Xerophyllum tenax

I have never seen this plant before, and only saw it a handful of places today (although I was only seeing stuff from the road).  The young lady at the Visitor Center called it beargrass.  It apparently has several other names.

It only blooms every 5-7 years.  Evidently this year there is a bumper crop.  She said a ranger told her that in all the years he has worked at Glacier he has never seen so many.

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Only saw one mountain goat today and wasn’t able to get a picture.  Saw some Moo Cows on the way home after I left the park.

I had huckleberry pie for dessert tonight.  Huckleberries are real big in this part of the country and are in season.  I also bought some at a roadside stand (the guy said they were locally grown).  They look like blueberries but are smaller.  The ones I bought plain are kind of tart, whereas the pie was sweet (though it probably had sugar added).

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I’m going to post a bunch of pictures of the Park and just let them speak for themselves.

Glacier National Park

You’ll probably be seeing lots of mountain-only pictures the next day or two so I thought I’d start with some that have water as well.  I saw two big lakes today, one on the east side (Saint Mary Lake) and one on the west side (Lake McDonald).

I am staying in Kalispell, a little town about 30 miles west of the west entrance.  Thursday I head over to Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho for 4 nights.

Glacier National Park

I arrived at the east entrance of Glacier about 5 PM local time.  I drove through the park east to west on “Going to the Sun Road”.  The road was only fully opened to traffic about 3 weeks ago (when I checked the Park website in late June they were still plowing snow at the highest point!).  I’m going to stop tomorrow to ask exactly what date it reopened.  It took me a little over two hours to drive the 50 miles to the west entrance.  I did stop to take a bunch of pictures, though, so a non-stop drive should take less time.  Not as much traffic disruption with people (myself included) stopping to gawk at animals as there was in Yellowstone.  The big problem here is that the parking lots fill up early in the day (largely with hikers who leave their car all day).  There is a free shuttle which I may use tomorrow afternoon depending on how things look traffic and parking-wise in the morning.  I’m hoping my being here during the week will help keep the crowds down.

There are not as many wildlife spotting opportunities at this park due to the size of the mountains and the placement of the road.  Typical, curvy mountain road with very narrow lanes.  The driver must really pay attention as rocks jut out very close to the travel lane.  There are lots and lots of places to pull over and admire the view.  I actually put my “Safety Sam” vest on because I had on a dark shirt and sometimes walked along the road to get to a good photo vantage point.

My first impression of Glacier is… WOW!  I only spent a little over two hours in the Park and already have enough blogworthy pictures to last over a week.  And I’m here two more days!  I plan to go in early tomorrow and get back over to the east entrance, then turn right around and drive it westward again – this time with the sun behind me.  I’ll be stopping a lot to take pictures, use my binoculars, and just take in the views.  Anyone who enjoys beautiful places needs to put this not only on their bucket list, but on their short list.