Glacier National Park

Dusk at Many Glacier

Last week I made my first ever visit to the Rocky Mountains. A few months ago I had planned a trip to the Palouse in eastern Washington, and decided I'd carve a few days from that trip and head a little further east, to Glacier National Park in Montana. It was the first time I'd seen the Rockies from the ground; I'd flown over several times in the past on the way to California, Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Seattle. The view from the ground was simply awe-inspiring. It made me feel small. It was exhilarating.

I was traveling with a photographer friend of mine, and due to our schedule, we really only had 36 hours in Glacier National Park. The Palouse had been the priority when planning the trip, so we'd only get a taste this time. Having seen the park, I know I definitely need to dedicate at least a week to properly explore and photograph the park properly. Thankfully, the weather cooperated (more or less) and provided us with some picturesque conditions.

Our first night, we decided to stay closer to our lodging, and headed to Lake McDonald and then Bowman Lake for golden hour and sunset. Despite the mosquitoes, both Lake McDonald and Bowman Lake were stunningly beautiful, their calm waters reflecting the sky and mountains. It was a serene and peaceful scene.

The following day, we headed out with a plan to be at Many Glacier, on the other side of the park, for sunset. We slowly made our way there, stopping in the villages of East Glacier, Saint Mary, and Babb, while visiting Two Medicine and Saint Mary sections of the park. We arrived in late afternoon for some golden hour shooting, explored Swiftcurrent Falls, and then headed to Swiftcurrent Lake. It became obvious we would use Swiftcurrent Lake and Mount Grinnell as our subject, as so many other photographers have. The lake and its rocky shoreline provides an exceptional foreground, while Mount Grinnell provide a stunning backdrop.

Mountains' Majesty

The clouds had been building all afternoon, so the hope was we'd get brilliant color once the sun went down.  Unfortunately, we didn't get the explosion of color we hoped for, but the clouds still added plenty of drama, and there were subtle hints of pink and purple to be had. The winds calmed considerably as the sun went down, allowing for a reflection in the lake waters and making it far more comfortable to photograph. It was incredible to watch the light changing as the sun went down. At the time the above image was taken, there was some warm light reflecting off of some clouds behind me, softly lighting Mount Grinnell. It was the perfect end to a day of photography.

However, after we packed our gear back up and began walking back to the car, we realized it had been several hours since we had eaten. We were afraid we'd go hungry, since Montana's dining options after 7pm become decidedly limited outside of the bigger towns and cities. We lucked out when we found Rising Sun Pizza in Saint Mary. They were still open, happy to serve us, and made a pretty good pizza, considering I'm a NJ boy from the heart of the Pizza Belt. Definitely check them out if you find yourself in the area in need of a good meal.

Visit my Rocky Mountains gallery for more images from this trip, or to purchase a print.