Archives for posts with tag: Kalispell

We finally made it here today and it’s been a dream come true for us both but only one of us knew how outstanding the whole park and surrounding areas are. The great news is that now both of us know! Even though the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road isn’t open yet (probably not until July but they really don’t know when because of snow), we drove up about fourteen miles along the West side of Glacier.

But before we even get to Glacier National Park, we drive from Kalispell, Montana because it’s one of the prettiest drives anywhere and especially with such a magnificent destination awaiting our arrival!

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Driving from Kalispell to Glacier National West Gate seeing these mountains is life changing!

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Truly majestic!

Jenni was a happy young woman when we got to the Park entrance! She looks so cute in this chair!

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Inside the Park, we drove up to Lake McDonald Lodge built in early 1900’s.

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Lake McDonald Lodge (front)

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Lake McDonald Lodge Great Room at entrance

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Lake McDonald Lodge (back facing lake) where Montana and I had our picture taken last year. (tear)

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Lake McDonald

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Cabins for rent overlooking Snyder Creek

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Rushing waters of Snyder Creek emptying into Lake McDonald


Montana in Montana resting at Lake McDonald one year ago!


Raging waters that feed Lake McDonald near McDonald Falls!

Tomorrow? More Glacier but from the East side! St. Mary’s, for sure!



As a postscript to the Tail of the Dragon Road from my first post, it turns out that experience prepared me for yesterday’s harrowing drive on Hwy. 49 trying to get to East Glacier! I was still scared out of my wits driving that horrible, poorly maintained road with drops in the pavement, broken pavement and some of the scariest curves combined with rain, snow, fog and fear…but I did it! Probably got more gray hair but I did it!

As for today, I didn’t know the focus was going to be clouds and light. I thought it was going to be back roads of Idaho toward Twin Falls from Missoula, MT. However, when I plugged in the back road route I wanted to take, TomTom said it would take me TWELVE hours to get there! Map in hand, I searched for an alternative to see what results I got that way. It turned out that the only viable route to get close to my original destination was to head back South on I-15 through Montana…the way I’d traveled a few days ago to get to Kalispell.

This experience of traversing the same road in the opposite direction was magnified today as I kept checking to make sure I was on the right road because it looked so different. It may have been my fascination with all the cloud formations.

As soon as I headed South on Hwy. 93 out of Kalispell, the first inkling of today’s focus came to light…so to speak. My sister and I were just discussing the critical relevance of light and how its affect on our perceptions of color. Think on that while you look below.

It was a 350 mile stretch of I-15 which started about 10:00AM and I stopped taking photos as I crossed the Idaho State line around 4:00 PM.

It’s probably hard for you to see but the “white” on top of the mountain range isn’t snow…it’s a cloud sitting firmly on top of the mountain!



Then the dark clouds seem to magically break up and hug the mountains.


Are the white areas behind the mountain clouds or snow?


Left shows the clouds better sitting firmly on the mountains.



The farther South we travel, the more interesting the sun light and the clouds get.


Here the clouds are sitting firmly on top of this range as well.


Now add snow to this range & rain clouds.



And BRIGHT light coming through the clouds to the left.






So many cloud changes in a 350 mile stretch of I-15 South in a relatively short period of time.





Again brilliant light!


This photo inspired me to paint again! The mixture of browns, greens, charcoal grays countered with bright whites of just the mountains would look great on a shirt!



And the best part? This one!


Tomorrow? I’m headed toward Auburn, CA via Utah and Nevada…two of my favorite states to drive through. I’m excited to see what the focus will be for tomorrow’s drive!


Today’s adventure ended up being about 250 miles round trip and only 180 pictures to cull! I’m surprised that I took that many because it was a dreary, rainy, low cloud, foggy day. But, as I’ve said, coming back gives a different perspective from going and the second trip from Kalispell toward West Glacier was just as exciting as yesterday’s!







Logan Pass makes going from the West to East side of the Park extremely interesting and tricky as the roads are 1920 narrow with only short rock walls to keep you from going over the 6600+ foot precipice at the top of the Pass. There are other higher peaks but not ones you can drive. They have to be hiked.

At this time, the Pass is still closed and, frankly, after taking Hwy. 49 as a shortcut to Saint Mary East Glacier entrance, I’m glad. I was struggling with the fog, rain, hairpin curves, disappearing road, heights, drops and my vertigo to the point that I’m stiff as a board from the stress of that dang road but I DID IT! BTW, there are no pictures from this part of the trip! LOL

I called my BFF and told her what I’d experienced getting to the Visitor’s Center and how I was hoping the Going-To-The-Sun Road from the East entrance was as uncomplicated as the West was. And, other than the snow, rain, fog, curves, disappearing road, hairpin curves, heights and drops it wasn’t as challenging as Hwy. 49…but I was only twelve miles in. Believe me, the rest of that road will make a believer outta ya!

View near the East Glacier entrance (headed West).




Saint Mary Lake



Love me some rocks!



And really BIG rocks that look like mountains with snow on the top but it’s really big rocks with glaciers on top overlooking Saint Mary Lake.




Now this moment of wild flower love is dedicated to my mom. It was wild that I drove through snow and 34 degree temps with all the wild flower blooming going on.




Now I’m headed back toward the East entrance (going East).



And, as it happens in nature, there was a HUGE fire that took out a lot of trees but nature abhors a void and the new growth is coming back with a vengeance. Did you know there are a number of plants which rely on fire to release their seeds like the jack pine? (Thanks for teaching me that, Mom!)

This picture shows a magnificent waterfall (the white on the right) and the remnants of the glacier on the left. I think I took 15 shots to get this one pic.


There’s more evidence of the fire on the East side than West.


Personally, I love the fire remnants juxtaposed against the lush life of the green on the mountain looking over  the lake.


Yeah, ROCKS!



There’s a peek at the little rock wall built at the Park’s inception to prevent cars of the 21st century from dropping thousands of feet! LOL


Next, I drove to Browning, MT in the Blackfoot Reservation where there’s a cool shop I’d visited before called the Blackfoot Trading Company. The ladies there were so nice. The recommended I have a quick bite here at the Junction Cafe. They have a killer hamburger on flatbread!


Then home again, home again, jiggly jig! Now driving West on Hwy. 2 giving me a great view of the Flathead River you can’t grasp going East!


Yeah, it’s all about the water and the rocks for me…even at The Southern Comfort Cabin!



It’s off toward Auburn, California tomorrow as I’m expected there on Monday and it’s could be a bit of a drive (to say the least) considering the distance and the weather promised! Oh well. It’s the journey! All about the journey!



Today’s post is dedicated to (West) Glacier National Park via  Kalispell, MT! As before, a thousand pictures is worth a million words! This is amazing country and too much dialogue just diminishes the view! Enjoy! I sure did!

I’m staying in Kalispell, MT to enjoy getting to know a new town but to drive back and forth to Glacier. I know, that sounds crazy but when I travel a back road, I get a different perspective of the views depending on the direction I’m taking. For example, traveling East to West through Zion National Park looks more remarkable to me than West to East. The difference to me is that dramatic and I love experiencing this when I go anywhere.

I started my day with breakfast at the Montana Club and Casino. No, I didn’t gamble on anything other than their California Omelet & I won!


The inside decor was so awesome! I sat there enjoying the view as much as I did meeting another southerner who had moved to Kalispell 17 years ago as I did my breakfast. I’m going to get back before I leave, for sure.

The Main Street area of Kalispell is adorable! Check this out!




Leaving Kalispell up Hwy. 93 to Hwy 35 to Hwy 2 (about 35 miles toward West Glacier (western entrance to the Park) was a culmination of thirteen years of dreams of getting back here. Yeah, you could say I was excited!

With the rain forecast, I really didn’t expect to take over 250 pictures today but Mother Nature provided me such great beauty in the clouds sitting on top of the glacier capped mountains. With each twist and turn of the road, I got a different perspective of the clouds and the mountains they were snuggling.





One of the Forks of the Flathead River.






Then, we entered Glacier from the West entrance where you’ll find Lake McDonald and the Lodge built on it in 1913. I couldn’t go inside because they were getting it ready for inspection for their season opening tomorrow. Go online and check it out.

Where’s Montana? Montana is in Montana sitting near Lake McDonald!


Lake McDonald



Lake McDonald Lodge original renovated Tour Buses. I took these in 2003 to tour the Going-To-The-Sun Road when I was here before and it was so awesome.


This creek is one of the many that feed Lake McDonald and it runs right beside the lodge and some of the cabins for rent there.


Who is that standing by the rear of the Lodge where it overlooks Lake McDonald?


And here too! It looks a great deal like Montana!


Rear view of the Lodge from the boat dock.


One of the cabins for rent by the creek at Lake McDonald Lodge.


The next video and photos are near the end of the stretch of road open today.




Because only sixteen miles of the Going-To-The-Sun Road was open today, I explored the only other road available. One is called Camas Road. The next photos are views from it.


North Fork of the Flathead River.



And the scary cool part of my journey today was taking a rock road into an area not named nor generally travelled especially this time of the year. I wasn’t sure why I kept going on this one lane road because the views weren’t spectacular and Montana was signaling with her funny little wince that she wanted me to turn around. I did because she was insistent and she’s got a better sense of smell than I do and she sure didn’t like something.

It took me a few minutes to even find a spot to turn around and found this “money shot!”


Tomorrow, we’ll be driving past the West entrance going east on Hwy. 2 hugging the southern portions of the Park to get to the East entrance. Not sure how many miles are open on that side tomorrow but I heard that Going-To-The-Sun Road will be open on Saturday, the day I leave.


After getting a full nights rest last night, my now clear head realized that I’d “bought” 3 days from my zealous driving methods. As I have this realization, I’m thinking, “I’m in Montana…my favorite state…and only six (6) hours away from my second favorite National Park (first being Ashley National in Utah)…Glacier…! DANG! I’m going!”

I got so excited knowing I’d be there again after thirteen (13) years AND for three days that I got a renewal of spirit. I couldn’t pack up the car fast enough!

This blog is purely the joy of the drive of western Montana from Livingston (just North of Yellowstone near Bozeman) to Kalispell (just south of Glacier National Park).

It’s a stunning drive and I wish I had a better camera but these photos will give you a taste of what you have to look forward to when you make this trip!

First photo, about an hour north of Livingston, when I spy glacier capped mountains! I just can’t get enough of this stuff!


It’s true! The grass is greener on the other side! This is the greenest grass I ever saw!


And, just a few miles up the road, this prairie looking contrast.


Both rolling terrain and pasture. BTW, these rolling hills used to be mountains! So were the rocky crags you’ll see along I-90.


This is so different from North Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolinas, Kentucky, Virginia and, now that I think about it, most of the states northeast of Georgia!

This photo is taken to the left of the highway (I-90 N/W).


This photo is taken to the right of the highway (I-90 N/W). Interesting contrast in a relatively short space apart. My head was constantly pivoting left to right!


Turn off of I-90 onto the road to Kalispell.


Getting to the good stuff!




Drool! Pasture, lush forest AND glacier capped mountains!


YEAH! That’s what I’m tawkin’ ’bout!


Had to put this one in too…just because!


They sure look naked compared to the glacier capped mountains in Grand Tetons, don’t they? These are north by the whole state of Montana from the Tetons in NW Wyoming.


Flathead Lake is HUGE! It would make our Lake Burton look like a mud puddle! The Flathead River feeds this lake both named for the Flathead Native American  Tribe whose reservation is in this area.


The last two really are from an area immediately before Flathead Lake but I loved the clouds, sky, mountains separated from greenest fields by dark green tree line.


This one just because.


Tomorrow, Glacier National Park!