Glacier National Park, Montana

Two weeks have passed since we got home from our roadtrip to Glacier National Park in Montana. Now that we are finally recovered from some mysterious sickness that circulated throughout our family, we finally have a chance to share more details about our family vacation!

As a lot of you have probably noticed, Ian and I don’t take our kids on every trip we go on, and there are many reasons for that which I may blog about sometime… But we do end up taking the kids on about 2-3 trips a year and after our successful road trip from Portland to San Diego last summer, we thought this would be the perfect year to take the kids on a short ten-hour drive to Montana. Ever since Ian was little, he’s dreamt of going to Montana to see animals haha. Add in that he is now a photographer, there was even more reason for him to want to visit Glacier National Park where mountains, lakes, and wildlife are abundant! Well, Greyer is now just as much of an animal lover as Ian is, so a visit to Montana became one of his dreams too. Ruby and I were just along for the ride haha.

Ten hours is a short drive for most road-trippers, but an eternity when you are two or four years old. Because of that, we decided to break up our drive by stopping six hours northeast of Portland in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Coeur d’Alene is a small lake town that most Pacific Northwesterners are familiar with and fond of, which is why we chose to stay there of all places.  After enjoying the small town charm the next morning (more on that in another post), we were off to our final destination: Whitefish, Montana. The last four hours of the drive were honestly so incredibly breathtaking. Picture trees on top of trees, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, rolling green hills speckled with animals, lonely red barns surrounded by green… it felt like we were driving through a painting!

Because of the shorter drive that day, we were able to check into our hotel (Lodge at Whitefish Lake) during daylight and then go out and explore some of Whitefish and plan out how we would spend the rest of our visit.

Unfortunately, most of Going-to-the-Sun Road (the 50-mile route across almost the entirety of GNP) was shut down still do to heavy snow and we could only drive in approximately 11 miles from the south entrance.  Although what we were able to explore was breathtaking, we really didn’t see much wildlife other than some deer, prairie dogs, and elk. We were really hoping to see those giant white mountain goats or maybe even a bear (from the car LOL)! So, if you really want to experience the whole shebang, we recommend going in the summer and always double-checking Going-to-the-Sun Road conditions before you make the trek. Once we were in the park, there were a bunch of side roads that were open for exploration which led us through a small area called Polebridge which is where we happened upon witnessing our first “kill”. Well, technically the animal had already been killed, but walking right up to an unidentifiable carcass sure was eerie and the highlight of Greyer’s trip! Haha! We suspected it was a female elk that had been attacked by coyotes because of how scattered the body parts were.

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Our favorite spot to hang out as a family was at Lake McDonald. There are a bunch of turnoffs you can hang out at, but our favorite was right outside of Lake McDonald Lodge. There was a dock, a couple small beaches, and no fear of predators! The kids threw rocks in the water and waded until their toes turned to raisins, while Ian and I just watched. Relaxing by Lake McDonald was the first time in a loooong time that I really didn’t have a care in the world. It was just so quiet and simple and nothing mattered because we were all content.

Montana is one of the states I’ve kind of always forgotten about, but has now become one I will always remember fondly!