Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road (Part 1): the new smoky reality of travel in the Western United States and Canada

This past summer of 2021 we finally checked off Glacier National Park from our bucket list. But unfortunately, we were greeted with smoky skies. A few years earlier we had visited Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada and experienced the same. It is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common, as forest fires are no longer the exception, but the norm.

I debated how much editing I should do to these pics, but decided to post them as is. No sugar coating it. Fortunately, the rain came on our last day and I did get some better pics, but in this posting, I am showing what we saw on our first drive through on Glacier’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. It is the main scenic drive through the park. Despite the smoke, it is still stunningly beautiful and easily my favorite national park drive. I’ve been to almost every national park in the the Western United States, some numerous times (Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Rocky Mountain), so this is high praise!

Now, a word about parking. It’s pretty bad. Many people’s destination is Logan Pass Visitor’s Center, but you may be forced to wait to get a spot. I returned on the second morning to drop off my husband for a hike he did and it was already packed at 7 am. We did manage to find a space on the first day, but it was pure luck. When we were in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, people parked along the road but you can’t do that here. However, if it is packed, continue on and check out the equally beautiful east side of the park, including Saint Mary Lake. We were unable to find a parking spot for St. Mary’s Falls Trail but did manage to get one for Baring Falls.

The following set of pictures is from the east side (beyond Logan Pass), including St. Mary’s Lake and Baring Falls. There are lots of beautiful road-side falls that cascade down to the road. You can see evidence of the one of the numerous fires that have scorched Glacier over the years. Yet, from the ashes beautiful wild flowers grow again.