Glacier National Park
Glaciers are common in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska, but in the Lower 48 states of the USA they are found only in the north west and at high elevations. Glacier National Park was set up in 1910 to preserve some of the best glacial scenery in the Lower 48 states. In 1895 Canada had set up Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and in 1932 the US and Canadian governments agreed to link these adjoining parks as the world’s first International Peace Park. By then Canada had its own Glacier National Park, so the Peace Park is known as Waterton-Glacier. We visited only the US part of the park as our schedule and closure of part of the road through the park ensured that we did not have time to visit the section in Canada.
McDonald Valley from Going-to-the-Sun Road
The Going-to-the-Sun Road runs across the park from the west entrance to St Mary on the eastern side. It passes the two largest lakes in the park, Lake McDonald and St Mary Lake. We were not in luck with Lake McDonald, as the cloud visible here in the valley hung over the lake. However, as we climbed up the road beyond the hairpin bend known as ‘the Loop’, we were rewarded with a magnificent view of the cloud filled McDonald Valley with the high peaks of Mount Oberlin, Reynolds Mountain and Clements Mountain looming over it.
Jackson Glacier from overlook
In common with the majority of glaciers world wide, the those in the National Park are retreating. Until the 1930s, Jackson Glacier was part of the Blackfoot Glacier which covered a total area in 1850 of 7.6 square kilometres (just under 3 square miles). The glaciers have shrunk so much that the two glaciers now have a combined area of less than 3 square kilometres.
Logan Pass Visitor Center
At an elevation of 2,025 metres (6,646 feet), Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It was also the point at which we had to turn back as the section of road east of the pass was closed for reconstruction. Determined not to miss the scenery, we embarked on a two hour drive back down the Going-to-the-Sun Road and round the outside of the park to get to St Mary Lake.
View up St Mary Lake from near Rising Sun
On the eastern side of the park is the most famous view in Glacier National Park. Giant, rugged mountains cascade down to the shore of St Mary Lake, their scale making Wild Goose Island appear no more than a small speck in middle of the lake.
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Lower Two Medicine Lake from Route 49
The road around the outside of the park stays close to the park boundary. This picture shows the western end of Lower Two Medicine Lake, which is within the park boundaries. The eastern end of the lake is within the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and the whole Two Medicine area is sacred ground for the Blackfeet Indians. There are three Two Medicine lakes and much mountain scenery, but our 4 hour return drive around the outside of the park left us with no time to explore.
Heavens Peak & Going-to-the-Sun Road
Looking in the opposite direction from the picture above, the snow capped Heavens Peak stands guard over the valley. Here Going-to-the-Sun becomes a corniche road with a steep drop on one side, as visible in this picture next to our rental car. There are plenty of great views, but it is not the best road for vertigo sufferers!
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