Glacier National Park: Visiting in Fall

Written by: Ellie Hanousek

Just 3 hours away from Missoula, Montana sits one of the most pristine and beautiful national parks in the west: Glacier National Park. Planning a weekend trip to GNP in the fall season can be a challenge with the park’s fast-changing mountain weather and wildfire conditions.

Although these can be tricky problems to work around, a visit to GNP during these unpopular times provides an experience unlike any other with minimal traffic, trails to yourself, access to abundant wildlife, and beautiful fall colors. Next time you are planning a trip to Glacier, consider a September or early October visit – you will not be disappointed! If you happen to find yourself in GNP during fall season, here are a few of the must-visit destinations:

Morning Coffee @ Many Glacier Lodge

Kick off the early morning after a night of camping at Many Glacier Lake Lodge. Grab a coffee at the lakeside coffeeshop run by world travelers and sit beside a roaring fire overlooking the lake.

Grinnell Glacier Hike

One of the most rewarding hikes on the east side of the park is Grinnell Glacier. This 7.5 mile out-and-back hike stretches along side bright blue glacial lakes and rocky cliffsides marked burnt orange mountain ash trees and alpine meadows. The trail climbs to a perched valley where you will find Upper Grinnell Lake, where the smallest remaining glacier sits in the park: Gem Glacier. The backdrop of Upper Grinnell Lake is called ‘the Garden Wall’ and is part of the continental divide.

Iceberg Lake

Located in prime bear habitat, it is common to see grizzly bears on the distant hillsides of this 10-mile hike. This moderately difficult hike to the lake includes small crossings over footbridges through alpine meadows. A family of moose inhabit the area surrounding IceBurg Lake and can be seen resting in the shade. If you are brave enough, go for a swim in the glacial waters!

Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road @ Sunset

During peak season, The Going-To-The-Sun road leading to Logan Pass on both the West and East sides of the park is often the most crowded and trafficked road in the park. However, during fall evenings, the road is completely empty – meaning you can pull over, take photos, and view wildlife on your own time! Bring your binoculars to spot birds of prey, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and bear along the way.

Huckleberry Milkshakes @ Two Sisters Café

Treat yourself after a long weekend of hiking and sightseeing with a Montana famous huckleberry milkshake from Two Sisters Café in Babb, MT. This quirky and colorful restaurant makes a perfect pit stop on the way out of the park!

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5 Things You Learn From a Near Death Experience

Spring break of my junior year of college was there before I knew it. Other college kids are off to Mexico to drink themselves into a vegetative state, and there I was, just trying to get away for a couple days to catch some fish and enjoy the outdoors with one of my best friends that I hadn’t seen for months.

Monday, April 4, 2016.  I took off to spend my spring break deep in the hills of Montana. As I headed over McDonald pass in between Helena and Missoula, I was confronted with a complete and utter blizzard with 4 inches of snow on the road and 40 mph crosswinds. After taking it nice and slow, I finally drop down into Helena where it cleared up a bit.

We met up at Walmart to grab a few last minute supplies, and we were off.

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We stopped at the very last sign of civilization to grab some dinner and watch the Men’s NCAA basketball championship, where Villanova dropped a buzzer beater over North Carolina for the win, after they went back and forth multiple times within the last seconds of the game.

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Next Stop: camp

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We got out there pretty late, after all we had to stay to watch the end of the game.

By this time the roads were beyond terrible, having snowed in the mountains earlier that day, melted, and by this time it was raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

First things first: we got camp set up and tried to salvage any hope we initially had of staying dry, then headed out to get some firewood.

Before I could even fathom what was going on, my  tire is off the side of the road.

We remained half on, half off the road for about 10 feet, and just before the truck came to a slow stop, I felt gravity start to take its toll.

The truck rolled.

And rolled again..

And again…

Somehow, miraculously, we landed wheels down in a creek bed.

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In my disoriented state, I looked to my right and the only thing visible was the roof of my truck. Which was caved so far in it had pinned down my center console, and was crushed right on top of where my life long friend was sitting.

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As you can probably imagine, I had only thoughts of absolute terror running through my head… What just happened? What had I just done?

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Long story short, there had been 2 accidents in the exact same spot in the previous 2 year. In the first instance, the driver had been ejected from the car, pinned against the tree that my truck hit, and lost both legs… The second instance, they didn’t make it….

The officer that helped us out told me ” I honestly have no idea how you two are alive, I have never seen anybody survive something like this. You boys had someone watching over you”.

With every traumatizing event in someones life, you realize things.

Here are my 5 takeaways:

1. Tell your parents you love them every chance you get.

2.  There is a bright side in every situation- hell, we are both alive.

3. You’re going to need help every once in a while.

4. As cliché as it seems- tomorrow is never guaranteed. Seize the day.

5. Never stop moving forward. After an instance like this, it’s natural to want to hit the pause button on life. Don’t, keep moving forward.

 

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Shelton Todd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana: by a Northern Californian

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-8-47-46-amIt is no secret that the majority of the University of Montana student body is made up of Montana born and raised students (we’re talking 74% in-state). It is also no secret that there are “Keep California Out!” signs on everyone’s lawn (not really).

“Oh where are you from?” – Seemingly interested older Montanan

“Sacramento, California!” – Me

“…I’m sorry…” – Now uninterested and bitter older Montanan

“I’m not 🙂 Thanks for having me!” – Smiling me

Take a minute to listen up. I may not speak on behalf of the rest of the Californians in Montana, but I have a perspective I’d love to share. The second I stepped on University of Montana’s campus I knew that it could be my home away from home. The city of Missoula, hell the state of Montana, felt like hugging someone that you haven’t seen in years. I’ve been here for 4 very short years and no, I don’t plan on staying, but yes I will be back to visit. The reason being that it offered the experience of a lifetime for this particular time in my life.
For anyone who’s interested, University of Montana allowed me to step away from most everything I knew in Sacramento (yes I had seen snow, every year in Tahoe minus the recent winters). I was able to clearly establish my values as a young adult, assess the type of future I wanted, and walk away with some of the best friendships I will have for a lifetime.
You see, us Northern Californians appreciate tall trees, snowcapped mountains, cleaning our campsites and wandering to find that adventure just doesn’t end. I can single-handedly agree that California has some extreme undesirables. But so does Montana (hello Meth Capital), so does Colorado, so does New York, and Wyoming and every other state you can name. How do you think Arizona feels hosting all the frail Montana old-timers looking for warm retirement? Probably a mix of “stay in your own state” and “please contribute to our economy; look we have handicap approved EVERYTHING!”

I’ll leave on this note. The amount of times that people think that I’m a Montanan prior to asking is remarkable. Let’s just say I’ve had to convince just about everyone I meet with a valid California drivers license. My experience with those who are excited to have me is what makes Montana “the last best place”. The nay-sayers couldn’t keep me out if they tried.

By: Lia Sbisa, proud Sacramento Native and Montana Visitor

7 Must See Montana Summer Destinations

Montana is one of the most beautiful states and most traveled to states for many reasons. If you are an outdoor type of person this is literally heaven to you! Here is my list of 7 great Montana summer destinations, let me know what you think should have made the list!

Flathead Lake – Flathead is the greatest lake in the state in my opinion, because of its amazing views, mountain scenery, and endless opportunities for camping fun! At nearly 200 square miles, Flathead is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi so there’s plenty of room to do all your water activities. If you don’t have a boat or Jet Ski there are watercraft rentals available to you! Flathead is the dream Montana destination if you love fishing and camping.

Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake

Gardiner/Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is an amazing place to go if you want to see wildlife, mountains, rivers, and plenty more. The Yellowstone River is one of the most majestic rivers to see so this is why it’s a must see. If you’re brave, book a whitewater rafting trip with Flying Pig Adventure Co. with affordable prices of $42 for an adult for an 8 mile trip!

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River

Missoula – This town has everything to offer from night life to hiking. During the day check out Cara’s Park in downtown Missoula to see some Montana surfing! At night check out one of the many breweries in town or one of the bars like the Meagher Bar for great drinks! There are many hiking spots within a couple miles of town, with the most well-known hike being the “M” which is quite an easy hike that results in great views of the town.

Mount Sentinel
Mount Sentinel Missoula

Anaconda – If you’re looking to play some golf, make your way to Anaconda to the Old Works course. This course is the first Jack Nicklaus signature course in Montana, and the course lives up to his name and credibility. Old Works is located on the largest Federal EPA Superfund waste sites in the U.S., and is built over one of Anaconda’s first copper smelting sites. The course is kept in pristine condition and the mountain scenery surrounding the course makes for a great time on the links.

Old Works Golf Course
Old Works Golf Course

Glacier Park – Glacier National Park is one of the top parks in America for a reason. Great scenery, wildlife, tourist attractions, and great hiking. One of the most popular things in the park is Going-to-the-Sun Road that winds up the mountain and offers views of the mountain range for miles and miles. When you take this drive make sure to stop and hike the Highline Trail to get to even more beautiful Montana treasure.

Going-to-the-Sun Road
Going-to-the-Sun Road

Garnet Ghost Town – Garnet Ghost Town is an awesome little piece of Montana history located about 40 miles from Missoula and 20 miles from Drummond. Garnet was an old mining town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The town burned down in 1912 and was restored in 1970. If you’re interested in learning about gold mining history and Montana history this is an amazing spot to travel to!

Garnet Ghost Town
Garnet Ghost Town

Smith River State Park – This is one of the most popular and most demanded park in western Montana, being so popular that you need to get a permit to float the river. If you can get a permit you will not regret it as it is one of the most beautiful floats you could do. To preserve the quality of the river, only non-motorized watercrafts are allowed on the river. Smith River is one of those remote places that you can just get lost and block out the real world for a few days so I would highly suggest making this trip!

Smith River
Smith River