Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Glacier (Page 1 of 2)

Wordless Wednesday: Swiftcurrent Dock

Dock on Swiftcurrent Lake

Epic National Park Road Trip Recap

Tetons

Whew! It only took six months, but I have finished the recap of our epic 3-week trip out west! This trip taught us a lot, especially about what we need to work on the road. Of course, we saw some amazing sites and the ones that I can’t wait to return to may surprise you!

For most of this trip, the weather was much hotter than I had expected. I feel like I wrote the phrase, “we were planning on hiking at X, but it was too hot” at least five times throughout the recap of this trip. The middle week at Yellowstone and Glacier was really the only one where it wasn’t oppressively hot. I would love more time to explore Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt without dying of heatstroke.

One thing that really surprised me through my recapping this trip is that three days in Yellowstone really seemed to be enough to see the highlights. Yes, with more time we could’ve gotten off the beaten path and explored some of the backcountry, but I feel like I saw what I wanted to see. I would love to return to Yellowstone someday, but it’s not going to be high up on my list.

On the other hand, with three days at Glacier, we barely scratched the surface. Yes, we managed to visit each of the areas in the park, but we were only able to do a few short hikes. I would love to go back later in the season and spend more time in the Many Glacier area and maybe even hike to Grinnel Glacier. I will definitely do my planning in advance to get a room at the Many Glacier Hotel!

Mountain in the Clouds

But the area that I really want to return to is South Dakota’s Black Hills. The other day, I was trying to figure out if we could manage a camping trip to Custer State Park next summer (no, I don’t think we can). Even though we had a full week there, it didn’t feel like enough! Of all the stunning National Parks we visited on this trip, it’s funny to me that this is the place that stands out the most in my memory.

I know I have mentioned this a few times already, but if you are looking to stay inside a National Park, lodging can be found less than a year out as long as you are flexible. I still hear people saying “I didn’t plan this trip a year in advance so I know I’m not going to be able to get a room in the park” and that is just not true. Keep checking for cancellations and subscribe to the park’s email list. We got our room at Rising Sun Motor Inn two months out and Old Faithful Inn two weeks out. Don’t give up!

Needles Highway

This was the first trip we took where Chris was working remotely and we learned a lot from that too. If you are working remotely from a hotel with at least one other person, spring for a suite with a door that closes. It was really nice when we were at the Roosevelt Inn and Suites in North Dakota and I was able to go in the bedroom and close the door when he was in meetings. Country Inn and Suites is a chain hotel that has this feature as well. The full kitchen at Roosevelt was nice to prepare lunches while he was working too. An AirBNB would also be good for this purpose.

Alright, I think that’s all I have to say about this trip! Check back next week when I share about some of our other explorations this summer!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

2021: Year in Review

Logan Pass

Glacier National Park in June

2021 goes down as one of our best travel years yet. Despite COVID and all the precautions that go along with it, we were still able to get out there and explore these United States. Yes, my passport has been gathering some dust (that’s the nature of traveling during a pandemic) but I was able to see some sites this year that I have been dreaming about for a long time!

This year started off with a bang, and by bang, I mean snow and a cold snap in Texas.  We tasted Texas wine and visited the home of a former president. Of course, the fun was only just beginning when our connecting flight got canceled and we were stuck in Orlando for two days! This whole ordeal still has me kind of nervous to fly. Not so nervous that I won’t do it, but nervous enough that I build in extra time and buy trip insurance before I get on a plane.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone National Park

Of course, in 2021 we took the biggest trip of our lives spanning three weeks. We visited 7 national parks, 4 other National park service sites, and 4 state parks spanning 12 states (8 of which were new to us). We saw Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier, places I have been dreaming about seeing for myself for a long time. It was a wonderful journey, but I hope I can say that it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I want to continue traveling like that and seeing all the places that make America beautiful!

Disney World 50th Anniversary

I don’t know if I can call the big trip the highlight of the year though, because I also got to be in the Magic Kingdom on October 1 for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. This has been a dream of mine for the last 10 years. It was a whirlwind trip where we had a hotel room we barely saw and got by mainly on caffeine. We also got to see Galaxy Edge in Disney Hollywood Studios. I know it’s not super new, but this was the first time I had seen it. I’m not a Star Wars fan, but I have to say, it was so cool! I still have to recap it officially on the blog, so that is all I will say about it for now. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for the details!

Runaway Camper Setup

We took some weekend trips around Michigan in the spring and summer and spent some time in our new mini camper. We finally kayaked out to Turnip Rock and walked across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day. We have some big plans for 2022 as well! I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our latest trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Weeping Wall

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Glacier National Park: North Fork

Polebridge Area

While the entry reservation requirement for the Going-to-the-Sun Corridor seemed to increase visitation throughout other areas of the park, the northern reaches of Glacier National Park seemed to remain unchanged. SmokyBear.com describes the Polebridge entrance as visited “mostly by locals and hardy travelers” and the 35-mile trek on rough unpaved roads probably has a lot to do with it. This area is home to Bowman and Kintla Lakes, the most pristine lakes in the park.

Polebridge MercantileI probably would’ve skipped this section of the park altogether if it wasn’t for the Friends of Glacier National Park Facebook page. With only three full days in Glacier, driving all the way up to Polebridge didn’t seem like the best way to spend my time, but the people in that group RAVE about the Huckleberry Bearclaws at the Polebridge Mercantile. And after seeing fifty or so pictures of the pastries before my trip, I just had to go!

The mercantile had anything you may have forgotten for your outdoor adventures from baked goods and snacks to bandaids and souvenirs. While this area of the park is one of the least visited, everyone that visits stops at the Merc. It was much busier than I expected. We grabbed some bear claws (of course) and some pizza rolls for our long drive the next day to North Dakota.

Exploring the Nature Trail near the MercThe drive up there was not easy and it is recommended that you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive if you plan on making the trek. There were a lot of large potholes and rough roads, but barely any cars at all. There aren’t many places to stay in the far reaches of the park. There is a hostel in Polebridge and some cabins can be found for rent on VRBO. There are also four campgrounds in the area run by the park service. More information about them can be found on NPS.gov.

I do wish we had more time to explore this area of the park. I will have to add that to my list for my return trip to Glacier, whenever that may be!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Sun Road Vista

Logan Pass

Glacier National Park: Kayaking Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

I have wanted to visit Glacier National Park since I saw a picture of Lake McDonald in textbook for my college geography class (yes, this is the same textbook that made me want to see the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone, too). I have been dreaming about getting one of those iconic shots of the lake where you can see the rocks through the crystal clear water and the mountains in the distance ever since then. But, when we stopped at the first overlook the water was covered with this yellow pollen (you can kind of see it in the bottom right cover of this photo) that prevented me from seeing through the water as I had hoped.

The next morning, we headed back to the park early. We headed to the watercraft inspection station to have our kayak inspected so we could head out on this beautiful body of water. To prevent “aquatic hitchhikers” all watercraft must be inspected before you are able to launch in any of the lakes in the park. From everything we read, this should not be a difficult process as long as your boat is dry. That was not our experience at all. The ranger inspecting our kayak wanted it to be completely dry and devoid of all dirt and sand. This probably wouldn’t be a probably with many hard-sided kayaks, especially not the sit-on-top kind, but our Sea Eagle inflatable is not easy to completely dry and near impossible to rid of all sand. Luckily, the rangers provided us with a handheld wet/dry vac and some towels. After that process, the ranger gave us a tag that was good for that day and that body of water only. If we were planning on returning the next day, we would’ve had to do it again.

Kayak on Lake McDonaldAfter that process, we inflated the kayak and hit the water. It was a beautiful paddle, and even though there are kayaks for rent in Apgar Village, we were the only ones on the water. We paddled about half of the lake’s ten miles, before heading back to the shore for lunch. If you enjoy kayaking or paddleboarding, I highly recommend getting out on the water at Glacier National Park and Lake McDonald is probably the most iconic lake in the park for a paddle!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Oberlin Falls

Oberlin Falls

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

Going-to-the-Sun Road

After exploring all we could on the east side of Glacier National Park, we woke up the third day and discovered that the Going-to-the-Sun road had opened for the season. I have no idea how we got so lucky that it opened up on the day we had to go from Rising Sun Motor Inn to our Airbnb in Whitefish. So, we checked out of the hotel and hit the road much earlier than we expected that day!

Going-to-the-Sun Road is 50 miles long and runs from St. Mary to Apgar Village, crossing the Continental Divide. It is a beautiful drive, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Completed in 1933, the road is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark complete with stunning vistas, tunnels through mountains, hairpin turns, and bridges over cascading waterfalls.

Snow on Logan Pass

Going-to-the-Sun Road is an engineering marvel and you really have to see it to understand it. Before we drove it, I could not figure out how it could be the end of June and the road was not open yet. Then, we drive the portion of the road that was closed only a few hours earlier, get to Logan Pass and some of the hiking trails were still covered in snow (above). On parts of the road, snow was pushed up to create a wall right next to the road. I’m from Michigan, I’m used to snow and cold winters. This was a new experience for me.

I kept thinking if they started plowing in April or May, how could they still be working on it on June 25? Well, up to 80 feet of snow can be lying on the road near Logan Pass in an area known as the Big Drift. The plows can usually reach this area around mid-May but can often take a month or more to plow it due to avalanche risk. We were talking with a ranger on June 24, hoping that the road would open and she told us that at that point, the plowing was done, they were just making sure the road was safe from avalanche risk before opening to the public.

Logan Pass

Late June is spring at Logan Pass!

Now, my description may make this road seem scary, and at times it was a little hair-raising, but the views are absolutely worth it! Due to the nature of the road, vehicles must be less than 21 feet long, ten feet long, and eight feet long to drive between the Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun. If your vehicle is too large or you’re just nervous driving, Glacier Park Lodges offer guided tours on a fleet of historic, red, jammer busses! I was so disappointed that I wasn’t able to score a reservation for one of the tours because the buses are iconic!

In 2021, driving Going-to-the-Sun Road required reservations. Reservations at lodging along the road, the aforementioned bus tours, and boat tours also counted as reservations. If you didn’t have one of those existing reservations, you needed to reserve an entry ticket on Recreation.gov to be able to drive the road during the day. You were also able to enter the road before 8 AM and after 5 PM. A lot of people had difficulty getting reservations. We were able to get them the first day they were available without any problems.

The reduced capacity of the road made for a much nicer driving experience than I had hear about in the past. There was no bumper-to-bumper traffic. A few times, we were able to pull over and take pictures of the road without another car in it! I may be in the minority here, but I really hope they bring back reservations for 2022. They can increase the capacity some, but don’t let it get flooded with cars again. This was a much better way to see this iconic park!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week as I recount our experience launching a kayak in Lake McDonald! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Swiftcurrent Lake

Swiftcurrent Lake

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