• Group Tours and Visiting Glacier National Park, Montana

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    “You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!”

    ―Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

     

    Glacier National Park. An area so vast, and deep, and high, and luscious it’s like reverting back to the Jurassic days. I begin to envision dinosaurs roaming the land among the jagged peaks that rise out of nowhere, surrounded by the lakes and pines dotting the landscape. The sky is hazy from smoke drifting from nearby wildfires and it adds to the mystery and aura of this ancient landscape. Montana… or Montaña, means mountain in Spanish, and was a name well chosen.  

    This national park is located in the northern part of Montana and crosses over the boarder to also stretch into Canada. Comprised of over 4000 square km of parklands, it truly does look like a scene from the 1993 Spielberg classic Jurassic Park.

    Being so popular however (mass tourism at its most obvious), humans really do flock around the commonly publicized stunning sites. Stones are displaced and skipped across glassy lakes, and photographs are captured like it’s going out of fashion. I’m surprised an additional mountain hasn’t arisen from the center of this lake as a result of the amount of stones thrown. Just an observation of the impacts of tourism on these stunning national areas and it truly highlights the need to continue their preservation.

      This trip was the first organized group tour I’ve ever been on so excuse the cynicism, but the organization was remarkable and a great way to see the park in a short timeframe. All the main sites can be covered in a short period of time when those “in the know” are guiding you! However if you were seeking solitude and the quiet peace this wilderness has to offer you, I would recommend hiking the park and getting yourself remote. The area really lends itself for quiet stillness in the mountainside.

    Benefits of being on an organized group tour however meant we were able to drive up the famous ‘going-to-the-sun’ road in restored 1930’s open-roofed vehicles- also know as jammers. This road is the only one that crosses right through the heart of the national park and provides a true insight into its surrounding landscapes. We travelled right to the top known as ‘Logan’s Pass’ and I hollered and joked my way through the journey with fabulous companions. With the wind in our hair and plenty of good company it was hard to not love life! Even our guide was thrilled since she spends most of her days driving retirees up the mountainside. Although; having us on-board also proved mischievous after I managed to get my GoPro camera ‘accidentally’ glued to the roof. The poor camera-mount didn’t want to leave (and subsequently stayed forever more) Whoops….

     

     

    THE DREAM TEAM:

     

    The scenery was unbelievably stunning and reminded me so much of my home - New Zealand.  It made me feel both patriotic, and strangely comforted as I was surrounded by flowing glacial rivers, deep green forest, and the crystal clear reflective lakes. If you’re one of the few that has this kind of landscape on your doorstep, wake up and stop taking it for granted. It’s a gift from god.  

    Glacier National Park is one of the most stunning national parks on earth and I would recommend a trip to anyone who finds themself fortunate enough to be in the vicinity.

      

    As I like to say – go and get yourself lost!

      

    Ocean Belcher blogs at http://anoceanaway.net

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  • Visiting Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Canada

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    The Prince of Wales Hotel looms over the Upper Waterton Lake like something out of a Stephen King novel. Picture the Overlook Hotel from King’s infamous horror and you have a general idea of what The P.O.W Hotel feels erie and desolate, perched up on a bluff, above the banks of  Upper Waterton Lake.   

    Built in 1927 by an American railroad company the P.O.W Hotel was to draw affluent Americans north of the border during the prohibition era. Today the hotel is one of the most iconic buildings in Canada, designated a National Historic Site of Canada by the Government in 1995. It also happens to be located in one of Canada’s most scenic national parks. 

      

    photo credit: http://www.pc.gc.ca

      

    Waterton Lakes National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty, wildlife ranging from grizzlies and black bears to elk and moose make the park their home. During the winter months the park is quiet and the townsite is practically deserted but during the summer the park becomes alive. Hikers, anglers, mountain bikers and kayakers all flock to the park.    

    One popular hiking trail allows ramblers to cross into the USA, with US park rangers deputized to check passports before allowing visitors from Canada to cross into Glacier National Park. In fact, just across Upper Waterton Lake, towards Goat’s Haunt, lies the USA and Glacier National, with the number of park rangers easily outnumbered by the number of mountain goats who have no need or desire to abide by international borders.    

    Waterton National Park was linked to Montana's Glacier National Park in 1932. Together, the two stunning National Parks, formed the world's first International Peace Park.

      

    Mike Cotton blogs at http://www.nomadsontheroad.com/

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