West Glacier, Glacier NP, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 We woke up to rain on the roof and cooler temps after that storm moved through the area yesterday. It was a cloudy start to the day. We had a leisurely morning and got ready to go into the park at 11:00. We heard on last night’s news report that a woman got killed in Glacier Nat’l Park Saturday. She was at McDonald Creek when she slipped off a rock and fell into the swift flowing river. Her husband jumped in and tried to save her, but she was swept away over the 30′ falls and later died. Of course, I got a stern reminder from Bob about getting too close to the edge to get those pictures of the waterfalls. I will definitely heed that warning, as I always do. This morning the mountains around us were obscurred by low hanging clouds and it was still pretty damp outside. We were hoping the sun would come out at some point today. We left the campground and drove 2 1/2 miles to the town of West Glacier. The drive brought into view of some of those mountains with hanging clouds that we can barely see from the campground.

To get into West Glacier, you have to pass under this railroad bridge. It makes you feel officially welcomed!

We entered the town area which is just outside the park entrance.

It was bustling with people visiting all the shops and restaurants here. We crossed the Flathead River which was moving swiftly and entered the park.

The line of cars waiting to get into the park was astounding. We never had to wait once at the St. Mary entrance. I did read that this was the busier side of the park.

The line went pretty fast with 4 lanes open and we were in. Our next stop was at the Apgar Village. I was still in pursuit of a shirt and a Christmas ornament from Glacier. We parked and looked around at some of the shops and the grocery store there. We did some shopping at the Cedar Tree Gift Shop and I found exactly what I was looking for. We even got to try a sample of huckleberry jam. [That’s a big thing out here. When the huckleberries are ripe, which will be in a few weeks, the bears go crazy for them. Unfortunately, many of the hiking trails are lined with huckleberries. There are signs warning hikers about hiking in the areas where there are abundant berries. Needless to say, they are delicious and desired by both humans and bears.] The jam was tasty and tasted a little like blueberries, so we bought a small jar to have with our toast. From there, we walked to the lake and stood on the southern shore of Lake McDonald and got a wonderful view. (This picture is so perfect it should be a painting!)

The lake was perfectly calm and the low clouds still hung there in the mountains. Stanton Mountain (El. 7,550 ft.) was the only peak I could see with snow on the top.

People were starting to enjoy the lake with different water activities. We left there to drive a little on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. The road took us through pine forests along the shore of Lake McDonald. Lake McDonald is the largest of the park’s 653 lakes.

We traveled along the eastern shore on Lake McDonald which took us to the Lake McDonald Lodge. 

It was built in the same familiar alpine style as many of the other buildings in the park.

We walked inside to check it out. This is the lobby.

The chandelier is very unique with a Native American design.

We took a peek in the dining room and checked out the menu. The restaurant was open for lunch, but closed from 2:00-5:00 when they open again for dinner.

Our next stop was the bar and grill. We found 2 empty bar stools and sat down to have a beer. We ordered a locally brewed beer from Big Sky Brewing Co. called Moose Drool, kicked back, and chatted with 2 motorcycle riders from Flagstaff, AZ. The beer was tasty for a craft beer. 

After we finished our beers, we took a walk outside the lodge and went down to the lake. The view towards the north end of the lake was awesome!

By now, the sun was peeking through and people were out and about.

Synder Creek empties into Lake McDonald and created a small waterfall.

Around the front of the lodge, I noticed this cool totem pole.

More sun peeked through and blue sky appeared on our drive back as we made a side trip through the Apgar Campground to check it out. The lake was even more beautiful with the sunshine out.

As we left the park around 2:00, we noticed that there was almost, no line of cars waiting to get in. There were rafters and kayakers on the river now. I guess the sunshine brought them out.

We made one last stop at the West Glacier Mercantile to pick up some brats for dinner. We just had a taste for some.

On the road to the campground, we spotted this big doe making her way through the forest. She saw us, as you can see in this picture, and then we moved on.

We got back to the campground at 2:30 and relaxed in the shade. The sun had warmed things up to a temp of 84 degrees. We took Auggie for a walk around the park. This is one of the nicest KOAs that we’ve stayed in. Everything is landscaped nicely and well kept.

They have some very deluxe sites that come with a grill, table, chairs, and umbrella on a patio slab. Of course, you pay extra for that.

We checked out the nice pool area they have and an ice cream shoppe. Bob pointed out this bird’s nest filled with 3 tiny little chicks. I never saw them there.

We came back to cook dinner and enjoyed the rest of the beautiful day it turned out to be. I stopped back at the ice cream shoppe after dinner to try their huckleberry ice cream. Yum! Auggie got a taste from the cup.

Later, Auggie and I took a walk to the dog park and to visit the horses that were grazing in a field adjacent to the campground. They were curious about him and came to the fence to see. He just barked and went a little nuts. Tonight the sunset was beautiful without all the dark clouds and rain of yesterday.

Surprise! My brother called tonight to tell me he had thought that his flight to Glacier was on Thursday, but it is tomorrow. He will be arriving a day earlier than we first thought! That’s good news! We’ve got lots to see and do.

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