Glacier National Park Part II
After driving over the 6,646-foot elevation of Logan Pass, the visitor center parking lot was full, so we stopped at the first pull-off on the eastern side for a photo. The panoramic view below looking back toward Logan Pass on the far right.
We then drove another short distance to the east and stopped again at Lunch Creek. The creek flows down a natural stair step right along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
We were at Glacier at the right time for wildflowers. There were a lot blooming in the area of Lunch Creek as well as in many other locations.
The best view of a glacier from Going-to-the-Sun Road is from a viewpoint a few miles miles east of Logan Pass where you can see Jackson Glacier.
Our next stop was for about a 1.6-mile hike to St. Mary Falls, which is shown in the photo below. St. Mary Falls is along on the St. Mary River.
All the water in Glacier National Park is from snow melt and glacial run-off. As Margery found out earlier at McDonald Creek, the water is cold. Still, when we got to St. Mary Falls, there were several brave teens having a great time jumping off the bridge into the frigid water.
The St. Mary River flows into St. Mary Lake, which is another glacial lake at the eastern end of the park. At about 9 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 300 feet deep, St. Mary Lake is smaller than Lake McDonald, which is at the western side of the park. The next photo shows St. Mary Lake. The island is called Wild Goose Island and is one of the most photographed spots in Glacier National Park.
At the parking area where we stopped to see Wild Goose Island, we saw two guys on a motorcycle with a special seat on the back for their black lab. The dog was having his goggles adjusted.
When we got to the eastern entrance of the park, we stopped briefly at the visitor center, then headed back west. On our way back just before we reached Logan Pass, we saw people stopped along the road looking up the hill with binoculars. We pulled over and caught sight of several big horn sheep. They were pretty far away and we had to use a good bit of digital zoom, so they're not easy to see; but there are three of them in the photo below. There is one in the upper left of the photo, one in the lower right, and third one with its back toward the camera just to the right of the center pine tree. It was our first sighting of big horn sheep in the wild.
As we went over Logan Pass we got stopped again for a construction delay, and it's a good thing we did. Otherwise, we would have probably driven right by the mountain goats sitting on the bank right along the road without seeing them. Mountain goats are the symbol of Glacier National Park, and seeing them was another first for us.
While we were stopped, we noticed small, unnamed waterfall on the opposite side of the road. There was an ice bridge part way up the falls. Ice and snow can persist for quite a while at the higher elevations.
Although there are other entrances to the park we didn't explore, Going-to-the Sun Road is definitely the highlight. Our visit to Glacier far exceeded our expectations. We were expecting it to be colder with more snow and ice fields. Instead we got a myriad of beautiful wild flowers, great scenery, wild animals we had never seen before, and warm temperatures. Glacier would warrant another visit in the future, but we'll keep the visit to August. The road over Logan Pass doesn't open until July; and, although it can snow there at any time of the year, serious snow can come as early as September!
We also had time to check out the town of Coram during our stay. We stopped at an interesting-looking shop called Montana Fur Trading.
The next photo shows the inside of the store with cow hides, buffalo skulls, a wolf hide, and a bear hide.
We also passed the metal sculpture just up the road from the campground several times and finally stopped for a photo. The eagle was at least 12 to 15 feet high perched on top of the log arch over the entrance to a ranch. It was very impressive.
From Glacier, we headed back south to I-90, then drove east. We'll have more about our adventures in our next post.