Voyage to Glacier National Park – Camping Via Plane
The trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park had been in our plans for a few years. A friend recommended the park at least 3 years ago, but somehow life kept getting in the way, as all excuses go. Eventually we ran out of excuses, and 2017 was the year to make this trip happen.
We decided to camp at the park to keep cost low. There weren’t too many campsites within GNP that were available for online reservations, and those sites were filled within days of coming online 6 months before actual camp day. The remaining campsites were on a first come first serve basis. Since we were not willing to risk not having a site, we settled on a site at Hungry Horse reservoir, about an hour drive to the West Glacier entrance of GNP. A little far.
This was also the first time we had to travel by air with camping gear. To avoid hefty baggage fees, we flew Southwest Airline for their free checked bags. The only downside was the closest town SWA flew to was Spokane, a solid 5-hour drive to the GNP area. Undeterred, we soldiered on with our plans. This trip was to happen regardless of what it took!
We wrangled 2 full size suitcases, 1 cooler, 1 duffel bag, 2 backpacks and 2 carry ons into our car, then onto the plane, and then into the rental car. With that, we started our journey from Spokane to Montana.
We drove through Spokane and out of it, heading towards Idaho. Cutting through the panhandle of Idaho, we passed huge swaths of national forest, before crossing into Montana and driving through more national forest. It was a bucolic drive of rolling hills lush with evergreens and shimmering rivers encircling the hills like moats. The rural-ness imparted a peaceful yet surreal atmosphere.
Campground: Hungry Horse Reservoir
Hungry Horse Reservoir deserves a write up of its own. We joked that if just the reservoir and mountains immediately surrounding the water was somehow transplanted to the Midwest, this area would immediately be hailed as an absolute gem in the national park starved Midwest. Instead, Hungry Horse Reservoir was severely eclipsed by the beautiful GNP, testament to the quality of Montana’s landscapes.
The dam itself was huge and worth visiting, and the reservoir was the classic Montana lake – clear and glistening with little islands of closely grown evergreens seemingly suspended in the water. Round hills surrounded the reservoir, while taller sharper mountains framed the horizon.
The road from the dam to Lid Creek campground was winding and narrow. It was a good half hour drive from the main road before we finally found our campground tucked away in the forest, at the edge of the reservoir. The campground was small and rustic. There was a camp host and a little board with instructions to pay and some notes on bear safety, but no electric, showers or flushing toilets. A mule deer wandered into our campsite to say hi, did a quick check of our camping gear, and wandered back into the bushes to continue foraging. Right across the reservoir from our campsite was the Great Bear Wilderness, part of a large swath of untamed landscape for the adventurous.
It was 930pm when we first arrived to our site, but with daylight being extra long in this far north place, we were able to pitch our tents and make food in the twilight. As we went to bed at 11pm, a low glow was still coming through our tent.
Priscilla Schmidt : @pristye
Tom Schmidt : schmidtphoto.com @tomschmidtphoto
Glacier National Park Series
Going to the Sun Road GNP – All of the Views, None of the Sweat
GNP Hidden Lake Trail – Snow on an 80°F Day?!?
Iceberg Lake Trail Hike – Dip your toes in the ICY WATER
Glacier National Park – Camping Via Plane Travel
Babb, Montana – A View of the Local Life Outside of Glacier National Park
Siyeh Pass Trail – Big Sky Country Hike in Glacier National Park