Noah and I recently had an amazing week-long trip in Montana. We (especially Noah!) has spent the a lot of time over the past several months preparing for the trip, so it was very exciting to finally be on our way! After we spent a day taking a (seemingly never-ending) string of flights to Kalispell, MT, we picked up our rental car at the airport and drove right away to the Vista Motel in West Glacier.
The Vista Motel was just a few minutes drive from the West Entrance to Glacier National Park. The motel had small, basic rooms, but it was perfect for what we wanted – somewhere clean, affordable, and nearby the park. Also, the staff was incredibly friendly and sweet! The motel also had a small continental breakfast available in the morning (coffee, oatmeal, toast, muffins, etc.) and gorgeous views!
We arrived to the Vista Motel late in the evening (the pictures above are actually from our first morning waking up there), and after eating breakfast in the morning we quickly made our way into the Park to get the adventures started!
Shortly past the entrance to the park, we stopped by the visitor center to get some maps, information about ranger-led activities, and advice about…BEARS! Glacier National Park has one of the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the country, and it’s recommended for all hikers to brush up on bear safety tips and to have someone in their group carry bear spray.
The nice folks at the Alamo car rental desk at the Kalispell airport had given Noah and I a canister of bear spray when we picked up the car, and we had already joked around with Noah’s “quick-draw” approach at the motel that morning:
At the visitor center, Noah and I continued our bear education by asking the ranger a few questions, getting comfortable around “friendlier” bears…
…and trying not to get freaked out by the literature on sale at the store:
ANYWAY, moving on from bears…we were ready to begin our first full day at Glacier!
The morning was occupied by a half-day rafting trip that was a ton of fun. We went white-water rafting with the Glacier Raft Company, and Noah and I braved the rapids alone in our own inflatable kayak. Turns out Noah is a master of the sea, and he was able to safely navigate our kayak through the water while I occasionally rowed. When we finished the rafting trip, it was already a couple hours into the afternoon and we were very ready for lunch. We made our way to The Wandering Gringo – a walk-up burrito/taco stand – for delicious burritos which we made quick work of:
We also stopped by the West Glacier Mercantile to pick up some hiking snacks and lunches to bring with us on the trail for the next few days:
After we were fed and revived after our rafting trip, we set out for the second adventure of the day – hiking the Apgar Lookout trail!
Anticipation mounting on our way to the trailhead:
The hike was an out-and-back trail to a fire tower overlooking Lake McDonald. The hike was about 7 miles in total distance, and it took us about 3.5 hours to complete. The hike was incredibly warm, but we had a great time making our way along the trail and enjoying the phenomenal views:
Eventually we made it to the top! (Lake McDonald in the background)
By the time we made our way back down the trail and had washed up at the motel, we were both exhausted and ready for dinner. We made our way to Glacier Grill and Pizza to share some pizza and salad for dinner:
And Noah also tried a huckleberry beer (huckleberries are the regional superfood of Montana!).
By the end of dinner, we were both more than ready to get back to the motel to get a good night’s sleep before the next day’s adventures. Stay tuned for another post soon about the continuation of our Glacier trip!