Daily Log
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back


Map for Day 20
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back

August 20: Bison Range, Glacier National Park

Starting trip mileage 5432 miles.

We slept till local 6AM with the change back to mountain daylight time - after a very rough days traveling yesterday I just didn't feel like 5 AM.

We traveled up US93 and out Montana 200 and 212 to the National Bison Range. There is a 19 mile gravel road loop through the fenced Bison range where buffalo, antelope, elk and bighorn sheep range.

Stopping by the visitor center about seven we started driving the road. We knew there was game to be seen when a mule deer wandered up the the parking area of the visitor center. A little ways down the trail we saw a bull buffalo wallowing in the dirt.

Heading up the first climb on the trail we saw another mule deer in a thicket and then a flock of ptarmigan, about seven of them walk nonchalantly across the road. This was the first time I had seen ptarmigan - I had read about them since I was in the sixth grade reading stories about the far north, and had of course seen many pictures. I was pleased to see them in the wild.

We climbed a high hill and then after a dip started through the woods. A brown weasel ran across the road, pausing to rise on his hind feet before he disappeared in the brush. In the woods were several buffalo bulls wallowing, and we could see one in the valley below.

We stopped at a turnout to eat our breakfast on a hill overlooking the valley of the Flathead River. We climbed another hill and coming down the steep dirt road on the backside of it we spotted one of the herds of buffalo in the distance. We got good views of the Missionary Range mountains also. A bit further on we spotted the other, larger herd. It also was several hundred yards from us. I was disappointed to not see them more closely but it was very interesting nontheless. Mark counted 183 buffalo altogether on our trip - 70 in the first herd and about 105 in the second with the few isolated bulls.

Further around the loop we spotted an antelope about 50 yards from the road. Soon afterward we saw a small herd and then a second and third herd. From one herd three antelope started running across the grassland and ran a full circle around us and back to their herd.

Along a creek we saw one whitetail deer. It was a very worthwhile and beautiful drive , even though we missed the elk.

We returned to Hwy 93 and proceeded north to Montana 35 around the east side of the Flathead Lake. We drove through the cherry orchards and bought 2 1/2 lbs of cherries which we promptly ate. We had good views of the lake, but it was clouding up and everthing was somewhat glum.

We drove on to Glacier Park and then to Apgar on the McDonald Lake. Thunderheads were moving over and it looked like we were in for a rainy day. We ate lunch and poked around a bit there and noted that after a thundershower on the north end of the lake the clouds appeared to be dissipating.

Driving around McDonald Lake we stopped a couple of places where the view of the mountains was good - with increasing light we were now seeing the beautiful blue of the lake.

Above the lake the McDonald Creek was so clear and beautiful that we could hardly pass a turnout - rapids at this stop, falls at the next, colored rocks in fast water at the next. The hues of the rock ran from deep purple to green.

We started climbing toward the Logan Pass and went through a short tunnel, stopping at a turnout just past it to look at the glacier on the mountain to our left and to let the boys run back to the tunnel. I looked back at the valley and the spectacle rivaled anything we saw in the alps - deep valley, deep green forest, stream - the works!

Further up at a turnout we could see down the same valley, but now over the wall it must have dropped 3000 ft to the road below - breathtaking.

The boys wanted to play in every snow patch, and I wanted to photograph everything. The brilliant sunlight now made everything spectacular.

Near Logan Pass we stopped for me to look at some wildflowers and the boys romped off down a trail. Soon they rushed back, calling me to come quick. I followed them around the trail to come face-to-face with a pure white mountain goat who seemed quite unafraid. I fired off acouple of shots and then rushed back to get my big lens and tell Brenda. We then got quite a good view of him as he sauntered up the steep meadow and then climbed the sheer rock wall with incredible ease. That was a real treat. I then shot a few more wildflowers and the boys ran some more before heading to Logan Pass.

The visitor center at the top was nice and could have been the center for some nice walks but we were now pressed for time and soon headed down the other side. A different but still spectacular set of mountain views greeted us.

I was tracking a red mountain top, trying to get a good picure when we started to catch sight of a blue lake below it. It was the St Mary Lake and as we traveled around the lake the spectacle became more breathtaking. After all the things we had seen, this was almost too much. With a red mountain, an almost white one behind it, blue sky, white puffy clouds, the dep blue lake with lush forest around it. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen - anywhere.

Traveling on around the lake we checked the park campground to find it full as expected, so we headed on out of the park near sunset.

We stopped outside the park for ice cream cones and a few grocery items. We headed to the St Mary KOA and settled for the evening. We had a fabulous view of the mountains and the boys were happy to be able to play putt-putt golf.

Map for Day 20
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back