Glacier National Park – Day 5

Hey Guys!

So, this post continues our time in Glacier National Park.

For a map of the park click here.

Read Days 1-3 here, Day 4 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here & Day 8 here – Read my post on 101 Things to Do Outside of the Park here & Read my post on the East side from when we visited in 2021 here

On day 5, we decided to drive over to the East side of the park.

We woke to another beautiful morning in the park however, the smoke from the fires, was really obscuring our views of the mountains.

After having our coffee, we headed out.

There are a few stops that you can do along the way, but nothing too impressive.

The drive to the East side of the park is very scenic but again, the views weren’t the best due to the smoke.

We passed lots of trains on the way.

You can actually take a train to both East and West Glacier.

Read more about it here

The Empire Builder departs Whitefish every morning around 8 AM and arrives at East Glacier Park approximately two hours later. The westbound train departs every evening around 6:45 PM, making it the perfect day or weekend trip

Book your tickets for the train here

Our first stop, was the Goatlick Overlook in Essex...the overlook was approx 40 mins from our hotel.

The Goatlick Overlook is an exposed riverbank where mountain goats and other animals come to lick the mineral-laden cliffs.

From the parking area, a short paved path leads to an observation stand overlooking the waters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Some of the goats travel as far as four miles to get to the Goat Lick, while others from more widely dispersed areas in the Flathead National Forest travel several times that distance.

April through August are the most concentrated use periods, although use may occur year-round.

Sadly, we didn’t spot any mountain goats at the overlook but I did manage to take a picture of a train! 😉

After leaving here, we continued our drive down Hwy 2.

Our next stop was a memorial for Theodore Roosevelt & a tablet that was erected in honor of William Morrison who was a trapper and prospector who donated the rights to his land so that it may be used as a site for a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt.

There’s also a statue of John F. Stevens located at this stop. He is responsible for routing the Great Northern Railroad over Marias pass.

Tip: There are two lakes that you can hike to on this drive. One is Stanton Lake (4 mi r/trip) & the other is Skiumah Lake (1.9 mi r/trip).

After leaving here, we continued our drive until we arrived to East Glacier.…the drive takes around 2 hrs from the Apgar Village Inn.

The East side of the park is located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and they had closed the East Entrance to keep tourists from coming onto their reservation due to Covid.

It looked like a ghost town when we arrived!

We drove passed East Glacier into Browning, MT …it took about 15 mins…we could hardly see the views due to the smoke.

After arriving to Browning, we turned around and headed back towards Glacier Park.

Once we arrived back to East Glacier, we turned on Hwy 49 that leads to the East Entrance of Glacier Park…we were curious how far we could go before it was closed off.

We were able to drive about 5 miles of the road before we came up on a gate that closed off the entrance to the park.

Right before arriving to the gate, we spotted a bear on the side of the road…as we got closer, he crossed the road in front of us!

We then headed back towards the West Entrance of the park.

Once again, we passed lots of trains along the way…

On the way back, we stopped at Silver Staircase Falls….I had read about this roadside falls during my research. It’s located between mile markers 188 and 189 and about a 5 min drive from the Goatlick Overlook.

Sadly, there was no water at all flowing from the falls….I had read that it’s best viewed in the early season when snow melt is rushing down from the mountains.

After leaving here, we headed to the historic Izaak Walton Inn to have lunch.

The Inn was built in 1939 for $40,000. It was built near a rail yard for use of service personnel exhausted after crossing the Continental Divide on Marias Pass.

When completed, the Inn boasted 29 rooms, ten bathrooms, a spacious lobby, dining room, kitchen with a two-ton cook stove, drying room, store room, and general store. It took twelve carpenters three months to complete.

We were seated outside…

We both ended up ordering a burger with fries.

The food was average but it was a neat experience.

Tip: Another good place to eat in this area is the Summit Mountain Lodge & Steakhouse

A train passed by as we were eating lunch

After we ate, we checked out parts of the hotel…they had lots of antiques on display.

Besides the lodge, the Inn also offers cabins and restored train cars that you can stay in.

The professional rodeo cowboy and artist, Chance Hays was having lunch at the hotel while we were there.

After leaving here, we continued our drive back towards West Glacier.

Once we arrived, we decided we would hike the Johns Lake Loop Hike..the trailhead is located on the Sun Road and was only 20 mins from our hotel.

The trail is a 2 mile loop but if you want to hike just to Johns Lake, it’s 1 mile round trip.

We ended up going the wrong way on the trail and ended up on a horse trail behind a group on horseback!

We turned around with several other people and went back to the trailhead only to realize that we needed to cross the road to start the trail…it was very confusing!

The hike was mostly through a lush, densely forested area…it was a fairly easy hike with views of McDonald Creek, a couple of falls and some mountain views.

We were alone on the trail for most of our hike which made it a lot more peaceful but, at the same time, a bit unnerving knowing we were in bear country! Make sure to have bear spray!!

We stopped several times along the way to take pics

The views were beautiful!

We arrived to an area that would have been a perfect place for swimming! The water was crystal clear!

The trail crosses the bridge at the Sacred Dancing Cascade

The views were amazing

After what seemed like a mile or so of walking, we finally arrived to Johns Lake.

The lake is small and completely surrounded by trees.

After taking a few pictures of the lake, we continued the trail back to our car.

After arriving back to our car, we headed to the Huckleberry Patch for dinner..

Sadly, they had just closed when we arrived so we headed back to our room and made sandwiches and sat outside our room and ate.

The smoke was so thick, we couldn’t see those beautiful mountains! 🙁

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Day 6 where we hike to St Mary Falls & hike part of the Highline!!

Tip: There’s another scenic drive that you can do if you have time. I had it on the list but sadly, we decided not to do it and now I regret it. It was the drive to Libby to see Kootenai Falls & the Swinging bridge & the Libby Dam. You can drive the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Hwy up to Eureka then on to Libby. There’s also the Ten Lakes Scenic area nearby & the Ross Creek Cedars.

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