Planning is sometimes our biggest downfall on this trip. Scott and I are last-minute, roll-with-it, whatever-just-survive kind of people by nature. Not to say those personality traits don’t stress us out or need serious work, but that’s just who we are as people.
For the purposes of this trip, this approach has mostly served us well, I think. Many times, people will ask us if they can send us something “next week” and then freak out when I tell them I have no idea where we will be “next week.” We don’t freak out because we know we’ll be somewhere safe and fun- we just haven’t narrowed down the address. And as much work planning our route and our stays is, it’s double the work when your plans change and you have to re-plan and cancel and re-book your stays.
That said, this approach has totally bitten us in the butt, too. When we drove up to Oregon from California, we didn’t realize that we were going to be so far from Crater Lake National Park by the time we got to the RV parks we booked, and that driving back south to go to Crater Lake would add days to our stay, hours in the truck, and a lot in gas money. So we wound up skipping Crater Lake, and I think it haunts us every day, even though Crater Lake was never a must-visit site before we set off on this trip.
Similarly, we didn’t set out on this trip thinking we MUST visit Glacier National Park. And for a while, it was looking like we wouldn’t make it up there because it was a little out of the way and, well, we just hadn’t heard that much about it. Luckily, a few friends and readers strongly encouraged us to go, and fresh on the heels of our Crater Lake FOMO, we decided to make it happen.
We had to drive A LOT in a short amount of time to get there from Washington, and we would only have one day in the park before we had to hit the road to make it to Yellowstone in time.
Sidenote: I did heed the advice of many and book our Yellowstone trip way back in February when I was lucky to find a 3 day stretch anywhere for the month of June. So thankful I did that. We could not be flexible about Yellowstone, and we’ve based just about the entire first half of our trip around being there for our reservations. I’ll have more about Yellowstone posted soon!
We are ALL so glad we made it happen. It was one of the best days we’ve had on this whole trip so far, and that’s saying a lot considering we woke up at 5:30 am.
Here’s the video about it:
The key to feeling like we really got to experience this park in only one day was getting there very early. We were at the gates to the park just a little after 7 am. Also, key? We arrived just days after the Going-To-The-Sun road opened for the season.
We had no idea that road was even a big deal, and we certainly didn’t intentionally plan our trip to be sure we were there after it opened (it was closed because of snow… we were there in JUNE), but I can not imagine enjoying this park as much without it! Lots of parks have scenic drives, but this one wins all the awards from us, including Most Terrifying, Most Beautiful, and Most Photogenic.
The entire park is a photographer’s dream, honestly.
We took it up to Logan’s Pass, and arrived there a little before 9 am. The parking lot was filling up FAST and we felt lucky to find a space for our dually truck. It was SO COLD and windy with snow on the ground! Such a bizarre experience for these Texans to see snow in June.
We ultimately decided not to take any trails at Logan’s Pass because we just could not imagine hiking in the cold and the wind and the snow with kids. Much of our day was scenic drives around the park, but we saw so much from our truck, including a grizzly bear! It was an awesome way to take it all in.
We stopped for a late lunch at the Many Glacier historic hotel. We ate at the Swiss Lodge, which was delicious and kids meals were reasonably priced. Of note, though: no high chairs. We grabbed much-needed lattes from the coffee and snack shop in their basement. In hindsight, we should have just bought sandwiches from that same snack shop and ate in the lobby. Either way, we’d be holding a squirming toddler.
The early wake-up was a challenge, but that rest and re-fuel in the middle of the day really helped us. We had just enough left in us to do the Running Eagle Falls trail, and it was so perfect for the whole family. Not at all boring, a little challenging, but it didn’t feel entirely unsafe, either.
2 more tidbits to help plan your trip there:
- We stayed at the Western Inn & Campground. It’s a small RV park and a motel. It was great, location-wise, inexpensive, the staff was friendly. Would recommend!
- Wear layers!! It’s very cold at the top of the mountains and much warmer down below. I’m glad we at least planned ahead enough to realize we needed to dress everyone appropriately. We could never be those people in shorts at Logan’s Pass. #TexansForever
Finally, this park really sparked me to get moving on a project I’ve wanted to do this entire trip- launch a photography site where you can purchase some of my photos!
You can view and purchase some of my Glacier National Park photos (and photos from many other parks) at HappyLoudLife.com/BuyPhotos.