Posted by: bkivey | 29 September 2012

Glacier National Park Pt. 4

Things I learned on my recent trip to the northwestern corner of Montana:

  • I should apply for copy editor for the Whitefish Pilot.  I noticed several spelling errors in the 19 September edition. Spell check is useful, but it’s not the final arbiter.
  • The part of the state I was in is well on it’s way to becoming South Alberta. Canadian flags are everywhere, as are Canadians. The frontier is 60 miles north, but for some reason Canadians like to come to Whitefish. Maybe they were there for the same reason I was. The American flag may be as well represented around Banff and Jasper National Parks, but I doubt it.
  • Huckleberries are huge in this part of the state.
  • If you want to sample the various tourist attractions, you’d better come before 15 Sept. That seems to be the unofficial end of the tourist season. Most everything else closes by the end of September.
  • Best tourist attraction: a place where you can apparently drive in and see bears. A sign out front exclaims “Your Car Is Your Cage!” That sounds attractive.
  • My only previous experience with Montana was driving north on I-15 from Idaho and then west on I-90 back to Idaho when there was no posted speed limit. After spending a couple of days in the state, the impression I got was that the culture is closer to the Wild West than most other parts of the country. People tend to mind their own business, and would appreciate it if you minded yours. This makes them more guarded toward outsiders, but a welcome change from some places where people seem to think it’s their duty to meddle in your affairs.
  • Glacier National Park is more than worth the trip. There aren’t very many roads, so be prepared for a lot of hiking if you want to see some of the more scenic areas. As I noted in Pt. 3, accessing the Many Glacier area is a full days’ hike. To see the more popular parts of the Park, you probably need 3 days.
  • Going-to-the-Sun is as advertised, or at least the parts I could get to. The National Park Service says the road will be fully open between mid-June to mid-September, weather permitting. I’d recommend driving west to east, as the more spectacular scenery is on the east side.
  • The Blackfoot tribe didn’t do too badly with their reservation. I’ve seen reservations in the Southwest that are the most God-forsaken places on the planet.
  • Stay away from Montana state road 49, unless you’re tired of living.
  • The train isn’t a bad way to get there. Air travel would have cost a little more than twice as much, but the door-to-door time is cut in half (from where I live). Not having to deal with the self-important TSA blueshirts almost makes the extra time worth it.
  • Do not order anything with the word ‘BBQ’ on a train. You will be massively disappointed.
  • Wildlife seen: Bald eagle, deer (dead), fox, some type of mammal that looked similar to a squirrel, a few new types of birds, bighorn sheep.
  • Favorite bars in Whitefish: Great Northern Brewing Company, Bulldog Saloon.

I’ll be back. I’d like to see the Park when it’s not obscured by smoke, when I can drive the entire length of Going-to-the-Sun, when I have time to hike some trails. And next time, I’ll remember the damn battery charger.














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