After we left Isaak Newton in Essex, we had another half hour back on the road, during which five out of the six of us took a little snooze, before we reached our base for the night: Glacier Park Lodge.
The historic hotel dates back to the early 1900s—another addition when the railroad came to town—and while the rooms are quite modest, they’re comfortable enough, and it’s the great hall and breezeway that are really this property’s main attraction.
Doesn’t this just make you want to curl up with a hot toddy and good book (or laptop, as our case may have been!)?
And the best part? Why, the huckleberry margaritas, of course.
For dinner that night, we ate at at East Glacier mainstay, Serrano’s. The line is usually out the door, but being that it was midweek during the shoulder season, we lucked out and got a table right away. The next morning, we had a later start—it was raining, otherwise I would have opted for a walk out around the lake; instead, we had breakfast together at the hotel (huckleberry pancakes, duh) before heading to Two Medicine.
The drive from Glacier Park Lodge was not even five miles, and our Glacier Park Boat Company boat that would take us on a 45-minute “cruise” of Two Medicine Valley was already waiting.
It was an overcast day and quite nippy, too; we were OK with this brief weather change because a) we had all packed warm clothing and b) if you’re in a park called Glacier, you want to get in the spirit, am I right?
The boating company has been around since 1938, and our very knowledgeable guide took us through the century’s history the national park spans—including the shrinking glaciers (in both number and size)—since being established in 1910.
The company had just opened for summer and also offers kayak, canoe and rowboat rentals, as well as afternoon trips out on the lake that include optional walks out to Twin Falls, a double cascade accessed through a 1.8-mile walk through forest and alpine meadows. Boat tours are $12.25 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under and are offered five times daily throughout the season.
We didn’t actually go anywhere, just did a little loop around the lake while we listened to Glacier’s history and admired our 360-degree views.
Next, we headed to Saint Mary for the famous pie at Park Cafe. Or I guess we had lunch first, but I don’t remember much about that because, well, PIE. I’d like to say we shared, but we all know that’s not true. Six travelers, six pieces of pie; no huckleberry, though, so I opted for my second favorite, strawberry rhubarb—with huckleberry ice cream!
Foodgasmic. However, Tia’s peach pie might have been the best of the batch. Not that I’m biased when it comes to pie. Not even a little bit. But anyway…
It was time to move on…again (sense a theme here? eat-and-run is very much our motto). And the true part of the scenic drive began (as if all the previous things we had seen hadn’t been enough!).
We kept our eyes peeled for bears, as this area is ripe for the picking.
For moose, too. Alas, we didn’t see anything but splendid flora (and some fire aftermath).
That was fine, as we were soaking up the experience nonetheless. Our final stop, however, would prove to the most magnificent one yet….
Note: For those of you wondering about seasonal travel in Montana, June can an absolutely gorgeous time to visit. We had incredible weather, the crowds were small, there was no traffic and the prices were still shoulder-season fares. The downside, of course, is that Going-to-the-Sun Road isn’t open—it’s usually only operational late June through end of September, weather pending—but we didn’t mind; we saw so much beautiful scenery, there were absolutely no regrets!