Iowa to Alaska: Glacier National Park

St. Mary/Glacier National Park KOA. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

St. Mary/Glacier National Park KOA. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

It’s now Day, uh, er, um…

That’s the sign of a good vacation, is it not, to forget what day it is?

All I know is that we’re parked on a grassy knoll of KOA St. Mary/Glacier National Park in full view of the park’s stunning peaks. While the weather cooperated yesterday for our arrival, today’s pounding rain and sleet prevented much outside activity outside of a few short exploration hikes around the expansive campground. This place is enormous and expanding, with sites for tents, RVs large and small, and large groups. Located at the end of Lower St. Mary Lake and the western entrance to Glacier National Park, this KOA has easy access to the park’s trails, programs, and activities once the summer season is in full swing, just a few weeks from now.

[image courtesy National Park Trust]

[image courtesy National Park Trust]

Tomorrow is Kids to Parks Day, a time to celebrate the outdoors, the National Park System, and youth. All kids, no matter where they live, are encouraged to register and be counted as part of this nationally-recognized occasion. Even though the main Glacier National Park visitor centers are still closed, we’ll poke around in the forests of this 1,583 square-mile park that was established in 1910, and created as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in 1932.

A snake in Great Falls. Anyone care to share the type? Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

A snake in Great Falls. Anyone care to share the type? Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Glacier is the national park many people compare with Alaska’s Denali, as the soaring mountains forming the spine of the Rocky Mountains look very similar to the Alaska Range. Wildlife is similar, too, including the iconic black and brown bears that roam the remote and not-so-remote sections of the park. For us, it’s comforting in an odd way to be back to using bear-proof trash cans and shouting “Hey bear!” as we walk through the brushy forest lining the St. Mary Valley. This we know, as opposed to the snake encounter of a few days ago while exploring Ryan Falls near Great Falls.

Adventure Appetites makes it easy to whip up tasty meals like Chicken Dijon. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Adventure Appetites makes it easy to whip up tasty meals like Chicken Dijon. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

On days like this one, with temperatures only reaching the upper 30s, the RV has proven its worth tenfold. I’ve discovered there’s nothing quite a cozy and warm as a family game of UNO while spooning bowlfuls of Adventure Appetites’ Chicken Dijon over steaming pasta. Hot water, warm blankets, and good food are a benefit that can’t be underestimated. I’m not sure I’ll ever completely replace tent camping, but three weeks of the glamping life is an easy assimilation.

So, tonight, as the rain tap-taps on the roof and runs down the windshield, the RV’s occupants are safely tucked away inside, watching a movie and eating ice cream picked up at Culver’s in Fargo, North Dakota. Mint Explosion, anyone?

Good night, and check in with us tomorrow after we show Glacier National Park how AKontheGO does Kids to Parks Day.

~EK

KOA_Welcome_Logo 07 pms 327 logo with title B&B

 

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One Comment

  1. Hey guys
    We were there also, at the St Mary’s. KOA. WE RENTED a car at the campground and went hiking at the famous ” I believe ” Jacksons trail but don’t quote me but you won’t miss it. It’s several miles in and the hike is at least to the top with am incredible lake on the other side We passed mountain goats and herds of bighorn sheep. It looked like we were hiking up to the Everest summit when you looked down. I know there lots of snow still up there but part of the hike is on Boardwalk before hitting the muddy trail.
    If you see it , don’t pass up the hike, if you have time. It so unique !!
    Have fun and stay safe

    Rob Banuchi

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