Glacier National Park – Year 2

One thing we found in Glacier that we did not have in Kentucky is huckleberries. These were new to us and did not take long to find out just how good they are. Karan is an excellent cook and can make almost anything. When we found out what huckleberries were we found out they make excellent pies. So, I went out thru areas of the park and picked a lot of huckleberries. She took them and made pies with them.

Another thing that is outside of Glacier is cherry orchards. One of my favorite foods is hot cherry pie. We bought several quarts of cherries and Karan made pies. Whenever we would see one of the enforcement rangers we would invite them to stop by our camper and have a piece of pie. The pies were so good that we had people stopping by on a regular basis to have some. Karan got a nickname in the park and was called the Pie Queen of Glacier. We enjoyed meeting everyone we could and got to know most all of the rangers and we did know all of the campground host on the west side of Glacier. The other campgrounds on this side were, Apgar, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Bowman Lake, Sprague Creek and Avalanche Creek.

As mentioned earlier, I carried a camera around my neck all of the time. One of the ways we made money while fulltiming. The magazine that I mentioned earlier, Montana Magazine, had sent me a list of photo’s they needed for the next month. One of the things they needed were photo’s of a local restaurant that was famous for making pies. I went to the restaurant and spoke with them and then took pictures of their pies in the display case they had for sale. When I got back to the camper I downloaded the pictures to a disk and sent them to the magazine hoping some or all would be picked to be published. Well in a few weeks they contacted me and said one of my pics was picked to be published. That was great, and easy $50 added to the account. When the magazine was published they would send all of the photographers a copy. We got it and opened it up to see my picture published and really got a shock. Somehow I had accidentally included a picture of one of Karan’s pies and that is the one they published. Her pies were really pretty pies with the crust on the top criss crossed across the pies. Since it was published I figured it was better to not say anything and just let it go.  That pie sure looked good.

Towards the end of the season I was called into the main office to see Chris, he was in charge of all of the campgrounds and rangers. When I went in I had no idea why but found out real soon that I had received a complaint on me. The complaint was that I was not in uniform correctly because I wore a camera around my neck and a camera was not part of the uniform. I was asked why I carried the camera and I told him how I would see a family having fun together and take their pictures, print them out and give them the picture to help remember their trip to Glacier National Park. He said that is what he thought because he had received several letters from visitors to the park thanking him for the great time that they had and for the family pictures that the campground host, me, had given them. He told me that I could continue to take pictures of the people like I was. I was then shocked when he gave me a couple packages of photo paper to print the pictures on and thanked me for promoting the goodwill in the park. By this time most of the other campground host called me flash, because of the camera I always had with me. I never did know who filed the complaint about me carrying the camera but never heard anything else about it.


We heard something about how a person could rent a firetower to camp in. That sounded like a really neat thing to do, sleep up in a firetower overlooking the mountains and forest. We checked into it and found out that Montana does rent out the towers to people. We checked our schedule and then made reservations for 2 nights in the tower. A new adventure for us but we enjoyed adventure and we never backed away from a chance to get some. Below is the official description of the Mission Lookout tower at Swan Lake, Mt. from their rental website.


Mission Lookout towers above the forest canopy, providing guests with unrivaled 360-degree views of the beautiful Swan Range, Mission Mountains and Swan Lake. The site served for 75 years as a fire detection tower, and the current lookout has been around since its construction in 1959.

The tower can be accessed by vehicle. A parking area is adjacent to the facility. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features:

At an elevation of approximately 3,700 feet, the cabin affords views of Flathead National Forest, including the Mission Mountains and Swan Lake.

A variety of wildlife make its home in the area.



Along with the spectacular scenery, the immediate area offers visitors an unlimited array of outdoor activities ranging from fishing and swimming at the nearby Swan Lake, to watching migratory waterfowl at the wildlife viewing area.

Hunting is also popular not far from the lookout. Shooting within 150 yards of the Lookout or from/across roads is prohibited.

A variety of hiking and mountain biking trails can be found in the area.


The 15-by-15 facility sits atop a 40-foot tower. It is equipped with a built-in double bed and two folding cots, to accommodate up to four adults. The lookout also has a propane cooking stove, simple cooking utensils and a table with four chairs. A modern vault toilet, picnic area and fire ring are located at the base of the tower.

No water or electricity is available. Guests should bring plenty of water, bedding, food, firewood, toiletries and a non-open flame light source, such as a battery-powered lantern, as candles are not allowed within the cabin. Click here for more cabin details.

Nearby Attractions:

The town of Swan Lake, about 15 minutes away, has a general store with limited groceries and a restaurant.

We went on the afternoon of our first night and drove up a 2 lane dirt road to the base of the tower. We had brought everything they recommended, a cooler with ice, water, food, bedding, toiletries and a battery powered light. Candles are not allowed in the tower. The hardest part was carrying all of the stuff up the stairs. It was beautiful up in the tower with a wonderful breeze blowing and views forever in every direction. As darkness came it was even more beautiful. It was then that we discovered the only bad part of staying way up in the sky. The bathroom was in the area at the base of the tower. I did bring a spotlight with me so we had light going down the steps to get to the outhouse.  Hoping now bear were in the area, we made it and took care of business with no problems.  We were then hoping we would not have to go down in the middle of the night.


There was a gate at the bottom of the steps that you lock after you come in and no one can come up until you go down and unlock it. We were told to lock the gate when we went up for the night. We were told that sometimes some undesirable people come up there that don’t belong there. Later that night we heard a vehicle coming up the road and I went out on the deck around the tower and watched. As they got close to my truck I shined the light down at them and they took off fast. Never heard anything else while we were there. Had a great time and want to do it again some day.

Another chapter in our life, more to come.



2 Replies to “Glacier National Park – Year 2”

  1. Hi there Jim and Karan, I love the tales you have include here. Here are some for you.

    Huckleberries – yes I lived in British Columbia for years and huckleberries were an annual picking event. The parents drew the line when we kids were picking one side of the bushes and the local bears were munching berries on the other side. Funnily enough there was never any problems. (Except for parent angst of course!)

    One year I was working in land reclamation on Vancouver Island. We were really in the wilds and as we were driving we saw a yearling bear with both back legs and one front hugging a hanging branch. With the other he was scraping loads of berries into his gaping mouth. His aim wasn’t very good so many were on the ground.

    I love the fire tower. We had very tall trees as towers in Australia and some have been maintained. I climbed the Gloucester Tree many, many years ago. I can’t put a link for you here but did put one on your WA profile page. Whoa was that climb tiring.

    And the pies – send one over. Cherry season is slowing approaching.

    So someone complained. All I can say is some people need to get a life.

    Nice presentation and informative post.

    Ps I have been to that neck of the woods as we lived north of Montana in Kimberley BC.


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