Glacier National Park is sometimes called “America’s Switzerland,” and it’s easy to see why. I’ve been lucky enough to make five visits to the park over the years, and with over one million acres of breathtaking mountain peaks, gorgeous lakes, endless views, and access to wildlife and historic lodges, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of reasons to keep going back.
Taking the drive over Glacier’s famed Going-To-The-Sun Road is the best introduction one could ask for to experience an overview of the park. My favorite memories of Glacier National Park and the broader Crown of the Continent region involve seeing the wildlife close-up (but from a safe distance). During a boat tour across Two Medicine Lake, we saw two grizzly bears walking along the far side of the lake. Another year, during a drive back from Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park to Glacier, we spotted a bear completely consumed with feeding on blueberries just across the road from where we parked. We were fascinated for over a half hour as he focused on fueling for his winter hibernation. Last year, while accompanying an NPCA ParkScapes tour, our group spotted a bear across a small lake just as we arrived at Waterton Lakes. It’s also fun to spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep while driving through the park. You never quite know where you are going to spot these beautiful animals. At Logan Pass, we took a short hike on a boardwalk over a field of gorgeous alpine wildflowers to have a picnic lunch overlooking Hidden Lake, but the bighorn sheep were hanging out back near the parking lot, letting the summer tourists take close-up photos.
Adding to the charm of visiting these parks are the vintage park lodges. Some of the old lodges were built by the railroads to lure vacationers out to the park, and were opened as far back as 1910. This year’s NPCA trip will stay at Many Glacier Hotel, which features Swiss chalet architecture and a great hall boasting timber logs stretching three stories high. I remember one year the night we arrived at Many Glacier Hotel, there was a free concert by the von Trapp Family singers (grandchildren of the original Sound of Music story). The balconies around the great hall filled with guests as the melodies rose to the rafters.
The Crown of the Continent offers a diversity of landscapes, wildlife, and experiences, and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to visit this unique area to take it!
About the author
Morgan Dodd Senior Director, Planned Giving
Morgan Dodd has spent more than 35 years building positive relationships and critical financial support for non-profit organizations in higher education, the arts and conservation.