West Glacier, Montana (Glacier NP)

Moose Creek RV Resort

August 19, 2020

Our next campground was the Moose Creek RV Resort in West Glacier, Montana – just outside the famous National Park bearing the same name. The drive from Kalispell was back along highway 2, however, this time we were only traveling about 25 miles northward. Actually, the trip was so short that we were forced to hang out at a grocery store in nearby Columbia Falls as we waited for check-in time to roll around.

Arriving early meant we had the rest of the day to do a little exploring within the park. We quickly discovered that you don’t have to go too far into Glacier to find some pretty damn good sights. Here’s a shot from the shores of Lake McDonald – a mere 10 minutes into the park.

We set up the hammock and hung out around the lake for a bit before moseying back to the truck to check out the west side of the park. Although it can’t compete with the other half when it comes to towering mountains and cliffsides, we were still captivated by the landscape. For example, here is just one of the countless meadows which dot the western half of Glacier.

This was all just a warmup for the big day that was to follow. We chose to get ambitious and woke up early the next morning to tackle the famous Highline Trail, a 15-mile out-and-back hike running right through the heart of Glacier. The drive to the trailhead at Logan Pass started us off in the dark, but as the sun slowly began to rise, we were blown away by what we saw along the aptly named “Going-to-the-Sun” Road. Here is just a little taste of what this drive has to offer – this was taken from the parking lot as we were getting prepared to hit the trail.

Properly bundled, we put the sunrise at our back and kicked off on this long-ass hike. Despite its length, the trail didn’t waste any time before throwing a challenge at us. Less than a mile into the hike, the hillside became so steep that it was nearly vertical, requiring the use of a rope handle to avoid any unfortunate slips or stumbles.

The rope handle was only present for about a quarter mile or so, however, this is not to say that the trail flattened out in any meaningful way. If you took one false step there was little to keep you from falling hundreds of feet in most spots along the trail. But it sure made for some beautiful views! Here are just a few of the many great pics we were able to capture along this hike.

After a little over seven miles, the trail terminated at the Granite Park Chalet. This quaint, rustic lodge perched on the slopes of Swiftcurrent Mountain is only accessible via the Highline Trail which makes for quite a unique camping experience – especially if you’re into hiking but aren’t too keen on sleeping in a tent.

We hung out at the chalet for a bit and recharged our batteries. While we were snacking, we were slowly approached by this little guy who was interested in our honey roasted peanuts.

We relented and hooked him up with a few nuts before embarking on the return trip back up to Logan Pass. Fortunately, this ground squirrel was far from the only wildlife we encountered on this hike. The trail was teeming with life – from tiny pikas which darted between the rocks to large deer and bighorn sheep which lined the path, largely indifferent to the stream of hikers just yards away.

We didn’t experience any grizzlies while out and about in Glacier (sadly, we haven’t seen ANY bears throughout all of our travels – brown or black), but we were prepared for the possibility. We never had to worry about bears while out on our hikes prior to visiting the Flathead Valley. However, northern Montana is grizzly country, so we were sure to grab a canister of bear spray while in Kalispell which we kept handy anytime visibility was limited.

Although we questioned the wisdom of choosing a 15-mile hike at certain points, at the end of the day, all the great memories (and pics) we accumulated along the way were easily worth the physical effort required to get us up there.

After what felt like a million steps, we eventually made it back to the truck, kicked off our boots, and took the lovely route back through the park towards West Glacier. Upon arriving home, we realized that Charlotte was acting strange. She was under the dinette and had her face tucked in the corner between the wall and our mini filing cabinet (basically our mobile junk drawer). We ignored it for a little bit, but before long the curiosity overcame Sam and she decided to investigate what was behind the cabinet (just as I was soaked and naked upon coming out of the shower, may I add).

IT WAS A MOUSE! In an instant, the trailer was thrown into chaos. Sam started screaming as the mouse frantically zipped around trying to find an escape. All the while, Charlotte – the supposed “tiny tiger” of the house froze up like a pimply teen asking his crush to prom. After a tense few seconds, the mouse managed to find a tiny hole under the sink and made its escape just as Charlotte was coming back to her senses. To say we were disappointed in Charlotte would be a massive understatement. This was her big moment, and she blew it!

The trailer was now on high alert, but there were still activities to get to before our time in Glacier was up. The next day, we opted to take things a little easier and have a nice chill day at Stanton Lake, one of the area’s many alpine lakes. After a short hike that felt way harder than it should’ve been given our sore muscles from the day before, we broke through the trees and laid eyes on our lovely backdrop for the day.

It turned out to be a delightful afternoon by the lake. Although we saw a few other hikers out there, it felt like we basically had the place to ourselves. We lounged around on the beach for several hours just hanging, listening to music, and doing a little fishing (unsuccessfully). It was exactly what the doctor ordered after busting our butts the previous day.

We had another fun activity in store for us that evening after Lake Stanton – our good friends Chandler and Britney from Oklahoma were stopping by our campsite for dinner! A few weeks prior to arriving in Montana, I was chatting with my good friend Chandler and we realized that he and his wife Britney were going to be in Glacier the same time we were. Quite the stroke of good luck!

In addition to catching up over a lovely outdoor dinner, we also arranged a meet up within the park for the following day. After tracking each other down (which wasn’t super easy given the poor cell service in the park), we grabbed a quick lunch together before renting some kayaks and heading out onto Lake McDonald.

After nearly two months out on the road and several additional months spent in quarantine, hanging with old friends was something that we were no longer accustomed to. It was so nice getting to see some familiar faces and to enjoy the simple act of socializing.

Time was truly flying by and next thing we knew, the calendar was telling us that it was time to go. The area had treated us wonderfully and we hated that we had to leave it so soon. Eight days spent between Kalispell and West Glacier just wasn’t long enough to really do the area justice. Hell, we could spend an entire summer up here and still not run out of things to do. Either way, we didn’t have another day (much less another season) to spare before we were due in our next spot – Jim and Mary’s RV Park in Missoula, Montana.