Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

In college, I spent two summers working in Yellowstone. And while Yellowstone and Grand Teton have special places in my heart. I believe Glacier National Park in Montana is my favorite. Largely because it has the most dramatic backcountry of any park. Where else can you hike and visit our last remaining glaciers and wonder at the magnificence of glacial u-shaped valleys. If you haven't been you need to before the glaciers are gone. 

The park has several historic lodges and wonderful lakes. My favorite is Many Glacier Lodge on Swiftcurrent Lake. The lodge is quaint and full of history with magnificent views of Swiftcurrent and the mountains beyond. Many Glacier Lodge is where I would go to hole up and write the great American novel. Or in my case, a comic book. But the views are amazing and the rooms rustic and charming.

From here you have so many choices. You can hike to Iceberg Lake. Just a stunning location. And it's name fits it. When I jumped in on an August afternoon, our guide's thermometer read 39 degrees F.  

Iceberg Lake lives up to its name. It was 39 degrees F when I jumped in. 

Iceberg Lake lives up to its name. It was 39 degrees F when I jumped in. 

One of my favorite hikes is to Grinnell Glacier. Here is a short video of the trek there. Which begins with two shuttle boat rides from Many Glacier Lodge dock across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. 

The other wonderful thing about Glacier is how the Going to the Sun Road, takes you up to the continental divide. From there you can hike high above the glacial valleys on the Highline Trail. Your car or transportation did the hard work and now you get to enjoy the fruits of your elevation gain.

From the Highline Trail, you can access Granite Park Lodge and the Garden Wall Trail where you are rewarded with magnificent views including Grinnell Glacier (be forewarned, while the Highline Trail is relatively flat, the climb up the Garden Wall Trail and Glacier Overlook is 1,000 feet of elevation gain in one mile).  The other thing you should know is that the Highline Trail can at times be narrow, with drop offs, there are cables to hold onto and for the most part the trail is comfortably wide. Again, this trail is largely flat until you get to the trail for the Garden Wall.  I have hiked miles of the undulating Highline Trail with people in their  60s and 70s. Here is a short, one minute video of the Highline Trail. 

Finally, another favorite of mine is Lake McDonald Lodge. Again this is another historic lodge with wonderful veranda views of Lake McDonald. There is a dock with watercraft and a scenic boat tour. This lodge and the Many Glacier Hotel are both historic and great places to clean up and enjoy a nice bed and meal after a through hike or backpack trip.