Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Going, Going, Gone at Glacier National Park! OLA

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Going, Going, Gone at Glacier National Park! OLA

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake along the Going-to-the-Sun Road 
When we were at Lake Louise at Banff National Park in 2007, I was shocked at its diminished ice caps from a 2005 trip. At Glacier National Park I felt a deep sadness. In 1850 there were 150 glaciers and in 1910 it was established as a national park. Now there are only 26 and by 2030 they will all be gone!  Glacier National Park will cease to exist, only 120 years after it was born. We may have done our best to rescue wildlife from endangered status but conserving glaciers is beyond human capability or will.

the view from our RV
Erroneously, I thought that Glacier National Park would be ok in June! This year, unfortunately, it has not been true. Our transition from the tropics to temperate weather, from hot and humid to cold and (lows of 39 degrees Fahrenheit made colder by 20-30mph gusts of wind) has been anything but smooth. Everyone laughed when I donned my Burberry trench coat, alpaca wool hat, and felt gloves! Uncharacteristically, I literally forgot about form and went all the way for function.

a great view
Glacier National Park is a wondrous wide wall of glacier-topped mountains, six of them above 10,000 ft., many above 9 and more above 8, spanning 16,000 square miles, straddling both the northern border of Montana and the southern border of Alberta and British Columbia. As we drove around the Going-to the-Sun Road, in itself an engineering wonder at 50 miles of the most scenic mountain highway in the world, I told Bill that I thought that this is like the Tetons…although much grander in scale!

Mama Bear and Baby
along the road to Many Glacier
We saw picas prancing around small meadows, mountain goat herds dotting mountain ridges along the road to Many Glacier, deer cavorting on our campsite, moose and baby drinking from emerald blue lakes, and mama and baby bears feeding on berries along the Going-to-the-Sun Road! One of the most dramatic features of this geological overthrust is visible in the form of Chief Mountain, an isolated peak on the border, 9,008 ft. of solid rectangular rock standing singularly powerful amid the plains of aspens and evergreens. No wonder he is called chief!

Formidable Chief Mountain
As it turned out the 6 days we had planned to get ready for our northwest to southeast trek was not enough! From getting dental and medical checks to RV maintenance routines, on the last day we found out that we had water and heating problems! Unluckily, no slots were available at Camping World. Fortunately, Blue Creek RV near Spokane fixed our water issue. So we headed on out to the Park thinking we could dry camp. Boy, were we wrong.  Unsuccessful in trying to keep warm during with double blankets each, we transferred the following day to the KOA campground just a mile off the park.

the Vidallos and Colborns
My daughter Claudine, husband Arnold, and kids Ashton, Andre, and Enzo (my very first grandson!), drove from Calgary, Alberta for 3-4 hours to meet us there. For us it was a 6-7 hour drive from Spokane. Amazingly, we arrived at campsite 316 only 5 minutes apart!  Then the fun with the family began. From driving slowly to scope animals, to fixing smokes over a campfire, to getting mercilessly beaten by my daughter Claudine at Scrabble and Upwords (did I teach them well!), and the kids getting their Junior Ranger badges at the St. Mary Visitor’s Center at the East Entrance, the experience was way too cool!

Ashton, Andre, and Enzo
being sworn in as Junior Park Rangers
red shuttle bus
Our memories are even made better with the expertise in photography that Arnold brought with him. Although we are using photos from our camera on this post, Bill and I learned a lot of new tricks from him.  (Please visit his website @ Actually, we are now considering a wide-angle lens with longer zoom! 

mountain goats dot the mountain ridges
If only we came during the heart of the peak season (July-August), then probably our visit to Glacier National Park would have been perfect. However, knowing that 19 years from today all the glaciers would be gone, we are glad that we found time for it this year! After all, it is the first International Peace Preserve Park, shared between Canada and the US (the Vidallos are Canadians, we are Americans!) Enzo said it best, ‘I don’t wanna go home‘.  But, just like the Park, they were going, going, gone. Sigh!

Next Stop:  Converging at Yellowstone!


  1. The glaciers are still beautiful. We should embrace what we have.

  2. Hi Emma,
    You are so right! That is why Bill and I are trying to see as much as we can with the time we are given! Thanks for continuing to follow my blog!

  3. The mountains are magnificent, great pictures. Why is it that the more unusual animals always stay so far away?? I had to click on the one of the mountain goats to realize they were not just dots! Nice work. Keep on travelling and sharing. Thanks

  4. That's a good question! We saw some atop Mt. Evans, a fourteener in Colorado that can be reached via the highest road in the world! Thanks for your continuing to follow our stories!


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