We were only 20 miles from Glacier National Park as we headed out Saturday morning -- July 5th -- Day 12 on the Vapor Trail. We were processed through the Park entrance by 9:00 and at our campground by 9:15. However, the people in our site could squat till noon, so we dropped the trailer in a parking lot, and set out to explore the area.
At Apgar Visitor’s Center we became oriented to the park and picked up maps and information to make a 3-day plan for sightseeing and hikes. For starters we did a 3 mile loop hike taking us past the McDonald river, a waterfall, a rushing cascade, and through a tall pine forest that was emerald green. We ate our sandwich lunch along the roaring river.
Glacier has a fleet of Red Buses that have been providing visitors with a unique ride through the park since 1914 – 100 years! The current fleet was built by the White Motor Company in the 1930’s and recently when they threatened to quit touring because of age, the Ford Motor Company stepped in and updated the whole fleet! Canvas tops roll back and allow visitors to stand up for thrilling views during the interpretive tours.These buses are a Glacier tradition that we shared the road with many times during the next three days.
After the hike we stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge located on the western side of Glacier National Park. The lodge first opened in 1914, and today the lobby looks just as it looked 100 years ago! The lodge is also an essential stop as it is on the western end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a ride that we would be doing the next day. The front of the lodge is all rustic mountain setting -- while the back of the lodge is a lake-side resort!
By noon we had picked up our camper and checked into Fish Creek Campground to claim our campsite -- beautiful lofty pine trees with heavily wooded sites. It took a little engineering and choreography, using all the leveling boards we had, to get into our campsite and get leveled!
At the campground we gathered inside information on what to see and do in the park from a lady who had been secretary to the Park Superintendent for 10 years. We traded information for a tour of the Airstream. The campground hostess also moseyed by with her welcome pitch and some more nice suggestions for exploring. Right across the street from our campsite was a trail winding along McDonald Lake, and before dinner we hiked the McDonald Lake Trail to a viewpoint called Rocky Point.
Before stepping out to the evening ranger show, Tom planned our next day's drive on the Road-to-the-Sun. The road is only for the bold and confident driver, and many people opt for the red-bus tour rather than driving it themselves. "We shall see . . . . ."
Tom & Ella Brown