Glacier Next Week

Discussion in 'Trip/Travel Information & Questions' started by Kyle Jones, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones Moderator

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    My lovely wife has graciously agreed to join me in Montana next week, with a couple of days in Glacier for me to do the photography thing and then a few more days exploring other parts of the state. I have never been to Glacier before, and I'm excited to check it out. I do have limited time in the park, with our itinerary allowing for late afternoon and sunset on the first day, a full day with both sunrise and sunset on the second day, and then a sunrise on the day we leave. We are staying just west of the park. Going to the Sun road is expected to be open while we are there.

    I fully recognize how variable the weather can be up there, especially this time of year. With that in mind, any plans I make are just placeholders and I'll follow the conditions. That said, here is what I'm thinking:
    1. Day 1 (arriving Kallispel around noon): Grab some lunch, check into hotel, and head up the going to the sun road exploring the west side a little bit. End up at Logan Pass and hike to Hidden Lake for sunset.
    2. Day 2 (this will be the busy day!): Get up early and get sunrise at Two Medicine Lake. Drive to Many Glacier to grab some food, take the boats across the lakes and hike as much of the Grinnell Glacier trail as we feel like. Head back on the Going to the Sun road and stop at St Mary Lake (Wild Goose Lookout) for sunset.
    3. Day 3: Sunrise at Lake McDonald and head on to other parts of the state.

    FWIW, I chose Two Medicine for sunrise over Swiftcurrent because I've liked the pictures better that I've seen from there. If I'm crazy please educate me!

    Thoughts? Am I missing something vital? Too much? Too little?

    Thanks!
     
  2. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

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    I have done 3 mid September trips to Glacier over the past 5 years and it is my favorite time to visit. Happily there aren't any major wildfires (so far) this year so you should get clear views.

    Are you going to be driving to Two Medicine from Kalispell for the sunrise? That's a fair bit of driving and those are not fast roads - lots of curves on narrow roads. Two Medicine is very nice for sunrise. I camped there a few years back and caught a pretty nice sunrise. This time of year can get quite windy so reflections on the lakes might be iffy. The Grinnell Glacier trail is nice although last fall the trailhead was a complete madhouse for parking. Last year's east side crowds might have been busier than usual since there was a fire on the west side of the park and Going to the Sun highway was closed on the west side. Hopefully you will see a bit less traffic this year.

    Do be prepared for some wild swings in weather as the fall storms start to roll in. You are far north and at altitude in Glacier so the fall/winter seasons are earlier than what you might expect farther south.

    This is is from Sept. 15, 2015:


    Everything melted off by day's end. It can also be clear with cool mornings and warm afternoons so YMMV.

    You are going to be covering a lot of ground in a very short time so this sounds more like a windshield tour than one featuring a lot of trail time. Still should be a beautiful trip. Hope the weather works out!
     
  3. Ben Egbert

    Ben Egbert Forum Helper
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    I think St Mary's is a morning location and McDonald's a sunset location. I was disappointed in Two medicine, but that's because I only went as far as you could drive. I think you need to hike to get to a better place.

    I like your plan for Hidden Lake, I wish we could have gone there.
     
  4. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

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    I think St Mary's would be a much easier target for a sunrise driving in from Kalispell than trying to get down to Two Medicine.
     
  5. Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones Moderator

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    I totally get that. I'm willing to sacrifice the sleep but I'll follow where the forecast looks good.
     
  6. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    I think you would be better off to get a place on the east side of the park. I take it you are flying into Kalispell? I would go straight up to the Logan's Pass area Explore the Going to the Sun road. After sunset just keep heading east since your Day 2 is on the East side. I found Lake McDonald to be rather boring, so unless I have missed something I would focus on the Logan's Pass area and the East side of the park.
     
  7. Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones Moderator

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    I've seen some decent shots both morning and evening from St Mary's. I decided to prioritize Two Medicine at sunrise because it checks a lot of the boxes I like - sunrise glow, mountain reflection, good looking foreground, etc. From what I can find online, it looks like the view is pretty good even from by the ranger station. If anyone knows where to find this angle I'd love some tips!

    twomedicine.jpg

    For sunrise the second morning I'll likely follow the light. Lake McDonald is close, but it is shooting into the sunrise so it will depend on having some clouds to catch the pre-dawn light. If St Mary's looks good that morning I may head back there for sunrise too.

    Thanks Jim. We're staying in Whitefish and pretty much stuck with that so I'll have to manage. The good news is that it looks like the drive from Whitefish to Two Medicine takes about the same amount of time as my normal commute so that won't bother me much. As I noted above, I'll follow the light for the last morning. If it looks good at McDonald then that is easy. If it looks great somewhere else then I'll go there. If it is all clouded up I'll pick out a waterfall.

    Thanks All!
     
  8. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

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    You image is at the close end of the campground. I have posted a shot of a Two Medicine sunrise from the shore area next to the campground and it looks like the shot you posted was taken a few hundred yards around the little point in front of where I shot this:


    The wind was howling so no reflections to play with the morning I was there. Colors never really advanced beyond what you see here. By the time the mountain was fully lit the light was almost harsh. I will process one from later on in this sunrise and post in Landscape.
     
    Ben Egbert likes this.
  9. Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones Moderator

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    Thanks Alan - I appreciate the feedback. I'll keep an eye on the wind forecast as I finalize my plans.

     

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