Todd Rightsell braves bears and bad weather to bring us the best of Glacier National Park in pictures, hikes, drives, campgrounds, and boondocking. Take us to the notch!
For this installment of Top Shots, Todd presents some of the best photographs we’ve ever seen, and gives us the goods on the best hikes, drives, campgrounds, and more in Glacier National Park.
|Click here to see Todd’s Travel Tips for Glacier National Park|
Glacier National Park is awe inspiring. Parts of it look like scenes from, “The Sound of Music”. This was taken at Hidden Lake, a mere one and a half miles from the Logan Pass visitor center. I spent hours up here just enjoying the scenery and looking at the mountain goats.
The water in the lakes in Glacier National Park is the deepest and most intense shade of blue I have ever seen. I sat on the edge of this small cliff for several hours just taking it all in. If you have been here on a sunny and clear day, you understand. If you haven’t, well…
The mountain goats at Hidden Lake are good sports. I guess they are in a good mood or something, because they sure don’t seem to mind the tourists gawking at them and the kids chasing them and trying to pet them. It’s amazing how some folks act around wild animals. I guess I’d be in a good mood too, if I lived here!
This was about a half mile past the official Hidden Lake overlook. If you ever get here, I definitely suggest going past the official overlook, which is a tourist trap, and find a good spot further out around the lake to enjoy the solitude. There are less people and more goats!
Two days later this area was closed due to bear activity. A mother Grizzly and her two cubs had decided to hang out for a couple of days so the park rangers closed the trail. In the parks, the animals take precedent. It makes me wonder what was running around behind me in the hills while I was hypnotized by the scenery in front of me!
This was taken while walking back from Hidden Lake. It is a great example of a hanging valley. Notice how the valley just disappears over a cliff. Hanging valleys are unique to mountain landscapes and are caused by glacial activity. A glacier carves a U shaped valley as opposed to a V like a river.
At one time, this area was covered in thick glacial ice which flattened or scoured the floor of the valley as it moved downhill. Then it ran into an even larger glacier coming in from a ninety degree angle and the larger glacier sheered off the smaller one. When the ice melted, these hanging valleys were left behind. The power of nature is hard to comprehend sometimes.
The Highline Trail in Glacier Park is one of the best hikes in North America. This was taken the second time I hiked the trail, the first time being back in 2009. I got up sort of early and made sure I was on the first bus out of the campground to the top.
From Logan Pass, you walk out eight miles to the Granite Park Chalet. It is mostly flat and not too bad of a walk and, as you can see, the views are stunning. Once at the chalet (which you can still stay in) it’s a four mile downhill walk to the loop on Going to the Sun Road. From there, the shuttle bus will pick you up, usually within fifteen minutes, and it is a short ride back to where you started.
The rock formation is part of the continental divide and called the Garden Wall. It runs for several miles along the trail. The whole idea is to get to the notch, which is that low point in the distance, and peer over the other side at Grinnell Glacier.
Another shot of the notch. If you are paying attention, you can see that I have passed it. This was the second time I had to bail out on the attempt to peer over it. The first time was in 2009 and I was simply too beat and out of shape to try. It is about six-tenths of a mile from the main trail up to the notch, and about 700 feet in elevation gain. All that after already walking eight miles plus, the four miles left to get out. I told myself that day that I would be back and try again.
Well, this day was the second attempt and as you can see the weather was a bit dicey. So I bailed out again. As I walked the four miles back down from Granite Park Chalet to the loop in the pouring rain, and sometimes sleet and snow, I was okay with the decision that I had made. But I knew that I had time to make another attempt and I swore to myself that I wouldn’t leave Glacier until I had done it.