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Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park ride map

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Heading to Glacier National Park early morning From Kalispell, MT

Today is day  8 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

We were up early and headed to “Going to the Sun Highway”. My friend Avis and her family brought me here 41 years ago. I have looked forward to this leg of our trip because of those fond memories. It is my favorite national park (so far). I can’t describe the amazing scenery here… You must experience it for yourself…

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West entrance Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

Our ride today will make a big loop through Glacier National Park back to Kalispell via  Hwy 2. We then head north-west through Libby and to Ed and Avis’  just outside Troy, MT.

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McDonald Lake Glacier National Park early morning

“The Going-to-the-Sun Road,”  borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Local legend told the story of the deity, Sour Spirit, who came down from the sun to teach Blackfeet braves the rudiments of the hunt. On his way back to the sun, Sour Spirit had his image reproduced on the top of the mountain for inspiration to the Blackfeet. An alternate story suggests a white explorer in the 1880s concocted the name and the legend. No matter which version is accurate, the road named Going-to-the-Sun still inspires all who travel it. Riding into the Glacier from west to east, this morning, I could see why the road is called “Going-to-the-Sun”… It seemed we were always staring into the sun…

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McDonald Lodge Glacier National Park

After entering the park, our first stop was the visitor center and our first view of McDonald Lake.  The lake, surrounded by the mountains, is such a peaceful view. The water’s surface was like glass, reflecting the surrounding mountains through the rising mist.

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Rushing stream McDonald Lodge Glacier National Park

Our second stop was at McDonald Lodge. The lodge and grounds are a must see. The lodge, a Swiss Chalet, opened its doors on June 14, 1914.  The  lodge is a three-story structure built on the eastern shore of glaciated, picturesque Lake McDonald.  The lobby is a large open space built from large tree trunks with balconies surrounding  it on three sides. It has a very inviting rustic decor that is something to see.

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McDonald Lodge Glacier National Park

The lobby floors have messages in Kootenai (a local Native American dialect). Some of the messages translate into phrases such as “welcome”, “new life to those who drink here”, “looking toward the mountain”, and “big feast”.

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

There is a good view of McDonald Lake at the rear of the lodge. I could have sat for hours and listened to the rushing stream that runs into the lake. It was so peaceful sitting in the cool morning air….

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

“Going-to-the Sun Highway” took us through some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen so far on our ride. Parts of the highway hug the mountainside with a few tight curves. Heading east toward Logan Pass, you are able to look over the edge of the road in a few spots. The speed limit is 40 on the lower part and 25 for the higher part of the road. This pace allows for an enjoyable ride through all the majesty of this very scenic road.

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

A must stop is Jackson Glacier Overlook. The Overlook is located on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Logan Pass and St. Mary.  Jackson Glacier Overlook allows the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park Up close and personal

Glacier has wildlife along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The most likely place to see Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep are typically near Logan Pass. I was on the lookout for the sheep and goats but luck wasn’t with us today… 🙁

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

We have met many people since our trip began and today was no exception. Everyone was talking about the scenic beauty and offering their suggestions. One suggestion was to ride/drive the “Highway-to-the-Sun” in both directions because you get a whole different perspective of the park on the return trip. We thought we would do that if we had time. Once we got to the other end, we realized that time would not let us to ride “Going-to-the-Sun” road back… If you are planning a trip to Glacier make sure you plan seeing the park in both directions… On our next visit we will do that…

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Going-to-the-Sun Highway Glacier National Park

Our ride down Hwy 89 to East Glacier (the town) had many scenic views of  mountains on our right and large (relative to Texas) hills on our left. Picking up Hwy 2 back to Kalispell, we had more beautiful scenic views of the glacier capped mountains at times.

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St. Mary’s Lake Glacier National Park

From Kalispell we rode Hwy 2 through Libby to Troy. We saw more beautiful mountain scenery all along the way.

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Rolling down Highway 2 toward Troy, MT

Today we are staying with a good friend, Avis and her husband Ed. We had a lot (41 years)  to catch up on. Ed and Avis were great hosts, feeding us a good home cooked dinner with fresh veggies from their garden. It was nice to have a home cooked meal after 8 days on the road.

After dinner we walked to the Savage Lake across the highway. From the highway the lake is hidden from view by the trees. The reflection of the mountains, across the lake, was beautiful. Ed and Avis sometimes see moose across the lake in the evenings… but not today :(…

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Savage Lake near Troy, MT

Ed and Avis have a beautiful home out in the country with a beautiful view of the mountains from their front lawn. I would love to get up every morning and have that view to look at while I drink my morning coffee. Yes, I am a bit jealous…

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View from Ed & Avis’ front yard…

Today was a great day with beautiful scenery and time spent with good friends…

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new post by email. Also please take some time and leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be an easy day of riding. Just 260 miles to Golden, BC, Canada. We don’t have any planned stops except when we see something interesting…  The following day we will be riding Banff National Park. I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…

Checkout the slide show of the ride below:

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

Day 1 & 2 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Getting There

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Day 1 loaded up and ready to hit the road

Day 1 & 2 ride map

Day 1 & 2 ride map

This is the first day of my two-week (16 days)  5000 miles plus motorcycle ride to several of the best National Parks, National Monuments and National Historical sites in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we visit Pikes Peak, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Little Bighorn, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore and everything in between.

We had planned to do this ride 2 years ago but life got in the way and we had to cancel. The plans are complete and reservations have been made… all that is left is the execution of our plans.

I’m doing something I have never done before… write post each day or as often as time will allow… So stay tune for post as our ride progresses.

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Heading down Hwy 183 on start of or National Park Motorcycle Ride

Day 1

Several days out from my departure it was looking like I could be riding in triple digit heat… In my younger days I probably wouldn’t have given this much thought… but now I’m a bit older and I think wiser. I’m sure I could get someone to disagree with that… 551 miles in triple digit heat is something I don’t want to do. As it turned out today was very cool  for this time of the year. I left at 1:30 pm. It was overcast and just 81 degrees and a drop of rain every mile or so. The temperature eventually dropped to 76 degrees.Very pleasant riding. When I got Lampasas it started to rain enough that I lowered my face shield. When I reached the other side of Lampasas the rain stopped and the sun came out and took the temperature up to 90 degrees. About 60 mile from Sweetwater the clouds returned and the wind picked up and temperature drop to 82 degrees. At Sweetwater the wind started to blow much harder causing a lot of dust to be picked up. I was glad to have finally reached my motel in Snyder.

Tomorrow I meet Larry in Amarillo. From there it is a short ride to Dalhart our destination for the day.

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Wind turbines in the distance... Near Sweetwater, Texas

Wind turbines in the distance… Near Sweetwater, Texas

Day 2

This trip will be just the two of us. Larry C. my old Air Force buddy wasn’t able to make this trip and our wives decided to sit this one out too. Larry T. rode in from Tunnel Hill, Georgia (1140 miles) on his spaceship… a Victory Vision… I wasn’t crazy about the Visions when they first came out but… since I’ve seen Larry’s they are starting to grow on me… Larry is loving his so far…

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Misting rain leaving Snyder, Texas

We had a pretty big rain last night. I was on the road a little after 7:00, temperature 62 degrees, with a slight mist and overcast. Shortly after leaving the mist got heavier… heavy enough for me to lower the face shield. It eventually stopped misting, the roads  dried and the sun peeked through the clouds.

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I-27 heading to Amarillo, Texas

I am meeting Larry in Amarillo. 205 miles of nice riding (excluding the rain). I was at his motel just before 11:00. I haven’t seen Larry since our last ride in September so we had some catching up to do.

The Cadillac Ranch was just down I-40 about 10 miles so to kill some time we decide to give it a quick look. Neither of us has been there before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The cars have been there longer than they have been on the road. Over the years visitors have covered them in graffiti. It has become a tradition. Everyone that visited, except us, seem to be leaving their mark. You had to be careful when touching because of the wet paint. The paint has become inches thick over the many years… Different but interesting and worth the time visiting this unique art (??) work.

Larry at the Cadillac Ranch

Larry at the Cadillac Ranch

From the Cadillac Ranch it was on to Dumas for gas and a late lunch before heading to Dalhart our destination for the day.

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My ridding mascot Kow A. Saky with Larry bring up the rear.

The original destination for today was Amarillo but Larry wanted to ride up Pikes Peak tomorrow. That would add at least 2 hours to the ride so we moved our destination to shave some miles off the next day. This will allow us to take our time and enjoy the ride… and there is a lot to be enjoyed tomorrow.

Stay tuned… We will see you tomorrow.

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore