Last weekend, on a drive home after a weekend in Glacier National Park, we were remembering dozens of past Glacier trips.
We laughed about the lodging mistakes we had made in the past—like staying near the middle of the park on US 2 to “split the difference” between the park’s two main entrances. We didn’t understand that the West Glacier and St. Mary entrances are 70 miles apart so we spent most of that weekend driving back and forth on US 2.
We also reveled in some of the little secrets we have uncovered over the years—the kind you don’t find in the guide books. Here are our three family secrets about Glacier National Park. Maybe they will make your next visit to the park more enjoyable.
If you’re on the east side of the park, World Famous Johnson’s of St. Mary can solve most of your problems.
- Since 1915, the Johnson’s have been serving up some incredible home cooking at the seasonal restaurant. This food will put your grandma’s best cooking to shame. And if you happen to be in the neighborhood on a Sunday, the family-style fried chicken dinner is heavenly!
- You can also find a clean quiet campground, RV park, and rustic camping cabins at Johnson’s of St. Mary. The staff is polite and the views are stunning. Best of all, you will less than two miles from the St. Mary entrance to Glacier National Park—the beginning of the Going to the Sun road.
No summer visit to Glacier National Park is complete without a whitewater rafting trip on the glacial-fed Flathead River. In West Glacier, we learned the hard way that not all river guiding companies are the same.
If you want your day on the river to be a special memory to last a lifetime, book your reservations with Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company. Just remember, they are the team in the blue boats. Those will be the boats that aren’t overstuffed! And the guides who are well-trained and polite. Trust me on this one.
If you are looking for a beautiful view, away from the crowds, and near many trailheads, spend an afternoon or evening at Many Glacier Lodge. Its front deck overlooks Swiftcurrent Lake. We have seen bears, moose, sheep, and eagles from the deck.
- There are several eating options at the lodge: the Ptarmigan Dining Room, the Swiss Lounge, and also Heidi’s Snack Shop.
- On a cool day, just grab a book and curl up on a leather couch in the spacious lobby.
- On nice days, grab a seat on the front deck. You will hear exciting hiking stories every afternoon as tired trekkers return from a day on the trail.
We hope our best kept secrets about Glacier National Park make your visit to the park more fun.
Do you have any tips to share with us?
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One of my favorite tips: The shuttle is a great way to see Going to the Sun Road. And tell the driver you get car sick. You’ll get the front seat and first dibs at seeing mountain goats and the fabulous scenery.
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