Day 5 – Going to the Sun …

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Chicago – Glacier National Park, Montana Road Trip Day 5
Day5Distance:
318 miles
Driving Time: 6 hours 11 mins (including all attractions)
Cost for Day:
$300 (gas + attraction fee + hotel + food)
Main Attractions:
Sunrise + Falls Hike, Going to the Sun Road, Avalanche lake Hike
Time at Attractions: Sunrise Hike (1 hour), Going to the Sun Road Drive (1 1/2 hour – 2 hours), Avalanche Lake Hike/Picnic (3 hours)

The Plan:

On earth there is no heaven,
but there are pieces of it.
Jules Renard

The location of hotel at Saint Mary’s is a perfect opportunity to catch one of the best sunrise spots in the entire park. Wake up early, and it will be well worth it. Enter the “Going-to-the-Sun” road from Saint Mary’s and you will find several spots to pull over and take in the sunrise. Here are few images from our experience.
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After spending some time at this spot, drive to the start of the hike to St Mary’s Fall and Virginia Falls for more spectacular views as sun rises further into the sky. It is a short hike, and you can turn around after the first fall. The views of the lake from west are amazing even for drowsy eyes. Images below.
DSC_10022 DSC_10040After the completion of this hike, drive back to hotel to catch up on a quick nap if needed and to get ready and check out (and eat breakfast and carry food to-go for lunch picnic.)

Enter the “Going to the sun” Road: 50 miles (an hour and half) of sheer beauty taking you from the east end of the park to the west end. Highlights include the valleys, lookout points, weeping walls, lakes…and several instances where traffic is only allowed to pass one-way. Summer marks lots of repairs from rock slides and winter damage. Expect delays and plan ahead for road closures. Here are highlights from the drive. A must-not-miss HIKE smack in the middle of this drive is Avalanche Lake Hike…do not miss this 2 mile hike one-way along the gushing stream/river and at the end you will rewarded with the lightest green color of water right next to you to touch and sit by with numerous waterfalls cascading down huge mountains flowing into the lake right under your nose. Here are the highlights from the drive, and the avalanche lake hike…

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Avalanche Lake
DSC_10127Weeping Wall DSC_10135

The road ends with lovely Lake MacDonald Falls and the Lake itself. The beauty of this lake is the numerous almost private opportunities to walk down to the lake (which is right along side the road), the clear water perfect for a little stone throwing fun, and for perfect reflections of the mountains in the water. Maybe some inner private reflections of your own!
IMG_1269IMG_1262If time permits, go up to the Bowman’s Lake (an hour and half north)
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Missoula, MT is 2 and 1/2 hour from Glacier, Butte, about 4 hours, and Helena 3 and a 1/2 hours…and all provide a place to spend the next night at.

My recommendation is to stay in Butte, MT. Hotel Recommendation for Butte, MT – Holiday Inn Express. and dinner recommendation – Hanging Five across the street from hotel

==> NEXT – Day 6 – YELLOWSTONE!

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