Monday, July 14, 2014 It was a warmer, hazy morning. We seem to get up every day around 7 ish, except when we’re plum tuckered out. We did our routine for taking down camp and were on our way around 9:00. That seems to be a good time for us. We were going back on Highway 464 to Browning where we picked up Highway 2. That will take us around the southern end of Glacier Nat’l Park to the west side. We will be spending a week on the west side of Glacier Nat’l Park where my brother from Sacramento will be joining us for a few days later in the week. Once we left St. Mary, we left the majestic mountains behind and immediately immersed ourselves in the treeless, expansive prairie.
We did see a red fox and a coyote amidst the nothingness around us. There was no traffic on the highway as it zigzagged its way through the grassland.
Once we climbed to the top of the bluff, we could begin to see the mountains in the distance.
We entered Browning to get gas and pick up a few groceries. Gas in St. Mary was $4.20 and we didn’t know what kind of services we would find in West Glacier.
We were in and out quickly. We drove through town to pick up Highway 2 which would take us around the south end of the park and up the west side. We saw these guys ride across the road into town on their horses and stop to talk to a friend along the side of the road. Kind of a strange sight!
The road took us 40 miles downrange from where we were. We were looking at a whole different set of mountains now.
We left the treeless grassland and entered the Blackfeet Buffalo Reserve where we did see buffalo and entered the foothills.
It took us through the city of East Glacier Park.
It was a cute little town which housed an Amtrak station.
The road skirted the mountains and brought us into the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
It was a pretty drive with forested mountains all around us.
We climbed up to the continental divide at Marias Pass (El. 5, 216 ft.) There was a cement marker designating the location.
From there it was all downhill.
Once the road turned north, the highway ran parallel to the train tracks and the wide Flathead River.
The river cut through a deep gorge. The track was built in side of the mountain. This structure, we figured out, was built to protect the train tracks from avalanches. The train runs through it.
We finally got a view of those beautiful, snow-capped mountains as we neared Glacier Nat’l Park.
Many of the mountains along the descending highway were covered in evergreens, not like the craggy, rocky, jagged peaks on the east side. We descended a total of 2,000 ft. to get to where we were going. There were times when we could catch a view of the aqua-colored Flathead River, still far below us. The river bed was, at times, far below us and out of view. This road is labeled “scenic” from East Glacier to West Glacier and it definitely is! Some sections are VERY steep and bring you too close to the edge of the cliff.
We caught sight of some rafters in the fast flowing, rapids’ section of the river.
We finally entered the town of West Glacier.
The West side is the busiest side of the Park, as most people enter from West Glacier. There is a lot going on here. We found our campground about 2 1/2 miles past West Glacier.
We checked in around 11:30 and found our site #135.
We have views of the mountains, but they aren’t like the snow-capped mountains on the east side. The ones closest to the campground are tree-covered.
We chilled out and checked out the campground a little. They have a nice pool and two hot tubs. They also serve breakfast and dinner here just like our last campground. The sites are nicely done with grass and a fire pit with built-in benches. Our site has a great tree that provides shade for Auggie. Around 5:00, the dark clouds rolled in and we heard claps of thunder nearby. We had some lightning bolts hit very closeby and then the rain came. I could see it off to the west moving in our direction. It rained pretty hard for an hour and there was a flash flood warning for our area. We had one lightning bolt hit so close to the trailer and the light was SO bright. The clap of thunder that followed, shook the trailer and our bones to the core. That was too close by! The rain mostly stopped by 8:00 and then Auggie was able to get his walk. It started to rain again lightly, but the skies started clearing to the north. We went outside once the rain stopped and checked out the clouds that were moving through the valley. the clouds were so amazing and changed by the minute.
Tomorrow we’ll head into the park and explore a little of the area on this side.