Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks this country has to offer. One trip to this amazing terrain and you will realize just how small you truly are on this planet. Glacier is home to over one million acres of glacier cut peaks, crystal clear mountain lakes, and an abundance of wildlife. Growing up in Montana Glacier quickly became an annual summer destination. Here are my 4 favorite can’t miss sights of Glacier National Park.
Going to the Sun Road
Going to the sun road is the feature attraction of the whole park. Completed in 1932 going to the sun road is the only road that crosses the park and goes over the continental divide via Logan pass. Stretching over 50 miles from Lake McDonald on the west side of the park to Saint Mary lake, the road features steep drop offs, gorgeous waterfalls, and jagged snow capped peaks. For the best experience on this narrow winding road, drive a smaller vehicle with great visibility or take the vintage red bus tour.
After taking the scenic drive up going to the sun to Logan Pass if you are anything like me you are ready for a hike. Lucky for you one of the most beautiful mountain lakes Glacier has to offer is only a five mile round trip hike from the Logan Pass visitor center. This is a well traveled path so expect some crowds. About half way through hiking you will reach a overlook to give you a awe inspiring view of Hidden Lake itself plus numerous mountain peaks including Bearhat Mountain. This hike also includes alpine meadows, nearly year round snow, and plenty of mountain goats.
If you are looking for a great view near the Lake McDonald area Avalanche Lake has everything you are looking for: massive peaks, insane waterfalls, and the clearest water you will see. If you are nearing the end of your trip and have not found that one picture you are going to show all your friends and family this is it. Only a 4 mile round trip hike, this is a trail for the whole family. After reaching the mouth of Avalanche Lake and getting to take in the picturesque view you can either continue on the trail to the far side or dive into the ice cold glacial water for a swim.
Saint Mary Falls
Starting near Saint Mary Lake on the going to the sun road is a little over 3 mile round trip hike with multiple breathtaking waterfalls. At under a mile into the hike you come upon the first and best known waterfall on the trail, Saint Mary Falls. Saint Mary Falls consists of cold glacial runoff dropping 35 feet down just off the trail. Continue farther on the trail and you come to the next gorgeous waterfall, Virginia Falls. Virginia falls is larger and steeper then Saint Mary falls. The water drops 50 feet right before showering you with a nice cool mist. If getting up close and personal with waterfalls is your thing then this is a must see trail.
Have you ever seen art on the wall and thought to yourself, is that a photograph or a painting? A key factor that makes art realistic is not only the detail that’s provided with a brush, but an understanding of your topic. To paint at the professional level, it takes more than natural talent, it’s taking the time to learn the details that is expected at this level. When an artist actually lives the experience of what they are painting, the bar gets set even higher. Or the art becomes truly amazing to look at. Even to the point that you start asking how much for the painting. Mary Wood Western Artist is a name to remember if you enjoy Western themed paintings and best of all, Mary creates her paintings right from her back porch. Here’s an example……
Right off her back porch stands this magnificent 6×6 bull elk. At first glance this bull just radiates confidence, possibly looking back to see if his harem is secure. There is no doubt this bull is “In His Prime” that is exactly what Mary titled this painting. All through the rut Mary was able to watch and study his behavior up close. Think of it as a figurative study except you are painting a naked bull elk instead of naked human. While writing this, out of curiosity I completed a search of elk paintings and I came across this….
Believe it or not, this painting costs $8,400.00 and it was created by a well known artist. The title of the painting claims this is a deer. It goes to show that you shouldn’t paint what you don’t know.
I reached out to Mary and asked if she could provide a quick bio for this post and here is the reply, I got back……
“I only paint subjects and country that are intimately familiar to me: horses, cowboying, ranch life and the wildlife I have tracked and studied since early childhood”
“My passion to draw and paint has been a part of my life from my earliest memories, always with the objective of being as accurate and true to my subjects as possible and at the same time capturing the atmosphere, the colors, the emotion of a split second in time that hopefully transports the viewer into the painting as if they were there.“
To see more of Mary’s art, please visit her site by clicking THIS LINK.
Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana, Missoula is a hidden gem where urban lifestyle meets adventure. Completely surrounded by seven wilderness areas, this city is rich with culture and endless outdoor recreational activities. In no particular order, here are the 5 best things to do when visiting Missoula, MT.
#1 | FLOAT DOWN THE CLARK FORK RIVER
During the summer, floating down the Clark Fork River is one of the best ways to cool down and relax. Every day, hundreds of locals on tubes, paddleboards, and rafts pass through town enjoying the sunshine and clean air.
#2 | GRAB A DRINK AND PLAY SOME GAMES
GILD is a locally-owned brewpub that just so happens to have an awesome arcade in the basement. From pinball to board games, GILD has everything you need to start the night off right. Not to mention, they have some of the best-tasting beer and hard cider in town.
#3 | HIKE MOUNT SENTINEL
Going for a hike on Mount Sentinel is a favorite for people visiting Missoula, and for good reason. As you gain elevation, you are able to see the entire city and the vast valley that lies below. In the distance, you can see the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Snowbowl Ski Area (shown above).
#4 | SHRED SOME POWDER AT SNOWBOWL
If you happen to visit Missoula in the winter, be sure to check out Snowbowl Ski Area. Conveniently located only 12 miles from Missoula, Snowbowl offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the West.
#5 | TRY YOUR LUCK AT FLY FISHING
It wouldn’t be a trip to Missoula without a fishing excursion in the mix. Missoula is world-renowned for its trout fishing streams, with a variety of different species to hook into. There is an impressive number of outfitters to choose from, so take your pick and get out there!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sit back, grab some popcorn, and get ready to see the Land of the Shining Mountains on the big screen
Author: Shane Cox
*All movie art credit belongs to IMDB
5. What Dreams May Come (1998)
There is an easy way and a hard way to see Heaven. The easy way is to live in Montana.
Led by legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams, this movie showed us the true meaning of the word “soulmate”. In this romantic fantasy, William’s character travels through Heaven and Hell to rescue the soul of the woman he loves. Along the way, he will reunite with his old dog Katie and his children who tragically died in a car accident and no I’m not crying I’m just SWEATING THROUGH MY EYES OK!!! (Seriously, it is a great movie, but have a box of tissues on hand)
Some of the most beautiful shots in the movie were filmed in Glacier National Park. While shooting, Williams decided to take a break and tour the area. (Traylor, 2014) He later said:
“If it isn’t God’s backyard, He certainly lives nearby.”
RIP Robin. There will never be another like you
4. Forrest Gump (1994)
Movies and Montana goes together like peas and carrots…
Montana makes a brief yet beautiful cameo in this legendary picture. During the running sequence, the shot of Forrest running though a field of golden wheat was taken just outside Cut Bank, MT. The scene then cuts to him jogging across a stone bridge at the St. Mary Entrance to Glacier National Park. (Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump, 2020)
Though Big Sky Country is only onscreen for few seconds, it was almost left out of the movie entirely! The studio, worried that the project was going too far over budget, threatened to pull the plug in the middle of production. Hanks and Director Robert Zemeckis decided to cover the cost of shooting the iconic running scene and save what is now one of the most beloved movies of all time. (Ashton, 2020)
As if we needed another reason to love Tom Hanks
3. The Untouchables (1987)
That’s the Montana way…
Chicago is great. But when you want your protagonists to charge the bad guys guns blazing while on horseback you pack up production and go to the Treasure State.
Based on real events, the movie follows Elliot Ness as he forms a team of special agents to take down the infamous gangster Al Capone. The movie’s (arguably) best scene takes place at Hardy Bridge just outside of Great Falls. (Movie-Locations: Untouchables, 2020)
This film is criminally underrated. In fact, you should stop reading this list right now and go watch it. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
2. The Revenant (2015)
The movie that FINALLY gave poor Leo his Oscar
While the movie is set in Montana and South Dakota, most of it was filmed in Canada. However, one of the film’s most pulse pounding scenes was shot in the rapids of Kootenai Falls, just downstream from Libby. In this scene Hugh Glass (played by DiCaprio) uses the waterfall to escape from a party of pursuing Arikara hunters. (Movie-Locations: Revenant, 2020)
I just gotta say…y’all know that scene where Leo eats a raw bison liver? Yeah, that wasn’t special effects. Real Liver. Real Reaction. He also actually crawled inside of a dead horse. All I’m saying is that if DiCaprio wanted to live in Montana he would fit in around here just fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Honorable Mention: Return to Lonesome Dove (1993)
A Cowboy’s Odyssey
This 4-part mini-series, while technically not a movie, deserves a place on this list. The sequel to the epic adventure Lonesome Dove follows Captain Woodrow F. Call’s return from Texas to his ranch in Montana.
This series is the perfect binge watch for fans of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. The filming locations span across the state and include Butte, Cardwell, Virginia and Nevada City, Laurel, and Billings. (Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production, 2020)
Fun Fact:My Dad worked on the Set #2 of this movie while he was in college. He was paid $100 a day to pick up and hide barb wire fences so they were not caught on camera. He and his coworker would spend their free time hunting rattlesnakes to turn into boots and hatbands to sell to the California crew.
I’m sorry, but my Dad is cooler than your dad. 🙂
1. A River Runs Through It (1992)
I’ll never leave Montana, Brother
There is no other way to end this list than with the most iconic Montana movie of all time. While most of these entries only take advantage of the state’s amazing scenery, Montana provides the heart and soul of this beautiful story.
While the film was set in Missoula and by the Blackstone river, the scenes in town were filmed in Livingston, MT. Likewise, the fishing scenes were captured in Paradise Valley on the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin River south of Bozeman, and the Boulder River by Big Timber. (Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It, 2020)
So many elements of this movie make it special. Norman Maclean’s story was adapted by Richard Friedenberg and brought to life by director Robert Redford. The entire cast is amazing, with now legendary actor Brad Pitt standing out among the crowd.
If you were born under the Big Sky…you need to watch this movie. If you have, you know why I can’t put the feeling into words. This film reminds us where we come from. It reminds us of Home.
Ashton, W. (2020, January 2). Forrest Gump: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Classic Tom Hanks Movie. Retrieved from Cinema Blend: https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2487844/forrest-gump-10-behind-the-scenes-facts-about-the-classic-tom-hanks-movie
Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: https://www.movie-locations.com/movies/f/Forrest-Gump.php
Movie-Locations: Revenant. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/r/Revenant.php
Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/r/River-Runs-Through-It.php
Movie-Locations: Untouchables. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/u/Untouchables.php
Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production. (2020). Retrieved from IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106112/locations?ref_=tt_ql_dt_5
Traylor, A. (2014, August 11). Remembering Robin Williams in Montana: His Visit to Glacier National Park. Retrieved from 107.5 Zoo FM: https://1075zoofm.com/robin-williams-montana/#:~:text=Remembering%20Robin%20Williams%20in%20Montana%3A%20His%20Visit%20to%20Glacier%20National%20Park&text=Scenes%20from%20the%20film%20’What,was%20directed%20by%20Vincent%20Ward