Glacier National Park 5: Wild Goose Island Overlook

Glacier SM10-721

Perhaps the most famous — and, alas, most photographed — vista in Glacier National Park is Wild Goose Island Overlook, is located just west of Rising Sun (around a ridge) on Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Depending on the weather, it can be hit and miss whether one gets a spectacular or merely an ordinary “nice” shot. During my last Glacier trip in September (2014), on my first morning at St. Mary, I drove out to the overlook to get some shots. But this was a cloudless morning, so I didn’t get much:

On the evening of the next day, I made another attempt at Wild Goose Island Overlook. There were a more clouds, but this time, there were too many, preventing enough color to occur when the sun dipped toward the horizon:

The next evening, I tried again, with even worse results:

I got a better shot looking south over St. Mary Lake:

Finally, on my last morning in St. Mary, I hit pay dirt. Plenty of clouds, but enough sun to light everything up in a spectacular way. Over St. Mary Lake, looking toward the east, it looked like this:

This was only the start of something very good. Looking over Wild Goose Island was a feast of color. It’s amazing how much more color you can get with the proper mixture of sun and clouds. No clouds, you get little if anything. All clouds, you get nothing. The right mixture, you get the following.

We start out with just a hint of color:

Then it starts getting better, as the clouds light up red and orange:

Then the colors spread from the clouds to the surrounding mountains and water:

And that, in a nutshell, is why Wild Goose Island is the most photographed spot in Glacier National Park (other than, of course, that it’s very easy to access: just step out of your car and start shooting!).