Thursday, November 29, 2012

Avalanche Danger, Risk Management, and How Did Things Go Wrong?

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will present a “special topics” avalanche safety program on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Avalanche specialist Stan Bones will lead a discussion concerning avalanche risk management and decision making using the three fatal avalanche incidents that occurred last season on the Flathead National Forest as case studies.

Stan says, “Each and every fatal avalanche incident is a unique and sadly tragic event. If we fail to study and learn from what happened in the incident however, they become even larger tragedies and losses as we are destined to repeat them. And this even further cheapens and makes futile the initial loss of life.” The discussion will be held December 4th from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Flathead National Forest Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, in Kalispell.

In addition to the special topics presentation, the FAC is hosting an Advanced Avalanche Awareness class which is a free course and open to the public. No registration is needed. The 2013 classroom sessions will also be held at the Flathead National Forest office in Kalispell from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the following days:

Monday January 7th
Wednesday January 9th
Monday January 14th
Wednesday January 16th

The two field Sessions will be held at the Whitefish Mountain Resort from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the following days:

Saturday January 12th
Saturday January 19th

For additional information on avalanche education classes and avalanche conditions, please visit the new Flathead Avalanche Center website. You can also sign up to follow the center on Twitter. Avalanche advisories will start December 8th if conditions allow. The phone number to call for recorded avalanche advisories remains the same: 406-257-8402.

For additional information please contact FAC coordinator Tony Willits at 406-837-7546.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear

You know who the boss is, but this black bear seems to be taunting his larger cousin. This footage was taken along the David Thompson Highway in Alberta, Canada this past summer:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Montana Wild To Screen "Where The Yellowstone Goes"

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will host a free screening of the outdoor film Where the Yellowstone Goes in Helena at Montana Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave., next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West. The film will be shown on Tuesday, December 18th at 7 p.m.

The critically acclaimed, 88-minute film focuses on a soul-searching and inspirational 30-day drift boat journey down the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States. Connect with colorful characters, get lost in the hypnotic cast of a fly rod, and savor silhouetted moments of fireside stories on this heartfelt river adventure.

For more information call Montana Wild at 406-444-9944, Below is the official trailer from the movie:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Grizzly Bear Shot And Killed In Grand Tetons

NPS Digest is reporting that a party of three hunters participating in the park’s elk reduction program encountered, shot and killed an adult male grizzly bear around 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day morning. The bear reportedly charged the hunting party, which was comprised of three men from Wyoming. None of the hunters was injured.

The incident occurred along the east side of the Snake River between Schwabachers Landing and Teton Point Overlook. A team of law enforcement rangers, park biologists and park science and resource management personnel are conducting an investigation into the incident. A cow elk carcass was discovered near the incident location. A half-mile area closure around the carcass is in effect until further notice.

This was the 51st known or probable incident of a grizzly bear mortality in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem this year, according to a tally maintained by the interagency grizzly bear study team. In recent years, an average of about a third of all grizzly bear mortalities are hunting related. This is the first hunter-caused bear death in Grand Teton National Park. Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 26, 2012

Montana Wild To Showcase Glacier's Top 10 Backpack Trips

A free program on the top 10 backpacking trips in Glacier National Park is scheduled for December 6th in Helena at Montana Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave., next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West.

The event, sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Glacier National Park, will feature Interpretive Ranger Lynne Dixon.

Dixon has planned numerous backcountry trips for Glacier National Park visitors and has experienced each of the top 10 backpack trips herself. She'll explain how to use the park's reservation system to help guarantee a place in the backcountry and she'll offer detailed descriptions of each hike.

The 90-minute program begins at 6 p.m. and will cover family friendly overnight trips as well as week-long strenuous adventures. For information call Montana Wild at 406-444-9944.

If your idea of spending a day in Glacier's backcountry excludes carrying a tent and sleeping bag, check out my list of the top 10 day hikes in Glacier National Park.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Help Support This Season

As you do your Christmas and Holiday shopping this season, please keep in mind that you can help support by shopping from our Amazon affiliate program. By clicking on the AD below (or any Amazon AD on our website) you receive the exact same low prices and great service that you would receive if you went directly to the Amazon home page:

Thanks again for all you support - we really appreciate it!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Discover the Joys of Winter Hiking

Many hikers tend to run from the woods as soon as the first snow flakes begin to fall. However, winter is great time to hit the trail. Not only are the crowds gone, but many parks show off their true beauty after a fresh snowfall. With just a little more attention to detail beforehand, anyone can have a safe and enjoyable hike during the winter.

Although it might feel quite frigid at the trailhead, your body will begin generating plenty of heat after just 10 or 15 minutes of walking. The best thing you can do to keep the cold out is to dress in layers: a base layer that wicks moisture off your body, a fleece jacket for insulating warmth, and a shell to keep you dry and to keep the wind from penetrating your core. Most importantly, dressing in layers allows you to adjust your attire as you heat-up or cool-off. When dressing for a winter hike, always remember the adage: cotton kills! Never wear anything made of cotton while hiking in the backcountry. Once wet, cotton no longer insulates you from the cold. Moreover, it wicks heat away from your body and puts you at risk of becoming hypothermic.

Some people are prone to cold feet in the winter. One of the keys to keeping your feet warm is to make sure they stay dry. Wear a good pair of hiking socks, made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics, that wick moisture away from your skin, retain heat when wet, and dry faster if they become wet. I always keep an extra pair in my pack in case the ones I’m wearing do get wet. (Expert Advice: How to Choose Socks) You should also wear above-the-ankle hiking boots which help to keep snow away from your feet. You may want to consider wearing gaiters, especially if there are several inches of snow on the ground.

To round-out your winter apparel, don’t forget about a good pair of gloves, a ski cap and maybe even a balaclava.

If the snow is too deep in the mountains, consider hiking at lower elevations, or even wearing snowshoes. If you expect a lot of ice, especially in areas where there might be steep drop-offs, consider bringing crampons specifically made for hiking. These are sometimes referred to as traction devices, or in-step crampons, which you can either strap-on or slide onto your boots.

Trekking poles are another excellent choice for helping to maintain your balance on sections of trail with slick ice and snow.

After outfitting yourself with the proper winter gear, hikers will then need to focus on staying hydrated and properly fueled while out on the trail. Hiking in the cold, especially in snow, burns more calories. By some estimates, hikers can burn as much as 50% more calories when compared to similar distances and terrain in the summer. By not consuming enough calories while on the trail you become prone to getting cold faster. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks with you to munch on periodically throughout your hike. Watch out for foods that can freeze solid, such as some power bars. Or, instead of storing in your backpack, put some snacks inside your fleece jacket. Your body should generate enough heat to prevent them from freezing.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it can actually be easier to experience dehydration in the winter, versus hiking in the summer. Dehydration can occur faster in cold weather because the air is much drier. Moreover, dehydration can be dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure you bring plenty of liquids with you, and drink often while on the trail.

If you’re storing water bottles in your backpack during a very cold day, you may need to insulate them to prevent them from freezing. An old wool sock will work in this case. Also, you may want to turn the bottle upside down to prevent the water from freezing at the neck. If you plan to be out for several hours, consider bringing a thermos containing a hot drink, or even soup.

Other winter hazards hikers need to be aware of include hiking in steep terrain that’s prone to avalanches, or a storm that covers the trail with fresh snow, thus making navigation difficult. You should always carry a topographical map and a compass with you in case you ever need help finding your way back to the trailhead if you were to become lost.

Other gear to bring with you includes a first aid kit, firestarter, waterproof matches, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and maybe even a bivy sack.

Finally, let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time.

With a little care and preparation up front, anyone can discover the joys of winter hiking.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sectional Trail Maps for Glacier National Park

National Geographic now publishes a total of four Trails Illustrated Maps for Glacier National Park. The original map (map 215) encompasses both Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.

For much greater detail, National Geographic also publishes three sectional maps: Many Glacier, Two Medicine and North Fork. The original map has a scale 1:100,000, however, the three new sectional maps have a scale of 1:50,000, and provide much greater detail such as backcountry campsite locations, footbridges, fords/stream crossings, points-of-interests, shuttle stops, nature/interpretive trails, as well as water and snow hazard locations.

Many Glacier Sectional Map:

The Many Glacier Map (map 314) includes: the Many Glacier area, Cracker Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Goat Haunt, Belly River, Upper Kintla Lake, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and more.

North Fork Sectional Map:

The North Fork Map (map 313) includes: Lake McDonald, Apgar, Avalanche Basin, Sperry Chalet, Kintla Lake, Bowman Lake, Waterton Lake, Flathead River, Pacific Northwest Trail, National Park Headquarters, and more.

Two Medicine Sectional Map:The Two Medicine Map (map 315) includes: Cobalt Lake, Dawson Pass, Logan Pass, Piegan Pass, St. Mary Lake, The Loop, Cut Bank, and more.

If you're looking to purchase all three sectional maps you're much better off purchasing the three-map bundle pack, which provides a fairly steep discount.

The Nat Geo maps provide far more information and detail than the official national park map. Additionally, all Trails Illustrated Maps are waterproof and tear-resistant.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fee Free Days Announced for Glacier National Park

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced dates in 2013 when more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal lands will offer free admittance to everyone.

“Our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and other public lands offer every American a place to get outdoors, learn about our nation’s history and culture, and restore our spirits,” Salazar said. “By providing free admission, we are rolling out the welcome mat for Americans to visit and enjoy these extraordinary treasures that belong to all of us.”

Tourism and outdoor recreation tied to public lands are powerful economic engines in communities across the country. Recreation on federal lands provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy in 2009. Each year, over 280 million national park visitors pump $31 billion into local economies, supporting 258,000 jobs.

The Fee Free Days in 2013 include:

* January 21: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

* April 22-26: National Park Week

* August 25: National Park Service Birthday

* September 28: National Public Lands Day

* November 9-11: Veterans Day weekend

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Last week we announced the launch of our brand new hiking website for Rocky Mountain National Park. Today I wanted to offer you my top 10 hikes in case you're considering a visit to this beautiful national park in Colorado. If you're unfamiliar with the park, I think you'll find this list to be a helpful guide as you make your plans.

Hallett Peak - For those that feel that Longs Peak is just a little too hard, or maybe too dangerous, Hallett Peak just might be the perfect mountain to satisfy your big mountain, “summit fever”. Reaching a height of 12,713 feet, the mountain provides a great opportunity to feel like you’re on top of the Rockies, without being exposed to dangerous drop-offs

Chasm Lake - Hands down this is the best lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to outstanding panoramic views on the way up, you’ll have a front row view of the famous “Diamond”, the east-facing wall of Longs Peak which rises more than 2,400 feet above this incredibly beautiful alpine lake.

Emerald Lake - The hike to Emerald Lake takes you deep into the Tyndall Gorge, and visits three other beautiful subalpine lakes along the way. Although Bear Lake and Dream Lake are nice stops, Emerald Lake is the true gem in this chain of lakes fed by the Tyndall Glacier.

Ute Trail - Want great panoramic views without having to climb a lot of altitude? The Ute Trail is the perfect choice. This relatively flat hike along Tombstone Ridge offers hikers the chance to explore the alpine tundra zone, while soaking in the outstanding views of Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park and Estes Park.

Sky Pond - Surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff walls, Sky Pond offers hikers a dramatic scene. What makes this hike a RMNP classic is that you’ll visit two waterfalls and two other stunning lakes along the way. However, the scramble next to Timberline Falls to reach the basin may present a challenge for people with a fear of heights.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake TH - As a result of Rocky Mountain National Park’s excellent shuttle system, hikers have the option of taking the spectacular one-way hike from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead in Moraine Park. Along the way you’ll visit four magnificent lakes, a 60-foot waterfall, plus you’ll make the spectacular descent into the Odessa Gorge.

Lake Helene - Although Lake Helene is denoted on the official park map, the side trail leading to its shore isn’t marked with a trail sign. Don’t let this deter you - this is one of the most scenic lakes in the park.

Bluebird Lake - This is another hike that offers several attractions along the way, including three waterfalls. Bluebird Lake, which fills a deep cirque beneath Ouzel Peak along the Continental Divide, is the star attraction.

The Keyhole on Longs Peak - This hike should probably rank higher, but I had to take it down a few notches due to its level of difficulty. In terms of distance and elevation gain, this is a very difficult hike. The terrain - crossing the Boulder Field and then making the scramble up to the Keyhole - makes this an extremely difficult hike, and is likely the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. However, the payoff is quite large. The views along the way, as well as from the Keyhole itself, are simply amazing.

Lake Haiyaha - Lying in the heart of Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha offers a stunning vista of the surrounding area. From its rugged shore hikers will have outstanding views of Otis Peak and Hallett Peak.

If you think most of these hikes are too long, or maybe too strenuous, check out my list of the Best Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Are Threats of Budget Cuts Closing National Parks Overblown?

A lot is being made recently on how Congressional budget cuts could possibly close several national parks around the country. Earlier in the month, Craig Obey, Senior Vice President for the National Parks Conservation Association, published this statement on the NPCA website:
“With looming closures throughout the national park system if scheduled cuts occur in January through the budgetary sequester, we are encouraged to hear President Obama and congressional leaders focusing on the necessity of a balanced approach to addressing the federal deficit. In fact, the first leg of that stool was the Budget Control Act, which already cut significant funds for national parks and other worthwhile programs. It is time for our leaders to bring more balance to the equation.

“If Congress fails to find a solution by January, more than $200 million dollars could be cut from the National Park Service budget, which would likely close visitor centers and campgrounds, and could put as many as 9,000 rangers and other park employees out of a job. These cuts could close as many as 200 park sites across the country.

“According to a recent poll, 92 percent of Americans believe funding for national parks should either remain steady or be increased. Sequester or not, our national parks will face a tough decade ahead. They cannot afford additional cuts after two consecutive years of cuts and a budget in today’s dollars that is 15 percent less than it was a decade ago.

“America’s 398 national parks – from the Statue of Liberty to Yellowstone’s geysers, to the magnificent Grand Canyon – are treasured places that tell the stories of our country’s shared heritage, drawing tourists, and tourist dollars from throughout the world. We call on the President and Congress to find a balanced approach that doesn’t mindlessly cut national parks, which generate more than $30 billion in economic activity each year.”
I'm going to have to take the contrarian view here, and say that these fears are simply overblown. Whenever the idea is floated that parks could be closed due to budget cuts, it conjures up images of the Great Smoky Mountains or Glacier National Park being shut down. In reality, those headlines are referring to national park units that most people have never heard of, such as Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in Texas, or River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Michigan. The cynical side of me thinks that these assertions are meant to scare people into coughing up more of their tax dollars.

Right now there are 398 national park units, which include national parks, monuments, battlefields, lakeshores, seashores, historic sites, etc. Based on the current budget shortfalls within the National Park Service - even before the proposed cuts - it's pretty obvious that the NPS has over-extended itself. From my perch it's clear that the NPS has taken on responsibilities for far too many properties beyond the scope of their charter.

Wouldn't it be better if the federal government sold parks such as Devils Postpile National Monument, or Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, back to the states to be managed under state park systems? Or, what if some parks, such as Weir Farm National Historic Site, or Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, were sold to private entities - with certain stipulations - and run as for-profit organizations, or maybe even as a non-profit foundation, similar to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello?

In my view, this would allow the NPS to concentrate its limited resources on running the parks and monuments that deserve national recognition and preservation, more efficiently.

What are your thoughts?

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Comment Period Extended On Proposed New Cell Tower for Yellowstone's Lake Area

The National Park Service (NPS) is extending the public comment period on a proposal by Verizon Wireless to construct a cell phone tower to serve the Lake and Fishing Bridge areas of Yellowstone National Park.

The public comment period is being extended for an additional 30 days, until December 17, 2012.

The proposed 100 foot tall gray steel lattice tower and accompanying ground facilities would be erected at an existing utility site, next to existing telephone and electric lines.

Information relating to the proposal, including documentation regarding compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found online at

Written comments may be submitted through the web site, in person or by mail to Compliance Office, Attention: Lake Cell Tower Proposal, National Park Service, and P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail, and submitted responses may be made publicly available at any time.

The Lake area is the only location in the park where construction of a new cell tower was permitted under the park's Wireless Communications Services Plan Environmental Assessment (Wireless Plan EA).

Comments will be reviewed by the NPS prior to approving a right-of-way permit for the facility. If the right-of-way permit is approved, construction would begin in early 2013.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glacier National Park Superintendent Cartwright to Retire

After 40 years of government service, Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright has announced his retirement, effective at the end December.

Cartwright joined Glacier National Park in the spring of 2008 and has been responsible for the management of over 1 million acres, a staff of approximately 130 permanent and 360 seasonal employees and numerous volunteers, an annual operating budget of almost $14 million, and partnership with four park partners, concessionaires, Blackfeet and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, landowners within the park, and local and regional communities and businesses.

Cartwright said he will miss the relationships and all the people that have been part of his job for the past 4½ years. "I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, internally and externally, that have a passion for Glacier National Park," said Cartwright. He has been especially impressed with the employees that care for it on a daily basis, as well as the many partners and neighbors that are actively involved.

Some of his highlights during his tenure at Glacier National Park include the resolution of mining issues in the North Fork, progress on the Going-to-the-Sun Road rehabilitation, leadership of the Flathead Basin Commission and the pro-active response to aquatic invasive species (AIS) and protecting the region's water, and the merger of park partners in an effort to grow private support and provide a more seamless way of connecting others with the park.

Cartwright said, "It has been an honor to be involved with public land management and public service for the past 40 years. I've enjoyed my career and protecting many of the nation's special places."

His career with the National Park Service has included superintendent positions at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota, and Hovenweep National Monument in Utah and Colorado. He held acting superintendent positions at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and National Bridges National Monument in Utah. He also served as the Associate to the Deputy Director of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.

Cartwright began his career with the National Park Service at Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and Natural Bridges National Monument as the group's first permanent archaeologist. Prior to joining the National Park Service, he worked for the Bureau of Land Management as an archaeologist and the US Forest Service as a fire lookout, river ranger and firefighter.

After graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology in 1972, Cartwright traveled west to begin his career in public land management

He is an avid athlete who regularly bikes, skis, swims, hikes and kayaks. He says working for the National Park Service has been a great way to explore some of our country's greatest outdoor areas. "Getting out and interacting with employees, partners and visitors on the trail has been a priority for me," said Cartwright.

Cartwright and his wife Lynda plan to stay in the Flathead Valley and continue exploring and enjoying the many outdoor recreational activities.

A reception to honor Cartwright is planned for Thursday, December 13, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Glacier's Community Building in West Glacier. For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact Connie Stahr at 406-888-7901.

It is unknown at this time who will serve in the interim as Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent until the position is filled.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Guided Snowshoe Walks Offered Again in Glacier

Glacier National Park has announced that the popular guided snowshoe walks will again be offered during the upcoming 2013 winter season.

Walks are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays from January 13 through mid-March, 2013. The walks will depart from the Apgar Visitor Center. Snowshoe rental is available at the Apgar Visitor Center or in the Flathead Valley adjacent to the park. Participants are urged to call the Visitor Center on the weekends after 9:00 am to find out if conditions will permit the walk, 406-888-7939.

Skiing and Snowshoeing: There are several ski and snowshoe trails that can be accessed throughout Glacier. Click here for more information, trail maps and current avalanche conditions.

Other Winter Travel Information:
Vehicle access is more limited during the winter as Apgar Village, 11 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the west side, and a mile and a half on the east side are the only roads maintained in the winter. Check the Current Road Status to find out which roads are open for vehicle travel.

For road conditions outside of the park, please visit the Montana Department of Transportation Road Conditions Report.

Auto camping is available at the Apgar Picnic Area and St. Mary Campground. There is no charge for camping in the winter. A free backcountry permit is required to camp in the backcountry and available on both sides of the park. Please call ahead to find out the most convenient location to obtain your permit, 406.888.7800.

Additional visitor information can be obtained in person at Headquarters (Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, except holidays) and Apgar Visitor Center (open weekends from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm), or by phone at 406.888.7800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brand New Trail Website for Rocky Mountain National Park

Today I’m proud to announce the official launch of our brand new hiking website for Rocky Mountain National Park. The new site provides details on more than 70 hikes in RMNP, and is organized similarly to our and websites. The URL for the new site is:

In addition to being a great source for trail information, we designed the site to be an excellent tool for vacation planning as well. We’ve included a lot of RMNP travel information that will be helpful while planning a vacation.

Even if you have no plans on traveling to RMNP, I hope that maybe you’ll enjoy some of the photographs on the site.

If you know of anyone planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, or any hikers in general that might be interested, please feel free to forward the website onto them.

The new website is organized in several directories to help hikers find the trails they want to hike. We have an alphabetic listing, trails listed by difficulty rating, by trail feature, and by location within the park. We also provide a directory of classic Colorado hikes outside of the park.

Thanks again for all of your support. Also, we would love to hear any feedback you might have:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 12, 2012

Goats and Sheep

As you're probably already aware, Glacier National Park is an excellent place to see wildlife. Many people visit the park in the hopes of seeing a bear, especially a grizzly bear (at least from the safety of their car!). But Glacier is also home to Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats. Here are two short videos featuring these iconic animals. The first is from CBS Sunday Morning:

The second video was taken from the Highline Trail in 2007:

For a list of some of the best trails for spotting wildlife in Glacier, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Within Two Worlds

Below is an absolutely stunning timelapse video from the Pacific Crest Trail by Brad Goldpaint. Brad's videos have been featured on NASA, National Geographic Magazine, Popular Science and MSNBC, among other media outlets.

Here's how he describes the video on his website:

"Within Two Worlds depicts an alternate perspective by giving us the illusion of times movement, signifying a beginning and end within a world of constant contradiction. It appears you are traveling in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, and touching the arch connecting heaven and earth."

Within Two Worlds from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.

By the way, later this week, I'll be making a big announcement that hikers and national park lovers should be interested in. Stay tuned!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flathead Avalanche Center to Launch New Website

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will launch a new website on November 16th, 2012, to provide information on avalanche conditions and avalanche education opportunities. The website will launch with basic information, but will evolve to be responsive to the public’s needs. In addition to a new website, there is also a FAC Twitter feed which people can follow to receive immediate updates and notifications. The center will begin issuing advisories on December 8th unless there is not enough snow or conditions dictate a need to start earlier.

The new FAC website is part of an ongoing reorganization of the Flathead National Forest’s (FNF) avalanche program. FNF Snow and Avalanche Specialist Tony Willits is the center’s coordinator. Willits says “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead as we try to provide quality information and education so recreationist can make good choices.”

The FAC is also increasing the number of weekly advisories from two to three, which will now include a Saturday advisory in addition to the Tuesday and Friday advisories. The advisories will cover the prominent ranges in the Flathead and Kootenai national forests and some portions of Glacier National Park.

The new FAC website address is, and you can follow the FAC Twitter feed at The phone number to call for recorded avalanche advisories remains the same: 406-257-8402.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 9, 2012

Glacier Institute Wins $20,000 award from Tom’s Of Maine

Thousands of voters across the nation recently voted in Tom's of Maine's "50 States for Good" program with just the click of a mouse. From a pool of 51 finalists, public voting determined the six winning nonprofits that will share $150,000 in funding to support grassroots projects dedicated to healthy, human and environmental goodness. From serving the homeless and renovating play areas to building sustainable summit trails and providing alternative energy education, all winning organizations demonstrate the heart and determination of community nonprofit organizations to inspire lasting change in their communities.

Tom's of Maine, a leading natural products company focused on oral and personal care, encouraged all qualifying nonprofit organizations to apply for the program. Applications were then narrowed down to 20 finalists by a panel of judges based on the number of volunteers mobilized by the project, and number of people positively impacted. A month-long online vote starting in September determined the six winning organizations.

Among those winners was the Glacier Institute in Kalispell, MT. The Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, located off the power grid in the beautiful Flathead National Forest, hosts thousands of elementary school children annually. Funding from Tom's of Maine will allow Glacier Institute to install solar panels, a wind turbine and a battery back-up system at its educational site as well as create a new curriculum to educate all course attendees as part of its "Alternative Energy Surrounds Us!" program.

For more information on the other winners, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fisheries Restoration Efforts Remove 300,000 Non-native Lake Trout in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park removed more than 300,000 lake trout in 2012, bringing the total to more than 1.1 million of the non-native fish removed from Yellowstone Lake since they were first discovered in 1994.

The Yellowstone cutthroat population, the lake's only native trout, has been severely reduced by lake trout predation and other factors, including whirling disease and drought. However, after several years of sustained lake trout removal efforts, cutthroat trout population monitoring indicated an increase in abundance of young juveniles in 2012.

The cutthroat trout is an iconic species and treasure of park anglers and wildlife watchers. Spawning each year in the Yellowstone River and more than 60 of the lake's shallow tributaries, the cutthroat has served a vital role in Yellowstone Lake's ecosystem as an important food source for grizzly bears, birds of prey and other wildlife. The cutthroat decline resulted in several of these species having to use alternate food sources during certain times of the year.

The National Park Service (NPS) increased the use of contracted netters to more thoroughly expand its reach in Yellowstone Lake again in 2012. From May to October the NPS and contract crews focused efforts in the West Thumb, Breeze Channel and Dot and Frank Island areas of the lake, where catches continue to be highest. Because the lake trout spawn within the lake itself during September and October, the suppression crews sought movement corridors and congregations of the large, mature lake trout during the final weeks of the season.

The NPS continues to work collaboratively with Montana State University and U.S. Geological Survey researchers to set benchmarks for lake trout removal and to monitor the movements and spawning habits of lake trout. Radio-tagged lake trout continue to help fisheries scientists understand where lake trout are concentrated and where they are spawning so that removal efforts can be focused to maximize harvest. The Yellowstone Lake program is supported by strong partnership with the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glacier's Ice Patch Archeology and Paleoecology Project Wins National Award

The Glacier National Park Ice Patch Archaeology and Paleoecology Project has recently been awarded the U.S. Department of the Interior 2012 Partners in Conservation Award for its cutting edge scientific research focused on melting ice patches in the park.

Recognition was recently awarded to 17 organizations that have achieved exemplary conservation results through public-private cooperation and community engagement. The 17 award recipients represent more than 700 individuals and organizations from across the United States.

“The Partners in Conservation Awards offer wonderful examples of how America’s greatest conservation legacies are created when communities from a wide range of backgrounds work together,” said Hayes, who announced the winners at an award ceremony last month. “These awards recognize dedicated citizens from across our nation who collaborate to conserve and restore America’s Great Outdoors, to encourage youth involvement in conservation and to forge solutions to complex natural resource challenges.”

Glacier's Ice Patch Project is designed to recover delicate items from melting ice patches in sub-alpine and alpine areas of Glacier National Park that were used for hunting by the ancestors of local tribes. This activity very likely deposited artifacts and paleo-biological objects in ice and snow patches, and their exposure by melting could lead to damage, loss, or illegal removal.

The following is a video overview of the project:

Details about each of this year’s 17 award-winning partnerships and the organizations involved can be found here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flathead Forest Friday Breakfast

Come meet and greet the new Hungry Horse/Glacier View District Ranger Rob Davies at the November Flathead Forest Friday breakfast on Friday, November 16, 2012 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Nite Owl on Highway 2 in Columbia Falls.

In addition to Ranger Davies, Spotted Bear District Ranger Deb Mucklow will be available for information and questions. Deb will provide an overview of this summer’s work on the Spotted Bear district and the fires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Mostly, however, the two rangers want to hear your questions and find out what is on your mind.

The Flathead National Forest will coordinate a no-host breakfast meeting every-other month with the goal of sharing good food, great company, and a little information about what’s happening on the Flathead National Forest.

If you plan to attend or have any questions, please notify Public Affairs Officer Wade Muehlhof at or (406) 758-5252 by November 14th.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 5, 2012

Become a Backpacker Magazine Gear Tester

Here's your chance to become a professional gear tester! Backpacker Magazine is currently looking for exceptional people that share their fascination with new products, cool gear, and upcoming trends.

If selected, you will will win two prizes. First, you will get to test some hot new products in 2013. Second, you will become an elite member of the Backpacker Reader Reader (BRR) team and will be sent on assignment to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, 2013, in Salt Lake City to write, blog, photograph, and maybe even star in a video or two at the world’s largest outdoor industry trade show. Your job will be to give Backpacker readers a “man or woman in the aisles and behind the scenes perspective on upcoming new gear and new trends.

To apply, send a writing sample and a compelling video to Backpacker by December 1, 2012. For more information, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hiking Across the Tundra….in Arizona

One of our objectives during our stay in Flagstaff was to hike to the summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona. The peak stands prominently in the northern part of the state, and can be seen for miles in any direction, including this view from our hotel:

The peak is situated next to Arizona Snowbowl, an alpine ski area….in Arizona! The trailhead is located near the upper lodge, and the path crosses over one of the ski runs before entering the Coconino National Forest. Due to construction in the upper parking area, we had to start our hike from the lower parking lot, which added roughly 0.75 miles to our overall mileage.

The construction project, which we learned later, was part of a highly controversial plan for Arizona Snowbowl to use treated wastewater on its slopes when blowing artificial snow. At the heart of the issue is finding precious water resources to use for recreational purposes in the middle of the desert. To solve the problem Arizona Snowbowl will become the first ski resort in the world to use 100% treated wastewater to make artificial snow this winter. Both environmentalists and Native Americans are at odds with this decision.

The weather on the morning of our hike gave a small hint to the approaching ski season. We noticed a little bit of frost on the ground and in the trees around the trailhead.

The first 3.5 miles of the hike travels along a very rocky and rugged path through a thick forest of aspens and pines. The trail climbs steadily on a moderate to moderately strenuous grade throughout the early portions of the hike.

At 11,400 feet, a point marked by a national forest sign, the trees begin to thin out and you’ll begin to enjoy some views of the ski area and the western suburbs of Flagstaff. Beyond this point the trail becomes noticeably steeper as it begins climbing a series of short switchbacks.

At 3.9 miles we finally crested the saddle between Humphreys Peak and Agassiz Peak, and had our first grand panoramic views of the area. At this point we were finally above of the treeline, and had entered the tundra zone, which is kind of strange saying that when you're in Arizona.

Once on the saddle the trail travels over a barren and rocky terrain, which is actually volcanic rock. Some sections of the trail are somewhat faint and difficult to read, but the route is marked with wooden guideposts. For the most part this is a fairly safe hike. I wouldn’t say there isn’t any exposure to steep drop-offs, but it is pretty negligible.

As you proceed to the top there are three false summits you’ll have to contend with along the way.

It’s highly recommended that you bring a rain jacket and/or wind breaker. The mountain is notorious for having very high winds, and there’s always a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm.

From the top you can almost see forever in any direction, including the north rim of the Grand Canyon - roughly 64 miles away! Unfortunately, with smog blowing in from Los Angeles, it was pretty hazy that day so we were barely able to see it. Towards the northeast is Sunset Crater and the Painted Desert, and towards the west is Kendrick Peak, one of many volcanic calderas that can be seen from the summit:

Humphreys Peak is the highest mountain in the San Francisco Peaks, all of which are extinct volcanic peaks. Its smaller neighbor to the south is Agassiz Peak (below), the mountain on which Arizona Snowbowl is located. Geologists say that at one time, before the volcano erupted, Agassiz and Humphreys were actually one mountain. They estimate that the peak reached a height of more than 20,000 feet.

We were pretty fortunate to have only a little wind on the day of our summit. As we stood there at the top, we did have one strong gust that lasted for about 30 seconds or so. Three times within that short time period a small vortex had formed. Each one lasted only a second or two, but each made an audible whooshing noise, and were made visible by the dust they kicked-up.

You see some strange stuff at state high points:

Humphreys Peak is named for General Andrew A. Humphreys, a Union general during the Civil War, who later would become the Chief of Engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Afterwards Kathy and I went to the 1899 Bar and Grill and chowed down on some of the best Buffalo wings we’ve ever had. They were made with tequila and achiote, a seed from a flower imported from Brazil that gave the wings a completely unique taste. They were then topped with picante sauce and served with a jalapeƱo cream sauce. Several of the entrees served in the restaurant were also made with achiote. Along with some great local brews, I highly recommend stopping at this local restaurant if you’re ever in town. If you wish to try the spice at home you can also order it from the Flagstaff Farmer Market.

Trail: Humphreys Peak Trail
Roundtrip Distance: 9.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3333 feet
Summit Elevation: 12,633 Feet

Hiking Northern Arizona features 120 of the best trails in this spectacular region. Included are high alpine trails near Flagstaff, as well as desert hikes in the stunning Red Rock area of Sedona. Also included are hikes near Williams, Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Jerome. Hiking Northern Arizona offers outings that are suited to day hikers and veteran backpackers alike.

Trails in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 2, 2012

Most Roads In Yellowstone Close For The Season Monday Morning

Visitors only have a few days left this year to drive their personal vehicles to view iconic Yellowstone locations like Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Most visitor services in Yellowstone National Park have already ended for the season.

Roads to most of the park's popular tourist destinations close for the season at 8:00 a.m. Monday, November 5, so park staff members can begin preparing the roads for limited, commercially guided snowmobile and snowcoach travel for the winter season, which begins December 15.

The only park road open to wheeled vehicle travel all year is the section from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction and the Lamar Valley on to the park's Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana.

Visitors driving to and in the park during the fall and winter are encouraged to have flexible travel plans and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice. Mud and snow tires or tire chains may be required. Updated information on road conditions in Yellowstone is available 24-hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.

At Mammoth Hot Springs, the Yellowstone General Store, Post Office, medical clinic, campground and the Albright Visitor Center remain open all year. Pay-at-the pump fuel is available 24 hours a day all year at Yellowstone Park Service Stations in Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.

All communities near and on the way to Yellowstone are open all year, with local businesses offering a wide range of fall and winter recreation opportunities depending on the weather, including hiking, fishing, hunting, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Information on fall and winter lodging, camping, services and activities near the park in the Montana communities of Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City and Silver Gate is available by contacting their respective Chambers of Commerce or from Travel Montana at 800-847-4868 or

Information on visiting the Wyoming communities of Cody and Jackson this fall and winter is available from their Chambers of Commerce, or by contacting Wyoming Travel and Tourism at 800-225-5996 or

Xanterra Parks & Resorts provides lodging, food service, and guided recreation opportunities in Yellowstone during the winter. Details are available by calling 866-GEYSERLAND, or online at

Extensive information and assistance for planning a visit to Yellowstone is available on the park's web site at

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Parks Waive Entrance Fees for Veterans Day Weekend

America’s 398 national parks will offer everyone free admission during the Veterans Day weekend (November 10-12) in honor of those that serve and have served in the United States military.

“National parks preserve places that commemorate our country’s collective heritage – our ideals, our majestic lands, our sacred sites, our patriotic icons – which our military has defended through the years,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of military members, past and present, and honored to tell their story at many of our national parks.”

From frontier forts to World War II battlefields, more than 70 national parks have direct connections to the military. These include our earliest national parks where army engineers designed park roads and buildings and the cavalry enforced regulations from 1886 until the National Park Service was established in 1916.

National parks throughout the country will hold special events to commemorate Veterans Day. Highlights include evening candlelight tours of Vicksburg National Cemetery where visitors will encounter historical personalities, the 7th annual illumination of 6,000 graves at Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg National Battlefield, a Continental soldier encampment at Independence National Historical Park, a talk on the African American Civil War experience at Natchez National Historical Park, and an exhibit and talks about the Roosevelts in the World Wars at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.

Additional benefits for veterans on Veterans Day include a free Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area cruise that will pass the USS Constitution on its way to Georges Island, home of Fort Warren and, in partnership with the Gettysburg Foundation, free entrance to the Gettysburg National Military Park museum.

The Veterans Day weekend is the last of the National Park Service entrance fee free days for 2012. More information is available here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park