After leaving Coeur d’Alene we headed east and north to Glacier National Park, Montana.
Our West Glacier KOA campsite
We had stayed at the at the West Glacier KOA cabins a couple summers ago and we loved the location so much, we knew we had to go back. Initially we were going to spend five days at the West Glacier KOA but it’s so expensive we decided to cut it short and stay only three nights. Although not nearly enough time to explore the whole park we made the most of our time there.
The first day at Glacier we drove to the Apgar Visitor Center (West Glacier) where the kids picked up their Junior Ranger booklets and we looked at the educational displays.
The kids stamped their Passport to Your National Parks books – these books have a section for every part of the country and you can get a cancellation stamp at participating National Parks. It also has a space for a commemorative stamp, if you purchase one at the gift shop (we didn’t). You can purchase the Passport books at most any National Park gift shop for around $9.
From there we walked to the Apgar Discovery Cabin – an old log cabin full of hands on exhibits for learning – specifically tailored to ages K-2, perfect for us! Here Liam matches footprints to the animals.
Hadley checks out the various animal pelts and reads about each of the animals.
Lots of animal skulls to examine. Each skull is numbered for easy identification – it’s fun trying to guess what they are before checking the key.
Liam feeling the fur of a red fox. Each animal had a 3×5 informational card.
The Glacier National Park volunteer had Liam hold the Big Horn Sheep so he could see just how heavy they are. The volunteers we met at the Apgar Discovery Center were all the way from Baltimore and most helpful. 😉
After checking out the Apgar Discovery Cabin we took our Junior Ranger books and went outside to work on them. They have a little presentation area outside the cabin for programs and it was the perfect, quiet spot to concentrate on our books.
Most parks have two Junior Ranger books – one for pre-readers and one for readers. They usually ask the kid’s age before giving them a book to determine which book will be the best fit. Both the kids worked very hard on completing the activities in the books. . .
Then they brought the Junior Ranger books into the Apgar Discovery Cabin to be reviewed by a park employee. Once he confirmed they completed the activities, he had them read their Junior Ranger oath. The oath encourages them to be good stewards of the environment and to take good care of animals, plants and nature.
And then they earned their Junior Park Ranger badges for Glacier National Park!
They were tickled to earn another badge (they earned a badge earlier on the trip at Sun Lakes State Park in Washington).
After that we stuck around for a free ranger-led presentation on the preservation of wolves and bears in the park. We learned a lot about how the populations of these two species has ebbed and flowed over the years. Very interesting history on these animals and thanks to conservation efforts and a lot of public education – both bears and wolf populations are doing much better than they were doing twenty years ago.
Near the Apgar Discovery Cabin you’ll see an adorable street (Apgar Village) with little businesses – like this rafting/fishing/hiking outfit, plus gift shops, restaurants and even a little grocery store. . . .
We ended up eating lunch at Eddie’s Restaurant (right behind the Mercantile in the photo). We split two meals between the four of us and it was a great meal. They have a lot of local foods on the menu – and make their own chips in house.
Our second day near Glacier National Park we met up with family – my brother- and sister-in-law and their two kids! They have lived in Great Falls, Montana the past couple years and are in the process of moving to Alabama – so we were grateful for the chance to spend time together (they also stayed at the West Glacier KOA)! Our kids were especially excited to see their cousins, who are very similar in age!
Because they lived not too far from the area, my brother- and sister-in-law actually knew of a nearby huckleberry picking spot. They had picked buckets of huckleberries last summer at this location – so we all ventured from the park to go huckleberry picking in Flathead National Forest!
We took Stanton Loop Trail no 146 . . .
and walked about two miles each way from where we parked near the highway. The trail is heavily wooded and has some considerable elevation change. . . .
. . . but the views are pretty amazing when you get to the other side of the hill.
and ultimately you run into Stanton Lake. Ahhh. Such beauty. Worth the trek in, for sure.
We didn’t find many huckleberries – perhaps it was too hot this year? The plants were plentiful but the berries not so much. We ended eating most of the berries we found and bringing only a few home. Bummer. Looking for huckleberries sure made the hike go by fast – especially for the kids who were running from plant to plant looking for the sweet, juicy berries.
I especially enjoyed seeing the fireweed. It reminds me of growing up in Alaska – where this flower grows everywhere in the late summer.
It was fun to explore an area outside of Glacier National Park – it was less crowded, more secluded and just as beautiful!
That night we stayed up late around the campfire – roasting s’mores and catching up with family at the West Glacier KOA – we fell into bed exhausted and slept late into the next morning.
That was it – that was our whirlwind trip to Glacier National Park! If you’re wondering why we didn’t do the Going to the Sun Road it’s because we drove it (the whole thing!) just two years ago during our last visit. This time we decided to focus on the Apgar area – which we skipped last time, and spending time with family.
From here we head to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park – stay tuned for our next update!
Do you have a favorite area, hike or activity at Glacier National Park? Leave a comment and let us know!
When we visited Lewis & Clark Caverns a few years ago, we were able to get a discount on the cave tour by asking in advance for a school field trip rate for our homeschooling family.
Carlos Perez says
I’ve never been to Glacier National Park, but your post reminded me how much our daughters (now grown) loved the Junior Ranger programs at all the National Parks we did visit. The programs and volunteers taught so much to them every time. They are fond memories, and our daughters still remember some of what they did and learned, years later!
Again, always love reading about your adventures and your pictures. What great experiences/memories you guys are making for your children!!
Cheryl I says
We just returned from Glacier, Banff, and Jasper. I wished we allotted more time to explore Agpar. We definitely will be heading back. I am a little jealous that you are able to refrain from aggressively scheduling activities with your family (especially the littles). I think our poor daughter needs a vacation from her vacation. This summer we’ve been on a few family vacations and have had several out-of-towners visit. I fear my daughter has become accustomed to the resulting sensory overload.
Keep posting about your family travels. We have an ever-changing travel wish list, and it’s fun to get ideas about new places.
Wishing you and your family safe and happy travels.