Like Yellowstone and Yosemite where snowmelt is a regular seasonal, Glacier has an inordinate number of roadside cascades. Though the volume is seldom substantial, the runoffs can drain for hundreds of feet above or below the park road, and sometimes both.
Fondest memory: The Weeping Wall not far west of the Logan Pass Visitor Center is a special occurrence of this type of feature, but don't cry if you miss the right season to enjoy it.
Favorite thing: The Two Medicine area in the southeast quarter is often overlooked by park visitors. The mountains in this region have features more pointed than rounded, and other strange landmarks exist here like nowhere else in Glacier (such as Pompelly Pillar). The forests are just as rugged as elsewhere, and many places lie in a low, marshy area, making the many trails of Two Medicine among the sultriest of the entire network.
Favorite thing: Dusk settles in at Two Medicine. The end of a long day of travel that started pre-dawn at Missoula and ends with ethereal light intertwining with the dramatic silhouette of Mt. Sinopah across the Two Medicine Lake.
Favorite thing: It can and it will snow in September. If you plan a fall trip to Glacier beware that the weather will influence your plans. On this day, Going to the Sun Road was completely closed which meant we had to take a circuitous route around the outskirts of the park to find the road back to Missoula. Inconvenient--sure, but we did not let it ruin our day. Just know that you may have to adapt your plans to the conditions.
Favorite thing: Water is an integral part of Glacier National Park. First, there are the namesake glaciers made up of fozen water. Then there are the emerald alpine lakes. Finally, there is the plentiful waterfalls: some jaw-dropping, pouring over sheer mountainsides; others more playful than dramatic.
Favorite thing: This scene can only be described as foreboding. Our first view of Glacier and we see dark looming mountains, layered with dense gray clouds. It looked as if the weather would be unrelenting. But no matter the conditions, the intrepid traveler must carry on undaunted.
Favorite thing: This photo is taken from the general vicinity of St. Mary's Lake looking back towards the peaks traversed on the Going to the Sun Road. All those mountains had been shrouded by cloud cover when we went through, but the weather broke for just a little while so I was able to get this shot.
Favorite thing: Nothing beats the thrill of viewing large mammals up close in their natural habitat. These guys didn't care a whit for the hikers wishing to get by--they blissfully ignored us and seemed to be saying pull around, we're not moving.
Favorite thing: Weather in the mountains can be spotty, especially in the fall and spring. But it doesn't matter. Sure everyone loves to see brilliant blue skies. However, as this photo illustrates, beauty can be easily found even in the most trying of circumstances. On this particular day, the gray fog followed us without interuption, but we made the best of the situation by finding a trailhead and walking through the gloom until we found ourselves in a kind of paradise. (Redrock Falls Area)
Favorite thing: Glacier has some of the best hiking trails in the lower 48 states. You cannot do justice to this park by simply driving the park roads. To get a real feel for the mountains, the glaciers and the wildlife the car must be left behind. I promise the rewards will be worth the effort.
Many of the charming scenes in Glacier are not far from the park road. On the east side, the short hikes to St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls are probably easy enough for the whole family to enjoy, including the young and elderly. There is not much climbing, and the farthest falls are barely a mile from the parking lane.
Fondest memory: St Mary Falls pours its glacial-green waters through a chasm. Virginia Falls (about a mile farther up-trail) dumps its water high over a stony ledge. You'll be near a creek most of the time, so your ears will not detect danger from bears. If you're with a family, keep young children close by and never let them run ahead. Groups of 4 or more will generally have no problem.
Favorite thing: Glacier has a wide variety of plant and flower life that might help you to predict what creatures enjoy a certain area. Certainly the grizzlies and bighorn munch on a great number of things, but what they leave is of interest to the botanist and amateur gardener alike.
Favorite thing: Most of the high country in Glacier is denuded of plant life, mainly as a result of the legacy of glaciation, and otherwise from the continual effects of snowfall, snowmelt and avalanche activity. The peaks in this fabulous park tend to jut straight upward and have rounded forms and fluted slopes. In many areas of the park, markers will exhibit and explain the effects of avalanche and snowfall in the higher and middle elevations, and by summer you can see wide strips cleared on the lower mountainsides where avalanches have smoothly torn away the vegetation. Grizzlies bears often frequent these passages for carrion and budding plant life. The appearance of the mountain crests however is generally as rugged as the winter weather.
Favorite thing: The Many Glacier Area is generally recommended by park staff as the best bet for wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, and everyone's #1 wilderness ambassador, the hoary marmot.
Favorite thing: Whenever you come upon a bosky clearing, always note that bear and deer commonly traipse through the same glades you are using. Throughout the park, area creeks and mountain streams appear ideally suited to some of the largest animals in the park, including moose and grizzly. Though the two giants might with some predictability appear in preferred habitats throughout its confines, Glacier is crisscrossed with countless rivers and streams that provide sedges and water for all the mammals here, large and small. Never glance at a beautiful landscape or river valley without scanning the banks and the treeline for the sudden appearance or retreat of the local wildlife.