Glacier & Waterton Parks

Yellowstone to Great Falls (July 21)

We spent one night in Great Falls on our way to Canada. Although a very pleasant stay, we were exhausted and didn't explore the town at all and even missed The Falls !

Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks (July 22 to July 25)

Glacier National Park (USA) and Waterton Lakes NP (Canada) are two National Parks essentially managed as one, but under two administrations. After leaving Great Falls, we crossed the Canadian  Border and entered Waterton Lakes NP, which is much smaller than it's US equivalent. 

We stayed at the splendid Prince of Wales Hotel, which has a fantastic view of a lake between two mountains.

The Prince of Wales Hotel, sitting on a hill overlooking the lakes

The Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton, Canada

The view from our room was spectacular, although we had paid extra to have an upgraded room. Not every room had this view.

The view down Upper Waterton Lake from our bedroom. Waterton village is on the right

Our room was small and a bit quaint, but that's kind of the point. The hotel is 100 years old! And it did have a private bathroom.

King size room at the Prince of Wales Hotel

The lobby was much smaller and not as grand as the The Old Faithful Lodge, but the hotel itself was not as large.

Afternoon Tea was offered in the lobby, but as we were planning to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, we passed. I suspect the views were probably even better than the Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea served at the Prince of Wales - but OH those views!

We decided to take a walk down to the village and almost immediately encountered a bear!

It was nosing around some staff housing just below the hotel. Kris took one look and was back up the hill to the hotel as fast as she could go.

Once I had retrieved Kris and we had found another way down, we decide to take a scenic boat ride on the lake.

The boat "The International" built in 1927 returning to the dock at Waterton.

The boat cruised up the lake taking the sights and sounds of the area until it arrived at the end of the lake, back in the USA, where we docked for about 30 minutes.

The mountains surrounding Waterton Lake

The two obelisks, when in line, mark the boundary between the USA and Canada. We actually sailed from Canada to the US and back again on our tour.

"The International" docked at Goat Haunt - the end of the lake and in US territory

The view back down the lake towards Waterton

Next day, we checked out of the hotel and did some exploring of the scenery around Waterton. We did see an Elk running along the side of the road.

However, the spectacular scenery continued to be the big attraction.

We crossed back into the US and headed for our next hotel, the Glacier Lodge at East Glacier.

Glacier Lodge, East Glacier

Although not as impressive as the Prince Of Wales (and certainly without the views) the lobby was VERY spectacular.

The lobby of Glacier Lodge

The scenery in the vicinity of the Lodge wasn't terribly spectacular and next day we moved on again, this time into the park itself.

The highlight of Glacier National Park is the "Going to the Sun Road" which runs from one end of the park to the other - over 50 miles. Over the course of the next two days, we drove it three times. The first day, the weather was cloudy, but on our last day, it was bright and clear.

Ominous clouds hang over the park as we drive the "Going to the Sun" road

As the day wore on, the clouds did lift a little.

The vintage (1936) buses called " Red Jammers" provide a quick way to get a picture without getting out. These red buses are everywhere in the park and are used by anyone who wants to explore the views without driving.

They are called "Jammers" because of the distinctive grinding noise the gears made when they were "jammed" into gear. They now have automatic transmissions, so they don't make any noise when changing gear.

Spectacular views everywhere. You can see the "Going to the Sun" road on the left

Mountain Goats are quite common, although not always this close.

Here, the mountain looks like a smoking volcano, but it's just early morning cloud.

The road can be seen cutting right across the middle of this picture

The Weeping Wall where water pours down the rock. Not so sure about those open topped buses along THIS stretch of road.

"The Three Arches" where the road has been built across natural stone pillars

A waterfall flows under the road

Once over the top of John's Pass the valley opens up in the distance. Now it's a long drive down!

The river at the bottom of the valley can be tranquil and clear

And in places, quite violent and wild

At the end of the valley, it flows into Lake McDonald

At the edge of the lake is Lake McDonald Lodge, another classic place to stay. Unfortunately, by the time we tried to book (six months earlier!)  it was already sold out for our dates.

The lobby was small but quaint

Steps leading down to the boat dock on Lake McDonald. You can just see the tour boat in the back ground.

One last look back at the many spectacular waterfalls in Glacier and we were on our way once more.