One early fall afternoon, much like this one, I was randomly looking over the Amtrak route map. I quickly realized that it will take residents of Portland, Seattle, and Spokane directly to Glacier National Park. Even better, the time spent travelling on the train doesn’t really cost you any time–you can leave on a train in the early evening (from Portland or Seattle), read a newspaper or book, sleep a little, and and be hiking the next morning in a land far, far away.
We decided on a trip for the next weekend, leaving on a Thursday, and hopping on the train for our return trip on Monday evening to bring us back into Portland early Tuesday morning. We purchased our tickets, reserved a rental car, and booked a room at the Garden Wall Inn Bed and Breakfast.
We arrived early in the morning in Whitefish, Montana and quickly found some breakfast. We were quite tired, since we opted to sleep in the chairs on the train (for those needing a good nights sleep, there is always the sleeper car). It certainly wasn’t the best night’s sleep, but good enough to fuel us for several days of adventure (and besides, we had a nice, comfortable bed waiting for us at our bed and breakfast).
After checking into our room and renting our car (all of which was within walking distance of the train station and the nice downtown district of Whitefish), we took off for Glacier, eager to do some hiking in one of the nation’s greatest National Parks.
Our first trip was on the Going to the Sun road, which leads directly through the Park. We stopped at Logan Pass and hiked the short trail Hidden Lake. This area is undoubtably overrun with tourists during the summer, but early fall hikers can experience these popular areas without the crowds. On our return back to town, we decided that we wanted more so we stopped and did a quick hike to Avalanche Lake, a stunning lake surrounded by cliffs and waterfalls.
Our second day was much of the same. We drove back into the park, and hiked to Snyder Lake. It was more of the same great scenery, crisp fall air, and vibrant yellows and reds of the turning season.
Since we needed to catch our train in the early evening, for our final day we decided to just take a drive. We drove to the northern end of the park, coming across the Polebridge Mercantile where we had a great lunch of fantastic baked goods (we’ve found that sometimes the best bakeries are in the middle of nowhere). We made our way up to Bowman Lake to take in one last shot of the spectacular mountain scenery before heading back into Whitefish and our awaiting train.
It was a quick trip, but because of the train we were able to make the most of our limited time while also adding to the sense of adventure and novelty.