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Glacier National Park – A travel guide!

The Glacier National Park, home to some of the greatest scenery in North America, came to my mind while planning a summer trip with family. Long habituated to the ever-increasing rush, the hustle and bustle of the San Francisco Bay Area, I wanted to visit a place that is distant, remote, incongruous, and is disappearing or is transformed by climate change. I savored the impressive scenery and built beautiful memories while traveling responsibly before all is gone forever. The Glacier National Park in Montana, together with the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, is a UNESCO world heritage site, which offers a contiguous high-country wonderland of innumerable rocks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, woods, and mountains. Although I was not consciously following any particular trend, I later recognized that Glacier National Park belongs to a new kind of bucket list item known informally as “last chance travel” because the park is on track to lose its glaciers within a generation. I enjoyed every moment I spent in this park with my family and wanted to share with you the joy of spending 4 days filled with wanderlust and wilderness. Before you plan and go to witness the Crown of the Continent, read this travel guide to the magical and stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations,
I looked quietly and intently at the lake and the mountain, to parse its scenery!
Glacier National Park – A travel guide! #Travel #Explore #Nature #FindYourPark #GlacierNationalPark Click To Tweet

Reaching Glacier National Park from Bozeman – Day 1

Our vacation started from the moment we arrived at the airport and sipped a cup of coffee along with a buttery croissant, a habit grown while living in Switzerland and taking innumerable flights from Geneva airport. Our little one, growing up now in the San Francisco Bay Area, much to our surprise, started liking the croissant too! We took a morning flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN). Bozeman airport’s cozy wooden decor along with the sculptures of bison and bears instantly set the mood for the exploration. We rented a car and followed the road shown on the map below and reached East Glacier, a gateway town to the park. On our way, we stopped at the majestic Cathedral of Saint Helena.

If you have time then I recommend three stops along the way. To cover all the three stunning stops, you need a day. Since we were pressed for time, we just visited the Cathedral of Saint Helena. Book your stay at a place near the airport to utilize most of your time.

Where to stay near Bozeman airport The LARK  located 11 mi away from the airport, or the Bozeman Inn,  15 minutes drive away from the airport.

  1. Museum of the Rockies – It is renowned for displaying an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils and is just half an hour’s drive from Bozeman airport.
  2. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park – Discover one of the most highly decorated limestone caverns in North America. It takes around 45 mins from Bozeman airport. Naturally air-conditioned, these spectacular caves lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites are electrically lighted and safe to visit.
  3. Cathedral of Saint Helena – I loved seeing the spectacular Cathedral of Saint Helena, modeled by architect A.O. Von Herbulis after the Votivkirche in Vienna, Austria. Even if you are short of time, stop here for a few minutes and you will not be disappointed.
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Cathedral of Saint Helena
Cathedral of Saint Helena
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Cathedral of Saint Helena
Cathedral of Saint Helena. The stained glass is as beautiful as the ones in Europe.

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Where to stay in East Glacier Park

After reaching East Glacier Park, I saw stunning vistas stretching in each direction and the mountains meeting the prairies. Majestic scenery and a bison welcomed us. I couldn’t stop myself from constantly disembarking from the car and kept on clicking my Canon’s shutter to capture the epic lookouts. I decided to make the east side our base for exploring Glacier National Park to avoid crowds and having quick access to spectacular Two Medicine Valley. I plunged almost instantly into the untamed wilderness and tranquility. We planned to drive through the famous scenic route Going-to-the-Sun Road from east to west via St. Mary visitor center. Glacier National Park’s iconic eastern gateway is casual, delightful, and timeless. Consider staying at Glacier Park Lodge, just 12 miles away from Glacier National Park. I enjoyed the view here and the food at the in-house restaurant. Book your stay at Glacier Park Lodge and start dreaming about starting the day with a steaming mug of coffee in hand and soaking in the spell-binding scenery.

A few other options include, Dancing Bears Inn  and Circle R Motel.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations,
The lonely bison contemplating about life at the Glacier National Park!
After reaching East Glacier Park, I saw stunning vistas stretching in each direction and the mountains meeting the prairies. Majestic scenery and a bison welcomed us. #Travel #GlacierNationalPark #Explore Click To Tweet

Map of the top sights in Glacier National Park – Day 2

Pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged and waterfall-laced mountains, and spectacular lakes await you in the Glacier National Park. Solitude-seeking souls, hiking-loving adventurers or explorers of any kind will enjoy the beauty and bliss of nature away from the cacophony of civilization. Here on the map below are listed some of the top sights in Glacier National Park.

Pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged and waterfall-laced mountains, and spectacular lakes await you in the Glacier National Park. #Travel #Explore #GlacierNationalPark Click To Tweet Solitude-seeking souls, hiking-loving adventurers or explorers of any kind will enjoy the beauty and bliss of nature in Glacier National Park away from the cacophony of civilization #Travel #Nature #Naturephotography Click To Tweet

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is a spectacular reality of human being’s imagination resulting in an extraordinary engineering feat. Before driving through the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of America’s most scenic highways, I stopped at two sights. First to take the signature shot of the gate before entering the park and the second one at the Saint Mary visitor center. I have immense respect for the National Park Service (NPS) which maintains the wildlands, one of the last redoubts of the real. Untamed wild places inspire, thrill, challenge, and frighten us all at once. Wilderness to me is a spiritual resource. Every time I visit a national park, I stop at the gate and take a pic, my precious travel souvenir, and my own sweet ritual.

The 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of America’s most scenic highways is a spectacular reality of human being's imagination resulting in an extraordinary engineering feat. #Travel #Explore Click To Tweet
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations,
I stopped at the gate to take the signature shot of the Glacier National Park ~ a sweet ritual of a traveler!

Saint Mary Visitor Center in Glacier National Park

At the east entrance to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, stands the Saint Mary Visitor Center. The beautiful roof structure of the St. Mary Visitor Center is in harmony with the mountain peaks in the background. I spent time inside the visitor center, collected maps, went through the exhibits, and had an informative conversation with a park ranger. Exhibits inside highlight the rich Native American history associated with Glacier National Park. I also bought a fabulous magnet as a souvenir from the gift shop.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Saint Mary Visitor Center
The St. Mary visitor center is listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Just before starting for the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Siddhartha quickly took this shot. When I looked at the vast mountains in the background, carpeted with pine trees, I couldn’t wait to embrace the tranquility. Currently, when the speed of life doesn’t allow enough interstitial time for things to just kind of settle down, wilderness, mountains and lakes are perhaps our only alternative to the demands of puritanical devotion to perpetual busyness of modern life.

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Loved the sweeping roof and the wooden frame at the St. Mary Visitor Center at the Glacier National Park!
When the speed of life doesn’t allow enough interstitial time for things to just kind of settle down, wilderness, mountains, and lakes are perhaps our only alternative to the demands of the perpetual busyness of modern life. #Travel… Click To Tweet

Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

Our first stop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road was Saint Mary Lake. When the beautiful blue St. Mary Lake surrounded by the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the Glacier National Park appeared first, I felt I took a plunge into a sea of serenity. The sight and the feeling reminded me of the Fjords of Norway!  I truly believe such places replenish the brain’s stores of attention, an essential ingredient to think and create.

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The breathtaking St. Mary Lake on the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park

I chose to sit down quietly along the lake, indulging in some me-time without any distractions. Such moments of rest trigger profound contemplation which often results in introspection; a way we form a sense of self, which is essentially a story we continually tell ourselves. When I spend time in nature, I feel that my mind dips its quill into my memories, sensory experiences, disappointments, and desires and continue writing the ongoing first-person narrative of life. A process of understanding my identity in a world of relentless influences and noise.

Such moments of rest trigger profound contemplation which often results in introspection; a way we form a sense of self, which is essentially a story we continually tell ourselves. #Travel #Traveler Click To Tweet
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Saint Mary Lake
In conversation with nature at the St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park!

Evidence of 2015 Wildfire in Glacier National Park

When I took a short walk along the Saint Mary lake, I witnessed burnt branches of trees – evidence of a devastating 2015 wildfire. While wildfires are natural phenomena that occur regularly and the forests have adapted to them through ages, we must be cognizant of the effects of human-induced climate change and how it has affected this natural equilibrium.

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Wildfires come and go, but the forest regenerates itself.

Folklore of Wild Goose Island in Glacier National Park

Wild Goose Island in the middle of St. Mary Lake is one of Glacier National Park’s most photographed spots. If you are wondering like me about the name “Goose Island”, then read below the enchanting Native American tale that gives Wild Goose Island its name.

Wild Goose Island – The speck of land in the middle of St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

In the middle of St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park is a small island halfway between two shores. Many moons ago now, there were two tribes living on either side of the lake. While there was no direct warfare between them, the two tribes avoided one another. All this changed one day when a handsome warrior near the shore saw a lovely maiden from the other tribe swimming toward the small island in the middle of the lake. He was instantly smitten by her beauty and leaped into the lake to swim to the island himself. They met on the shore of the little islet and fell in love. They talked for hours, and by the end of their conversation, they were betrothed.  After extracting a promise from his beloved that she would faithfully meet him at the island on the morrow, the warrior swam home to his tribe, and she returned to hers. Unfortunately, they met with an uproar upon their return.  Neither tribe was happy at their meeting, and both tribes were determined to break all the solemn promises of the lovers. 

The man and the maiden had no doubts about their love for each other. In the wee hours of the morning, each swam out to the little island to meet one another and decided to flee to a new land where they could marry.  As soon as they were discovered missing, warriors from both tribes set out in pursuit, to bring the renegades back by whatever means available. But the Great Spirit was watching on the young lovers. He transformed them into geese, so they could fly away from their pursuers and remain together always. When the warriors arrived on the island, they found not a man and a woman, but two lovely geese walking among the small trees. The warriors saw the two geese stroked their necks together lovingly and then flew away, never to return. From that day onwards, the little island at the center of St. Mary Lake has been known as Wild Goose Island. I loved this beautiful Native American story and instantly remembered seeing the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen and the fairytale of unrequited love. Although the story is only a myth and does not stand up to modern scientific verification, we humans have always needed myths to survive and dream and I sometimes wonder whether the modern myths of perennial progress and economic expansion stand up to ancient scrutiny.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Wild Goose Island

Sun Point Nature Trail

Our next stop was the Sun Point Nature Trail or Three Falls Trail. The hike along this trail gifted us spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding Rockies. Along this trail, you will get to witness three beautiful waterfalls; Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls. Because our time was limited, we couldn’t complete the hike but you can and enjoy a tapestry of beauty even with a short stroll! A hike to me is an opportunity for discovery and inspiration. Always.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Sun Point Nature Trail
The lakes, forests and trails of the Glacier National Park transport you to a time when nature was not a thing at the edge of civilization, but a world unto itself in which humans were guests.

When I start my hikes, I feel I begin with an empty canvas and fill it with colors from nature; varied and vibrant trees, flowers, butterflies and bees, sky, lakes, and leaves! While walking along the Sun Point Nature Trail I loved a pair of blooming violet flowers with the background of refreshing greenery. The fleeting beauty of flowers makes them an ephemeral treasure for which we all wait. We all patiently wait year long for the spring and summer flowers.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Sun Point Nature Trail
Wildflowers wait till the summer to unfurl their colors.

Jackson Glacier Overlook in Glacier National Park

After reveling in the beauty of the Sun Point Nature Trail, our next stop along the Going-to-the-Sun Road was Jackson Glacier Overlook. Although I got to see a glimpse of the glacier afar, I was saddened by the fact that out of 100 glaciers originally observed in 1910, only 26 remain. Many of the remaining 26 glaciers are just small remnants of what they once were, a testament to the harm that human-induced climate change has already done.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Jackson Glacier Overlook
The bluish-white ice of Jackson Glacier is about five and a half miles from the overlook that bears its name. 

The heedless momentum of human acceleration is relentless. Consequences are conspicuous. We’re in a desperate race to destroy the planet’s life-support systems and yet, there is no sign of stopping in the name of progress😢. Unfortunately, the effects will not be the same for everyone; those with few resources will bear the brunt while those with many will remain relatively unscathed. Perhaps we need a new collective conscience to fight climate change for the benefit of all!

Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road

Our next stop was Logan Pass, the high point of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Logan pass sits along the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet and treats visitors to sweeping vistas of mountains and subalpine meadows full of colorful wildflowers. The Logan Pass Visitor Center and the bookstore inside are highly recommended. Park rangers inside answer questions about the area with information on plants, wildlife, and hikes. From the back of the visitor center, we took a short hike through a boardwalk crossing flowering meadows that lead to the Hidden Lake Overlook. This 1.5-mile walk gifted us dramatic views of Mount Reynolds, Clements Mountain, and the sparkling Hidden Lake. If you want to meet a few alpine residents like mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and an occasional bear, go for a hike along the Highline Trail across from the visitor center on the other side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Bird Woman Falls on Going-to-the-Sun Road

A glorious array of waterfalls awaits nature lovers along the Going-to-the-sun road. First, we saw Bird Woman Falls, the 492-foot drop across the valley between Mount Oberlin on the left, and Mount Canon on the right. The flow of the Bird Woman Falls is greatest in late spring and early summer and has been known to almost cease flowing in the autumn. The name “Bird Woman Falls” is thought to have originated from Sacajawea, the well-known Native American woman that led Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to find the Pacific Ocean.

I love watching waterfalls, be it the thunderous plunges to delicate mossy trickles. Sometimes, they add charm to a landscape or sometimes become the centerpiece like Mesa Falls, which I saw on my way to the Yellowstone National Park or Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe.

Weeping Wall

For the first time in my life, I touched a waterfall from the car! It was the beautifully named Weeping Wall. I stretched my hands from the car window and the refreshing and icy water droplets fell on my palm and face. A delightful moment while driving along the Going-to-the-sun road. We decided to pull our car and immersed ourselves in the grandeur of the moment and the landscape. I was lucky to feel the splashes of the water on my hands because, by August, the gushing torrent dries up to a mere trickle and looks more like a weeping wall than the impressive cascades seen when the road first opens in early summer.

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I could find a faint rainbow too. Can you find it too? Hint : Look at the waterfall carefully!

Red Rock Point or McDonald Creek

Red Rock Point or McDonald Creek was one of my favorite spots along the Going-to-the-sun road. Frothing white water and the red rocks surrounded by tall pine trees look stunning. A perfect place to relax and do a picnic. When I was here, I saw a group of photographers shooting. No wonder this stunning landscape beckons both amateur and professional photographers and promises a plethora of memorable moments.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Red Rock Point
My own photographs of such stunning and unique places become a virtual travel substitute that soothes, transports and distracts, especially when I am not traveling!

In Glacier National Park, when I was looking at varied vistas and vignettes of nature, I often felt those beautiful scenes are my sole companion. They felt like a manuscript open to interpretation.

McDonald Creek in the Glacier National Park with its numerous cascades

Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail in Glacier National Park

There is nothing like walking amidst ancient trees. I loved every bit of the easy half-mile walk on the Trail of the Cedars with my little daughter, another must-visit stop on the Going-to-the-sun road. Both of us enjoyed reading the beautiful descriptions on the display boards along the trail. It reminded me of the redwood trees in the Redwood National Park. This land of Western Red Cedar, Black Cottonwood, and Western Hemlock is a unique area that has escaped fire and avalanches for hundreds of years. It delights and makes a lasting impression on both an adult and a child. As I was walking through it, I felt like I am going back in time and my daughter felt she entered into a fairyland of trees. Plants on the ground here thrive in the filtered sunlight that penetrates the forest canopy. After walking halfway through the trail, we came across a bridge that crosses Avalanche Creek and provides a stunning view of Avalanche Gorge. Since it was almost twilight, we had to return back to the parking area but you can very well continue to the Avalanche Lake trail, another spectacular two miles to reach Avalanche Lake. The Trail of the Cedars, which is located along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and is just 6 miles from Lake McDonald Lodge, is a must-see stop for nature lovers. I highly recommend it!

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail
Trail of the Cedars – An inviting stroll on the Going-to-the-sun road.
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail
Listen, look, smell and feel the peace and gaze down often to discover the overlooked diversity of the dark, moist forest floor.
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail
I loved reading these poetic boards along the Trail of Cedars in Glacier National Park!

McDonald Falls in the Glacier National Park

Our next stop was McDonald Falls, a beautiful roadside fall on the Going-to-the-sun road. It was wonderful to hear the streams flowing and the wind blowing through the trees while we were walking towards the falls. McDonald Falls receives water from McDonald Creek and feeds Lake McDonald, the park’s largest lake.

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McDonald Falls in Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

When we reached Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park, the water was reflecting the sorbet-colored sunset. This lake is ten miles long and nearly 500 feet deep and is a direct result of glacial carving. The otherworldly beauty of the silhouette of the surrounding peaks and their reflection on the lake needs no description or translation. The beauty is parsed by our eyes and heart!

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Lake McDonald
A setting sun and the silhouettes of the mountains being reflected on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. That evening was an ecstasy of peace!

Lake McDonald Lodge

Along the shores of Lake McDonald, we saw the beautiful Lake McDonald Lodge. Evening colors added an extra glow to the surrounding. Refreshing and vibrant flower pots with summer flowers everywhere instantly took away the tiredness of the long day. How I wished to spend a night here in this lodge but we had to return to our hotel on the east side of the Glacier National Park as we had planned to explore Two Medicine Lake and Many Glaciers near the east side of the park the next day.

Travel tip: If you plan to be based on the east side of the park entrance like us, then you may plan to explore Two Medicine Lake and the Many Glaciers region on the very first day. You can drive along the Going-to-the-sun road from east to west the next day and spend a night at Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald Valley is the hub of activity on the west side of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Lake McDonald Lodge
The beautiful Lake McDonald Lodge is a perfect place to explore Glacier National Park from.

Map of the top sights in Glacier National Park – Day 3

Two Medicine Lake

Two medicine lake in Glacier National Park is a hidden gem. Sinopah Mountain which rises above the far shore of Two Medicine Lake dominates the skyline. The historic general store adjacent to the lake, a boat ramp, wooden boat tours, a fantastic campground, and endless hiking opportunities to stunning places, make it an ideal destination to soak in. I spent a few hours listening to the sound of the waves, and enjoyed the bliss of solitude and the stunning scenery.

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Nature is our healing refuge! Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park.

I simply sat on the lakeshore and let the cold waves of the Two Medicine Lake touch my feet. The fresh air, the smell of wilderness, and the sound of the waves on the lake were simple and yet acted as the sublime catalyst to restore and fuel novel ideas and thoughts. The reality of the modern world loosened its firm grip on me. The contingency of our contemporary lives, the chaos, the abstraction of gadget-heavy day-to-day routines, and the pointless plentitude melted away amidst the harmony of nature. In other words, the reality of my familiar world took a step back and I plunged into the thick heavy abundance of existence. A realization surfaced – I feel. I exist. I create.

The Blackfeet Nation Memorial and St.Mary Overlook

After spending a few peaceful hours at the Two Medicine Lake, our next stop was at the Blackfeet Nation Memorial. Blackfeet Nation is one of the 10 largest Native American tribes in the United States. When I visited the memorial, I explored the place with great interest. I will remain grateful to travel since it broadens our ability to understand, appreciate and become more empathetic to people whose cultures have all but disappeared.

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Blackfoot memorial statue!

I walked along the paved pathways to survey the sublime St. Mary Valley from life size, iron teepees sculpted by artist Duane After Buffalo. The overlook is located approximately two miles south of St. Mary on Hwy 89.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, The Blackfeet Nation memorial
The iron tepee sculptures and the mountains in the background at the Black Nation Memorial look solemn and beautiful!

Many Glacier at Glacier National Park

The drive from the St. Mary Overlook to Many Glacier is spectacular. Nestled far from the thoroughfare of Going-to-the-Sun road, Many Glacier is secluded and remote. I don’t remember how many times I pulled my car to soak in its remoteness, greenery, and grand vistas. Every time I stepped out of the car, I looked for a bear! Did I see one? Well, keep reading 🙂! Beautiful lakes, gorgeous peaks, wildflowers dotted meadows under a brilliant blue sky with drifting clouds reminded me of two places; Gletsch in Switzerland and Voss in Norway! Many Glacier Valley is unmissable if you are visiting Glacier National Park. Also, if you are in the spirit of improving both mind and body, then go hiking on one of the many stunning trails in the valley each leading to spectacular slices of paradise.

For the frazzled city dweller, perhaps the greatest thing about Many Glacier in Glacier National Park is that you can hike/drive for hours without seeing another human being, or for that matter without seeing any sign of humanity – not a building, very few cars, and none of the straight lines and right angles of urban civilization. Nature is in charge! Among many unnamed stops, I remember stopping at a lakeside surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains and pine forests. These mountains and this sky are bigger than whatever problems and anxieties we left back home.

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Nature – our most intimate shrine!

Finally when I reached Swiftcurrent Lake, I felt I was seeing a photo book by some brilliant photographer. My eyes savored the reality but mind was in disbelief – such was the grandeur. After seeing a beautiful girl riding a horse and crossing a bridge, I quickly scribbled on my notebook a few lines.

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, I heard the sound.

I turned around and saw her.

Without the armor of modernity,

without the pathos of poverty, she came!

.

And she gifted me with magical and unknown reality.

The wilderness of Glacier National Park gifted me many big and small stories. Thank you, America, for preserving the magic for us and future generations.

Chirasree Banerjee
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Many Glacier
Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, I heard the sound.
I turned around and saw her.
Without the armor of modernity,
without the pathos of poverty, she came!

Many Glacier Hotel

The beautiful Many Glacier Hotel is located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and is the largest hotel in Glacier National Park. Built in the style of a Swiss Chalet, the sight of it immediately brought back memories from Switzerland. When we reached here it was late afternoon and we were feeling serious hunger pangs. So, without wasting much time, we entered the hotel and savored a delicious lunch with breathtaking views of the Swiftcurrent Lake.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel – A beautiful Swiss chalet in the in the Glacier National Park

Just before entering the dining area, I saw beautiful flowers of brilliant blues and pinks and yellows and couldn’t resist posing! Wooden chalets and flowers are one of my favorites!

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Wooden chalets, colorful flowers and me – A pretty combination!

Swiftcurrent Lake

After a delicious lunch, I sat beside Swiftcurrent Lake as the sun was about to set. I remembered spending many such evenings beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. There it was the beautiful Alps at the other side of the lake and here the solemn Rockies. When the Scottish naturalist John Muir explored Glacier National Park, he recommended a sojourn to the park with these words.

The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening it, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. 

John Muir
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent Lake
A solitary boat was sailing along the Swiftcurrent Lake basking in the glittering sunlight. How serene and peaceful!

A realization

In our day-to-day lives, we all manage so many little external things – our work, regulations, norms, balancing real & virtual worlds and unremittingly traversing the thoroughfares of modern life. Finding our way through the randomness of life and making a choice every now and then is tiring. And amidst all these, how little we count in the grand scheme of things. We hardly get in touch with the traces of events and nuances of our internal core. While sitting on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, I could access those traces and nuances in me.

Nowadays, we hardly get in touch with the traces of events and nuances of our internal core. While sitting on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, I could access those traces and nuances in me. #Travel #NaturePhotography #Explore… Click To Tweet
Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent Lake
I was soaking in the harmony as if I were a sponge! On the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park.

Kalispell

I was all empty when I bid adieu to Glacier National Park. All my anxieties, restlessness, and thoughts about uncertainties disappeared. A profound peace washed over me. I sat in the car and laid my eyes outside. Before the night spread its wings and the moments of golden delight would be swept away to oblivion, I witnessed the setting sun on the horizon. Such sunsets induce a sensory overload. I love them.

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Kalispell
On our way back from Glacier National Park to Kalispell, mother nature gifted us her multicolored hues!

As our car rolled, the Rockies receded fast. Under the fiery dusk sky, the Rockies looked ravishing! We continued driving to Kalispell, our last destination. We stayed in Kalispell overnight before catching our return flight the next day.

Where to stay in KalispellHampton Inn Kalispell, Many Lakes Cabin, Best Western Plus Flathead Lake Inn and Suites

Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Kalispell
The sun was tucked away under the horizon just beyond the mountains!

On the way to Missoula International Airport from Kalispell – Day 4

Flathead Lake

On this trip, like always I explored new places and enjoyed them till the last moment. After checking out from our hotel in Kalispell, we went to see the sparkling freshwater Flathead Lake, a sprawling blue jewel at the base of the Swan and Mission mountain ranges. We spent an hour exploring the region.

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I stood by Flathead Lake soaking in the morning sunshine, and a gentle breeze cooled my body and senses!

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana was our last stop. In a world with many monuments to war, a living offering for peace flourishes in Arlee. Before resuming daily routines in silicon valley, this spiritual site and Buddha sculptures reminded me a profound truth preached by Buddha – to rise above our suffering! The lotus flower, blooming out of muddy waters, is one of the oldest religious symbols. The mud represents our suffering, pain, and delusions and gives us nutrients to rise above all illusions and pains. It is not about transcending or distancing ourselves from suffering, but it is acknowledging how we can transform ourselves. When I stood amidst the tranquil land full of Buddha sculptures rising from the lotus, I was inspired.

Each of us is a like a precious mirror, a polished jewel, cut in ways that teach and reflect.

Duncan Ryuken Williams, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest
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Spiritual vibes surround you at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana

Nestled in the peaceful Jocko Valley, Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a botanical garden and Buddhist center. In this world, where negativity abounds, such places are treasures. If you are planning to catch your return flight from Missoula International Airport, then don’t miss visiting this hidden gem.

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Serenity awaits you at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana!

Missoula International Airport

The small and cozy Missoula International Airport was our last stop on this memorable vacation. Inside the airport, while waiting to board our return flight, I went to a souvenir shop and bought a beautiful wooden bison, a small memento for this memorable trip for my collection. All my souvenirs, big and small are part of dreamscapes, both for me who has traveled to the place and also for my friends and guests who have not. I believe in the power of objects to tell grand narratives. After almost 40 minutes, the wait ended and we all boarded our flight. I happily took the window seat, gazing out of the oval windows and daydreaming about the abstract geometric patterns below.

Planes transport us from place to place, from country to country, from ground level to a bird’s-eye view. From the air, familiar landscapes take on conceptual qualities; we gain fresh perspectives by viewing hidden patterns.

Caleb Kenna
Travel Realizations, Missoula International Airport
Missoula International Airport

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What keeps me going? The stories I encounter. They’re never-ending and no two are alike. Each one raises a new question, a curiosity and I explore.

What keeps me going? The stories I encounter. They’re never-ending and no two are alike. Each one raises a new question, a curiosity and I explore. #Travel #Explore Click To Tweet

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Whenever I feel life and this world becoming the same day after day, when days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, an interminable, monotonous addition, I change the routine and scenes of daily life. Sometimes I go to the wilderness of America seeking solitude, sometimes I choose European streets to get immersed into the sea of crowds of people and become a part of collective energy. Sometimes I choose countries that belong to ancient civilizations with modernity seeping in slowly, to feel the jolt of chaos and confluence. All have varied and wonderful effects on life. I emerge from monotony to possibilities – my way to combat this contemporary and increasingly structured world. When I arrived in Glacier National Park, the disappearing glaciers, the solitude, the grandeur of nature, and the majestic Rockies, all gifted me unmatched experiences. The beauty and vastness of a glacier are breathtaking, untamed, and untouched. Although my experience is a story of a few days, the realizations and stories in it are forever. After all, we all are trapped within our mortal flesh and bones and need to find ways and places that fulfill our inner beings during our finite stay on this earth. I hope this travel guide to the Glacier National Park will inspire you to plan a memorable trip!

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Glacier National Park - A travel guide, Travel Realizations, Glacier National Park itinerary
Wander here a whole summer, if you can ~ John Muir

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.

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10 Comments

  1. Love that you included maps on this post! We’ve wanted to see GNP for a long time!

  2. Glacier National Park looks SO stunning! It’s still on my list to visit. I’ve never really known where the best places are though so this is really useful! Your entire route looks beautiful.

  3. On the travel wish list! Would love to visit Glacier National Park. I understand your wanting to visit before it is gone! We have a few of these places on our travel list. I did not know there was a thing called “last chance travel”. We are driving across the country this fall and I might need to add Glacier National Park to the plan. I am keeping this post for our travel planning. The scenery was truly stunning. But always sad to see the damage done by wildfires. I will have to look at booking accommodations early so we can stay in the park.

  4. Wow, Glacier looks absolutely incredible! I really adore that Buddhist Center – what a great find!

  5. WOW! I had no idea there were so many lakes nearby!! I’d want to visit each and every one! Hopeful to visit soon and use your guide as a reference.

  6. madhu

    Glacier National park is on my bucketlist..hoping to visit it during my next trip to USA.thanks for sharing useful information

  7. Glacier looks like an absolute dream!

  8. Jenn

    We had a trip planned to glacier last summer and switched our destination at the last minute. Your post and experience there makes me want to revisit this beautiful spot! What a gorgeous place. I appreciate your recommendations on places to stay to! Sometimes that is the hardest part of planning a trip and we found decent affordable lodging along the way to glacier to be challenging. Thank you!

  9. What a stunning National Park! I love hiking and gorgeous scenery so I think I’d enjoy visiting Glacier National park! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Ha

    Glacier National Park looks amazing! There’re surely many things to see and do here. I love the view of the lake. So stunning!

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