Switchback Kids: Glacier National Park

Adventure is out there, and the Switchback Kids know how to find it. The adventure-seeking twosome with desires to travel to all 59 US National Parks is back with another trip update. By now the Switchback Kids have been all over, but as the happy-go-lucky couple travels on, here’s Cole describing their latest exciting adventure at the Glacier National Park.

“Glacier was my favorite National Park as a child. When I went on family vacations it was always in the peak crowds and peak heat of July. Our experience in the middle of May was very different.

For one, it snowed with giant wet flakes our first night. We had already enjoyed a gorgeous introduction to the classic glacier-carved lake surrounded with mountains at Alpine Lake. Our first clues the weather could turn came when it began to spit on our way down from the 5-mile trail and when we saw huge Lake McDonald looking more like the Atlantic Ocean with its wind-blown waves. We jumped in our car and hurriedly plugged in the Bowman Lake campground (in the secluded northwest of the park) to our Garmin Drive Assist. We arrived just before dark and pitched the tent as the snow was picking up. As we laid down the howls of wolves nearby remained us we were truly in wild country. I think it was a reminder Elizabeth’s vivid imagination could have done without.


Our next day was filled with the Quartz Lake loop hike. It was a brisk morning after a freezing night and snow still dripped from the trees. According to my fēnix 3 it was still only 42 degrees by hiking time. We attached our bear bell and kept the bear spray handy, but all we saw were lots of grizzly, wolf and elk tracks in the mud. However, the picnic view of Upper Quartz Lake alone was well worth the 13 miles and 4 exhausted legs.


Then it was time to leave the heavy trees and travel to the majestic mountain vistas of eastern Glacier. Unfortunately, Going to the Sun Road (some say the most beautiful drive in the country) was still piled with snow and closed to cars at Logan Pass, so we took the long way around the park to the south. Over the next few days we still managed plenty of gorgeous drives from St. Mary’s Lake and Many Glacier where we could try out recording the views with our Drive Assist dash cam. We even had to nudge through a herd of desert bighorn sheep that were crowding the road and appeared to love the salt on our bumper.


The last excursion was kayaking in the Many Glacier area from Swiftcurrent Lake to Josephine Lake (with a 1/4 mile portage in between). We docked our trusty inflatable kayak and then hiked another mile to Grinnell Lake. Again, a view of snow covered mountains all around and famous Grinnell Glacier in the distance, it never gets old. Coming back we battled the wind and waves, but our real reward for being on the water came when we could now paddle down the Josephine-Swiftcurrent connector stream. First we saw a hidden moose grazing in the reeds. Then I spotted a grizzly on the cliffs above the stream. He was busy rooting and foraging in the dirt and we enjoyed watching from the safety of or kayak. We captured some great footage by keeping our waterproof Garmin VIRB XE very handy.