There are awe-inspiring moments in your life that have you pinching yourself wondering how you got here, and then there are moments one step up from that even. Getting to see one of America’s most impressive, expansive national parks from such a unique perspective definitely falls into the latter category.
Our first few days in Montana’s Glacier Country were spent drinking beer in Missoula, paddling the Clearwater River Canoe Trail, and playing around Whitefish (more on that to come), and while all were absolutely lovely and charming and a blast to say the least, there was no doubt we were all eagerly awaiting to reach the main attraction: Glacier National Park.
And what better way to get acquainted with the park—particularly our friends who were Glacier newcomers—than to see it from above?
YOU GUYS. I have done a lot of cool things in my life—I never take a moment of it for granted, rest assured—but there has yet to be a cooler experience than hopping a chopper for a 60-minute flight over my favorite park in the world.
Glacier Jet Center’s Mike was our pilot and the very one who took Sean The Bachelor up over Glacier a few seasons ago. We met him over at the international airport in Kalispell, where the company is headquartered, and I was the lucky one who drew the right straw, landing me the prime shotgun seat next to our esteemed leader.
The other five sat in the back, which was so plush and fancy that each seat had its own drop-down TV. Definitely the Rolls Royce of helicopters!
Within five minutes of taking off from Kalispell, we reached the fringe of Glacier National Park and watched the terrain turn from flat to undulating to full-on mountain monstrosities. The weather was on our side: A nice layer of clouds sat high in the sky with patches of blue periodically peeking out from behind them—a far cry from the nonstop rain I experienced on my last Montana vacation.
Mike asked us how fast we thought we were going; I guessed 50 miles per hour, but I was off—by 100. It’s hard to believe we were whizzing past glaciers at 150 miles per hour and barely felt like we were moving. The sign of a fancy chopper, for sure. I had worried about motion sickness—you know it forever plagues me—and I didn’t feel a thing (other than pure exhilaration) during the hour we were in flight.
We passed (slow) moving ice and lakes as smooth as glass and the color of turquoise. We spotted gushing waterfalls and hikers far, far below. I didn’t speak for an hour, as I had nothing to say. You feel so small when dwarfed by 10,000-foot peaks, but at the same time like a superhero when they’re nearly within fingertips’ reach.
After it was all over, none of us could adequately speak for the rest of the day. We kept turning to look at each other, as if to say: “Did that really happen?” I’m just glad I was sitting in the front, as I heard there were tears in the backseat and, well, I don’t do emotions.