Landscapes of Glacier National Park

After shooting waterfalls on my first day in Glacier National Park, I shot the sunset at Goose Island Overlook. This is one of the most famous sunset spots in the park and although the view was excellent, I was treated to a total no-show of a sunset. A black and white treatment turned out reasonably well.

I spent a calm, cool night at a campground just outside the gates and woke up bright and early to beat the crowds to Logan Pass. Labor Day Weekend is one of the last weekends that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open and the crowds were out in full force. I secured my parking spot and then set off quickly up the Hidden Lake Overlook trail. The boardwalk cut a jagged line through a meadow of wildflowers and wrapped around the base of Mt. Reynolds towards a ridge. At the top of the ridge, the trail cut through some stubby pine trees and ended at a stunning vista of Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain.

The haze visible behind the mountain is smoke from the brand new wildfire near Avalanche Lake. More on that later.

Descending from the overlook, I quickly ducked off the trail and into the Hanging Valley area. For a couple weeks at the end of the summer the park service opens up Hanging Valley to off-trail exploration. Tightly gripping my bear spray, I set off down the valley, following a rocky, slimy stream bed. I was looking for Triple Falls, a popular but hard to find slot canyon near Logan Pass. Three streams empty into the small canyon, making for an engaging foreground to go with the stellar mountain backgrounds all around. After about an hour of mucking around inĀ stream bedsĀ and snowfields, I finally stumbled upon the falls. This late in the summer, only two of the falls were running, but it was still a blast to find and explore an area I’d seen and heard so much about. I covered Triple Falls in my Waterfalls of Glacier National Parkpost and you can check out the rest of my shots there.

I hiked out following the stream downhill and back to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. I drove west and downhill, heading for the Avalanche area. The western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road was as magnificent and scary as the east side. The road is carved into the side of the mountains and at many places there are barely enough room for two cars to pass side-by-side. Couple this with attention-stealing views and it’s a bit risky.

I arrived at the parking lot for the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake only to find that a fresh wildfire had closed the trail to Avalanche Lake. I was beginning to get a bit fed up with the crowds, totally booked campgrounds, and the wildfires and decided that I was going to head back to Bozeman that night. Fortunately, I decided to walk the Trail of the Cedars first. Trail of the Cedars is a wide, accessible path that winds for less than a mile through towering cedars (surprisingly…) and along the banks of Avalanche Creek. At the end of the path I found one of the classic views of Avalanche Gorge that I had been hoping to shoot. I scrambled out onto a rock outcropping and managed to salvage a little bit of my afternoon in the shot that heads up this post and the portrait orientation to the left.

It was a long, smoky, six hour drive back to Bozeman but well worth it. I can’t wait to get back to Glacier, hopefully with some other photographers, to explore the miles of trails and countless landscapes that I missed out on. I’m pretty sure I could spend a whole summer shooting and hiking here and not get bored.

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