Cross Country in Five Days

There’s been no shortage of snow here in Western Montana, and we’ve been eager to introduce the Younger Fives to skiing. As a first step we decided to begin with cross country skiing to give everyone a feel for moving through the snow in a new way. After looking into our options (and there are plenty here in the Flathead Valley), we found the following to be ideal for learning to Nordic ski as a family.

West Shore State Park
Family-Friendly Features: uncrowded, Flathead Lake

 

Blacktail Mountain Nordic Trails
Family-Friendly Features: groomed trails, mountain setting

 

Herron Park
Family-Friendly Features: sledding hill, plenty of space

 

Bigfork Community Nordic Center
Family-Friendly Features: groomed trails, forest setting

 

Glacier National Park
Family-Friendly Features: trails over and along streams, mountain scenery

 

Glacier National Park in Bloom

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We were fortunate enough to slip away for a few days to Glacier National Park early this month before the summer crowds arrived. While the Going To The Sun Road wasn’t fully open the park did not in any way disappoint. As always Glacier National Park provided some of the most spectacular scenes of beauty that we have had the fortune of seeing in our travels. From cascading waterfalls to blooming wild flowers we had a wonderful visit and left wishing that we could stay in such a magical place forever.

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During the one rainy day of our visit the kids worked hard to complete their Glacier National Park junior ranger booklets while we parked the car in a scenic pull off near Jackson Glacier Overlook. As the wind whipped rain along the mountains the kids learned all about how the park was formed and the native peoples that lived in the park before the National Park Service took over managing the land.

The remainder of our trip was spent at the Two Medicine area of the park where we set up camp and had a blast hiking around the lakes and to several waterfalls. We all enjoyed watching the sun slip behind Rising Wolf mountain and listening to the tail slaps of a very active beaver out for an evening swim. We were greeted with such a variety of wildflowers around the Two Medicine area that our resident photographer (Five String) had a hard time keeping up. We were excited to have along a copy of the wonderful Lone Pine field guide Plants of the Rocky Mountains. This is one of the most comprehensive yet easy to use plant field guides that we have found. The descriptions accompanying each plant picture are fabulous especially the traditional uses of each species.

*** Note all wildflower common names listed above (scroll of the pictures) are guesses by the kids using Plants of the Rocky Mountains. A great homeschool project and definitely hard work when it comes to telling the difference between two different species.

We can’t wait until October when the summer crowds thin out and we can get back to Glacier National Park one of the true gems of America’s national park system and definitely a family favorite!

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Goodbye Glacier, Hello Yellowstone

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Our last day at Glacier National Park.

Living a life on the road is always full of surprises, and our time outside of Glacier National Park was no exception. The government shutdown closes the park the day we arrive in West Glacier ready to drive to Logan Pass, so we make the best of it and spend the next two weeks exploring other public lands in the area. We then finally get back into the park ready for two weeks of hiking and exploring only to learn that the internet at our month-long rental cabin crashed and will take weeks to repair.

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The Roosevelt Arch at the Northern Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Since we work entirely online, having wireless internet is a necessity. Therefore, we quickly realized that spending the rest of the month in our cabin was not going to work, and we scrambled for a new plan. Out of the panic emerged a pretty darn good idea: spend the final days of October in Yellowstone National Park. So with little notice we packed up on Sunday morning and headed to Gardiner, Montana, the north entrance to Yellowstone.

While we are looking forward to some quality time with bison and Old Faithful, we’ve learned that when it comes to travel in general and October in particular, you just never know.

Going to the Sun to Play in the Snow

The government shutdown ended and first thing Thursday morning we were at Glacier National Park and headed up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We knew it would be amazing but none of us were prepared for the winter wonderland that awaited us at the top. Our hike towards Logan Pass was filled with snow people, snow angels and lots of snowballs. With snow flurries and streams of intense sunshine we couldn’t have visited on a more gorgeous day!

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