The headwaters of McDonald Creek can be found high in the towering mountains on the west side of Glacier National Park. Several small mountainside glacial streams feed this waterway uphill, so this creek can be a roaring whitewater river during the early summer snow melt season. As autumn approaches, McDonald Creek is as peaceful as can be. The lower elevations of this creek flatten out in the valleys near Avalanche and Lake McDonald and this heavily forested section is a haven for wildlife viewing. Kayaking and canoeing can be done in the lower elevations too, so this big mountain creek offers much more than just a pretty roadside view.
McDonald Creek parallels the Going To The Sun Road all the way up to the mountain crest headwaters. By following this famous touring route, there will be plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife feeding along the creek, which include the Grizzly Bears that this park is famous for. Bears sure do like fish, so it goes without saying McDonald Creek certainly is a haven for fly fishermen. All it takes is parking the car in a roadside lot, following the trail to the creek and putting the waders on to get into the trout fishing action. On any given day during the summers season, dozens of anglers can be seen near the honey holes in this long mountain creek and there sure are plenty of sweet spots!
Hiking the creekside trails along the Going To The Sun Road is what most visitors do in the lower elevations where McDonald Creek is as wide as a river. The wide creek acts as a buffer zone for the wildlife on the other side. The best wildlife photo opportunities occur early and late in the day, while the sunnier hours are better for landscape picture taking. Everything from waterfowl to deer, elk and moose can be seen along McDonald Creek. The bears definitely are what most visitors wish to photograph, but in reality the fewer bears that are seen, the safer the day will be.
There are plenty of waterfalls and cascades to view along McDonald Creek as it makes its way downhill. Where the creek flattens out before emptying into the big lake is where several picturesque turquoise blue pools of water can be seen. Some of these places have a viewing spot that takes hiking over a boulder obstacle course to access, but the effort will be worthwhile. McDonald Creek offers some dramatic one of a kind views, so be sure to tote a camera when hiking the trails.
Where McDonald Creek flows into Lake McDonald, there are a few roadside access spots that simply must be checked out. This area is a haven for waterfowl photographers and a landscape painter could spend all day in this picturesque place. West of the big lake, this creek continues downhill till it merges into the Middle Fork Flathead River, which offers many more miles of great fly fishing. McDonald Creek certainly is a world of adventure and it is a very cool place to be in Glacier National Park during the short but sweet summer season!
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