Temperatures ranged from the 50s to the 70s on this sunny September day. Winds were moderate with strong gusts in the afternoon.
Day’s distance: 342 miles
Total trip distance: 854 miles
The plan this year differed from last July’s trip in a few ways.
– The visit was scheduled on a Sunday this year, which was manageable as peak summer vacation season has passed. Last year’s visit was a Wednesday.
– I traveled solo this year and stayed only one night in Kalispell, instead of two. This time I had a sense of how much time I would spend in the park and planned a higher mileage day.
– We didn’t travel the entire road in 2014, as part of it was “under construction”, meaning gravel over hardpacked dirt. At that time, I wasn’t too comfortable with gravel and washboard roads. As a result, I missed seeing Saint Mary Lake. This year the road was paved but there was a forest fire earlier this summer that burned some of the area near the lake.
– Last year we entered and exited the park through West Glacier, traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road in both directions. It was my hope to capture different perspectives and have a chance to return to something we may have missed. This year I looped around the park using Highways 89, 49 and 2.
When I look at blog page describing last year’s trip now, it still reminds me of the awe I felt when I would come to one of a zillion scenic vistas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
In browsing the photos I took this year, I’m laughing at how I sometimes stopped in the same place and framed a similar shot. I guess the vistas still leave me in awe 🙂
This year I left the motel at 7am, about an hour earlier than last year’s, hoping the rising sun would lend a dramatic feel to the park, combined with a lower angle of the sun in the sky as the Fall season approaches.
It was a good sign that I could drive right up to the park sign for a photo.
My photography muscles were exercised all day.
Like last year, I took Hwy 83 past Swan Lake when leaving Kalispell. And I stopped for ice cream in Steeley Lake.
It was breezy on Hwy 200 into Missoula. I checked out their KOA but decided not to stay there. The pool was closed :(, and the tent sites felt pretty exposed given the location of the campground is between a subdivision and a mall. Instead I stayed at the Super 8 on Reserve St.
After I showered, I had Italian Pot Roast for dinner at Johnny Carino’s. It was good. The restaurant was within walking distance and it felt good to stretch the legs.
All in all, another long day in the saddle. But so worth the visit. I will have to camp inside the park next time I visit.