The Beauty of Montana’s Landscape

Trip Planning

The Beauty of Montana’s Landscape

It was the summer of 2016 when we took our very first family road trip with a travel trailer. We had just moved from the Island of Oahu to Washington State the October before and was looking forward to this new type of adventure. Montana was our main destination and we had a lot planned for this first RV trip of ours.

We packed the car with all our necessities and headed to Spokane, Washington where we picked up our rental – a 28 footer. The kids were stoked and super excited. We loaded our things into the trailer, hitched up and were on our way.

Soon into the drive my husband turned to me and said, “I think this trailer is too big for our SUV. It doesn't feel right.” “Just go slow and take it easy,” I tell him. “We already have everything booked. We can’t change our plans now,” I say, with a sad face. He sighs, shakes his head and keeps on driving.

It was about 9pm when we pulled into the entrance of Glacier National Park. It was very dark and as we pulled past the gate, there was a big sign that warned Bear Country. Reading that brought chills to our bones. We have never camped in bear country before, but we were glad we were camping in an RV.

We pulled into our site at the Fish Creek Campground in West Glacier, off-hitched and went to bed. The following morning we woke, ate a home cooked breakfast, and got ready to head out to explore.

The Beauty of Montana’s Landscape
Our rental for our summer road trip
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Heading to Glacier National Park
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Bear country forewarning
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Getting ready to explore

We headed to Apgar Visitor Center to catch the free shuttle to Logan Pass. I’ve read that the Going-to-the-sun road was quite narrow and windy so I thought it’d be best to take the free shuttle so that we all could enjoy the view without the stress. The Going-to-the-sun road kind of reminded us of the Road to Hana on Maui, but a hundred times more grand.

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Learning all about bears at the Apgar Visitor Center while we wait for the shuttle
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Going-to-the-sun road, West Glacier
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The cars are so small against the mountains here
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Continental Divide, West Glacier
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Going-to-the-sun road, West Glacier

The 2.7 round trip hike to Hidden Lake Overlook behind Logan Pass visitor was just breathtaking. The glaciers had such splendid beauty. It was truly an amazing first-person experience for us.

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Hidden Lake Trailhead
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Shane and Keoni on the Hidden Lake trail
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Beautiful Wildflowers
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Waterfall
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Beautiful colored rocks
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Mountain goat
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The view from Hidden Lake Overlook
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My family and I at Hidden Lake Overlook
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A mountain goat resting under the shade
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Mountain goats roaming freely behind us
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Mountain goats
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Shane and Taylor enjoying the view
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My family and I in awe of the beauty before us
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Montana’s beautiful landscape
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My son Keoni and I
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My husband and I
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My daughter Taylor and I
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We love Glacier National Park
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Back at camp we enjoyed a home cooked meal and some smores around the campfire.

The following morning we went whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork Flathead River. Our first whitewater rafting experience was perfect. The rapids during August were just right for us novices.

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Waiting to board the bus
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Ready for some whitewater rafting
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Just look at that smile
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Shane and Keoni got a chance on the ducky raft
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Shane and Keoni on the ducky raft
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What a fun experience!
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We had a blast!

After a fun-filled time on the Middle Fork Flathead River, we went back to our trailer for some lunch before our next adventure – horseback riding.

Our two hour horseback riding adventure was one Taylor couldn't wait for. She has grown to love these amazing animals and it’s been a beautiful sight to see her smile when she’s riding.

Back at camp we ate home cooked dinner and enjoyed some ice cream for dessert around the campfire. We sat under the Montana sky and talked about all the fun we had that day. Life. Is. Good.

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Enjoying lunch at our campsite
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Just look at that smile
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Taylor with a big smile
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Showing us the ropes to stay safe on the trail
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Getting ready for a two hour backcountry horseback ride
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Saying hello
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Enjoying dinner at our campsite
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Enjoying some ice cream around the campfire

Before making our way to East Glacier the next day, we went to check out Lake McDonald a few minutes from our campground. Lake McDonald was one of those places I really wanted to see in person. I have seen pictures of this lake online and just needed to see it in person to believe the beauty of it. And wow...it truly IS a sight to see in person.

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Truly a sight to see
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Our children at Lake McDonald
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Beautiful colorful rocks in Lake McDonald

Soon after we hitched up and made our way east. St. Mary Glacier KOA was our next destination.

Somehow between making our way from West to East Glacier, we ended up on Montana Highway 49, a really narrow and windy road. Google apparently thought it was the best fastest route to our destination and I had failed to do my research on this road. I have since learned and always now research the routes when planning. Although this route was quite scenic and beautiful, it was quite stressful, especially for my husband since we were towing a 28-foot trailer.

Thankfully, we made it safe and sound to St. Mary’s KOA campground. And remember when I mentioned early on that my husband said the towing didn't feel right? Well take a look at the photo below. Go ahead, you can laugh. We laugh at it, too, every time we talk about our first rving trip. As newbies we didn't know what to expect. The guy mentioned inflating something in the rear but we had no idea what he was referring to because we didn't know we had air bags installed to help with the hitch weight, thus why he assured us our tow vehicle was ok to pull our rental. Fast forward two years, we have since upgraded our tow-vehicle to a Ford F-150 ecoboost and cannot believe the difference in towing experience.

After checking in, setting up and having lunch at our campsite, we headed to Many Glacier to explore the historic Many Glacier Hotel and do a short boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake.

Afterwards we headed back to camp for dinner and enjoyed the evening at the pool.

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Departing our Fish Creek Campground campsite
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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Monument
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We have arrived at St Mary KOA
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Setting up camp
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Enjoying lunch at our campsite before we head to Many Glacier
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Ready for a boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake
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The historic Many Glacier hotel
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A short hike along Swiftcurrent Lake
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Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier
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The kids enjoying the pool at KOA St Mary campground
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Enjoying a home cooked dinner in our travel trailer

The following morning we packed up and headed back to Many Glacier where we did a day hike on the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. It was absolutely beautiful! We saw crystal clear alpine lakes, beautiful waterfalls, a bear and a moose, all in on one hike.

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Cattle crossing getting into Many Glacier
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Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead
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It’s the little moments like these that make life so grand
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Slowly making our way along the trail
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Such troopers
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Taking a break in the shade
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Fishercap Lake along Swiftcurrent Pass trail
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Water crossing
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Elevation gain going up
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Lunch time
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Having lunch with a view
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My two little adventurers
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Making our way back down
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Such lucky kids
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Absolutely stunning backdrop
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Redrock falls along the Swiftcurrent trail
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Redrock falls along the Swiftcurrent trail
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One happy mama
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Crystal clear alpine lakes
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Skipping rocks
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Making our way back to the trailhead

After a 12 mile round-trip day hike we looked forward to getting back to camp. After dinner we soaked our tired bodies in the hottub and chatted with other fellow campers about the beauty of Montana’s landscape and all the sights we have seen.

Before going to bed that night I remember standing outside of the trailer and looking up at the big clear Montana sky and saw the Milky Way for the first time with my naked eye. I. Could. Not. Believe. It. I stared at it in awe for about five minutes and couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I was to be there at that moment with my family and all of the experiences we have seen thus far. As I entered the trailer, I kissed my children and husband goodnight and hugged them a little longer.

The next morning we packed up and headed out to our next adventure in Idaho - the Wilderness Gateway campground and Jerry Johnson Hotsprings. But that’s another story. This first rving trip was nothing but amazing and gave us more intimate moments on the road as a family. There will definitely be more rving adventures to come. That I know for sure.

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Soaking our tired bodies in the hottub at St Mary KOA
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Soaking the night away
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Campsite at KOA St Mary/East Glacier, Montana
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Departing KOA St Mary/East Glacier Campground
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The view as we made our way south towards Missoula, Montana
family at disney

Julie Sojot

Julie Sojot

Wife. Mother. Adventurer. Island girl. PNW Transplant.