Glacier National Park in Montana is an amazing place. We barely scratched the surface when we traveled there for a week in mid-June. It’s hard to capture the grandeur of it all in pictures or video, although we certainly tried!
If you want to see a couple of the hikes we took to check out lakes and waterfalls, you can watch
this video we posted to our YouTube channel. We also posted a video about our hike up Divide Mountain, a sacred mountain to the Blackfeet Tribe — what an amazing experience that was!
Our trip from Michigan to Montana, the week at Glacier National Park and on the Blackfeet reservation, and the return trip were all memorable in their own way. Below, you will find some of the highlights that we discovered both on and off the beaten path.
Oddly enough, it was at the end of the trip that we finally got the obligatory picture with the park entrance sign. This is at the St. Mary’s Entrance, which takes you to the Going to the Sun Road. Unfortunately, the road wasn’t yet completely cleared of snow by late June(!) so we could only travel the first 13 miles of it. We left after work on a Friday night, and the first leg of our trip took us to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There, we found a great, small U.S. Forest campground to catch some shut-eye before heading west across the U.P. early on Saturday morning Working our way west, we had to — just had to! — detour through Bemidji, Minnesota to see the infamous Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. If you thought Paul and Babe were off the beaten path, then you haven’t been to Rugby, North Dakota, where we found the Geographical Center of North America. It was late in the evening as we were looking to wrap up our first full day of travel when we had to do a double-take driving past a sign that said Welcome to Michigan. That’s Michigan City, North Dakota, established in the late 1800s by a guy who moved to the area from Port Huron, Michigan. The current population is about 300. The next morning found us continuing west, and continuing our turns off the beaten path. This time, we went to Sullys Hill National Game Preserve. We don’t know if the deer and antelope play there, but the buffalo definitely roam. It was an honor to stay on the Blackfeet reservation and spend time with tribal members who helped us learn more about their history and heritage. One of the entrances to the Blackfeet Nation includes this artwork to welcome you to the tribal land. The amount of land the Blackfeet used to have for their semi-nomadic lifestyle was astounding. Our campsite for the week was at Chewing Blackbones, a campground located on tribal land. As of two years ago, it’s back in tribal possession after years of neglect by outsiders. It needs some work but the Blackfeet are doing their best to restore this camp. It’s in a great location between the Many Glaciers and St. Mary’s entrances to the national park. Please consider staying there if you’re in the area to help the Blackfeet. It rained heavily our first couple of days in Glacier, but that wasn’t going to stop our treks! The first hike we did was about 4 miles round-trip to see Red Rock Falls. It was totally worth getting drenched for! Check out a short video of the falls below. You can see a longer video of this hike and another, to Iceberg Lake, here.
On our third day in the park, the sun finally broke through, the clouds disappeared and, voila! We could see the mountains! This was shot on the road leading to the Many Glaciers Entrance for Glacier National Park. The condition of the road gets questionable after a while. But if you take it slow and steady, just about any vehicle can make it there. One of our long hikes in the park was the 11-12 miler (round-trip) that we did to Iceberg Lake. The views along the way were spectacular, only to be outdone by what you find when you eventually reach Iceberg Lake. You can see a lot more about this particular hike in our video on YouTube. The enormity of the park, the mountains, and waterfalls can be overwhelming. To truly appreciate it you sometimes have to just stop and try to take it all in. Jessi did that at Iceberg Lake. Certainly one of the highlights of our Montana trek was climbing Divide Mountain — a mountain that is sacred to the Blackfeet and reaches nearly 8,700 feet into the sky. We produced a video about just that hike, and you also can see some of the climb featured in a video that Roadtrek Motorhomes produced about our treking lifestyle below. In addition, we put a couple of sights from the climb below, including an old fire lookout tower and a sample of the springtime flowers that were cropping up. VIDEO
The group we camped with arranged to have Blackfeet tribal members entertain us one night with traditional dances. Watching the dancers and learning more about what the costumes and the dances meant was really interesting. We also got to hear from the current Blackfeet Chief and interact with many of the young dancers afterward. It was a great way to spend our last night in Montana. What’s a trip to Glacier National Park without seeing a glacier? Unfortunately, by the mid-2020s, this might just be the case. Glaciers like this one — Jackson Glacier — are receding rapidly. The National Park Service is concerned they won’t be intact much longer. It was on our way out of the park to start our trip home when Jessi lamented not seeing a bear. Just a few minutes later, this young grizzly appeared alongside the road! Check off another bucket list item. The ride home had to be quicker than the trip out due to work commitments. But we still took a few short detours. The first was to Deadwood, South Dakota. We didn’t get to spend more than a few minutes in town, but we managed to get to the cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried. Ari is a firm believer that everyone needs to visit Wall Drug just once in their lifetime. Jessi thought we should stop for our second time. You can see who won. It is an iconic piece of history and a premier parking spot helped us snag a great photo with the Roadtrek. We’ve been to the Badlands in South Dakota before, having camped there for two days a couple of years ago. But we decided to at least take a drive through on the way home. The rain and lightning were coming and going a lot. But we managed to snag this commemorative shot right before it started pouring for the umpteenth time.
There is so much to see and do in the United States. When we visit places, we often feel like we have only just begun to experience them before we have to leave. That’s part of why we try to trek as often as we do. And it’s why we’d like to trek fulltime as soon as possible. Adventure awaits us all, so keep on treking!