This post continues our time in Glacier National Park.
We visited the park Sept. 4-11, 2021.
Read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here & Day 8 here…click here to read my post on 101 Things to Do Outside of Glacier National Park & click here to read my post from the West side of the park.
On this day, we had to get up super early as I had booked a boat tour at Many Glacier for 9 am and the drive from Rising Sun to Many Glacier takes approximately 45 mins.
Tip: Book your boat reservation in advance especially the one for Grinnell Glacier as it sells out quickly. We booked online weeks in advance. There are only 3 Grinnell Glacier boat/hike tours a day.
However, I had read there was road construction taking place on Many Glacier road that could cause long delays so we tried to avoid that by leaving early.
After getting packed up, we checked out of our hotel and headed out around 6:30 am.
Once we arrived to the Many Glacier Entrance, the road turned into gravel for the next 11 miles!
It was definitely a slow drive and it was so dusty!
Just like the Two Medicine area, there is only one road in/out of the Many Glacier area. There are two hotels in this area, Many Glacier hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn…both are very popular!
The sun making it’s grand appearance!
Shots along the drive into Many Glacier…
All the dust made it hard to see the incredible views!
Thankfully, we had left early enough & didn’t have any delays.
After 11 miles of dusty gravel, the road turned back into pavement.
The views were breathtaking!
Our first view of the Many Glacier Hotel
The hotel was built in 1914 and has 240 guest rooms. It’s built in the style of a Swiss chalet, with overhanging roofs and balconies. It’s painted a rich, deep brown, with white and gold trim.
Read the history of the hotel here & the reviews of the hotel here
The hotel sits on the shore of the Swiftcurrent Lake with Grinnell Point being the main focus.
Grinnell Point is a pyramid shaped mountain that’s 7604 ft tall.
More shots of the hotel
Since we couldn’t check in, we parked the car and walked down to the hotel to find something to eat.
Views of Swiftcurrent Lake & Grinnell Point from behind the hotel.
Shots of the hotel from the back.
After walking around the hotel and killing about 1.5 hrs, it was time to board our boat.
I had booked the Grinnell Glacier boat tour but I wasn’t sure I would be able to hike the whole thing because it’s 7.5 mi round trip (11 mi if you don’t take the boat) & I’m mostly a couch potato!
My hubby and I packed 4 bottled waters each and plenty of snacks just in case we decided to hike the entire trail.
At 9:00 am, our boat pulled away from the dock and we were on our way across the beautiful Swiftcurrent Lake.
On the boat..
After about 10 minutes, we had to get off the boat and walk 0.2 miles to board our next boat that took us across Josephine Lake.
Josephine Lake is just as beautiful as Swiftcurrent Lake!
The water was so calm that we were able to capture some incredible reflection shots!
Tip: You can hike to Josephine Lake from the Many Glacier hotel. It’s approx 2 mi round trip. There’s also a loop hike you can do of the lake but it’s 5.8 miles.
Our boat arriving to the dock..
Headed across Josephine Lake…
After approx 45 mins total for both boat rides & the short hike, you arrive to the trailhead for Grinnell Glacier.
I truly can’t explain the beauty….and pictures just don’t do it justice!
Let the fun begin!
If you decide to hike Grinnell Glacier, please be aware that you will gain almost 1900 ft in elevation. This is not an easy hike. It’s rated as strenuous.
Tip: Have plenty of water, snacks like bananas, protein bars, trail mix, beef jerky, etc, wear a hat, sunscreen, UV protective gear, comfortable hiking shoes & socks (like Swiftwick), take band aids, medicine like Advil or Tylenol. Have a rain jacket on hand in case it rains.
Shots along the beginning of the trail
The hike to Grinnell Glacier is one of Glacier National Park’s most beautiful hikes. This hike has it all…stunning alpine scenery, waterfalls, emerald green lakes, wildflowers, the chance to see wildlife, and of course, a glacier!
After a short distance, you will arrive to a boardwalk that keeps hikers above the wet marshy area below.
Immediately after exiting the boardwalk, the path leading to Grinnell Glacier continues up the hill, and from this point, will climb a thigh-burning 135 feet over the course of the next tenth-of-a-mile.
This was a brutal climb for me and I had to stop several times to rest!
After the climb, the trail levels out for awhile, and allows you to catch your breath…and believe me, I definitely needed to catch my breath!
At roughly 1.5 miles from the Josephine Lake boat dock, you’ll begin to enjoy your first views of Grinnell Lake in the valley below.
Some people will turn around after arriving to Grinnell Lake and head back to the boat. The boats run every 15 mins with the last boat leaving at 5:15 pm.
Click here for 15 favorite hikes in Glacier
Shots along the hike..
As you walk a little further up the trail, you’ll also see Grinnell Falls tumbling hundreds of feet down the headwall above the west end of the lake.
There are three glaciers that will be visible as you proceed along the hike..One is Salamander which is the dominating glacier visible from Lake Josephine, as well as during the early portions of the hike.
In this picture, you can see both Grinnell Falls & the Salamander Glacier behind me.
As the trail continues to climb, you will pass through beautiful alpine meadows with numerous wildflowers.
You’ll also notice a couple of small waterfalls tumbling down the steep slopes of 8851-foot Mt. Grinnell on your right.
Tip: To keep ourselves from overheating, we filled one of our empty water bottles at one of the small streams and kept pouring water down our shirts….felt so good!
More shots along the hike…
At roughly 2.2 miles, you will reach a stretch of trail that begins to hug a cliff face. There are a couple of stretches where the path passes along a narrow ledge with some fairly steep drop offs so be very careful along these sections.
As you proceed along the trail, take a moment to look down the valley for an absolutely grand view of Grinnell Lake and Lake Josephine, as well as Sherburne Lake in the far off distance.￼
The trail begins to climb a series of steep switchbacks that ascend a boulder-strewn moraine.
We spotted two big horn sheep along the trail!
Finally after 3.6 miles from the boat landing, you will finally reach the Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint where you’ll enjoy commanding views of the 152-acre glacier!
I honestly couldn’t believe I made it…it was a rough hike and took us 4 hrs to hike it!
But these views made it so worth it!
We saw this red water everywhere and after researching it, discovered that it’s called watermelon snow.
It occurs when a certain type of red-pigmented algae called Chalemydomonas nivalis that contains chlorophyll, combines with the snow that surrounds it to create vibrant red hues.
The algae is also known to give off a sweet smell, hence the name watermelon snow.
There wasn’t a lot of ice floating in the water where we were at so we had to walk even further to where the ice was so we could get better pictures.
The water is all glacial ice melt and the color is amazing!
We decided to take off our shoes and test out the water…it was ice cold! 😉
We took so many pictures!! It was hard not to!
The park allows visitors to venture onto the glacier, but they highly recommend that you don’t go alone, or go too far. It’s especially dangerous when there’s fresh snow on the ground, which can hide deep crevasses.
In 1850 Grinnell Glacier, combined with The Salamander, measured 710 acres in surface area. As of 2005 it has shrunk to 152 acres.
Touching some of the glacial ice
We spotted these weird circular formations..not sure what they are.
More shots of the watermelon snow
After spending about an hour at the glacier, we decided it was time to head back…we didn’t want to miss the last boat!
Hiking back down….so much better than the hike up!
The trail seemed endless at times!
I was so glad I conquered this hike…the views were so worth it!
We stopped several times on the way down to take pictures!
We spotted a moose in Grinnell Lake
We passed this small waterfall and it was so refreshing!!
More shots along the way
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the incredible scenery!
I think we got so distracted by the beauty, that we missed the side trail to the boat!
We ended up hiking about a mile past the 2nd boat so we had to hike to the 1st boat stop!
Tip: If you don’t take the boat, you can hike to the glacier from either the Many Glacier hotel or from a trailhead about a 1/2 mile past the entrance to the hotel…however, it’s about 4 mi longer
We at least got to see some different views by missing the boat.. 😁
Finally, after hiking approx. 8.5 miles, we finally made it to the 1st boat! It took us about 2.5 hrs to hike back to the boat from the glacier.
We were exhausted!!
Shots of Many Glacier Hotel from the boat
Once we arrived back to the hotel, we went inside to check in.
It’s very hard to get rooms here, but I kept checking the Xanterra website daily for cancellations.
Tip: Always book one night at a time because it’s usually impossible to book multiple nights at any of the hotels inside the park. I’ll book multiple room types and keep checking back to try and get multiple nights in one room type. You have 72 hrs prior to your trip to cancel the room.
I was able to book three nights but they were all in different rooms…which meant, we were going to have to check out every day and then check back in.
So, I when I checked in, I asked if there was any possible we could get all 3 nights in the same room…..by some miracle, they were able to work it out!!
We ended up getting a room on the 3rd floor with a private balcony.
The rooms have been remodeled but they try to keep them as original as possible.
Shots of our room
The only thing I wished we would have had was a king size bed…the queen was a bit too small for us but with these views, you don’t care what the room looks like!
Once we got settled in, we headed to one of the hotel’s restaurant called the Ptarmigan.
They had given us a menu for the restaurant when we checked in
Due to Covid, we had to order at the bar and then they brought it out to us in to go boxes. However, we were allowed to sit in the dining room and eat.
We both ordered the bacon cheeseburgers and fries….thankfully, they offered gluten free buns!
To our surprise, the food was really good & you can’t beat the views while you eat!
After we ate, we walked around the inside of the hotel and snapped a few pics.
We then headed back to our room to enjoy our private balcony!
The views were truly spectacular!
We got to watch the sun set right from our room…it was awesome!!
The hubby relaxing on the balcony after a very long day!
After spending a couple of hours on our balcony, we called it a night.
Thankfully, we had a fan in our room because it got a bit warm …we also had to leave the door open.
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Day 5!