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Yellowstone and Glacier

Kevin, 22 & a natural mountain goat, just graduated from college and was my traveling companion to Yellowstone and Glacier. We did a tremendous amount of hiking and the pictures of the ginger-haired mountain goat leading the way was my reoccurring view.  Personally, I was just glad to keep up.  I did not keep up on the paddleboard. Not even close.

A favorite memory of both locations was the rivers and streams as the mountain snows melted, the water flowed over the banks, and the crashing, thundering water raced to the mountain lakes.  I took a couple of videos so I could re-listen to the pounding water. Colorado does not have the water and lakes of N Wyoming and Montana.  It was an absolute treat to hear the roaring rivers and enjoy the large lakes.

Yellowstone

We stopped by Jenny Lake in Grand Teton Park.  We took the boat across the lake and hiked Cascade Canyon (9.1 miles). This hike gets almost 5 stars on several sites.  It deserves it.  The boat trip is fun (runs every 15 mins). The overlook and waterfall are in the first mile and most people stop there.  The hike goes up through the beautiful Teton peaks and is next to a stream.

We stayed in West Yellowstone, a friendly small town. We walked the famous geysers and thermal pool trails by Old Faithful and West Geyser. Anyone, including wheelchairs, can easily do these paths. I remember watching Old Faithful 40 years ago as a little girl. Then you could get very close (probably too close).  In the picture of Old Faithful, you can see the people on the left side. It gives a good idea of just how high she blows.

The thermal pools are so interesting with so many colors and there are lots of other less famous geysers to watch. The landscape is so different from anything you normally see- grey chalky ground with steam coming up from all sorts of locations. I was amazed by how the thermal pools exist right next to the cold mountain streams and often runoff into the streams.

What we wished we did differently.  We missed our turn for West Yellowstone at about 9 pm and ending up driving 1.5 hours through the park on curvy dark roads watching out for moose and deer on the road.  Highly don’t recommend.

Glacier

Our favorite stop, hands down, was Apgar Village on Lake McDonald (inside Glacier on the west side of the park).  We stayed in a 1950s era cabin. There is one restaurant, an ice cream shop and 3 gift shops. It is quaint, friendly and the setting couldn’t be more majestic. Lake McDonald is 10 miles surrounded by jagged peaks and lush forests.

Highlights: incredible hiking- Avalanche Lake, another highly rated trail didn’t disappoint. It is a relatively easy 4.5-mile hike next to Avalanche creek (amazing) and ends at a beautiful lake.  Kevin also picked a couple of much harder hikes that had incredible views of the mountain range and lake and a cowboy cookout.

We also went paddling boarding at Apgar village.  The boat rental crew was friendly and helpful like everyone else in Apgar.  Going out to the Bald Eagles nesting grounds (about 1/3 of the lake) – no problem.  Then we decided to cross the lake.  That was funny. We did feel some wind but didn’t realize it was a wind tunnel in the middle of the lake.  The great news was it felt great to fall into the cold water after a long day of hiking.  The bad news it took a really long time and lots of falls before we decided to go back on the side we came out on.  Kevin left me in the dust. Eventually, he was waiting for me to come in and since the rental place closed at 7 and it was now 7:15, they sent the chase boat out to see if I was okay.  By the time they got to me, I was 10 mins from shore- no way was I going to get a ride at that point.  I didn’t make it in till almost 7:30. 🤔 I did tip well.

The sunrise pictures are taken at Apgar Village and they don’t capture the breath-taking beauty as the sun rises over the jagged peaks and dances on the lake. The ginger-haired mountain goat opted for beauty sleep instead of the sunrise.

Logan Pass was closed so we had to take a long way round to the east side of the park. We went to the Many Glaciers entrance.  The highest-rated hikes are here. If I had been able to, I would have booked a room here instead of St. Mary’s.  I don’t think you can pick a bad hike here.  We did Swiftcurrent and Bull Lake.   Not to sound repetitive but the jagged peaks, waterfalls, and lakes are spectacular here too.

We then drove through the east side of the park (St Mary’s entrance).  It was our least favorite.  The peaks and lakes are stunning but the area is scarred by forest fire. St Mary’s Village was fine but didn’t compare to either Apgar or West Yellowstone.

Our final day and only bad weather day was at the Two Medicines entrance.  The high was 57 degrees.  Following our check-in for our boat ride, there was a deluge of rain and then hail. Then the lightning and thunder came. We opted for staying on the boat and hiking closer to our car instead of getting off on the far side of the lake.  The view was awesome – low light gray clouds dispersed among dark gray granite peaks with an occasional ray of sunshine. My iPhone simply doesn’t do it justice.

What we didn’t see coming: not great food and lots of people trying to eat at a few restaurants. Glad we packed snacks.

Recommendations:

All trails for hiking maps and recommendations http://www.alltrails.com

Apgar Village Lodge or Inn http://www.glacierparkcollections.com

Madison Crossing restaurant in West Yellowstone https://madisoncrossinglounge.com