By Maggie -- Aug 20, 2014
Glacier National Park is the 11th National Park we've visited on this trip. It's the most magnificent, too. The mountains! The rivers! The grandeur of it all! And to think that we'd never really heard of or considered Glacier National Park before. It was just not on our radar as a must-see. We're glad we didn't miss it and if you head up in that direction, you shouldn't either.
While in Polson, Casey had told us a little bit about the park and gave us suggestions as to how we should spend our 2 nights and 3 days there. He recommended camping outside of the park at an area called Hungry Horse Reservoir. Camping was cheap and the views were unbeatable, and much less crowded than inside the park. The campground we found, Lost Johnny Campground, had 5 designated spots big enough for trailers, a vault toilet and a private cove off of the main lake. With an "interagency pass", or in other words our annual park pass, we sometimes can get half off of nightly fees at places like this. It's always worked for us at least. So instead of $13 a night it was $6.50 a night. Can't beat that!
We set our sights on two things: A long hike to a lake and driving the Road to the Sun. We accomplished both with some minor annoyances. To get to Bowman Lake, the drive from our campground was well over an hour, with 15 miles of rough dirt road. We've had several recommendations from friends and Instagram followers to visit Polebridge Mercantile, a small little mountain community area with tons of cool stuff, totally off the beaten path. There we were told to get a huckleberry bear claw, which we did (not gluten free but hey, can't win 'em all). Weary backpackers sit outside the Mercantile and devour fresh hot pastries from the bakery. Local raft guides chum around and talk with tourists and load up kayaks onto the back of old school buses. It was a fun 20-minute stop for us before our day of hiking.
From there we drove the crazy rocky road to Bowman, and hiked up to Lower Quartz Lake.