June 16, 2008
Fort Benton to Glacier National Park.
We enjoyed an extensive European-style breakfast buffet at the Grand Union Hotel, then hit the open road for Glacier National Park.
Browning is the locale for the excellent Museum of the Plains Indian; we had seen it before a few years ago, but would recommend it highly.
We spent the afternoon soaking up the wonders of Glacier National Park. The following photos depict the glorious scenery.
We booked the night in one of the grand lodges, the Many Glacier Hotel, that dates from 1915. It is notoriously difficult to secure a reservation in the major national park lodges on short notice, but fortunately they had a standard “value” room available for this one night ($135+$12 room tax=$147). Believe us, the room was nothing fancy (no TV, etc.), but we didn’t mind. Note: this was the only place on this trip where we encountered surcharges to offset energy costs.
The Ptarmigan Room offers gourmet Swiss-style cooking. The food (a hearty buffalo stew and tilapia fish prepared Creole style) was OK; the views through the picture windows outstanding!
June 17, 2008
Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes to Mountain View, AB, Canada.
Rather than partake from the pricey breakfast buffet this morning, we opted for simple egg sandwiches and coffee in the informal snack shop. After breakfast, we continued exploring both Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. Although jointly known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the United States and Canada administer their respective units separately. We could use our age 62+ Senior Pass (formerly known as the Golden Age Pass) at Glacier, but we needed to buy Parks Canada Day Passes for about $8.75 ($7.50 with age 65+ senior discount) each in U.S. funds for Waterton Lakes.
We considered our options for an overnight stay. There were several lodgings in Waterton Townsite in the $90-$175 range; the Prince of Wales Hotel that would have run at least $180; and some AAA-listed motels in Pincher Creek and Cardson for near $100.
We decided to stay in the tiny community of Mountain View, about 10 miles east of the Waterton Lakes National Park entrance. This part of Alberta is known as “Mormon Country”, influenced by the establishment of Alberta Temple in Cardson, located about 12 miles east. By far, the most imposing structure in Mountain View is the local LDS Church.
The Rocky Ridge Inn was just the ticket. For about $20 more than the cost of an ordinary motel, we could have a room with a reputedly excellent breakfast, in a quiet place away from the hub-bub of Waterton Park. Although the Inn is located only about a half mile north of the landmark LDS Church, we felt were were deep in the country, with magnificent views of the Canadian Rockies. We had a delightful stay, and the Skylight Room was well worth the $118 (US with AAA discount). This inn and the related Mountain View Inn were owned and operated by a Mormon family (a sale was pending at the time of our visit).
Note: We had some problems booking a room as their internet/toll free phone service was down in April when we were making our reservations. We finally had to resort to a direct call ($1.43 a minute at international phone rates) to secure our reservation. Management promised to fix the problem; perhaps it has been resolved by now.
There were no dinner options in town, so we headed to Twin Butte about 20 miles north, and had a good Mexican dinner at the Twin Butte Country General Store. Larry and Jane Davis, an expatriate California couple, own the Country General Store that specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine. We enjoyed this informal cantina, here in Canada!
We then returned to the Inn, retired to our room and watched some DVDs until bedtime.
Alert: An International Driving Permit, obtainable only from the American Automobile Association (AAA) or National Automobile Association, is required of U.S. citizens if one is driving 50 miles or more into Canada. The Los Angeles Times had a recent article concerning scams relating to International Driving Permits.