Big Sky Country
I'm so glad we got a chance to check out this gem!
Devon and his family have been vacationing in Montana for years. They love skiing Whitefish in the winter, and his parents love to golf in the summer. We joined them for a weekend in early September, and got to experience all the hype.
On the Saturday, we drove into Glacier National Park, and enjoyed the scenic "Going-To-The-Sun Road". The narrow winding paved road which is only open a few months a year, twists and turns higher and higher up into the mountains, to an elevation of just over 2000 meters.
Initially, we had planned to take the shuttle, but it was going to be quite the wait, so we ventured in our own car. It looked like it would have been fun to drive up with the roof down in one of these vintage red cars though!
We must have been there at the peak tourist season, because it was PACKED! If any of you readers plan on going, either plan to be there early (before 8 AM), or try to visit outside of tourist season. At the top, when we eventually found parking, we were ready to get out and stretch our legs! We had heard great things about the Highline Trail so we set off to see the views, when we were abruptly stopped at the trailhead by some rangers. Apparently there was a black bear on the trail and the park rangers were trying to direct the bear off the main path. Someone had just seen the bear go by the Visitors Centre a few minutes before, which was surprising, given the number of tourist around. We waited patiently with 20 other hikers for about 15 minutes until we decided to try another trail and come back. We walked across the way and hiked to "Hidden Lake" instead, which was a scenic out and back hike down to a beautiful lake. Devon played around with the features on his new Google phone, taking 360 degree photos.
The town of Whitefish Montana is a quaint and cozy mountain town, and there are a bunch of gift shops and cute stores to browse around. We didn't get a chance to check out the brewery, but it looked fun and had good advertising.
If we had more time, we would have loved to explore the other hikes in Glacier National Park. As with most touristy spots, there are one or two hikes or viewpoints that get all the attention and are super busy, but there are so many others that are worth checking out that are slightly off the beaten path.
Some tips for other travellers:
1. You have to buy a 1 week pass to the park as there is no day pass (and it's about $40 USD!!), so plan accordingly!
2. As mentioned above, definitely plan on getting there early, or visiting outside peak tourist season.
3. If you're lucky (or unlucky), you may run into a bear!
4. There is a free hop on/hop off shuttle, but it's a good idea to check the times first as they run infrequently on certain days.
5. Apparently the huckleberry pie is delicious!