August 26, 2009: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Recession has some good sides. With Furloughs we have to move out of home since we cannot stay at home doing nothing for a week. We decided to go on a road trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park during the period.
We left Chicago at 4 PM and drove 450 miles through Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota to reach St. Cloud. We stayed at Motel 6 there.
Route: I90 and I94.
August 27, 2009: Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana
Today is the driving day of our trip. We had breakfast at 6.30 and left for Montana by 7 AM. It was a nice warm morning and I 94 was great. We reached Fargo at around 9.30 and we stopped to refuel our car.
Then the 6 hr long stretch of North Dakota started. Its approximately 350 miles from east to west in North Dakota. The capital city Bismarck was our stop for lunch. Incidentally North Dakota is the country with least number of tourist footfalls. Only Bismarck and Fargo are notable cities. There is nothing but vast plains and loneliness. You drive for miles without seeing a car cross you. The landscape starts changing once you cross Belfield. After some time you come to Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This park is known for wild bison and landscape similar to Badlands National Park. At around 2.00 PM we took a half hour break in the park. We then started the crossing the park via I 94 and the scenery was awesome. Soon a sign greeted us to Montana.
Great Falls, that’s where we wanted to settle down for the night, The GPS showed route of I94, I90 and I15. We followed I 94 till Custer and stopped for fuel. The lady at the gas station gave us a map and suggested to take US 12 instead of I 90 and I15. This would save us a lot of time in the journey and the speed limits are also good. And in Montana no roads have traffic, hence we decided to follow US 12to roundup, then US 87 till Great Falls. It was a good decision and we clocked 75 miles easily in the roads. We saw traffic other way only at interval of 20 minutes approx. Montana in this part was nothing but vast undulating plains with the famous Montana beef grazing the fields. Some places we saw horses, deer’s and llama also. We reached Great Falls at around 8.30 PM.
August 28, 2009: Glacier National Park
We left early at 7 and followed I 15 and then US 89 to Browning and then US 2 to East entrance of Glacier National Park. Since morning we could see the Rockies standing tall and that we are getting closer to them. We reached the park entrance, took out tickets and followed on the journey after little food at the gate.
Our first stop was St Mary Lake and we stopped to take the view of mountains and clear water of the lake. We could see the triple divide peak, rivers from this point flow to Hudson Bay in north, pacific in west and Gulf of Mexico in south. We went ahead to rising sun campground and booked out spot and let out our tents. We then decided to move on. Next stop was raising sun, sun rift gorge, Jackson glacier viewpoint and then Logan Pass.
Around 1.30 we started the hidden lake trail from Logan Pass visitor centre and enjoyed the mountain goats, sheep and amazing views of mountains, going to the sun road from the trail. But the best point of the trip came when we reached beyond the mountain to see the hidden lake. It’s really amazing and nothing in the world can beat the beauty of the lake.
We went ahead on the going to the sun road till Lake McDonald and had dinner there. We returned to rising sun before sunset and settled down after a hectic day. After all we have to wake up early tomorrow for the true rising sun experience.
Route: Going to the Sun road
August 29, 2009: Glacier National Park
Early morning 5 AM i woke up and asked all to get up and get fresh. By 5.30 we were ready and we took our camera and tripod and went straight to the rising sun view point for the moment. By 6 the place was filled with at least 20 cameras. Then the display of nature’s beauty started when the first rays of sun started hitting the mountains. The click was non stop since then. Someone was kayaking early morning in the St Mary lake and enjoying the show. Wow loved it.
That’s all in our short trip to Glacier, but now we have to leave for our main destination and grandest of all national park, YELLOWSTONE…goodbye Glacier. Truly the most scenic national park in continental USA…truly the crown of the continent.
The Rising Sun campground fills out fastest in the going to the sun road and swift current campground in the other part. These are first come first serve.
Do not miss the sunrise at rising sun view point and also Swift current (amazing views)
Do the hidden lake trail if you want to do a short trail. Views are amazing for going to the sun road. Wildlife spotting chances are also good.
Plan at least 4 days for GNP and enjoy the park completely. This is a beauty. I regret that i did not do justice to such a beautiful park.