Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail in the Grand Tetons

The Teton Crest Trail in the Grand Tetons is truly one of the epic hikes in America. In this video, backpacker Dan Mccoy did an excellent job of capturing the majestic beauty of the Grand Tetons during his four-day backpacking trip in 2011:

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Habituated Collared Wolf Shot in Jardine Area

A female collared wolf was shot by a private citizen in the Jardine area this past Saturday after displaying clear signs of escalating habituation. The wolf had recently come in close proximity to a number of homes, killed a cat as well as several chickens.

Over the last few months, this wolf has displayed unusually bold behavior as attempts were made by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and members of the public, to haze the animal away from properties.

Until the spring of this year, the wolf lived primarily in Yellowstone National Park as a member of the Lamar Canyon pack. It dispersed from the pack and has lived in the Jardine area since that time.

FWP investigated the wolf mortality in consultation with USDA-Wildlife Services.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guided Kayaking Programs Held At Bighorn Canyon

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is enjoying a successful first year of guided kayaking programs on Bighorn Lake. The park received a grant through the National Park Foundation’s Active Trails program to fund two goals focused on non-motorized recreation on the park’s waterways.

The first goal of the program is designed to raise public awareness of the recreational non-motorized boating opportunities available on the 71 miles of flat water in Bighorn Canyon. The park is achieving this through press releases that have surfaced in four papers, a local radio show, and on both the park and the Wyoming Tourism’s Facebook pages. These Facebook posts have received 800+ “likes”.

Bighorn Canyon is also raising public awareness by running guided kayaking tours throughout the summer. The grant money has provided the park with a small fleet of high-quality tandem kayaks, a trailer, and an experienced kayaking guide to train the interpretive rangers and ensure the safety of the park’s visitors.

So far the program is going very well, with every available program and wait list filling quickly. Evaluations are being returned with glowing reviews as people are enjoying the unique experience of viewing the canyon’s majestic towering walls from the humbling position of a kayak quietly slipping through the water. Locals as well as visitors from other states and countries have participated in this program.

The second goal of the program is to create a waterway map and trail guide for all 71 miles of the canyon that lie within the park boundaries. The guide will be a resource that visitors can use to locate backcountry camping areas along the lake at different water levels. The guide book will include general safety advice for non-motorized boating, tips for planning and preparing for multiple day paddles, and suggestions for multiple trips varying in length.

The first step to completing the guide is to collect data on lake conditions and campsite availability at different water levels. A generous park VIP has taken on this momentous task and has spent many weeks of the summer navigating the lake in his personal vessel, carefully cataloging data points, and taking pictures for the guide book. The next step will be organizing this data into an easy to use guide for the visitors.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grizzly Bear Study Team Fall Research Begins In Yellowstone

Biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) will be conducting scientific grizzly bear research operations in Yellowstone National Park from August 28 through October 31, as part of the ongoing monitoring of the activities and population of grizzly bears within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Team members will bait and trap bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone National Park. Once trapped, the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All trapping and handling are done in accordance with IGBST’s long established protocols.
None of the trap sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all trap sites will have posted warnings for the closure perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to collaboratively monitor and manage ecosystem bears on an interagency basis. The gathering of critical data on the protected bears is part of a long-term research effort required under the Endangered Species Act to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing recovery of Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population.

The IGBST is composed of representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

For more information regarding grizzly bear research efforts you can call (406) 994-6675.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Aggressive Black Bear Destroyed in Bighorn Canyon NRA

NPS Digest published a report yesterday announcing that an aggressive bear had to be destroyed in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. On August 9th, a 120-pound female black bear was killed at Black Canyon Campground in a joint operation by rangers and Montana Fish and Wildlife officers.

Over the last three years, this black bear had gotten into unsecured food and coolers brought in by day users and campers at this popular campground on Bighorn Lake, and recently displayed aggressive behavior toward people. Black Canyon has been closed to the public at various times during past years due to this bear, and was just recently closed to the public on July 26th. Bear activity in the area had been monitored by rangers since this most recent closure.

While monitoring the closed area, this same bear reappeared. A ranger shot a rubber slug deterrent round at the bear, hitting it front and center; although the bear ran into some brush, it came back out five minutes later. The ranger then shot a second rubber slug deterrent round at the bear, hitting it in the back. The bear again ran away, but returned within fifteen minutes.

A decision was made by park management in conjunction with the park’s standard operating procedures and step-up plan that the bear would need to be killed due to its habituation to humans and human food and its lack of significant response to the deterrent rounds fired by the rangers.

During an investigation of this latest occurrence, a 22-year-old woman was cited for feeding wildlife after she admitted to throwing a hotdog to the bear prior to the area closure. Other food storage violations are being investigated.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gunsight Pass Trail

Planning a visit to the Sperry Chalet via the Gunsight Pass Trail this season? You may want to make note of this recent blog posting on the Sperry Chalet website (from Thursday):
The Gunsight Pass Trail is becoming a popular route this August. Be prepared for thick brush on the east side. The snow fields at the pass are greatly diminished, and much safer. They no longer run off the edge of the cliff, but still watch your step. The really exciting point is the waterfall at the head of Lake Ellen Wilson. It looks like the trail took some damage from rockfall and the waterfall crossing is in poor shape this year. Be sure to bring a way to keep your feet dry. Changing into a pair of sandals or light shoes is a good choice right here. Trekking poles will help. If nothing else, have a change of socks for after your boots fill with water. Don't be unprepared like I was; to keep my boots dry I crossed barefoot. Not very recommended, The footing was so slick and rocky I could barely stand up. I made it across soaked to the waist. Be smarter than me and come prepared for this water crossing.
For detailed trail information on the hike to Gunsight Lake, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

NPS Announces Record of Decision for Winter Use at Yellowstone National Park

National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels today signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Plan/SEIS).

The ROD officially completes the Plan/SEIS process, which was developed in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and included extensive public involvement, including a number of opportunities for the public to submit comments on the Plan/SEIS.

“This winter use plan is the product of hundreds of hours of public involvement, is based on sound science, and is a different approach to winter use management. The Plan/SEIS and ROD provide mechanisms to make the park cleaner and quieter than ever before authorized, allow greater flexibility for commercial tour operators, reward oversnow vehicle innovations and technologies, and permit increases in visitation,” said Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk.

Beginning with the 2014/2015 winter season, a fixed maximum number of vehicles allowed in the park each day will be replaced with a new, more flexible concept of managing vehicle access by transportation events, defined as one snowcoach or a group of up to 10 snowmobiles, averaging seven seasonally.

Commercial tour operators will be able to use their allocated transportation events for snowmobiles, snowcoaches, or a mix of both, as long as no more than 50 of the authorized 110 daily transportation events are snowmobile events. By relying upon user demand to determine the best mix of oversnow vehicle (OSV) use and focusing on the impacts of OSV use on park resources, the transportation event concept protects park resources and allows appropriate access.

The plan also allows for one entry a day per entrance for a non-commercially guided group of up to five snowmobiles and will continue to allow for OSV use on the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass.

The 2013/2014 winter season will be a transition year during which the park will allow OSV under the same conditions in place for the past four winters. The one-season transition period will also allow time for the NPS to advertise and award concession contracts and for commercial tour operators to prepare for the shift to management by transportation events.

Because the Regional Director’s decision will allow OSV use in the park, a regulation must be promulgated before the decision can be implemented. A final regulation is expected to be published in the Federal Register in early fall.

Additional information and an electronic copy of the Plan/SEIS and ROD are available online.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three More Collaboration Field Trips to Start Forest Plan Revision

The second of four field trips to kick off the collaborative effort for forest plan revision will be held August 29, 2013. The trip will focus on recreation opportunities, access, existing wilderness and scenic character and will take people around the Hungry Horse Reservoir on the Hungry Horse and Spotted Bear Ranger Districts. The public field trips each focus on subject matter important to the forest plan. On these field trips the USFS ask people to share their values and the benefits they derive from the Flathead National Forest, as well as provide input to help them accurately assess the current conditions they have on the forest as they pertain to the topic of the field trip. The trips will also be an opportunity to experience the distinct geographical areas that make up the Flathead ranger districts.

The Flathead National Forest is embarking on a multi-year process to update its forest plan, the document that guides how they will manage our public lands. The forest plan provides direction for managing resources and activities such as recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, historic and sacred sites, vegetation and timber production. . Forest plan revision is achieved in a three-phase process: assessment, revision, and monitoring. The 2012 National Forest System land management planning rule calls for an enhanced commitment to collaboration and public engagement across all three phases, including outreach to groups such as youth.

Due to the distance needed to travel on the August 29th field trip, participants will start at 7:45 AM at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, with a second pick-up at the Hungry Horse Ranger District at 8:30 AM. The plan is to return people to Hungry Horse by 5:15 PM and the fairgrounds by 6:00 PM. The last two trips are planned to run from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Those trips will begin and end at the Flathead County Fairgrounds with transportation provided for all the field trips.

August 29 - Recreation settings, opportunities and access, existing wilderness and scenic character (Hungry Horse/Spotted Bear Ranger Districts)

September 12 - Terrestrial and aquatic habitats, threatened and endangered species, species of conservation concern, and invasive species (Swan Lake Ranger District)

September 26 – Inventoried roadless areas, recommended wilderness, and wild and scenic rivers (Glacier View Ranger District)

* Social science, economics, and the role and contributions of the Flathead National Forest will be a component of each of the field trips.

The information shared and the feedback received will be used to develop and finalize the assessment, determine needs for change, and to draft a proposed plan. There will be additional opportunities to engage in the collaborative process as the plan is developed over the next few years.

Please RSVP to Wade Muehlhof ( or 406-758-5252) at least one week before the field trip(s) you plan to attend. For additional details you can visit the Flathead National Forest Plan Revision page.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Road Through Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley Reopens

The road between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge through Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley has reopened to visitor traffic. Visitors are cautioned to reduce their speed well below the posted speed limits through this section of road and can expect reduced visibility due to low-level smoke across the road.

Due to concerns for public safety arising from increased activity on the Alum Fire, this section of road can be closed at any time with little warning.

When temporary closures are effected on this section of road due to the fire, all travel between Canyon Junction and the Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Bridge Bay area requires a long detour through Old Faithful.

All other roads in Yellowstone are open, as are all park entrances, lodging, stores, campgrounds and other visitor services.

Updated park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Kintla Lake Park Ranger Ponders Retirement

At 93 years old, Glacier National Park Ranger Lyle Ruterbories is contemplating retirement from his seasonal position at Kintla Lake Campground, but isn't ready to make it official just yet. Ruterbories has worked as the Kintla Lake Campground seasonal park ranger for the past 20 years and prior to that he was a volunteer campground host with his late wife Marge Ruterbories since the late 1980s.

Kintla Lake Campground is the most remote frontcountry campground in Glacier National Park. Located in the northwest section of the park known as the North Fork, only a few miles from the Canadian border, visitors often come to Kintla Lake seeking solitude and recreational opportunities such as fishing or canoeing.

Each week Ruterbories travels the rough and bumpy Inside North Fork Road from Polebridge to Kintla carrying food, water, and propane to the remote Kintla Ranger Station where there is no electricity, running water, or telephone available. The park ranger at Kintla Lake Campground must be skilled at rustic living, able to live and work independently, and possess a wide-range of skills to accommodate various resource and visitor needs. Daily duties include managing campground facilities, collecting fees, educating visitors on resource and park history topics, and conducting trail or lake patrol as time allows.

Ruterbories often goes above and beyond his daily duties, contributing countless hours to numerous projects. He has built log barrier structures for each campsite parking spot to protect vegetation, constructed a log rail fence around the Kintla Ranger Station complex, leveled all Kintla campsites, and constructed walking paths to Kintla Creek and the beach area of Kintla Lake. Ruterbories refinished the wood floor of the Kintla Ranger Station himself and still pulls weeds in the Kintla Lake Campground area almost daily.

Glacier National Park North Fork District Ranger Scott Emmerich said, "Lyle has high expectations for running a first rate campground and he consistently delivers quality work each and every year. Lyle is a positive role model for those who complain about getting old. He's proof that age is just a state of mind."

Born in 1920, Ruterbories grew up on a Nebraska farm during the Great Depression and served in WWII before settling in Wheat Ridge, Colorado with his wife and six children. A sheet metal worker by trade, Ruterbories retired from the nuclear weapons production facility, Rocky Flats Plant, after a 30-year career. In 1962, Ruterbories's son urged his parents to visit Glacier National Park and experience the beauty first hand. Ruterbories and his wife immediately felt connected to the park and returned nearly every year thereafter, eventually working as a team at the Kintla Lake Campground. He was the park ranger and she the campground host.

"You become part of this place," said Ruterbories. "My wife called Kintla her paradise on Earth."

Marge Ruterbories passed away in 2005. The couple was married for 65 years and together they traveled to 93 different countries, including Antarctica twice. Ruterbories says he plans to continue to travel after retiring from his work at Glacier National Park. One of the things he enjoys most about his job at Kintla Lake Campground is the opportunity to meet and connect with people from all over the world.

"Visitors return to Kintla each and every year just to see Lyle," noted Emmerich. "He has created lasting friendships and positive relationships with many different people who visit the park."

Ruterbories plans to return home to Colorado this fall once the summer season ends at Kintla Lake Campground. He looks forward to spending time with his family, but has no plans to stop working. The first project on his list includes construction of a sun room on the south side of his house where he can grow plants. Next, harness solar energy from the sun room and create a solar heating system for his home to compliment the solar water heating system already installed.

"Lyle has a zest for living, a positive work ethic and never ending curiosity," said Emmerich. "He will be sorely missed at Glacier National Park when he retires, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him return for at least one more year."

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wildfire Causes Temporary Road Closure in Yellowstone

Due to concerns for public safety arising from increased activity on the Alum Fire, a portion of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park has been temporarily closed.

A seven and a half mile section of road is closed from Fishing Bridge Junction to the north past Mud Volcano to the Elk Antler Creek pull-out, which is in the south end of Hayden Valley.

During this temporary closure, all travel between Canyon Junction and the Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Bridge Bay area requires a long detour through Old Faithful.

All other roads in Yellowstone are open, as are all park entrances, lodging, stores, campgrounds and other visitor services.

It is unknown how long this section of the road will be temporarily closed to travel.

Updated park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone Begins Native Fish Restoration in Grayling Creek

Yellowstone is taking another step forward this week in efforts to restore native westslope cutthroat trout and Arctic grayling in park waters.

Grayling Creek and its tributaries are located north of West Yellowstone in the Madison River drainage.

Decades ago, the streams were invaded by non-native brown and rainbow trout. Their presence has contributed to a decline in native cutthroat trout in park lakes, rivers and streams.

This week an interagency team of biologists will introduce a fish toxin into the streams to remove the non-native trout as part of Yellowstone's Native Fish Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, which was approved in May 2011. Only waters within Yellowstone National Park will be treated. The project will not impact downstream reaches.

While the chemical Rotenone will be introduced in small quantities, visitors are advised not to swim in or drink from the streams now through August 30. Warning signs will be posted at all treated areas.

This year's treatment is the first in a series that is expected to continue over the next two to three years. Treatments will be conducted until nonnative trout have been completely removed from the streams. The park will then reintroduce genetically pure native Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout to the streams. The long term plan is not only to support native species restoration, but also for these streams to provide a brood stock population for future restoration efforts in the region.

More information on the park's Native Fish Conservation Plan can be found online at:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, August 19, 2013

Glacier National Park Conservancy Names Chief Executive Officer

The Glacier National Park Conservancy has named Mark Preiss as Chief Executive Officer (CEO),responsible for managing and coordinating all Conservancy activities with Glacier National Park and other federal agency partners. Mark brings to the position 25 years of experience working with non-profit groups in collaboration with the National Park Service and other government and private organizations to protect and enhance our natural and cultural heritage. He most recently served as Reserve Manager of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, a unit of the National Park system located on Whidbey Island, Washington. Prior to his appointment at Ebey’s Landing, Mark served in leadership positions in numerous conservation and environmental organizations throughout the United States. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, and he and his wife, Kathryn, and their two boys, Jack 8, and Finn 5, are an avid outdoors family. Mark will assume the CEO position for the Glacier Conservancy on August 26th.

Throughout his professional life Mark has demonstrated a deep commitment to providing access to our nation’s cultural and natural heritage by cultivating a tradition of citizen stewardship and by fostering programs that directly support the mission and needs of our national parks. As stated by Darrell Worm, Chair of the Glacier Conservancy Board of Directors, “Glacier National Park is a crown jewel of the national park system. The Glacier National Park Conservancy is dedicated to supporting that legacy, and we strongly feel that Mark’s energy and collaborative approach make him the right person at the right time to lead the Conservancy’s efforts in support of our national treasure.”

“It’s a privilege to be joining the Glacier National Park Conservancy”, said Mark. “I look forward to be working with an energized and deeply committed board, staff and community to provide essential private philanthropic investment supporting the Park’s most important programs and to ensure that the Glacier experience is available to all and for generations to come. The Conservancy and Glacier National Park partnership is poised to become a national and international model for strategic collaboration and public, private partnership, as the Park Service moves toward its Centennial in 2016”.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy was formed on January 1, 2013 as the result of a merger of the former Glacier Natural History Association and the Glacier National Park Fund. The consolidation of these two not-for-profit partners of Glacier National Park has created a dynamic new organization that supports the Park by encouraging private philanthropy, public awareness, and education and interpretation for on-going and emerging Park programs and projects. In addition to fostering private philanthropy, the Conservancy operates bookstores at visitor’s centers in Glacier National Park, the Flathead National Forest, the National Bison Range, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, and the Big Hole National Battlefield. As CEO and “voice” of the Conservancy, Mark will bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to implementing the strategic goals and objectives of this new organization and to creating and fostering support for Glacier Park and other federal agency partners at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, August 16, 2013

Paving Continues Above Avalanche Creek

Paving activities will not take place this weekend, but will continue Monday for another week on the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek, on the west side of Glacier National Park. Visitors can expect delays of approximately 20 minutes in this area during paving activities. A pilot vehicle will be used to provide traffic control.

Visitors visiting the Trail of the Cedars or hiking the Avalanche Trail to Avalanche Lake will encounter a busy and congested area for parking during paving activities. Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, "During this short paving operation, we encourage visitors to consider alternative areas to hike and visit, other than the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake."

Rehabilitation work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road also continues on the east side of the park, between Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend and visitors can expect a 20 minute maximum day-time delay. Rehabilitation crews are working 24 hours a day, Monday through early Friday morning in this area. Public access is limited after 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights between Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend. Logan Pass is accessible from the West Entrance of the Going-to-the-Sun Road during this time.

Sun Point, located on the east side, is closed to the public and being utilized as a staging area for rehabilitation activities. The Sun Point picnic area and restroom facilities are not available, and the park shuttle does not stop at this location. It is anticipated that Sun Point will remain closed to the public for the next few years, or through rehabilitation work.

For more information about the rehabilitation project please click here, or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

The visitor shuttle system traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road will operate through Labor Day. Transit centers are located near Apgar on the west-side of the park and the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east-side. For more information about the shuttle system please click here.

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Glacier Park Inc. to Maintain Association with Glacier

Earlier this week Glacier National Park announced that they have selected Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. to serve as the new park concessionaire for the next 16 years. Park concessions have been operated by Glacier Park, Inc. for the last 32 years.

With the new contract, Denver-based Xanterra will now manage 500 rooms and cabins, and four restaurants with more than 500 seats, at the Lake McDonald Lodge, Apgar Village Inn, Rising Sun Motor Inn, Swiftcurrent Inn and the Many Glacier Hotel. They will also operate the Two Medicine Camp Store, public showers and laundry facilities, as well as Glacier’s red bus fleet.

Glacier Park Inc. will still be associated with the park, however. They will continue to own and operate the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier, St. Mary Lodge and Resort in St. Mary, Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton, Canada, as well as the 30-room Stewart Hotel near Lake McDonald Lodge.

Viad Corporation, the parent company of Glacier Park Inc., published these remarks in a press release:
Paul B. Dykstra, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Viad, said, "We greatly appreciate the opportunity to have worked with the U.S. National Park Service to provide an exceptional experience to Glacier National Park visitors for more than 30 years. Although we would have preferred to retain the concession operations as part of our Travel & Recreation portfolio, we will still have a strong business in the Glacier National Park area without the contract. And we will continue seeking additional opportunities to expand our Travel & Recreation operations in and around the National Parks as part of our 'Refresh, Build, Buy' growth strategy."

Of the 1,015 rooms currently operated by Glacier Park, only 480 are covered by the concession contract. Following the expiration of the concession contract on December 31, 2013, the ongoing Glacier Park business will include: Glacier Park Lodge (161 rooms in East Glacier, Montana); Grouse Mountain Lodge (143 rooms in Whitefish, Montana); St. Mary Lodge, Cabins and Motel (115 rooms in St. Mary, Montana); the Prince of Wales Hotel (86 rooms in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada); and the Stewart Hotel (30 rooms located adjacent to Lake McDonald Lodge, inside Glacier National Park).

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Two Hikers Injured In Yellowstone Bear Encounter

Two people were treated for injuries after a backcountry bear encounter this morning in Yellowstone National Park.

A group of four people were a few miles down the Cygnet Lakes Trail, southwest of Canyon Village, when they saw an approaching grizzly bear cub-of-the-year about 11:30 am on Thursday morning. A sow grizzly then appeared at very close range and charged the group.

Two of the hikers immediately discharged their canisters of bear spray and the sow and cub left the area after the encounter, which lasted about a minute.

All four members of the group hiked out to the trailhead under their own power. One person was treated at the scene, while the second injured hiker was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with bite and claw wounds. All four have asked that their identities not be released.

Yellowstone bear biologists say the sow’s behavior is consistent with purely defensive actions taken after a surprise encounter with people. This was the first report of any bear-caused human injuries in Yellowstone this year. The incident remains under investigation.

Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look. These hikers were heeding the park’s advice to hike in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, keep an eye out for bears and carry bear spray. Bear spray has proven to be a good last line of defense, if kept handy and used according to directions when a bear is approaching within 30 to 60 feet.

There had been no recent reports of grizzly bear activity in the area. As a precaution the Cygnet Lakes Trail and the surrounding area have been temporarily closed. In addition, the park has closed the nearby Mary Mountain area to any off trail travel.

For more information on hiking and recreating in grizzly bear country, please click here.

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Young Male Grizzly Relocated to the Cabinet Mountains

A young grizzly bear was relocated last week to the Cabinet Mountains as part of the Cabinet Mountains grizzly bear population augmentation program.

FWP captured the 3-yr old sub-adult male grizzly bear in Coal Creek in the Whitefish Range of the Flathead National Forest. This bear has no history of conflict with humans and has never been captured before. The bear was relocated to the Cabinet Mountains and released above Spar Lake in the Kootenai National Forest.

This program is an on-going effort to boost and recover the grizzly bear population in the Cabinet Mountains and is a cooperative effort between FWP and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Under the program, FWP captures bears in backcountry areas of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and USFWS monitors the animals after their release in the Cabinet Mountains. All grizzly bears relocated to the Cabinets are monitored with a radio collar until their collars drop off. The collars utilize the global positioning system (GPS) to gather locations every few hours in order to follow the bear’s movements.

The relocation of this male grizzly bear marks the eleventh grizzly bear to be released into the Cabinet Mountains as part of this cooperative population augmentation program since 2005.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tell it on the Mountain

What crosses 60 mountain passes, 19 canyons, 7 national parks, 3 national monuments, 24 national forests and 33 federal wilderness areas? If you answered the Pacific Crest Trail, you would be correct.

Ever since reading Skywalker and Dances with Marmots over the last year, my interest in the 2663-mile Pacific Crest Trail has been piqued. In fact, the section of the PCT that follows along with the John Muir Trail is something I would absolutely love to tackle someday. Then, last week, I received an email from Shaun Carrigan asking if I would be interested in reviewing a new film that he's produced about the trail. Well, naturally, I jumped on the opportunity.

Tell it on the Mountain - Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail follows several thru-hikers as they attempt to hike the first national scenic trail (designated at the same time as the Appalachian Trail in 1968). This included veteran PCT hiker Scott Williamson who happened to be attempting a yo-yo - that is, hiking from Mexico to Canada, and then back to Mexico - in the same season!

The two books I read did a great job of documenting what the authors experienced and what it takes to hike the trail from a personal perspective. However, the film provides multiple viewpoints, as well as the opportunity to actually see many of the places described in those books.

When I first watched the trailer (below), I was a little concerned that the film might fall into the reality TV trap. Fortunately the film-makers didn't stoop to this tired format.

In addition to providing an insider's view into what it takes to spend a half-year living in the wild, Tell it on the Mountain provides a much better understanding of the substantial planning and logistics it takes to tackle a major adventure, such as a thru-hike. The DVD also provides a few video extras, including an extended interview with Donna Saufley, the trail host at "Hiker Heaven" in Agua Dulce, California.

My only complaint, albeit only minor, is that the film didn't spend enough time exploring the magnificent beauty of the trail, especially as it passes through the High Sierra, Yosemite and the other national parks along the way. 

All in all, however, I really enjoyed watching the film. If you've ever considered thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or any other long distance trail, or if you're just looking for a fun "couch" adventure, I highly recommend this film. You can purchase the DVD (or digital download) on or through Amazon.

Here's a sneak peek from the film:

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Glacier Park, Inc out - Xanterra to take over in 2014

The National Park Service has selected Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. (Xanterra) to provide a variety of visitor services in Glacier National Park for the next 16 years.

The new park concessions contract is anticipated to begin in January 2014 and includes lodging, food and beverage, retail, transportation and other visitor services within the park. This fall Xanterra is expected to work with Glacier Park, Inc. during a transition period. Glacier Park, Inc. has held the current park concessions contract since 1981.

Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, “Our friends at Glacier Park, Inc. have successfully operated the concessions in the park for 32 years and we appreciate the services they provided and the working relationship we’ve established over the years.” Hall added, “I and the staff at the park look forward to forging an equally strong and successful working relationship with Xanterra in the future.”

The new contract includes a minimum franchise fee of 1% that will be returned to the government each year based on annual gross receipts. The contract also includes a repair and maintenance reserve of 2.35% and a Red Bus Rehabilitation Reserve equal to 2.5%, each respective of annual gross receipts. The annual gross receipts are expected to be approximately $18,500,000.

The contract requires replacement of much of the lodging furnishings throughout the park, remodeling selected guest rooms in the Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge, improved food and beverage services at Heidi’s in Many Glacier and the Two Medicine Campstore, improved sustainable and healthy choice food options, the addition of two accessible tour buses to the Red Bus Fleet, and the provision of administrative and support facilities located outside of the park.

The competitive process for the concessions contract was initiated December 11, 2012 with the release of a prospectus. All offers had to be submitted to the bureau by April 16, 2013. An evaluation panel of National Park Service and technical experts outside Glacier National Park performed a comprehensive analysis of the proposals and selected the best responsive proposal based on factors identified in the prospectus.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. provides a variety of visitor services in several national and state parks across the country, including Crater Lake, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Zion National Parks, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

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Participation in Outdoor Activities Hits Six-Year High

Participation in outdoor recreation reached a six-year high in 2012 with 142 million Americans, ages six and older, enjoying the outdoors. That is an increase of about 800,000 outdoor participants since 2011 and equates to a participation rate of 49.4 percent. The findings are part of The Outdoor Foundation's 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, the leading report tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth and diversity.

The Outdoor Foundation's seventh annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report helps the outdoor industry, public agencies and community organizations better understand the trends in outdoor recreation participation, enabling groups to address America's inactivity crisis and the disconnect between children and the outdoors. The report is based on an online survey of more than 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different outdoor activities, making it the largest survey of its kind.

The study, which provides an in-depth look at youth, shows mixed results about outdoor participation among America's youngest generations. While youth and young adult participation remained steady since 2011, adolescent participation dropped. The low participation rate can be attributed to a six-percent loss in participation among adolescent girls. On the other hand, adolescent boys' participation continued to rise, adding three-percentage points since 2010.

The insights detailed in the 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report are critical to national efforts seeking to understand outdoor participation and continuing to reverse America's inactivity crisis. Some of the additional findings include:

- While 13 million Americans started participating in outdoor activities in 2012, 12 million stopped. This is a net gain of one million total outdoor participants and a churn rate of 6.8 percent.

- The number of total outdoor outings increased, reaching an all-time high. Americans took 12.4 billion outdoor excursions in 2012, up from 11.5 billion excursions in 2011.

- Adventure racing grew the most over the past five years. The sport increased participation by 211 percent.

- Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.

- Almost one-quarter of all outdoor enthusiasts participate in outdoor activities at least twice per week.

- Running, including jogging and trail running, is the most popular activity among Americans when measured by number of participants and by number of total annual outings.

- Youth who do not participate in outdoor activities say they are not interested in the outdoors. For young adults, lack of time is a bigger barrier than lack of interest.

- Introducing outdoor recreation and physical activities early in life has a lasting effect. Among adults who are current outdoor participants, 75 percent had physical education and 42 percent enjoyed outdoor activities in elementary school.

- As seen in previous reports, outdoor participation is highest among Caucasians and lowest among African Americans.

- Although Hispanic Americans have one of the lowest outdoor participation rates, those who do participate go outside as often as Caucasians, who have the highest participation rate.

To download a complete copy of the 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, visit The Outdoor Foundation website.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Injured Hiker Rescued from Blacktail Butte in Tetons

A slight misstep on a rocky trail up Blacktail Butte in Grand Teton National Park triggered a ground-based rescue of an injured hiker this past Saturday evening (August 10th). Claude Belliot, age 53, of New York State seriously injured her ankle on a steep section of the trail just before 6 p.m. while hiking near the butte's summit with a companion.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a re-routed 911 call from the Teton County Sherriff's Office about 6 p.m. on Saturday. A park ranger drove from the Jenny Lake ranger station, some 15 miles away, and hiked up the Blacktail Butte Trail to meet Belliot, assess her injury and make arrangements for a ground-based rescue via wheeled litter. Additional park staff were summoned to assist in the rescue, and employees from the park's vegetation management crew, staff from Teton Interagency Fire, and additional rangers from the Gros Ventre subdistrict helped transport Belliot using the wheeled litter.

Due to the steepness and loose rocky surface of the trail, it required seven people to navigate the wheeled litter over a distance of more than one mile and a decline of about one thousand vertical feet from a point near Blacktail Butte's summit, elevation 7,688 feet, to a waiting park ambulance at 6,600 feet on the southern end of Mormon Row Road. Belliot was placed in the park ambulance at 9 p.m. and transported to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson.

Park rangers generally choose to initiate a ground-based rescue whenever an injured person does not have life threatening injuries, and when weather conditions and time of day allow for this option to be effective. Quite often, a ground-based rescue requires numerous park personnel and significant time to execute. Though not as expedient as a helicopter evacuation, a ground-based rescue can be fairly technical in nature and equally difficult under various conditions.

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The National Park Service Turns 97 on August 25th

On Sunday, August 25th, the National Park Service turns 97 years old. To help celebrate, admission to all national parks will be free so that everyone can join in the festivities taking place from coast-to-coast.

“National parks belong to all Americans, and we invite everyone to join us and celebrate this special day,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “From kite-building demonstrations at Wright Brothers National Memorial, to a river paddle at New River Gorge National River or a scenic railroad ride at Steamtown National Historic Site, America’s national parks offer something for the whole family.”

You could also plan a day of hiking at your favorite park, such as in Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier National Park, or Rocky Mountain National Park.

In partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, the NPS has created an online hub to help you plan your own personal National Park Service birthday trip at Join the NPS to share birthday wishes or stories, pictures, or video from your latest or favorite national park adventure.

If you can’t make it to a park for the big day there are still many ways you can join the fun. The work of the National Park Service extends beyond park boundaries into communities across the country. The National Park Service works with partners to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities that revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life. You can visit to see how they help in your community.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Hard-sided Camping Allowed at Rising Sun Campground

The Rising Sun Campground, located on the east side of the park, will be available to hard-sided camping only as of 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, Saturday, August 10th.

Recent bear incidents at the campground prompted a closure of the facility on Tuesday, August 6. A small sub-adult black bear has been involved with some incidents in the campground and area within the last month.

This past weekend a bear, believed to be a small sub-adult black bear, approached and laid on a corner of a tent that was occupied by sleeping campers. The campers awoke and started yelling, and observed a black bear running from the tent. There have been two other incidents in the campground and surrounding area, all believed to be with the same bear. One incident involved the bear snatching a pillow from a sleeping camper, and the other incident involved the bear going through some clothing that was located along the lakeshore. The incidents included no injuries. It appears that the bear is not looking for a food reward, or that it has received one, but it is learning to approach and handle human materials.

Park rangers and wildlife managers initiated some aversive conditioning, or negative reinforcement, to attempt to modify the bear’s behavior. This conditioning will be on-going in the area of the campground. It is unknown when hard-sided camping limitation will be lifted in the campground.

Glacier National Park is home to black and grizzly bears. Campers are reminded to keep campground and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Regulations require that all edibles, food containers, and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker when not in use, day or night. Place all trash in bear-proof containers. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter around your camp. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite. All bear sightings should be reported to a park ranger.

For updated information about access, please visit the park’s campground status page, or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

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Public-Private Partnership to Renovate Jenny Lake Trails in Grand Teton National Park

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and Grand Teton National Park Foundation President Leslie Mattson yesterday to publicly launch the Inspiring Journeys Campaign – a $16 million dollar public-private partnership to renovate the Jenny Lake area in advance of the National Park Service's Centennial in 2016.

"Through the power of this partnership, we will help improve the visitor experience for the nearly two million people who use the visitor center and trails in the Jenny Lake area each year," said Secretary Jewell. "Renovating trails and protecting habitat in the heart of Grand Teton National Park is a fitting symbol of the projects needed nationwide to prepare our parks for the National Park Service's upcoming Centennial in 2016 – and the next 100 years after that."

The Inspiring Journeys Campaign seeks to secure $16 million, with Grand Teton National Park Foundation raising $13 million in private contributions and the National Park Service (NPS) providing $3 million from cyclic maintenance funding. NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis has signed a formal partnership agreement to allow the foundation to raise the funds for the park. Secretary Jewell announced that $5 million in private funding has already been raised.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to connect millions of visitors to Jenny Lake, one of the National Park Service's centerpieces," said Leslie Mattson, President of Grand Teton National Park Foundation. "Through showing the transformation private philanthropy will bring to Grand Teton, our centennial campaign will inspire others to be bold and share their vision for wilderness protection and education in national parks throughout the country."

One of the most popular destinations for visitors to Grand Teton National Park, the Jenny Lake area sits at the base of the Teton Range. Its trails offer visitors hikes to easily accessible, yet unforgettably beautiful backcountry destinations such as Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon.

"National parks provide incredible outdoor recreational opportunities and educational experiences, but they are also critical economic engines for gateway communities in Wyoming and across the country," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "The renovations being made at Grand Teton National Park are smart investments that will pay dividends as we continue to attract millions of visitors to Wyoming's breathtaking public lands each year."

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, many of the trails in the Jenny Lake area have been compromised by poor drainage, erosion, and heavy use. Inspiring Journeys will fund significant work on Jenny Lake's network of backcountry trails to enhance hiking options and reverse years of accumulated trail damage, providing a safer and more inspiring experience for hikers of all abilities.

The partnership will revitalize aging routes, introduce a series of looped paths, and create a trail system that is easy to maintain, yet retains the historic feel that has long characterized the Jenny Lake region. An improved west boat dock will provide additional gathering and queuing space for visitors. Improvements at Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point will give these key destinations predictable surfaces for walking, defined space for viewing, and natural seating areas for resting and soaking in the views.

In addition to critical trail rehabilitation, revitalization of welcoming facilities and resource restoration work, a comprehensive interpretation, education, and orientation plaza will be created. The interpretive plaza – a destination in itself that will be similar in scale and character to the current visitor complex – will offer exhibits, topographic relief models, and interactive features to engage and educate.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Paving Begins Between Avalanche and Logan Creeks

Paving will begin the week of August 12 on the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek, on the west side of the park. Visitors can expect delays of 20 minutes in this area during this time, which is anticipated to take approximately one week, weather dependent. A pilot vehicle will be used to provide traffic control.

Visitors hiking the Trail of the Cedars or hiking the Avalanche Trail to Avalanche Lake may encounter a busy and congested area for parking.

Rehabilitation work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road also continues on the east side of the park, between Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend and visitors can expect a 20 minute maximum day-time delay. Rehabilitation crews are working 24 hours a day, Monday through early Friday morning in this area. Public access is limited after 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights between Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend. Logan Pass is accessible from the West Entrance of the Going-to-the-Sun Road during this time.

Sun Point, located on the east side, is closed to the public and being utilized as a staging area for rehabilitation activities. The Sun Point picnic area and restroom facilities are not available, and the park shuttle does not stop at this location. It is anticipated that Sun Point will remain closed to the public for the next few years, or through rehabilitation work.

For more information about the rehabilitation project visit or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

The visitor shuttle system traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road will operate through Labor Day. Transit centers are located near Apgar on the west-side of the park and the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east-side. For more information about the shuttle system please visit

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rising Sun Campground Closed Temporarily

Recent bear incidents at the Rising Sun Campground, located on the east of the park, have prompted the temporary closure of the campground. Early Monday morning the upper loop of the campground was closed, and the lower loop was only open to hard-sided camping. As of Tuesday, August 6th, the entire campground will be closed to all camping. All campers are being provided an opportunity to relocate to another campground within the park.

Early Sunday morning a bear, believed to be a small sub-adult black bear, approached and laid on a corner of a tent that was occupied by sleeping campers. The campers awoke and started yelling, and observed a black bear running from the tent. There have been two other incidents in the campground and surrounding area within the past month, all believed to be with the same bear. One incident involved the bear snatching a pillow from a sleeping camper, and the other incident involved the bear going through some clothing that was located along the lakeshore. The incidents included no injuries.

It appears that the bear is not looking for a food reward, or that it has received one, but it is learning to approach and handle human materials. Park rangers and wildlife managers will conduct aversive conditioning, or negative reinforcement, to attempt to modify the bear’s behavior. This will include trapping the bear, tagging the bear, and conducting hazing techniques using bean bags, rubber bullets, and/or noise stimulus. It is anticipated that these conditioning actions may take a few days.

A grizzly bear has recently been sighted in the area as well. Since a trap will be used, and it may trap the grizzly bear, the entire campground will be temporarily closed for visitor and bear safety.

The nightly Rising Sun Campground Programs will be moved to the St. Mary Campground during this temporary closure. Visitors for the program that are not camping at the St. Mary Campground are encouraged to park at the St. Mary Visitor Center and walk a short distance across the footbridge for the program.

The Rising Sun Campground has 83 sites and is a first-come first-serve facility. It is unknown the duration of the campground closure. For updated information about access, please visit the park’s campground status page, or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

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Annual Astronomy Day to ‘Focus’ on Constellations and Galaxies in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park will join the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club to host the annual Grand Teton Astronomy Day this Sunday, August 11. Family-oriented activities are on tap which offer fun and educational opportunities to identify and appreciate galactic bodies such as constellations, star clusters, nebulae, sunspots, and much more.

Throughout the day, astronomy themed videos will be shown in the Colter Bay Visitor Center auditorium, including an 11:30 a.m. showing of the award winning documentary, "The City Dark: A search for night on a planet that never sleeps." Outdoor events begin at 2 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center and end with a late-night star-gazing session on Jackson Lake.

To highlight Grand Teton Astronomy Day, specially filtered telescopes will be available to safely view sunspots and other solar features from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on the back deck of the Colter Bay Visitor Center. During the same timeframe, children and adults can discover fun and fascinating information at exhibits and information tables.

At 9 p.m. Bob Hoyle, current park ranger naturalist and former professor of astronomy, will present an evening program at the Colter Bay amphitheater titled, "Watchers of the Sky." This presentation focuses on the cultural history of astronomy and how early sky-watching evolved into the sciences of astronomy and astrophysics.

As a finale, several large telescopes will be set up from 10 p.m. to midnight along the shore of Colter Bay for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulae and other celestial objects. Anyone planning to attend the evening program and telescope observation session should dress warmly as evening temperatures at Colter Bay can be quite chilly, even in August.

More information about Astronomy Day is available by calling the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307-739-3594.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Montana from the Air

Skyworks, the producers of this short film, did an excellent job of illustrating why Montana is the most beautiful state in America:

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fire Danger is High in Northwest Montana

Fire danger on the Flathead National Forest and public lands in the Flathead valley is now at “high”. This includes Glacier National Park. When the fire danger is "high", fires can start easily from most causes and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite readily. Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape. Fires will spread easily, with some areas of high-intensity burning on slopes or concentrated fuels. Fires can become serious and difficult to control unless they are put out while they are still small.

The latest human-caused fire on the Flathead National Forest was detected Monday, July 22, 2013 in the Bob Marshall Wilderness at an area known as Independence Park. It appears the fire started from a campfire that was not properly extinguished. There have already been more than a dozen human-caused fire starts on the Flathead National Forest. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers are investigating these fires. There are stiff fines and the possibility of jail time for being careless with campfires, cigarettes and other ignition sources.

Human-caused wildfires can have devastating impacts unnecessarily destroying our natural resources, putting the public and our firefighters in danger, destroying homes and habitat, and costing taxpayers millions every year. Nation-wide, more than 75,000 wildfires are reported each year. About nine out of ten fires are caused by people. July 23rd marked the 10 year anniversary of the start of a human caused fire named the Robert Fire in the North Fork area. The fire burned 57,570 acres in Glacier and National Forest lands. The fire cost taxpayers nearly 31 million dollars. As Smokey Bear reminds us, only you can prevent this from happening.

Forest Service officials ask that all forest users be extra careful to fully extinguish any campfire or cooking fire.

1. Never leave a campfire unattended, and be sure it is “dead out” before leaving the area.

2. Have a bucket and shovel handy when having a campfire.

3. Cigarette smokers should smoke on bare ground or soil (not in or near vegetation) and pack out their cigarette butts.

4. Fireworks are prohibited in all national forests, national parks, state lands, and all private land the state identifies as classified forest land.

For more information about wildland fire education and prevention, please click here, or contact a local office of the Flathead National Forest.

Hiking in Glacier National Park