Heceta Light House, Oregon 2018

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Glacier National Park, Shuttle Ride and Cedar Grove Nature Trail

[Fire Update] We left Glacier Wednesday morning. The smoke from the 3-day-old Thompson fire got more dense during the night. Wind is blowing it northeast, and at one point in our drive we were concerned about visibility.  

Had we not taken the hike to Hidden Lake Overlook on Friday, we would have continued our drive over to the west part of the park by way of the Going to the Sun road. Instead, we decided to take the shuttle buses up and over, rather than fight the crowds for parking places. (Actually we took the shuttle because I was afraid of the drive on this two lane, shoulder-less, road around the mountain curves in heavy traffic.) 

Going to the Sun Road picture from Trip Advisor

We started on a regular size bus, and transferred to a smaller shuttle at Logan Pass. The larger busses do not go on the part of the road pictured above.

We got off at the Avalanche Lake stop and walked the Trail of the Cedars.

It is a short, even boardwalk through a Cedar and Hemlock grove. After hiking six miles the day before, it was just what I needed to work out the stiffness in my legs. I continue to be disturbed about the fact that instead of losing weight I seem to be gaining! Must be the lunches.

Speaking of which, we rested on a nice bench and ate our lunch sandwiches next to a bridge that crossed this clear turquoise pool at the bottom of a little waterfall.

I must admit it felt strange not having to find the Jeep after our walk. We just went to the shuttle stop and boarded the next bus bound for Lake McDonald.

There were quite a few people enjoying the water at the edge of the lake near the Lake MacDonald lodge. The weather was warm, but not overly hot.

As always, we explored the large lodge. This one had a definite "Indian" decor. If you look in the lower right corner of this picture you can see a mounted deer head. It gives you the scale of this enormous chandelier and high beamed ceiling.

We finished our visit to Lake McDonald with a walk down the stoney beach. This stone pile was almost five feet tall. We did not have the courage to touch it to see if there was anything holding it together other than gravity and balance. Nor did we dare adding a stone to it lest we cause it to collapse!

Taking the free shuttles has both a plus side and a minus side. Plus: no parking problems, no nervous outbursts on tight curves. 
Minus: no stopping at pullouts for photo-ops. Less visibility out the bus windows vs. your car windows.

As more cars pour into the park each year, they may someday have to do something to limit their numbers and encourage visitors to use the shuttles as they do at the Grand Canyon and Zion. 

Would you drive or take the bus, or do both as we did?


  1. I don't mind using the buses/shuttles in the parks. I drove my RV around Yellowstone, but also took a tour. I think it is a relaxing way to see the parks. I do not tow a car, so I would have to use the park transportation in some locations.

  2. We plan on doing the free shuttle just so we both can enjoy the scenery. I hope to get enough nice pictures to satisfy me :) Looking so forward to it, thanks for sharing.

  3. Since we take our dogs with us we've only driven GTTS road. We've had some great trips, but the last time we drove across there was a lot of construction and lots of traffic. I would like to do one of the red bus tours someday.

  4. Merikay, we can't wait to get up to Glacier, hopefully when there are fewer people and no smoke. Enjoying your posts so much. Our vote is for the tour bus.

  5. I'm not sure if the shuttle was available when we were there... but we drove our car... being a geocacher with lots of caches to find, we had to stop frequently ;-)


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