Glacier National Park- The Canadian Version

After a week in the gorgeous Canadian Rockies we made it safely back to the United States. We’ve been without a cell or data connection for about a week now, so needless to say I have a bit of catching up to do on the blog. In the last post I shared a bit about our trip from Washington into Canada where we stayed at a campground on the shores of Lake Okanagan in the city of Kelowna for two nights. It was a great first stop. We enjoyed hanging out in our communal space, and one day a group of us went on a wine tasting tour. Despite the good wine and yummy food that we enjoyed, I’ve decided to skip writing a post about our day of wine tasting because I am sooo much more excited to share the adventures we had in the mountains

(If you want to see some great photos from our day of wine tasting check out the post Laura from the Riveted blog wrote about the day, or the post Leigh from Aluminarium wrote).

Glacier National Park, BC
Wine country

After Kelowna we headed east to Glacier National Park– the Canadian version. The Glacier N.P. in Canada has no affiliation with the Glacier N. P. in Montana – except that it has the same stunning mountains, rivers and glacier views.

Glacier National Park, BC
On the road to Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, BC
As we drove into the campground the Illecillewaet Glacier came into view

The three campgrounds in Glacier all operate on a first-come-first serve basis. Arriving with 8 Airstreams in the middle of the afternoon with no reservations felt a little risky, but turned out to be not a problem at all. We chose the Illecillewaet Campground because it had the most sites. We easily found enough spots for all of us relatively close to one another. The campground was like a magical evergreen wonderland, thick with towering Hemlocks and spicy scented Cedar trees. Our site was very small and narrow, but it backed up to the fast moving Columbia River providing us with a through-the-trees view of the rushing river out our bedroom window.

Glacier National Park
Tucked in the trees
Glacier National Park, BC
The Columbia River
Glacier National Park, BC
100 year old bridge

The Illecillewaet Campground not only offers a gorgeous setting with tons of hiking trails, but also a bit of Canadian history. The Canadian Pacific Railroad once traveled through the campground site and in 1886 a grand hotel was built alongside the tracks. The Glacier House Hotel was later expanded in 1905 and 1911. Over the years it became a tourist destination whose high mountain environment also attracted climbers, naturalists and scientists. 

The popularity of Glacier House was short lived however. Due to the frequent avalanches that buried the tracks and killed a devastating 200 railroad employees in a span of 40 years, an alternative route for the railroad was devised. In 1916 the eight kilometer Connaught Tunnel opened and the railroad no longer passed by the Glacier House. The new tunnel was the demise of the hotel and it closed down in 1925. Now all that is left of the once grand building are some foundation stones and old boilers.

Glacier National Park, BC
Remains of the Glacier House Hotel site

After settling into our sites we all gathered for a group hike through the old hotel site and over to the river.

Glacier National Park, BC
Group hike
Glacier National Park, BC
Photo shoot on the bridge

Our second day in the park we split into smaller groups to tackle some different hikes. We chose to hike up the Great Glacier Trail with Leigh & Brian, and Laura, John & Bulleit, the fearless pup who took the lead.

Glacier National Park, BC
Forest hike

The hike started as an easy stroll through the lush forest.

Glacier National Park, BC
Lush forest and mountain views

About halfway up we emerged from the forest to an open ridge where we climbed up, up, up to rocky point for some lunch with a view.

Glacier National Park, BC
Glacier National Park, BC
Amazing lunch view

I got the impression that Glacier N.P. is one of the lesser visited parks in the Canadian Rockies. It certainly doesn’t have the fame associated with Banff or Jasper, but it was truly an incredible place to visit. The campground was gorgeous, the scenery stunning and the hiking opportunities vast. We loved our time there and hope to some day return for some further exploration.

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