When people think of Glacier National Park, the imposing peaks and expansive glaciers often come to mind. Yet, hidden within its fold, Cosley Lake emerges as an unsung hero of the park’s splendor. As spring melts into summer, the path to Cosley becomes a haven for trekkers and water enthusiasts alike. It’s a less-trodden route, with the lake’s secluded beauty presenting an alluring challenge. While it might not have the bustling popularity of other spots, those who dare the journey to Cosley Lake soon realize it is a journey that holds its own unique set of wonders and demands.

Getting to Glacier National Park

If you’re coming from the west, then you’re probably going to be driving on US Highway 2.

Things to See on the US Highway 2 Drive

Discover Leavenworth’s Bavarian Allure

As you drive through the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, the picturesque town of Leavenworth beckons. Imagine yourself in a European getaway without ever leaving the Pacific Northwest. Stroll through the town’s streets, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Bavarian postcard. Dive into boutique shops brimming with unique finds, treat yourself to hearty German meals, or simply soak in the festive atmosphere. If you’re here in December, you’re in for a treat; the whole town lights up in a festive glow, with the Christmas Lighting Festival promising memories you’ll cherish.

Stand in Awe of the Grand Coulee Dam

Continuing on US Highway 2, you’re about to witness human ingenuity at its finest at the Grand Coulee Dam. This mammoth structure stands as a testament to America’s enduring spirit. At the visitor center, immerse yourself in interactive exhibits that tell the tale of the dam’s inception and its enduring legacy. If you can, linger until dusk. The laser light show, with the dam as its canvas, is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Revel in the Serenity of Flathead Lake

Before the landscapes of Montana fully envelop you, take a breather at the pristine Flathead Lake. Its clear waters invite you to dip your toes, set sail, or embark on a kayak adventure. As you explore, the surrounding orchards might tempt you with their seasonal bounty. Nearby, the towns of Bigfork and Polson beckon with their local art scenes and vibrant markets. You might arrive as a passerby, but you’ll leave with a piece of Flathead’s tranquility in your heart.

Embrace the Charm of East Glacier Park Village

As you edge closer to the wonders of Glacier National Park, the cozy allure of East Glacier Park Village awaits. This isn’t just a pitstop; it’s your introduction to the grandeur ahead. Local lodges offer a sneak peek into the alpine experiences you’re about to delve into. Sample the culinary delights of the village’s eateries, ensuring you’re energized for the adventures that lie in wait. And if you have a moment to spare, the surrounding trails promise a taste of Montana’s untamed beauty.

Now if you’re coming from the east, US Highway 89 is probably what you’ll want to take.


Things to See on the US Highway 89 Drive

Immerse Yourself in the Heritage of Great Falls

Starting your journey on US Highway 89, one of the first notable stops is Great Falls. As you explore this Montana city, you’re not just walking through streets – you’re retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center offers a deep dive into their expedition, making history come alive before your eyes. And if you’re in the mood to experience nature firsthand, the city’s namesake, the Great Falls of the Missouri River, is a spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Experience the Frontier Spirit in Choteau

A bit further north, the charming town of Choteau awaits. If you’re a fan of prehistoric times, you’re in luck. Choteau boasts the Old Trail Museum, where dinosaur fossils unearthed from the region take center stage. And as you wander through town, you’ll quickly sense the strong frontier spirit that still thrives here, echoing Montana’s rich ranching heritage.

Relish the Seclusion of Dupuyer

As you continue along US Highway 89, the small town of Dupuyer offers a respite from the road. This isn’t your typical tourist spot, and that’s what makes it special. It’s a chance for you to experience Montana in its most authentic form. Perhaps you’ll stop by a local eatery or chat with some of the friendly locals. Either way, the simplicity and warmth of Dupuyer will undoubtedly leave an impression.

Embrace St. Mary: The Eastern Gateway to Glacier

Your journey on US Highway 89 culminates as you reach St. Mary, the eastern gateway to Glacier National Park. With awe-inspiring views of the park’s majestic peaks, St. Mary is the perfect place to gear up for the adventures ahead. Treat yourself to a hearty meal, take in the panoramic vistas, and maybe even catch a guided tour. As you gaze westward, you’ll know that the wonders of Glacier National Park are just a stone’s throw away, eagerly awaiting your exploration.

Parking near the Chief Mountain Trailhead

Parking an RV in the vicinity of Glacier National Park, especially near the northeastern entrance by the Chief Mountain Trailhead, requires some planning due to the park’s popularity and the rugged terrain. Here are a few options and considerations for RV parking in the area:

St. Mary Campground:

Located near the eastern entrance of the park, St. Mary is the largest campground on the east side and offers some sites that can accommodate RVs. However, it’s essential to check the length restrictions for individual sites as larger RVs might have difficulty.

Many Glacier Campground:

Situated a bit south of the Chief Mountain Trailhead, this campground also provides RV spaces, but again, be mindful of size restrictions and try to reserve your spot well in advance due to its popularity.

Chief Mountain Border Crossing:

Near the Chief Mountain Trailhead is a seasonal border crossing into Canada. There are some private RV campgrounds on the Canadian side not too far from the border, such as the Waterton Springs Campground. If you’re considering this option, ensure you have the necessary documentation for border crossing and check the operation hours for the port of entry.

Private RV Parks and Campgrounds:

Outside of the national park boundaries, several private campgrounds and RV parks cater to visitors. Johnson’s of St. Mary and Chewing Blackbones Campground & RV Park are two options in the St. Mary area.

General Tips:

  • Reservations: Especially during peak season, campgrounds in and around Glacier National Park fill up quickly. Whenever possible, make a reservation in advance.
  • Park Shuttle: Consider parking your RV at your campground and using the park’s shuttle service to explore. It can reduce the hassle of finding parking at popular trailheads.
  • RV Size: Many roads in Glacier National Park, like the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, have vehicle length restrictions. If you’re traveling with a larger RV, plan your route carefully.

Services and Amenities:

Remember, some campgrounds, especially within the park, offer limited services. Ensure you have necessary supplies and know where to find dump stations and refilling facilities.
Before you go, it’s a good idea to check the official Glacier National Park website or contact the park directly for the latest information on RV accommodations, road conditions, and any other travel advisories.

Belly River Trail to Cosley Lake: What Awaits You

Trail Beginnings at Chief Mountain Customs:

Your journey commences at the Chief Mountain Customs trailhead, starting at a relatively high elevation. The trail gradually descends, providing a gentle introduction. As you embark on your trek, the magnificent sight of Chief Mountain stands as a sentinel, signaling the grandeur of the journey ahead.

The Dense Forest Canopy:

As you move further along, you’ll find yourself enveloped by a dense coniferous forest. The verdant surroundings, punctuated by the melodious chirping of birds and the distant murmur of water, provide a serene backdrop for the trek. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some local wildlife, but always maintain a respectful distance.

Crossing Belly River:

One of the trail’s iconic points is the crossing of the Belly River itself. Depending on the season and recent rainfall, the river’s flow can vary. Early in the trekking season, expect snowmelt to make the water levels higher. Always use caution during crossings, and it might be a good idea to pack water shoes or sandals for this part.

The Expansive Belly River Valley:

Post the river crossing, the trail opens up to showcase the vast and lush Belly River Valley. This section provides sweeping views of the meadows, with the distant mountains forming a dramatic backdrop. Wildflowers, if you’re trekking during the right season, can carpet the landscape in a riot of colors.

Arrival at Cosley Lake:

The culmination of this portion of the trail is your arrival at Cosley Lake. This serene body of water, framed by towering peaks, offers a perfect spot for rest and reflection. If you’re planning to camp, there are designated campsites around the lake, ensuring you wake up to a view worth every step of the journey.

General Considerations:

  • Trail Length:
    The trek from Chief Mountain Customs to Cosley Lake covers approximately 8-9 miles, making it manageable for many trekkers but long enough to require proper preparation.
  • Wildlife Awareness:
    This area is bear country. Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and practice proper food storage. It’s also possible to see other wildlife like moose and elk.
  • Trail Conditions:
    Depending on the time of year, parts of the trail can be muddy or snow-covered. Always check current trail conditions before heading out.
  • Camping:
    If you plan to camp at Cosley Lake or anywhere in the backcountry, remember to obtain the necessary permits from Glacier National Park’s backcountry office.

The RV Advantage for Your Glacier National Park Adventure

Opting for an RV on your journey to Glacier National Park isn’t just about convenience; it’s about crafting a holistic experience. With an RV, you carry a slice of home with you, allowing you to soak in the park’s splendors by day and retreat to familiar comforts by night. Every sunrise viewed from your mobile abode offers a promise of the day’s adventures, and every sunset is a backdrop to shared stories and meals. Parking amidst nature, you’re not confined to the schedule of hotel check-ins or check-outs, granting you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Whether it’s a spontaneous decision to stargaze or a leisurely morning overlooking a pristine valley, an RV adds flexibility and intimacy to your Glacier National Park escapade, turning the trip into a cherished memory crafted on your terms. For those wanting both an RV and a team you can count on, you’ll want to pick out one of our professionally maintained RVs to make your trip one to remember.