Arrive in Kalispell and transfer to our hotel in nearby Whitefish, where our Glacier National Park & Waterton Lakes tour begins with a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Glacier National Park / East Glacier
Drive east this morning to Glacier National Park, one of the most treasured natural landscapes in the United States. Famous for its ice-carved valleys and dramatic mountain peaks, Glacier contains some of the most pristine natural ecosystems left in the Lower 48 states. We'll have abundant opportunities to view many of the species that call it home, including the mountain goat, the park's emblematic animal. Along the way, learn about the Lewis Overthrust fault and the region's tumultuous geological history, studied by scientists from around the world.
We spend two nights at Glacier Park Lodge, one of the country's most magnificent national park hotels. Built at East Glacier Station by the Great Northern Railway in 1913 to attract visitors to the park's wonders, the hotel's grand lobby features log pillars more than 40 feet high and 40 inches in diameter, crafted from Douglas fir trees hundreds of years old. The Blackfeet Indians, awed by the size of the timbers, called it Omahkoyis, or "Big Tree Lodge." Located at the foot of Squaw Peak Mountain, the hotel provides an optimal base from which to explore our dramatic environs.
Day 3: Glacier National Park—Two Medicine Valley
Explore Two Medicine Valley today, an area rich in Native American history. Lying on the eastern edge of the park, the valley borders the Blackfeet reservation. From the trailhead at Two Medicine Lake, a morning hike leads through the valley, once a site for sacred Native American rituals, where we admire the multicolored rock layers of the mountain walls. Though the exertion level is moderate, the beauty of the sheer cliffs and peaks surrounding us provide scenic rewards usually reserved for more strenuous efforts. Along the trail, look for a great array of wildlife frequently seen here. Moose,
Days 4 & 5: Waterton Lakes National Park
On a drive through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, stop to learn about the tribe's rich culture and history. Continuing north across the Canadian border, we spend two days exploring Waterton Lakes National Park. As Glacier's sister park, Waterton shares a border and an ecosystem, as well as joint UNESCO World Heritage Site status. In 1932, these two parks together became the first International Peace Park. Stay at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel which, like the grand park hotels of Glacier, was a pet project of railway baron James Hill. His favored chalet-style architectural themes are vividly represented in this unique structure, and its location overlooking Upper Waterton Lake is beyond compare. Completed in 1927, the hotel was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.
Waterton is a continuation of Glacier's stunning landscapes, and opportunities abound for us to discover this less-visited region. Wander around the small townsite where deer and bighorn sheep often graze upon the lawns. With our Expedition Leader, explore a sampler of enticing trails that capitalize on the panoramic vistas at every turn. Weather permitting, enjoy a cruise on beautiful Waterton Lake and an easy hike into a more remote sector of Glacier's wilderness.
Days 6 & 7: Glacier National Park—Many Glacier
Returning to the American side of the ecosystem, we enter one of the park's iconic valleys at Many Glacier.
Day 8: Going-to-the-Sun Road / Lake McDonald
Experience one of America's most celebrated drives today as we travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road across the park. An engineering marvel completed in 1932, the narrow byway twists and climbs around Glacier's rocky spine all the way to the Continental Divide. Waterfall spray creates rainbows as streams pour off rock precipices, while serrated peaks poke the blue sky. On the summit
Day 9: Kalispell / Depart
This morning our Glacier National Park trip concludes as we get an early start for the drive back to Kalispell to meet departing flights this afternoon.
Physical Rating: Moderate
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