Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is a road trip destination that is sure to please. Its forests, peaks, glaciers, flower-filled meadows, lakes and trails are a paradise for photographers, artists, paddlers, campers, and hikers. Glacier is a great place to unwind and unplug from the digital world, and reconnect with nature, with yourself, and with your loved ones.
You have to go and see it for yourself to understand why they call it “Big Sky Country.” This is where the Great Plains crash into the Rocky Mountains and no matter which direction you are coming from or how you get here, traveling by campervan will be as much fun as arriving at this incredible destination.
You could stop on your coast to coast campervan adventure, or do a one way or round trip rental from one of Escape’s 10 locations. Glacier National park is only:
In mid-June, I was blessed to take a relaxing trip to Glacier National Park with my mom. She is not a camper (YET), so we decided to do a Mom-Daughter train trip. We boarded Amtrak’s Empire Builder in Seattle around 4:30 PM. It was our first overnight train ride, so we upgraded to a roomette, which converted into private sleeping bunks for nighttime. We traveled north along the coast and then turned inland along the Columbia River. We had two reclining seats that faced each other, and a huge picture window, which I was glued to watching the rivers, mountains, and high desert scenery go by. Some highlights were going through the Cascades, meeting new people and eating our meals with them in the dining car, and watching the sunset and sunrise from the train. In the morning we spotted a few deer and one elk in the forest as we chugged along into Montana.
Our train arrived in East Glacier around 10:00 AM the next day. For the first and last night of our visit, we stayed in the historic 105-year-old Glacier Park Lodge. We arrived on a cool drizzly morning and the huge fireplace was warm and inviting. There are many outdoor covered balconies, porches, and decks with plenty of couches and rocking chairs. My favorite place to hang out and write in my journal or fill out postcards was in the breezeway. It had reclining chairs, antique writing desks, and tables and chairs perfect for playing cards. You can check out board games and puzzles in the lobby. But don’t worry; they do have Wi-Fi if you MUST stay connected. The lodge has two restaurants, a pool, and is a beautiful place to host your destination wedding. Even if you are staying in a nearby campground, come to explore, have lunch, and take the walking tour, offered twice a day, which explains the history of the Glacier Park Lodge, built by the Great Northern Railway.
We also stayed in St Mary for two nights. We could walk to the visitor center and this is where we embarked on our all-day Red Bus Tour. The antique vehicles have an open top so you can see the trees and mountains and you travel along the iconic Going to the Sun Road. We were able to go as far as Jackson Glacier the day of our tour. Logan’s Pass was still snowed in and the road was closed past that point. But by the end of our trip, the road was finally opened for the summer season.
If you have nerves of steel, how exhilarating it would be to drive your Escape Campervan into the heart of Glacier National Park on the Going to the Sun Road, stopping to explore at the lakes and trailheads. Or, if you are a flatlander like me, you could take the Red Bus Tour and let someone else do the driving on the steep-sided, windy mountain road.
This was my favorite. Artists were along the lake shore capturing the alpine scene in watercolor and acrylics. You can take a boat tour on the lake, or rent a kayak. Pick up a park newspaper during your visit, there are many ranger programs, and ranger-led hikes and a hiker’s shuttle to different trailheads. There are several national park and private campgrounds in and around Glacier National Park.
Try the Indian taco and huckleberry pie at the Looking Glass Restaurant in East Glacier Village. Or be waiting on the porch with locals at 5:00 pm when Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant opens their door for dinner, serving up large portions and libations.
I know Montana seems so far out of the way, but trust me, it is oh so worth a visit. You will fall in love with these mountains, and long to return. The cottonwood fuzz is floating on the mountain breeze like snow, the bear grass is blooming, and the lakes are warming up, so what are you waiting for? Plan your campervan road trip to Glacier National Park today!