Your Guide to Glacier National Park

I had the opportunity to work in Glacier National Park for the 2018 and 2019 summers and I’ve got to say, it is one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States. The park has gained significant attention over the past 10- 15 years. The yearly visitor count has almost doubled in that time, from averaging around 1.5 million visitors to 3 million+ the past 4 summers. The now heavily trafficked park can be stressful to navigate at times, as it’s realistically designed to host under a million guests each summer. My hope is this post may give future visitors a better idea of how to approach their trip to Glacier.

 

GO ON A HIKE

During the summer, the roads through Glacier can look as though it’s rush hour in New York, making driving a frustrating task. The best way to avoid the stress of driving? Get out and hike! Glacier offers over 700 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy family-friendly loops to epic multi-day backpacking trips that cover up to 30 miles. 

Planning out which trails you would like to hit in advance is a good idea. Some trails, basically any trail near Logan’s Pass, can have full parking lots by 7 A.M in peak season. Unless you’re willing to get up and after it early, it’s a good idea to have a few back up plans. Utilizing the shuttle services (pandemic pending) in the park is a great way to get around and avoid fighting other visitors over a parking spot.

Here’s a shortlist of my favorite hikes…

  • Highline Trail
  • Sperry Chalet to Lincoln Peak
  • Upper Two Medicine Lake trail
  • Stanton Lake

POLEBRIDGE

If you’re looking for a relaxing day, look no further than Polebridge. Polebridge is a small community located along the Northfork of the Flathead river located 22 miles south of the Canadian border. Tucked in the westernmost boundary of the park, Polebridge is in a more unknown part of the park, as it’s a 35-mile drive from West Glacier entrance that is primarily a dirt road. The “town” doesn’t accommodate much for lodging so it is a day trip for most. In fact, Polebridge doesn’t have many buildings at all as it holds two restaurants and one mercantile (be sure to get a huckleberry bear claw). Other than the food, there are a few small hiking loops, access to the Northfork, and fantastic views of the mountains that make up the Canadian-US border. 

After spending time at the Mercantile and a meal at Northern Lights Saloon. Be sure to make the 6 mile drive up to Bowman Lake. The drive is quite bumpy, so make sure you have a vehicle cable of some potholes and loose gravel. The lake is the perfect spot to set up some chairs and lounge while taking the occasional dip in the beautiful lake.

Northern Lights Saloon
The Merc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOING TO THE SUN ROAD

Completed in 1932, Going-to-the-Sun-Road has been one of the top attractions to Glacier National Park. Although I mentioned the stress of driving in Glacier, you still can’t miss out on Going-to-the-sun-Road. The 50-mile long mountain pass goes over the Continental Divide and spans the width of the park. It features breathtaking views around every turn with plenty of pull-offs that guests can use to stop and take photos or go on hikes. The highest part of the road, Logan’s Pass, sits over a mile high at 6,646 feet and can accumulate up to 80 feet of snow in the winter. 

If you’re planning to make the trip before July and want to drive the road, be sure to check the road conditions on the National Park Service website. The snow on the road can take teams of snowplows over a month to clear out because of the mass quantities it receives in the winter. It is typically cleared by the second half of June, but some years it takes until early July.

The drive up to Logan’s Pass

 

 

RAFTING

There is no better way to see the park than from rafting down the glowing blue waters of the  Middle of the Flathead River. These forks make up the western and southern boundaries of Glacier and can be used for world-class fly fishing, scenic floats, and up to class III and IV whitewater rafting. The town of West Glacier itself has four different raft companies that collectively take down thousands of visitors a day. 

It’s the perfect way to beat the summer heat as the Flathead River typically remains under a cool 60 degrees. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, guests have the option to choose from numerous different float, some companies even offer up to 6-day trips where you are flown up into the nearby Great Bear Wilderness and float your way back into West Glacier. The multi-day trips aren’t for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, is the number one activity the park has to offer.

ALL FORWARD
Class II rapids Class V fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GO ON A HIKE!!!!

In my two summers of working in Glacier, I heard too many people complain about the busy roads throughout the park. There are 147 trails in the park, you’re guaranteed to find areas that have few to no other people. Get out and enjoy the fresh air! Be sure to bring bear spray, as the animals are WILD and should not be approached. 

I hope this helps a few that may have had questions about the park or were on the fence about going! 

 

Five Spooky and Haunted MONTANA Destinations

#1 The Old Montana State Prison- Deerlodge

Paranormal Investigation: https://youtu.be/QavTJBMFyQw

These walls hold a lot of dark history. Deaths occurred from a violent 1959 riot. You can feel the unnerving energy once you enter the prison grounds. A great place to set up for investigations, the complex is large and active in the paranormal.

 

Last Prisoners Left on September 5, 1979…
Or Did They???

 

 

#2 Virginia City

American Haunting: https://youtu.be/fj1qd_SI_og

 

This town allows you to step back in time during the mining days of Montana. Charming and fun! The town’s business shuts down at 4 pm, so get your ghost gear out!

 

 

Oldest Mining Town in Montana
The Very Haunted Fairweather Inn

 

 

#3 Daly Mansion

Audio Evidence: https://youtu.be/HiF-hocwCng

 

Daly Mansion in 1986: Before Restoration

 

 

 

 

 

Rich in history and built by a Montana Copper King,  many strange and unexplained things have occurred at the mansion in Hamilton. Come and visit the remains of the pool area on the property or set up a tour of the house. Walk the grounds and hear the past whispers on the wind.

 

Daly Mansion: Today

 

 

 

 

#4 Dumas Brothel- Butte

Ghost Adventureshttps://youtu.be/yagvLFBSs1k

 

The Dumas served as a brothel in Butte for approximately 92 years. Mining towns throughout the West were notorious for their brothels, and Butte was no exception. At one time Butte had a thriving Red Light District. Today it is the only building that remains of the sex worker industry of Butte’s past. Be prepared to be spooked by its cold, dark, and musty spaces and creaking floors.

 

 

Ladies of the Night…

 

 

 

 

Still Whisper in Your Ear.

 

 

#5 Garnet Ghost Town

Montana’s Best Preserved Ghost Town: https://youtu.be/svJ5jWBm0V4

Some ghost towns truly are empty and totally uninhabited, aside from archaeologists and occasional tourists passing through. Such is the case high in the hills of west-central Montana, where the historic ghost town of Garnet is located.

 

Hauntings During the Day…

 

 

Will Follow You into the Night!

Things To Do in Spokane, Washington

If you are headed to Spokane for a weekend getaway or even just a quick day trip, there are many different activities to enjoy, places to eat, and views to take in. My name is Isabella Bradley, I am a senior at the University of Montana. In this blog post I will be sharing with you some of my favorite things to do in Spokane, where I was born & raised.

Kendall Yards

One of my favorite spots in Spokane is Kendall Yards, located closely to downtown! Kendall Yards is a modern neighborhood with a view of the river and downtown. There are many hip spots for food, beverages, dessert and more! In the summer, Kendall Yards hosts a night market filled with food trucks, art, produce, and live music every Wednesday night. One of my favorite parts about Kendall Yards is the paved trail that runs parallel to the river where you can walk, ride bikes, or grab a Lime Scooter to enjoy the view of the river and downtown.

Breakfast Poutine from the Yards Bruncheon, my favorite!
My friend Maddison & I enjoying coffee from Indaba Coffee and donuts from Hello Sugar

Green Bluff

Green Bluff is an association of small family farms and food stands. The activities change based on the season, but they range from pick-your-own fruit, pumpkin patches, and annual festivals. Green Bluff has a variety of breweries, places to dine, and other specialties.

My friends & I enjoying an elephant ear at the pumpkin patch! (aka my friends watching me enjoy an elephant ear)
Picking peaches, Summer 2019

Downtown Spokane

Downtown Spokane is a lively area filled with shopping, dining, Riverfront Park, pubs and clubs, hotels and more. Riverfront Park is home to the Looff Carousel, the Skate Ribbon, the Pavilion Light Show, and the SkyRide Gondola. Both the Carousel and Skate Ribbon were recently renovated, along with the majority of the park, causing them to become more of a staple to the downtown Spokane scene. The Pavilion Light Show was also recently welcomed to Riverfront Park, it is a free recurring weekly light show on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and is a must see on your visit to Spokane.

River Park Square, the downtown mall, is located just across the street from Riverfront Park. This mall has many stores including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Athleta, and an AMC Movie Theatre. On the same street, you can find more shopping that includes; Lululemon, Free People, Anthropologie, Nike, Apple, Carhartt, Lush, and more. A large amount of both my time and money have been spent downtown Spokane, with thanks to the wide variety of shopping and entertainment.

Pavilion Light Show, photo from City of Spokane (my.spokanecity.org)
Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park, photo from Visit Spokane (visitspokane.com)

Manito Park

My final & favorite spot in Spokane is Manito Park. Manito Park is a public park featuring botanical gardens, greenhouses, and arboretum. Manito park has five different gardens; Duncan Garden, Ferris Garden, Rose Hill, Lilac Garden, and Nishinomiya Tsutakawa. Other features include the Mirror Pond and the Park Bench Café. Many people gather at Manito Park to picnic, host gatherings with friends and family, and enjoy the views of the beautiful gardens.

My dog, Spring, and I enjoying a picnic next to the Mirror Pond
My friends and I at the garden, Rose Hill, for homecoming photos in the fall of 2016. This garden was a hot commodity when it came to photos

You are now equipped to navigate a weekend in Spokane. I hope this information was helpful & you enjoy your getaway!

 

Welcome to The Flathead Valley: The Crown Jewel of the NW!

So, you’re spending the weekend in The Flathead Valley, and you’re looking to craft the perfect itinerary. Well, don’t take it from Trip Advisor, take it from a local.

Kalispell is the central hub of the Flathead Valley, from here you are a hop, skip, and a jump away from some of Montana’s best landmarks – The Rocky Mountains, Flathead Lake, and Glacier Park. Not to mention the touristic towns of Whitefish and Bigfork – home to some of the best dive bars.

If you’ve read this far, Hello, and welcome to my first blog post. My name is Savannah, and I was born and raised in Kalispell, Montana, also known as “The Last Best Place.”

Now, you’re only in The Flathead Valley for a weekend, so let’s start crafting that itinerary!


Day 1: Go fish!

With the abundance of fresh water lakes in this region, you don’t have to be an expert outdoorswoman (or man) to cast a line and catch a vibe!

This weekend we hit up one of my favorite spots for Pike fishing, Stillwater Lake.

The supplies you will need for this activity – A couple of fishing poles and a twelve pack of seltzers of your choice.
Pick your best hook then tie on a steel leader so that massive fish your about to catch doesn’t chomp through your line.
Drink a Blue Moon at the Stillwater Bar.  If you’re like us, and you get skunked, there’s are great little bar on the lake where you can drink a beer and lick your wounds.

Day 2: Pick a mountain, any mountain!

Now it’s time to put some work in. The Flathead Valley is enclosed with mountains, so take your pick, and cut a path to the top for some of the best panoramic views in the world.

This last weekend, my boyfriend and I hiked Mount Aeneas located in the Jewel Basin, approximately a 45 minute drive from Kalispell. This 6 mile, round trip hike is very doable and will have you working up a sweat.

On the way up! Flathead Lake and Echo Lake can be seen here.

 

My boyfriend and I, at the top of Mount Aeneas.

Mount Aeneas sits at 7,500 feet above sea level. You can view the Flathead Valley and The Bob Marshal Wilderness from the top.

Good practice: A cheers at the peak!

Dinner: Tamarack Brewing Co.

After you’ve summited that whopper, you’ll surely be hungry. A favorite among tourists and locals alike is Tamarack Brewing Co.

The Tamarack’s home base location is Lakeside, MT. From Mount Aeneas you’ll have to travel to the West side of Flathead Lake to grab this delicious bite.

Take a tip from me and call in an order. This popular spot is guaranteed to have a wait.

Take your tamarack dinner to-go.  We love the huckleberry salmon and the Big Sky burger, but don’t forget to save room for a fresh baked pizza cookie!

Now, if you’ve made it this far, then I hope I’ve sold you on a weekend in “The Last Best Place.”

With that being said, we Montanan’s hear California is great, and that there’s a plethora of activities to do there.  So, if you don’t make it to the Flathead Valley, we understand, and we’re not mad about it 😉


Author: Savannah Anderson 

Instagram: @savvvanderson

 

The Oregon I Bet You STILL Don’t Know

The Oregon I bet you STILL don’t know.

As you can see, when I say eastern Oregon I do not mean Bend as some travel bloggers do. I mean further east as in closer to Idaho than the coast. Not many people think of beautiful conifer forests, waterfalls, hot springs, fossil beds, historic sites, roaming elk herds, nor majestic mountain lakes when they think about true eastern Oregon. In fact, I would say not many people outside of the few who live here spend much time thinking about eastern Oregon if they think about it at all. This seems to be particularly true when people are making their travel plans, and that is perhaps the best part about it out here. If you dare to go against the grain (and do a little bit of roughin’ it) there are numerous trails with brilliant views, and historic structures of some form awaiting your discovery year-round with little to no crowds. Read on to learn more about the eastern Oregon I bet you STILL don’t know!

Did you know about the National Forests and other public lands in eastern Oregon with miles of all types of trails?

Hike, bike, backpack, ride a horse or ATV, maybe even Nordic ski! It’s all here depending on the time of year.

A pristine stream during a summer hike in the Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon
A wintry, Nordic ski trail that can be found in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon
It’s a short, uphill hike to this breathtaking mountain lake found in the Malheur National Forest, Oregon
On a trail of the Winom-Frazier OHV Complex in the Umatilla National Forest, Oregon – Photo courtesy of RiderPlanet USA.

If you prefer to have a more relaxing visit you can simply camp along a lake, river, or visit a hot spring.

Ritter Hot Springs, Oregon – Photo courtesy of  Zach Urness/ Statesman Journal.
Did you know that eastern Oregon also has one of the most renowned fossil beds in the USA?

They have discovered such unusual fossils like those of ancient, small mammals.

A marsh “rhino” tusk fossil which can be viewed at the Thomas Condon Palentology Center of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon – Photo courtesy of NPS
Did you know eastern Oregon had its own gold rush?

Asian immigrants were participants, and there are even a few active claims still. 

Kam Wah Chung exterior
This strange building holds some incredible wonders. If you are interested in old Chinese medicine and the influence immigrants had on the gold rush you should consider taking the time to visit the historic Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon – Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks.
Sumpter Valley Dredge
Gold mining was much more than sifting through pans by hand. To learn more visit the Sumpter Valley Dredge in Sumpter Valley, Oregon! – Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks
Did you know eastern Oregon has fire look outs that are still in operation during the summer?

Their often rugged roads end in some of the best views perfect for romantic sunrises or sunsets and dark sky photography. You can probably stop by and have a chat with the look out too!

A starry night at Dixie look out of the Malheur National Forest, Oregon – Photo courtesy of Matt Franklin
Did you know. . .I purposely did not give you a lot of specific details?

What good is an adventure if you don’t get to put in the effort to discover it for yourself?! I myself have been disappointed by going to places travel bloggers have already given nearly every detail away about. Putting in the time and effort to find these and other hidden gems out here is one of the reasons I fell so in love with it that I now live out here.  I have a continual sense of excitement about the next beautiful creek or historic remnants I may find on my next outing.  I do not want to potentially ruin that sense of excitement for you. Come out and discover it further for yourself! I will give you a hint though: having a vehicle, particularly one for rough dirt roads, is a good idea.

I hope you enjoy whatever your next adventure is! I must admit I hope it is out here.