Montana (Whitefish, Glacier National Park)
Another state we had high hopes in and were sobered up (status before heading to the south-east part).
We stayed in Missoula for a night, and then in Kalispell for another to check out Whitefish. That little town seems like a facade fairyland between trailer parks and Walmart. I don’t say that this is how it is. It’s just the feeling I had. It’s a beautiful downtown, for sure. Small ice cream stores and souvenir stores and a beautiful playground. But it felt staged and not real. A facade for the tourists. We ended up leaving the next day (after eating ice cream and buying souvenirs).
Like I said, we weren’t really in the mood for sightseeing. But since we were half an hour out of Glacier National Park, we decided to head over there. They have campgrounds in the park, but checking the website showed us they filled up every day before 9am. So we decided to give it a try Sunday morning (45 min drive from the Kalispell Walmart), and if we ended up not getting a site we’d leave it with a day of exploring. Turns out, we got the last one (at 8:40am), and it’s one of the most beautiful and secluded ones. And so, instead of one day superficial exploring we ended up staying for the whole 14 days you’re allowed to stay. Yes it is a campground and it’s close quarters (though not the closest we ever experienced). But it is beautifully located in the woods, Lake Mc Donald is 10 minutes by foot for a quick after-work dip and the park is one of the most beautiful ones we’ve ever visited.
Since we stayed for so long we ended up exploring most of the park, including spontaneous late-night drives up the Going-to-the-sun road (sharp turns, super narrow and extremely beautiful).
The park is super crowded with tourists though, even on a Thursday morning there is no way to stop at any point on the Going-to-the-sun-road because every pullout and every parking lot is full. We found a nice secluded spot at a maintenance road in the Many Glacier area, but that was about it. Except for when it started to rain and everybody left and missed the rainbow.
One of the highlights of each day is the morning circus though, with cars+trailers and Class A Dieselpusher speeding through the campground loops in hopes to find the last free site. The kids are not allowed outside until it quiets down, because they’re hitting the 30mph, eyes on the site posts. It is a solely first-come-first-serve campground, so you need to get here early and I know we’ve been extremely lucky. It’s still quite a circus.
I love boondocking, not paying for our backyard, especially with friends around. But I really enjoy the campgrounds right now, not having to worry about anything other than driving up to the dump station and the 10pm internet-connectivity-drop when everyone calls it a night and then checks Instagram. That settling-down-bug got something on us especially since we’re tired with the planning of every single week or day, the hardest and most exhausting part (ask almost anyone doing this). Figuring out where to stay next is exhausting.