Visiting Polebridge Mercantile – Glacier National Park
Our final day of our Glacier National Park trip and our flight was not until very late so we really did have a full day. Since we would be checking out of the Airbnb, I left this day hike-less since we would not have access to a shower before flying. Instead, we took this day to explore the towns a but more in depth.
I had read (Adventures of A plus K) about a spot north of here called Polebridge Mercantile that offered famous huckleberry stuffed bear claws. Our huckleberry obsession was pretty far down the rabbit hole now so even though it was an hour plus drive away from Whitefish, we were in no rush and up for an adventure.
The GPS was not giving us the most fantastic directions. It took us all the way back to the Glacier National park West Glacier entrance which I thought did not feel right. Regardless, I am glad it did because we learned that Glacier National Park was closed due to reaching max capacity! Today (Tuesday after Labor Day) was the first day that reservations were not required to drive the Going to the Sun Road and it appears that people took advantage – we could not believe it was closed. So we could not drive that way even if we wanted to.
We turned around and headed on some sketchy one lane dirt roads – this certainly did not feel like the most efficient way to cover an hours’ worth of driving but options seemed to be limited with the spotty service. The dirty road continued on and off for miles until we reached a point where road maintenance was fully underway and the road dissolved into uneven surfaces and rocks. Driving on these roads extending our drive time quite a bit to reach Polebridge Mercantile… I just hoped it would be worth it!
At this point our service was out completely which meant simply staying on this road until we reached Polebridge Mercantile. There was a short line of cars behind us that I had to assume were going to the same place – there was literally nothing else out here! We noted a sign that we were only 22 miles away from the Canadian border. After an hour and a half journey, we found the sign we had been looking for and I have to say it looked just as I expected it to.
We pulled up to a fairly full lot and noted the red Polebridge Mercantile building – such an iconic look!
But what was surprising to us was there were several other establishments on the property to explore. We would save them for later – first was to get one of those bear claws. Inside the Mercantile was just as you would expect – a general store that offered a little bit of everything but with an extensive baked good section. We ordered a bear claw to split and scurried outside to eat it.
First off, these bear claws are enormous! I was glad we got one to split as it was so heavy. But after one bite, we immediately went in and bought another one. These things are amazing! The pastry is surprisingly light and melts in your mouth, there are whole huckleberries inside that meld a sweet and tart combination perfectly. We split this one and saved the second one for breakfast after our flight – and it did hold up very well with next day. Worth the drive? Oh yeah.
We walked around the property and noted a saloon styled brewery, food truck, a hostel and a ranch. With still no cell phone service, we learned that this tiny town of Polebridge has no electricity and runs completely off solar and generator power – crazy! Thought seems a bit inefficient for the amount of visitors they get here but I understand sticking the tradition. There was a big project that dramatically increased the number of solar panels that supply power to the town which feels much better than relying on sole generator power – eco friendly solar panels for the win!
Northern Lights Saloon next door offered beer and food so we opted to indulge – Kevin ordered a beer (which he enjoyed) and we split a chicken ranch wrap (which was also very good). The food truck nearby unfortunately was out of almost every item but that is another option as well.
Our plan from here was to visit Bowman Lake a half hour away. Unfortunately with no service, we had no idea how to get there. When we asked the staff, they indicated that Bowman Lake often closes due to capacity before 10AM but that down the road there is a ranger station that we could inquiry the status. A bit of a bummer (but not surprised given the entire Glacier National Park was closed due to capacity today), we walked down the road and noted two things: 1) A giant sign indicated that Bowman Lake was closed due to capacity 2) Flathead River Interpretive Trail.
Flathead River Interpretive Trail is a flat shorted guided trail that takes you down to the river. And even though it was so hot outside – way hotter than it should be this time of year – it did give us a pretty awesome photo.
Since we could not continue on to Bowman Lake, we started our return journey back to Whitefish. This was a great way for us to spend a few hours and was happy that we had this ind of time to enjoy visiting Polebridge.
DESKRIB Discovery – Do not have the time to visit Polebridge Mercantile on your Glacier National Park trip? Well, did we find a DESKRIB Discovery for you. Polebridge Mercantile were at the farmer’s market in Whitefish that we went to just a few hours later!
We had to laugh that we could have cut this entire journey out just to obtain a bear claw but I like to think the ones we had are better. That being said – if you want to try this delicious treat and many others and do not have the time to travel to Polebridge Mercantile, they bring the goodies to you are the Whitefish farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings. That all being said, I am still happy we visited the Mercantile location!