This fall, from September 22nd to 24th, we led a group of students from Carroll on an awesome trip to Glacier National Park. From Helena, Montana, it was about a four hour drive on Friday afternoon to our campsite in Many Glacier. Once there, we set up camp and spent the night sharing stories around the campfire and planning for the next day’s activities.

Saturday morning, we all woke up early, had a big breakfast, and then set off to explore the park. Our group of 15 students split up into two groups for the day so that we could explore different sections. The first group took a short drive to the Grinnell Glacier trailhead and set off for a long 12-mile hike. We saw lots of beautiful rocks and a multitude of unique wildlife. When we made it up to the glacier at the top of the trail, there was a sleeping grizzly bear down at the basin, just 100 feet away. We sat and ate lunch at the glacier and then made our way back down.

The second group made the drive about 40 minutes up Going-to-the-Sun Road to find the trailhead for Piegan Pass. While hiking Piegan Pass, we were engulfed by the surrounding mountain peaks and were left in constant awe. We reached the saddle of the pass and were able to look down either side into the deep valleys below. As we wound down the mountainside, we saw many waterfalls which led to our share of creek crossings. We battled strong winds throughout our descent which helped to motivate the crew to get down in elevation and back into the cover of treeline. When we concluded our hike, we all looked down at our watches to realize that our expected 12-mile hike had turned into 15. Despite this unexpected discovery, every student in our group said that it was worth it and would do it again anytime.

Our two groups ended up making it to our shared end destination at the exact same time. We were able to share our experiences of each hike and tell the stories of what we saw. We got back to camp right around 5pm, so we decided to start making dinner and start a fire. We all posted up in lawn chairs around the fire and rested our tired legs. The next morning, everyone woke up early again, ate breakfast, then packed up camp. Once everything was packed, we decided that we wanted to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road in its entirety. Going-to-the-Sun Road is a traverse through the mountain peaks going from West Glacier to East and vice versa. We took the drive nice and slow and stopped at points along the way so that we could take it all in.

Students on the trip had a blast and everyone definitely had a newfound appreciation for the beauty that Montana holds. We are so grateful to have two different beautiful national parks so close by. Many participants on the trip had never been to Glacier before and some had never even been to a national park! With the resources and funding from the National Park Trust, we were able to give some students a once in a lifetime experience!

This year’s trip to Glacier National Park was an absolute blast. We got to explore the park and see all the wildlife within it. All our participants pushed themselves on the hikes and we all got to enjoy everything the park had to offer. It was definitely a trip for the books!