"You'll never get in!!!!" said everyone we talked to.
Literally every. single. person. we met.
"It's high tourist season you know..."
|Glacier National Park in dramatic sunshine and a light dusting of snow|
We were already plugged in at a great 50amp spot in Kalispell, MT but we were determined to figure out a way to stay inside Glacier National Park for the full experience, despite the fact that it's mid-August and we had no reservations. Brimming with overconfidence, Lance and Chloe set out in the Mini on Thursday morning to try to nab us a spot while I finished my morning work. It wasn't long before he called victorious, and waited in our spot for me to bring Loretta. It's good that he stayed to defend our space, because not long after he dropped our cash and registration envelope in the collection box some random dude in a red SUV showed up and tried to steal it. Fortunately, stubborn husband prevailed and by Thursday afternoon we were enjoying our lakeside spot in Glacier National Park, in spite of all the naysayers.
Here's our secret weapon: Apgar.
Here's our secret weapon: Apgar.
|Our campsite at Apgar|
Apgar Campground is first-come, first-served; no reservations accepted at all. It's the first campground from the West entrance of the park on Lake McDonald - only $20/night but no hookups whatsoever. On the way in grab one of their envelopes and fill it out. When you find your space, plant yourself in it, tear the tag off the envelope and attach it to the stick with your campsite number, stuff $20/night cash in the envelope in the ranger's collection box. Simple.
I heard there's a credit card option but we didn't test the theory.
We stayed at Apgar for four nights, and I noticed that there's an early batch of campers that leaves just before 8am, and it takes a while for their spots to fill in. Another batch of folks leave around 10 and those fill faster, by 2:00 every single spot was filled and there were rangers turning would-be campers away at the entrance. The Apgar Visitor Center is right next door and has large RV parking for short spells, a solid strategy would be to get there at daybreak, lurk and lap, repeat as necessary.
|An assortment of boats are available to rent on Lake McDonald|
The weather was wildly variable, and the mood of the mountains changed significantly depending on the temperature and skies (the primary reason we wanted to stay in the park - to get the best photograph opportunities). On our first lap along the Going to the Sun Road it was overcast and brooding, an overwhelmingly awesome but photographically flat grey experience. The next day it stormed all day - we comfortably sipped coffee next to the propane heater while we worked on a supersize puzzle and watched the sad tent campers next to us hurriedly pack their soggy camp and flee; on the glacier mountaintops above us it snowed.
The next day gave us fluffy patches of clouds and stunning light that revealed fresh snow, the second lap across the Going to the Sun Road made for significantly more dramatic photos. It's good that we stayed to experience some of the mountain's moody range.
|The Lodge at Lake McDonald|
|The Lighting at the Lake McDonald Lodge|
Late in the day before we were supposed to leave we discovered a bicycle path, and so opted to stay an extra day so we could fully explore it.
|The bike path from Apgar to the West Entrance|
The latest mechanic's update suggests we might be rolling again in a few days. We'll post the rest of the Glacier shots down the road.