To me Glacier National Park in northern Montana means a land of high-mountain adventure. The first time I saw this pristine rugged high country was in the mid – 70’s soon after I moved to Bozeman.
Its’ magnificence overwhelmed my senses sending my spirits high.
Towering mountain ranges with carved sculptured glacial valleys and clear lakes that reflected the mountains and Montana’s big blue sky were inspiring.
Glacier encompasses 1.4 million acres of wilderness with more than 730 miles of hiking trails and some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the world. It all results in making Glacier one of the most intact ecosystems in North America.
What was impressive to me was the isolation I felt and the spacial sensations of being on a mountain top seeing for hundreds of miles in all directions. Lasting impressions for the adventurous.
This glacier carved region is full of history. Many miles of hiking trails follow routes first used by mountain men and fur trappers in the early 1800’s. Before that several different tribes inhabited the area.
The Blackfeet Indians controlled the vast prairies east of the mountainous divide. Kootenai and Salish Indians lived and hunted in the forested western valleys. They also traveled east into the prairielands to hunt buffalo.
Today the Blackfeet Reservation is attached to the east side of the park. The Salish and Kootenai reservation is southwest of Glacier. It is easy to see why this entire region of Montana continues to be of great spiritual importance to the Kootenai, Blackfeet and Salish native American people.
Through the middle of this extensive wilderness is the spectacular Going to the Sun Highway, a 55 mile road bisecting the park. It is a driving experience to remember as the highway follows along the shores of the Park’s two largest lakes, McDonald and St. Mary. The narrow roadway hugs the steep cliffs that run on both sides of the Continental Divide, traversing Logan Pass.
Going to the Sun is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most scenic byways in North America. Sharp switchbacks, a narrow thoroughfare and incredible panoramas at every turn make it hard for drivers to pay attention to where they are going.
Filled with all kinds of cool geologic names like hanging valleys, moraines, cirques, horns and arêtes produced by the carving and scraping action of glaciers the Park’s landforms are intriguing and they make you want to explore every inch for your own personal discovery.
Getting off road onto its trails is what Glacier is all about. It truly is a hiker’s paradise. My first backcountry experience there was a simple trek along Red Eagle Creek to the Lake, around 7.5 miles.
My equipment was rudimentary and the trail had only a 300 foot elevation gain but the night was filled with brilliant stars and that awesome wilderness silence.
I was humbled and I vowed to spend as much time as possible experiencing this Park’s wonderment.
Now many years later and more than a hundred miles of backcountry trekking under my boots I have some stories to share.
I plan on writing a series of posts on Glacier’s hiking trails bringing some descriptive adventures to my readers with photographic illustrations of fine art Giclee print examples designed and used for dramatic wall décor displays.
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For more information and resources on Glacier National Park try these sites:
Web cams: http://www.nps.gov/glac/whatsnew.htm
Natural resources: http://www.nps.gov/glac/resources.htm
Trail status and maps: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm
Bear information: http://www.nps.gov/glac/resources/bears.htm
Park publications: http://data2.itc.nps.gov/glac/inforequest/inforequest3.cfm
Park news: http://www.nps.gov/glac/pphtml/news.html
Park photos: http://www.nps.gov/glac/photos.htm
Frequently ask questions: http://www.nps.gov/glac/faq.htm
All images are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, 2009, All Rights Reserved. No image may be linked to or downloaded without the express written consent and rights authorization of Wayne Scherr at Range of Vision Photography. Images are available for purchase or lease for publication and print. Please contact me through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org