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As I mentioned last week, I'm having a bit of trouble getting over the post-vacation blues. Visiting Montana is always incredible (this was our 5th trip!), but Glacier National Park now has a very special place in our hearts.  

It only took one hike for us to declare the park as our new favorite. Our favorite used to be Grand Teton National Park and while those stunning peaks are still high on the list, Glacier offered us an incredible glimpse at why the park is known as The Crown of the Continent.

When planning our trip, we knew that visiting in spring or early summer (before the 4th of July) might preclude us from some activities. Sometimes the Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn't open until mid-July (it's the only route through the park) and many of the high elevation hikes remain closed until mid-summer due to snow hazards. However, we decided to visit during the first full week of summer and we're so glad we did.

Quite a bit of snow (and wind -- cue the crazy hair) at Logan Pass! 

Quite a bit of snow (and wind -- cue the crazy hair) at Logan Pass! 

The Highline Trail was still closed for the season at the end of June. Not pictured is the "closed" sign. Keep in mind that trails like this one are closed for a reason. A man died the week we were there as he tried to navigate the snowy areas of this very trail. He slipped and fell about 100 feet on to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. So sad.

The Highline Trail was still closed for the season at the end of June. Not pictured is the "closed" sign. Keep in mind that trails like this one are closed for a reason. A man died the week we were there as he tried to navigate the snowy areas of this very trail. He slipped and fell about 100 feet on to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. So sad.

While we didn't get to hike the Highline Trail (it's a bucket list item for sure, but we had no intention of risking our lives), it rained the first three days of our trip and East Glacier's winds literally blew us away (seriously, I almost lost my hat twice and constantly fumbled with my camera trying to hold it steady), we arrived just two days after the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened for the season and were greeted with smaller crowds, abundant wildlife, and beautiful wildflowers. 

Cinnamon black bear grabbing a snack near the Many Glacier entrance to the park.

Cinnamon black bear grabbing a snack near the Many Glacier entrance to the park.

Wildflowers along the hike to Avalanche Lake.

Wildflowers along the hike to Avalanche Lake.

A curious deer near the small town of Polebridge, Montana.

A curious deer near the small town of Polebridge, Montana.

The hike to Red Rock Falls (in the Many Glacier area) is full of wildflowers in early summer!

The hike to Red Rock Falls (in the Many Glacier area) is full of wildflowers in early summer!

We found this pretty little thing while hiking around Bowman Lake (in the Polebridge area).

We found this pretty little thing while hiking around Bowman Lake (in the Polebridge area).

More beauty on the drive to Bowman Lake (warning: it's a very bumpy road, but it's so worth the drive).

More beauty on the drive to Bowman Lake (warning: it's a very bumpy road, but it's so worth the drive).

Can you spot the bighorn sheep on the mountain? 

Can you spot the bighorn sheep on the mountain? 

My handsome guy pausing to catch a glimpse of Avalanche Lake. 

My handsome guy pausing to catch a glimpse of Avalanche Lake. 

Talk about a rock and a hard place, huh? Plants in Glacier National Park seem to take what they can get! This fern was trying to find the sun along the hike to Red Rock Falls.

Talk about a rock and a hard place, huh? Plants in Glacier National Park seem to take what they can get! This fern was trying to find the sun along the hike to Red Rock Falls.

A couple of grizzly bears feasting near Lake Sherburne in the Many Glacier area.  

A couple of grizzly bears feasting near Lake Sherburne in the Many Glacier area.  

 ...they weren't too interested in the line of cars parked on the side of the road.

 ...they weren't too interested in the line of cars parked on the side of the road.

 ...filling their big bellies was the name of the game that afternoon.

 ...filling their big bellies was the name of the game that afternoon.

More beauties appearing out of the rock walls of Sunrift Gorge along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

More beauties appearing out of the rock walls of Sunrift Gorge along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

We had several other wildlife sightings, but were too engrossed to bother with the camera.

We even spotted a deer and her newborn fawn as they crossed the Going-to-the-Sun Road one morning. The poor fawn fell to the ground right in the eastbound lane and we weren't sure if it would get up. Traffic came to a halt and we all quickly joined team baby-deer-please-cross-the-road-safely, cheering and tearing up (okay, that was me) when the little one finally got to its four wobbly feet and caught up with mom on the other side of the road. Phew.

I'm telling you, my friends, Glacier National Park has got it all.  

If you're planning a trip to the park and you're looking for perfect weather, dry roads and open high elevation trails, don't go in early summer! Weather can be unpredictable and can cause road closures and delay trail openings. You will likely get wet (read: soaked) while hiking. On the other hand, if you're interested in exploring creek and lakeside trails without crowds of people and want to experience spring-like wildlife behavior, early summer might just be the best time for you to visit.

I've got much more Glacier National Park goodness to share in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!  

In the mean time, I want to know: Have you visited Glacier National Park? What was your favorite hike or scenic drive? Any crazy wildlife stories? I'd love to hear more about your experiences, so share away in the comment section! 

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