Day 3: Crown of the Continent Red Bus Tour

Trip Start Aug 10, 2013
Trip End Aug 16, 2013

Flag of United States  , Montana
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This morning we had booked the Crown of the Continent Tour on the historic Red Bus. From what I've been told the Red Bus Tours are extremely popular and sell out very quickly. If you want to do a Red Bus Tour you better sign up early! 

The Red Buses, called Reds, are operated by a Jammer, the driver who takes you on your tour. The Red Buses are origional to Glacier National Park, seven national parks including Glacier got a fleet of buses. Glacier was able to keep 33 of their buses running while most of the other historic vehicles are out of commission, save a few in Yellowstone National Park. The Reds were restored in 2001 and now run on propane to decrease emissions and keep the air pure.

Our guide Evelyn met us in front of the hotel. The day was chilly and a little bit overcast to begin with. Our guide had large blankets on each seat to cover up with and she keep the top covered until it began to warm up a bit, we were free to roll the windows down to take pictures if we wanted

We started our tour by going past the Swift Current Motor Inn to pickup a few more guests, Evelyn told us about the Inn, some of the nearby trails and wildife. We drove out of the Many Glacier area down along reservation land and down to the St. Mary entrance where our tour really began.

We got onto the Going to the Sun Road and our tour began going in the opposite direction than the way we drove the GTSR the day before. The sun was out and some of the haze of the wildfires had lifted and made photography a bit easier. I recommend driving the GTSR both ways if you have the time, you see different scenery in each direction and like I said the way the light moves around in the park can make for better/easier photography if you are not having much luck in one direction. 

We passed through the Rising Sun campground, which liked rather nice on our way to our first stop which was Wild Goose Island. Today the sun was out and made for some great pictures at the beautiful spot. 

Next we waited in a bit of traffic due to the repaving of the GTSR. We bypassed Jackson Glacier Overlook and went through the Siyeh Bend and pass Lunch Creek on our way to our next stop at Logan's Pass. Evelyn put the roof of the Red bus down so we could stand up and take pictures and get much better views. I really like the area around Logan's Pass, its vey dramatic looking and has quite a few good hiking trails in the area. We stopped for a brief time, just enough to take a few pictures before contuining on our way. 

We next passed through the beautiful Logan Valley where you can see Mt. Oberlin and some of the dramatic Highline Trail in the area. I was on the driver's side of the bus and got some good pictures of the valley from this side. 

We drove through the Oberlin Bend pullout but it is worth a stop, the views are fantastic! We saw the Triple Arches and continued onto our next stop Big Bend where the views are wonderful. Here you can see Heaven's Peak. Clemmen's, Cannon and Mt Oberlin in a dramtic view. 

Next we drove through the Weeping Wall which wasn't running very hard so the right side of the bus got a little sprinkling. We saw Haystack Falls and Bird Woman Falls as well. 

We drove through the Loop and past the Trail of the Cedars area in route to our next stop at Lake McDonald Lodge where we were free to have lunch. We opted to eat at Jammer Joe's Pizzeria figuring the buffet would be a good idea. There was plnty of seating and since it was buffet style you served yourself. They had breadsticks, pasta, salad, different varieties of pizza. The food was a bit pricey and it was ok but nothing to brag about, not really worth the price. 

After lunch we walked around inside the Lake McDonald hotel and outside to take pictures of Lake McDonald, the Red Bus and some ground squirrels who were playing around.

Once the group was assembled we continued in the opposite direction on the GTSR and stopped at the Sacred Dancing Cascades. We took a family picture inside the Red Bus and we onto our next stop at Haystack Falls. 

Next we made a longer stop at Logan's Pass where we saw a grizzly playing the meadows around the visitors center and a group of big horn sheep crossing the mountain. 

We continued on and stopped at Lunch Creek Falls, and finally at the St. Mary's vistors area. A quick storm began to roll in and change the lighting in the area very dramatically. It seems like quick storms pop uo very quickly in these mountains in the summer time. 

As we entered the Lake Sherburne area we stopped because traffic was very backed up. Sure enough the young blonde grizzly bear from the day before was playing along the side of the road. We stopped to watch him for a bit and get some pictures before we were dropped off at our hotel

I enjoyed our Red Bus tour, it was informative and it makes it much easier for you to relax and take in the scenery when you do not have to concern yourself with focusing on driving the narrow GTSR. 

Back at the hotel we relaxed on the back porch and watched the sunset over Swiftcurrent Lake before heading to bed for the night


Glacier National Park info:

Swift Current Motor Inn:

Going to the Sun Road:

Going to the Sun Road Pull Outs:

Red Bus Tours:

Red Bus History:
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