If you research campgrounds at Glacier National Park, as I did before we camped there several summers ago, the Many Glacier Campground on the eastern side of the Park is usually described as “one of the most popular” campgrounds in the Park. For me, phrases like that are usually a red flashing warning sign to run in the opposite direction.
But, as we sketched out a rough itinerary for our week-long Montana road trip, I kept returning to Many Glacier Campground as the ideal spot to explore Glacier’s iconic scenery, including convenient access to the Iceberg Lake trail (which I wrote about in this post), and what seemed to be a large number of tent-friendly sites.
When the National Park Service has a chart of historical “fill times” for the campground, showing high season campground fill times of 8:00 a.m. on some days, you know that capturing a site at Many Glacier Campground is serious business. And, for you campers in the crowd, you know that just because there are some open sites, not everyone wants to have the spot immediately next to the entrance gate, nor does everyone desire to bask in the glow of the toilet building every evening. We were camping relatively early in Glacier’s season, at the end of June only a few days after the “Going-to-the-Sun-Road” was plowed through for the season (I promise a future post on that incredible drive!). Despite the fact that noon was approaching when we arrived, we were able to capture a cozy site nestled in the trees.
The campground is adjacent to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, which provided token-operated showers for campers, as well as a cafe and gift shop (after a relatively warm 10-mile hike, the huckleberry ice cream at the gift shop was especially refreshing). Because of the bear threat in the Park and campground, the rangers are militant about making sure campers have secured all food and other items that attract the bears. Coolers, cooking equipment, dry food goods — all had to be stored in your vehicle, day or night. On a warm day, this means the ice in the coolers melts quickly, which was another convenient aspect of having the the gift shop (which included a small grocery section) nearby — but not so close that we knew they were there while enjoying the campground itself!
Many Glacier Campground had a wooded amphitheater where evening ranger talks and other programming occurred. We were lucky to have our stay coincide with a presentation of the “Native America Speaks” program, which usually takes place at the historic Many Glacier Hotel down the road from the campground, or at the St. Mary Visitor Center. Jack Gladstone is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and a Blackfeet tribal member, who often performs as part of the Native America Speaks series.
As we sat at the base of Grinnell Point, in the waning evening sunlight, we enjoyed listening to the legends of Glacier National Park and history of the Blackfeet tribe in music and words. A deer ambled through the woods on the edge of the amphitheater, pausing as if to listen with us. We bought two of Gladstone’s CD’s at the end of the program, and are reminded of the magic of Glacier National Park whenever we play them.
I leave you with one of Jack Gladstone’s songs in the video below, and share with you some of the lyrics from his song, “Legends of Glacier”:
Gray Wolf and Beaver Chief caretake the land
The heart is the Sun’s beating drum.
Owl eyes and eagle wings perfect the view
Where spirit and matter are one.
Permit your wings to transcend the things
Consuming and cluttering life
You’re one on one with Creator Sun
And Legends of Glacier survive.
Ahh – Listen deep to the voice
That calls from our home long ago
We’re on the knife edge of time
We feel, but never quite know.
The youngest of all of her children are us.
The ones still learning respect
The soul awakens, the heart is revived
And Legends of Glacier Survive.
Keep Legends of Glacier alive.
Ciao! ~ Kat
4 responses to “On the Beaten Path is Sometimes Worthwhile”
Kat, thank you for a sharing a bit of this park. It is one place I’ve never visited. It surely is beautiful. (I also appreciated looking at the greenery and flowers.)
I had never been there before 2010 either — stunning, awe-inspiring scenery. Have promised myself to get back again someday. One of those places best appreciated on foot.
Lots of beautiful scenery there!
It is truly breathtaking!