Into this wonderland the visitor enters by one of two roads. Either he leaves the railroad at Glacier Park on the east side of the continental divide or at Belton on the west side. In either event he can cross to the other side only afoot or on horseback over passes. The usual way in is through Glacier Park.
There is a large hotel at the station from which automobile-stagesrun northward to chalets at Two Medicine Lake, the Cut Bank Valley, and St. Mary Lake, and to the Many Glacier Hotel and chalets at Lake McDermott. A road also reaches Lake McDermott from Canada by way of Babb, and Canadian visitors can reach the trails at the head of Waterton Lake by boat from their own Waterton Lakes Park. Those entering at Belton, where the park headquarters are located, find chalets at the railroad-station and an excellent hotel near the head of Lake McDonald. There is also a comfortable chalet close to the Sperry Glacier.
To see Glacier as thoroughly as Glacier deserves and to draw freely on its abundant resources of pleasure and inspiration, one must travel the trails and pitch his tent where day’s end brings him. But that does not mean that Glacier cannot be seen and enjoyed by those to whom comfortable hotel accommodations are a necessity, or even by those who find trail-travelling impossible.
Visitors, therefore, fall into three general classes, all of whom may study scenery which quite fully covers the range of Glacier’s natural phenomena and peculiar beauty. The largest of these classes consists of those who can travel, or think they can travel, only in vehicles, and can find satisfactory accommodations only in good hotels. The intermediate class includes those who can, at a pinch, ride ten or twelve miles on comfortably saddled horses which walk the trails at two or three miles an hour, and who do not object to the somewhat primitive but thoroughly comfortable overnight accommodations of the chalets. Finally comes the small class, which constantly will increase, of those who have the time and inclination to leave the beaten path with tent and camping outfit for the splendid wilderness and the places of supreme magnificence which are only for those who seek.
The man, then, whose tendency to gout, let us say, forbids him ride a horse or walk more than a couple of easy miles a day may, nevertheless, miss nothing of Glacier’s meaning and magnificence provided he takes the trouble to understand. But he must take the trouble; he must comprehend the few examples that he sees; this is his penalty for refusing the rich experience of the trail, which, out of its very fulness, drives meaning home with little mental effort. His knowledge must be got from six places only which may be reached by vehicle, at least three of which, however, may be included among the world’s great scenic places. He can find at Two Medicine, St. Mary, and McDermott superb examples of Glacier’s principal scenic elements.
Entering at Glacier Park, he will have seen the range from the plains, an important beginning; already, approaching from the east, he has watched it grow wonderfully on the horizon. So suddenly do these painted mountains spring from the grassy plain that it is a relief to recognize in them the advance guard of the Lewis Overthrust, vast fragments of the upheavals of the depths pushed eastward by the centuries to their final resting-places upon the surface of the prairie. From the hotel porches they glow gray and yellow and purple and rose and pink, according to the natural coloring of their parts and the will of the suna splendid ever-changing spectacle.