Our National Park Series: Glacier National Park

What inspires you to get outside? At L.L.Bean, we’ve spent a century enjoying the fresh air – that’s why we spent our 100th anniversary year helping kids discover the outdoors through the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea Program.


This year, as a part of our ongoing hope to inspire a love of the outdoors, we’re sharing a few more of our favorite National Parks. So, after exploring the sights and spectacles of Rocky Mountain National Park last month, we decided to head north to Glacier National Park, the tenth park to be awarded the National Park designation, and an outdoor lover’s paradise.


Why visit Glacier National Park?  We’ll set the stage with this:


Glacier is known for its majestic lakes, mountain trails, and wildlife. Photo: Andrew Kalat, Flickr


Have we piqued your interest? We hope so.  Now, here are a few activities to plan for your trip.


No trip to Glacier National Park would be complete without a drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile stretch featuring some of the most majestic scenery one will ever come across. Carved right out of the mountainside, the road provides a view of all of the park’s natural wonders, including the Continental Divide, 6,646 foot-high Logan Pass, and the picturesque Jackson Glacier Overlook. Jackson is the largest glacier in the park, and will melt away in less than two decades, so take it in while you can.


The Jackson Glacier Overlook at Glacier National Park. Photo: GlacierNPS, Flickr


While you’re exploring the Overlook, stop in at the visitors’ center to find out about many of the hiking trails found within the park. Here are a few of our favorites:


1. Hidden Lake Trail has an elevation gain of 460 feet and begins at 6,500 feet. It contains an array of sights, including lily-covered fields and a pathway that goes past a waterfall around a glacier moraine. On occasion, the park closes the trail on account of grizzly bears roaming the area. Don’t fret, though. Most likely, the only larger mammals to cross your path are mountain goats.


Grazing Hidden Lake Trail. Photo: Robyn Fleming, Flickr


2. Trail of the Cedars is fantastic for those requiring a wheelchair-accessible option, but is highly recommended for all. A 27-mile wooden plank takes visitors through a winding cedar rainforest that will bring you to Avalanche Creek. With its crystal blue water and lush green vegetation, you’ll think the scenery around you is a richly illustrated page from a fairy-tale.


The path through the Trail of the Cedars. Photo: GlacierNPS, Flickr

3. The Ptarmigan Tunnel is another great place to spot a bear. As you make your way down the trail, you’ll reach Iceberg Lake, which in the colder months will have small glaciers floating on its surface like little dollops of cream. However, the most spectacular part of this trail is the 240-foot tunnel once used by riders on horseback. Walking inside is like stepping back in time.


The pristine waters of Iceberg Lake. Photo: kw.traveler, Flickr


Now that you’ve seen a glimpse of the park’s natural beauty, check out the whole park efficiently via the park’s iconic fleet of  “red jammers.” The Ford Motor Company constructed these busses in the 1930s and restored them in 2001, outfitting them with propane tanks to reduce their carbon footprint. Their name is derived, of course, from their signature color and a time when the busses transported tourists into the park with their luggage, which drivers jammed into the cargo hold. Enjoy the beautiful scenery from a piece of American history.


A “red jammer” on display. Photo: tylerjswenson, Flickr


Glacier National Park has something for everyone, whether you’re the adventurous type or someone who wants to sit back and take in the scenery. If you’ve been there, we’d love to here from you. What were your favorite sites and activities?

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