Secrets of the National Parks
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Glacier National Park, Montana
The setting: Glacier National Park is a stunning million-acre forest carved by ancient glaciers, the remnants of which are still visible—but quickly disappearing.
The inside scoop: Woody and Betsy Cox fulfilled their dreams when they retired to nearby Whitefish in 2002 and bought a B&B. They like to take a bottle of wine and head out on the Avalanche Lake trail (pictured), which meanders for about two miles beside a trickling stream and ends with a heart-stopping view of waterfalls emptying into the crystal-clear lake.
Plan B: Enter the park from the eastern border, which is far less touristed than the west, and visit the Many Glacier area. Here you can hike to Grinnell, one of the park's few remaining glaciers, and sit on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, surrounded by mountains.
Money-saving tip: Rooms at the Coxes' B&B, the Good Medicine Lodge, start at just $100—and that includes a hearty, home-cooked breakfast.
When to go: The park is open from mid-June until the first snowfall, usually in October, but planning a trip on either edge of the season is a gamble with the weather gods. The last week of August and first of September typically see warm temperatures yet fewer crowds.