010, TV animal guy Jack Hanna used pepper spray to fend off a grizzly cub in Glacier National Park while hiking on the Grinnell Glacier trail. Though Hanna says he’s been carrying pepper spray on hikes for nearly two decades, that was the first time he’d ever used it.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2011 17 people were charged by grizzlies in Glacier National Park. We were certainly on the lookout for them when we hiked the popular Grinnel Glacier trail.

 Grinnell Glacier trail -Glacier National Park

Karen heading up Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, an area also frequented by grizzlies.

As the steep trail curved and ascended up, up, up (it was extreme enough to inspire a bit of muscle-memory of our best treks in Nepal), we kept our eyes and ears open and one hand on our pepper spray.

Melting Grinnell Glacier -Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park

You can view a larger version of this panorama of Grinnell Glacier here

Waterfall Grinnell Glacier trail -Glacier National Park

Eric cooling off in cascading glacial melt during our hike up and down the Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park.

It wasn’t until we returned to the Many Glaciers Hotel and flopped down on the big patio that we saw a lone grizzly slowly munching her/his way across a hillside about 300 yards away from us. As happens when the word grizzly gets whispered, a crowd soon gathered.

Grizzly Bear Glacier National Park

A grizzly bear searching for food on a hillside very near Many Glaciers Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Sunset color, Ptarmigan WallGlacier National Park

Sunset over Ptarmigan Wall as seen from Many Glaciers Hotel in Glacier National Park.

It’s not a road, it’s an experience

Glacier National Park is also home to one of the most amazingly-engineered and romantically-named roads. The 50 mile (80 kilometer) Going to the Sun Road hugs the mountains, winds through tunnels, and tops out at 6,646 foot (2,000 meter0 Logan Pass, as it crosses the Continental Divide. It’s all even more spectacular when you realize that it was built, largely by hand, more than 75 years ago. The road is not open year round. For current road conditions and closures check out these real time road status updates.

Sunset view Going to the Sun road -Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park is a thrill ride carved out by hand more than 75 years ago.

Waterfall dropping from Logan Pass -Glacier National Park

A waterfall dropping dramatically from Logan Pass is just one of the gorgeous vistas along the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Saint Mary Lake -Glacier National Park

Saint Mary Lake as seen from Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Hidden Lakes trail, Logan Pass -Glacier National Park

Hidden Lakes Trail at Logan Pass, the high point of the spectacular Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Flower meadow, Logan Pass -Glacier National Park

Logan Pass in full bloom in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park travel tip

The grizzlies of Glacier National Park emerge from their winter dens in April and May, so make plenty of noise as you hike. A startled bear is a cranky bear.

Here’s more about travel to US National Parks & Monuments

Here’s more about travel in the USA

 

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