We arrived at the visitor center, which was not too crowded and as expected, 360 degree awesome views.
Lingering snow but not for long as the temperature was in the 70's and overnight lows around 50, up here. Annually, about 80' of snow falls, compared to 20' in Whitefish.
Should we retrace our drive, exiting the west entrance or go east and then around the park to Whitefish? A ranger told us, going east, it would take about an hour with a speed limit of 70 once out of the park. It would take us that long to return the way we came so let's check the east side!!!
Near the east side of the pass, the views are equally amazing.
This side too has a tunnel but also less traffic, wider road and much less serpentine.
The straighter road allowed me, now the driver, to also take a few swift glances to appreciate the surroundings.
Evidence of a fire from a few years ago was widespread.
We descended, passing a lake on our right. The views on this side are much less dramatic and interesting. We exited the park and....
....the scenery really changed, compared to the west side. The advice we received from the ranger was really bad. It would take us 2 hours to return to the other side of the park and for large chunks of the distance, the speed limit was 25mph!!!
However, as we headed west with the park boundary to our right, the views did improve and we even....
...passed a bear cub. We turned around, pulled alongside and took some pics, as did others until the bear headed back into the forest.
Almost home, we saw a helicopter drop a large bucket into water to return to one of the fires. For the most part, the fires are allowed to burn unless they begin moving toward towns, etc...