West Glacier & Glacier Park
When I couldn't get an inexpensive room at the Izaak Walton Inn, I checked TripAdvisor.com and found a small motel in West Glacier, near both the train station and the entrance to the park.
The Vista Motel is simple, bordering on shabby, but in generally good repair. As the name implies, the view is darn good, as you can see here. The price for a room was very reasonable, $80, and the customer service can't be beat.
Lori, the manager, picked me up at the train station, took me to a local restaurant where I had a huge breakfast, and then spent the day showing me some of the many glories of Glacier Park.
As you'll see in the pictures below, just about any view from anywhere is gorgeous. Lori offered to stop the car whenever I wanted to take a picture, but it quickly became obvious that we could stop every quarter mile and still miss some of the beauty. So I decided to take a few pictures but mostly enjoy the day.
Early in the day it was overcast but still...
This picture was taken as we started on our forty mile trip up the poetically-named Going to the Sun Road. Road construction stopped us from going further than Logan Pass, but there was still plenty to see.
We drove as far as we could, then got out to hike up to Hidden Lake. When I opened the door of Lori's Dodge Neon the wind nearly ripped it off. Neither of us had suspected that the wind would be as strong or cold as it turned out to be.
I put on my wool sweater and zipped my North Face rain jacket. The path uphill was icy and snow-covered in spots. The wind died down occasionally only to blow harder as we clambered up the next hill.
When we finally got to the lake overlook where we could see its black waters we were both cold and tired enough that we decided that to hike down put us at risk of hypothermia. There were dark gray clouds blowing in towards us. We decided to head back to the car.
What were these tall wooden poles doing alongside the parking lot and road? It looked like some sort of an art piece, but Lori explained that the poles mark the edges of the road so that snowplow drivers know where to plow.
Since they are 30-40 feet tall you get some idea of the amount of snowfall that this area gets.
As we drove back down, the sun lit the other side of the valley and the clouds were light and puffy rather than gray and ominous. Of course no picture can do justice to the sense of space and grandeur that you feel.
I asked Lori to pull over one last time so I could get this picture of the mountains reflected in the lake—the same lake you saw in the top picture.
I thought she was joking when she said there are "no bad views" in Glacier Park, but by the end of the day I had become a believer.