As much as I’ve complained about it over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to hold several jobs that required me to travel all over the U.S. Of course there were plenty of trips that I could put in the ‘uninteresting’ category, but more often than not I’d end up in a place that surprised me, or held some interesting piece of historical importance that made me glad I’d ended up there.
Not long ago, a colleague and I had to book a trip to Kalispell, MT to visit some customers and do a presentation. I was particularly excited about this one. I hadn’t been to Montana in years and, as my customers told me, I would be very close to Glacier National Park. These folks talked about the park like you would talk about a loved one, like it was part of the family. I couldn’t wait to see it. Lucky for us, one of those customers was more than happy to give us a personal tour.
I’d been in Billings before, but was surprised at how different things looked a few hours northwest. Kalispell is a charming small town with fantastic people, surrounded by some amazing scenery. It would only get more beautiful as we got closer to the park. Glacier is only about 40 minutes away, but it is like another world.
I don’t think there is a bad way to see the park, and we tried a few…driving, bicycling, and hiking. In early May the mountains were still snowcapped, but everything else was lush and green, and there was wildlife absolutely everywhere. In fact, Glacier’s wildlife population seemed pretty unaffected by an influx of people armed with cameras and backpacks. We didn’t see any bears though. I’m a little disappointed and a bit relieved about that.
We spent the first day biking along the road (which hadn’t yet been open to traffic), and the second day hiking. Our hiking trip wound through beautiful forests, raging rapids and tons of wildlife before opening up to a small lake with a magnificent view of, what else, a glacier.
We nearly had the park to ourselves in early May. Summer is the heaviest traffic time for the park since all of the attractions are open. I’d love to go back and see the Going-to-the-Sun Road – it hadn’t opened for the season yet.
I never really considered myself a very ‘outdoorsy’ person, but visiting places like Glacier National Park makes me think I should revisit that observation. I loved being out in nature, seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, and being surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. The people I met in Kalispell figured all of that out for themselves long before I did. No wonder they love Glacier so much, it really is a big part of their lives.
For more pictures of beautiful Glacier National Park, visit Flickr!