Montana Basecamp & Glacier National Adventure
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
We booked a new resort in Kalispell for its location close to Glacier National Park and because everywhere else had been booked nearly a year in advance. But I gotta say... Basecamp Montana RV was a great booking! New campground, very clean and in a nice setting with mountains in the background. We lucked into spot #55, which provided beautiful sunset views every night.
We set up camp early afternoon and found the local market to grab a few groceries. The plan was a cookout and fire. Basecamp provides free firewood to burn in their nice concrete fire pits. They also offer laundry rooms with FREE washer and dryers, as well as a fun bike trail that goes around the park. There are plenty of meadow areas to walk the dogs, as well as grass in between parking spots.
Dinner was relaxing, the sunset electrifying, and the fire pit engaging. A few of the guests came over to introduce themselves as we played music and sipped wine until midnight. Lots of laughter and stories shared at camp this evening.
Day two would bring our dear friends Chris and Debbie Paulsen who came from their new home in Cody, Wyoming – so I planned another fun night of staying at camp and serving a Mexican buffet of tacos, quesadillas and all the fixings. More of our friends from Orlando & the racing world were also visiting Basecamp, so we had a party. Mix up the margaritas!!! Ole!
Day three would be a LONG adventure toward Many Glacier and Glacier National Road to the Sun touring. There really wasn’t any way to shorten the day – it would be a 3-hour trek toward St Mary and Many Glacier. Our goal was to hike around Many Glacier area for a couple hours, and then start of the Road to the Sun thru Glacier National after 5pm to avoid crowds.
The beginning of the day was glorious. We drove along 93 until we reached 2 and headed toward St. Mary. You can continue on 2 toward Browning for a faster drive, but we chose to jump on 89 for a nice little jaunt showing off the backside of Glacier National and Two Medicine Lake. You get back onto 2 near St Mary. This is where our first “issue” took place. We really wanted to stop for a fun lunch before heading toward the Many Glacier Hotel where our first hike would take place. NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING was open. It was just after 1pm and no one wanted to serve lunch any longer. We googled and googled and every place that claimed to be open was not. In a time where Glacier National Park was seeing more tourists than ever before, you’d think someone would capitalize on the traffic. We finally stopped along the road at Ugly Frog Cantina. The sign said open 11am to 10pm, but a handwritten sign on a table read, "Sorry, Friends. Not Open Until 3pm." It was now just after 2pm. We talked the server inside into mixing up margaritas while we patiently awaited their opening. Then we waited, and waited...and waited. They changed their opening time to 3:30 as a dozen hungry park goers walked toward the order window. I won’t bore you with what happened over the next HOUR, but Laura took control and we did end up with tacos. Eventually.
We were now a good two hours late for our arrival into Many Glacier. I knew we would not be hiking, but I still wanted to SEE this little gem hidden in the Montana mountains.
A friend who visited Many Glacier Hotel a couple days prior did warn me that we would encounter 11 miles of dirt gravel road headed to the entrance of the hotel... but she didn’t warn me about the road construction on this gravel road where you get stopped – for an hour.
By the time we reached the hotel parking, we easily found a parking spot. It was after 6pm. The views were absolutely majestic and I just wanted to plant myself in that hotel patio for a night or five! We spent a quick thirty walking around taking pictures and dreaming of a boat ride on the lake – then departed for the journey toward the Road to the Sun – we were running out of day light.
After another hour-long construction stop on the way back out - UGH - we entered the St Mary’s entrance into Glacier National and the Road to the Sun adventure. We were amazed at how different the views were coming from St. Mary headed back down the famous road. We spotted a ton of glaciers and gorgeous waterfalls and landscapes.
Travel Tip: Anytime you see cars parked alongside the road and fingers pointing – it’s a sign of wildlife. A bear was sighted along the creek bed, but by the time we arrived he was hiding in the brush.
Our first pitstop was at Logan's Pass. The rumors were true, if you enter the route after 5pm, you CAN find parking. We did a quick hike up to see if the longhorn sheep were out grazing. They were not… boooo.
We were on a mission to get to the big bend section I had remembered from my first trip making the sun road trek, so we quickly headed back onto the route.
I found the little stop where we had a picnic lunch just four years ago, I believe it’s mile marker 30 for those of you taking notes. This was my mission to stop here for a nice long stop and take in the views…. And a little wine and cheese we had packed.
It was well past 8pm and the sun was just starting to set. Glorious.
We all enjoyed just being still for a while, and watched couples get engaged and tourists setting up cameras to capture the sunset. For some reason, I brought cherries on our first trip on the Road to the Sun….and we had a cherry pit spitting contest over the cliffs - so I of course made everyone do that again on this journey.
The remaining time on our drive was beautiful as we watched the sun set and the colors in the sky change by the minute. I really wanted to stop at Lake MacDonald and skim rocks into the serene lake before leaving the park, but it was getting too dark and too late. We started our tour at 8am, and we didn’t pull back into Basecamp until 10:30pm. We were exhausted.
Our final day in Kalispell turned into an afternoon of exploring Whitefish.
In the morning, Mike and Chris drove over to check out Mark Martin’s new RV building where his Newell is housed when not touring the west. I believe the boys could have spent the entire afternoon with Mark bench racing, but Debbie and I were getting hangry and ready for a leisurely lunch. Debbie was told about a great spot at The Lodge in Whitefish. The Boat House restaurant overlooks Whitefish Lake and was the ideal setting for our long lunch. After lunch and a couple libations, we walked around the cute town of Whitefish and checked out the boutiques, while the boys found the pool hall and pub.
We all agreed our final night should be at the campground, so we pulled out the leftovers from our Mexican fiesta and churned up a large platter of nachos. Tom and Laura went for ribeyes in Kalispell and then joined us outside for a few final finals and lots of storytelling under the stars.