Glacier National Park
We’ve visited this park many times… but never before in the fall.
We feel soo stupid now…
It was decided as we drove, and had to pick our jaws off the floor of Lola, that fall is the ONLY time to visit this National Park.
The views are amazing…. but Glacier isn’t a one trick pony!
Going-to-the-sun-road is approximately 50 miles and traverses an epic climb to 6,646 feet at Logan Pass. As you climb in elevation the views get more spectacular.
Most people start at the west entrance, drive to the visitor center located at Logan Pass and then travel back down the same way.
It’s a shame…
Although the East side of the park doesn’t have the butt puckering drop offs like it’s sister to the west, it does offer…
And no… We didn’t manage to get any good photo’s of the bears…
As you keep heading East, St. Mary’s Lake appears to your right. It offers a boat launch where you can hop aboard a scenic boat tour. It’s unneeded if you are short on time to fully enjoy this breath taking place.
You leave the Park in St. Mary, Montana and we choose to head south towards Two Medicine Lake and the town of East Glacier as we heard that there was an amazing Mexican restaurant calling our names.
We came across some cattle that gave us our first traffic jam of the day before we came to the turn off for Two Medicine Lake. It was this area where we marked bears off of wildlife bingo.
Two Medicine Lake feels different from the visitor packed west side of the park. The camp store was boarded up and closed for the season, but that isn’t what we came for anyways…
We back tracked to the main road and continued south where we hit some road construction that escorted us to Hwy 49 or as the locals call it, Looking Glass Hill. We pulled over and let others go around us as they seemed to be in a hurry after waiting for the pilot car.
When we hit the highway again, we noticed a dirt road…
Correction… more like two ruts on their way up a hill
We decided that Lola had been forced to drive the nice paved road long enough and we let her do what she was born to do. We had no idea where this road (using that term loosely) was going to take us, but when we got there it was a beautiful place to capture where the mountains meet the plains.
As we entered East Glacier we passed the Glacier Park Lodge. Neither of us had seen it before and it was an impressive building. We drove under the tunnel and found the Mexican joint… and the long line of other folks who had heard about it…
Our stomachs weren’t going to wait quietly– so we decided to back track to the Glacier Park Lodge and enjoy dinner there.
The lodge was started in 1913 by rail road workers, and the train is still active and many people travel to the lodge this way. The lodge is even more impressive on the inside. The large timbers that construct the lodge were a main topic of conversation as we ate and drank the local spirits.
The food was delicious, but the ambiance could be kicked up a notch or two. Either way, we both agreed that we should come back and stay for a night… and perhaps visit that amazing Mexican restaurant.
Have you visited Glacier National Park?
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In our last post we shared about our recent trip to Montana’s mining city, Butte. Writing that post I knew I wanted to separate our travelling for the trip, because Philipsburg deserves a post of it’s own.
In our 77′ Landcruiser we knew that we were going to have to take the back roads as much as possible to Butte… Can’t quite keep up with the vehicles on the interstate… nor do we really want to.
We left Kalispell early in the morning and drove the Swan Highway. Slightly colder then we anticipated, and if you followed our Instagram stories of the trip, you might recall Andy warming his hands with the help of Lola’s vents.
We topped our tank in Seeley Lake and turned left at the Clearwater Junction, heading East on MT Highway 200. We noted that there was a sign in Ovando that gave mileage to Helmville and decided we would try that route on the way home.
By the time we rolled into Helmville it was lunch time and we stopped at the Copper Queen Saloon. A great local eatery. We had fun looking around at the signatures on the ceiling, some were from the 80’s.
We drove Hwy 271 that snaked through sage brush and HUGE grasshoppers that forced us to stop in Drummond to clean our windshield before we headed south.
We drove into Philipsburg and parked Lola on a side street adjacent from the Philipsburg Brewing Company and went in for a brew. The taproom is beautiful… Can a brewery be considered beautiful?… Not sure, but I’m sticking with it.
We didn’t know it at the time, but we visited “The Vault” (named after the historic Sayr’s Bank Building constructed in the 1880s that now is the home of the brewery). They also have a newer space, “The Springs”, which is opened when the weather is cooperating. There is no shortage of history in their second location as it has the original hoptower from the Kroger Brewery that operated in the same location in 1875.
Andy’s Drink Suggestion: Otter Water Session Pale Ale
Crystal’s Drink Suggestion: Haybag American Hefeweizen
We walked down to the The Sweet Palace, this is a must do when you travel to Philipsburg. Especially when you didn’t bring your daughter and she knows you are going to Philipsburg and she loves fudge… They have an amazing space and selection. Just be sure to visit on any other day besides Saturday, they aren’t open.
Besides the sweets, Philipsburg is well known for their sapphires. On previous trips we’ve always visited Gem Mountain’s mine located on the Skalkaho Pass, 22 miles west of town. But this trip we tried our mining hands in town at their indoor gravel washing located in the garage to the west of the store. Just as much fun as the outdoor mine, and just as many sapphires! We highly recommend you stop at either location and grab a bucket.
We ended our time in Philipsburg with a chocolate milkshake and green river lime phosphate at Doe Brothers Soda Fountain.
We can’t wait to take the Landcruiser back to Philipsburg to visit Granite Ghost Town and perhaps the 6th Annual Brewfest and Chili Cookoff in February.
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It seemed appropriate that our first long trip in Lola the Landcruiser was to Butte, MT.
Butte’s claim to fame, besides a hell of a St. Patrick’s day party, is Evil Knievel. I feel like the dare devil would of approved of our choice to travel over 500 miles round trip in a restored 1977 Toyota Landcruiser; except he probably would have suggested a launched jump, fireworks or at least some flames for our entrance to the Mining City.
Even without the pyrotechnics, we had an awesome time showing that traveling vintage is still relevant.
We arrived around 4 in Butte, so we checked into our room and made our way uptown to Headframe Spirits.
Headframe Spirits tasting room is located just north of their distillery, same building, just one door away. We parked along the main street, which lead to this perfect shot.
The interior is decorated with vintage mining safety posters and local memorabilia. Andy and I laughed at the lack of political correctness and politeness of the vintage posters. They have a beautiful hand carved bar behind the bar and friendly and knowledgeable bar staff.
Andy ‘s Drink Suggestion: Destroying Angel Whiskey and Coke
Crystal’s Drink Suggestion: Coconut Lime Spritzer, made with their High Ore Vodka
After drinks we headed to Casagranda’s Steakhouse , it was a happening place and we found two seats at the restaurants bar, Guido’s. Casagranda’s is housed in the Bertoglio Warehouse which was built in 1900. The warehouse closed in 1975 and was transformed into this fine dinning steakhouse. Although the place was busy, the bartenders were great and so was the food. We ended our time at the bar by buying the lead guitarist and drummer of Blackhawk a drink, and heading over to the concert. They put on a hell of a show, and we would encourage you to catch them if they play a venue close to you.
The next morning we rolled out of bed a little later then planned, we blame the lead guitarist… damn you Dale Oliver and made our way to the historic M&M for breakfast. A local we met at the concert told us it was the only place for breakfast in Butte. We both enjoyed the vibe and the food, apparently over ST. Patrick’s day they have a live web cam to show off their party.
Afterwards we made our way up the hill to see Butte from the top of the Richest Hill on Earth. Driving around uptown you can see how booming this town was at the turn of the 20th century. Revitalization is happening and it will be great to see Butte showing off their historic uptown again.
Check out Mainstreet Uptown Butte to start planning your own trip to this town rich in mining history.
Be sure to subscribe to our email list to be notified of our next post, Philipsburg, Montana, it’s definitely it’s own gem of a town and deserves it’s own post!
In the fall of 2015, I located a vintage Toyota Landcruiser for sale.
In this case, vintage was a polite way of saying rode hard.
The dream was always to get her road worthy again and hit the back roads in style. I’m not sure why I under estimated what Andy could turn her (yes… she has a gender… and yes… she has a name-Lola) into but the amazing machine she is today.
He has spent a lot of time with every bolt out of her, which created for some awkward discussions between the two of us about the “other woman” in the garage…
But in the end, Lola has been awesome to add to our family.
Know what else is awesome?
You stopping by to check in on us and the “other woman”! Sign up for our email list to be notified when we post something new about us and Lola!