Saturday, November 30, 2013

Never Stop Exploring

"Humans have always been driven by curiosity and fed by an innate need to explore. There is an allure in the pursuit of the unknown." Here's a pretty inspiring video from the North Face that I think you'll probably enjoy:

I don't know about you, but I think it's time to get out and explore:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Glacier National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 29, 2013

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 2014 winter season.

Walks are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays from January 11th through March 22, 2014. 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 27, 2013

Montana State Parks Recruiting for 2014 AmeriCorps

Montana State Parks announced last week that the Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps program is now recruiting new members for the 2014 season.

AmeriCorps is a national service program that offers members the opportunity to gain job skills, earn up to $5,550 for college, or to pay off student loans while giving back to local communities.

In 2013 Montana State Parks’ 18 AmeriCorps members improved 393 acres of land in state parks, recruited more than 450 new volunteers, and led 400 educational and interpretive programs for over 9,000 visitors.

Montana State Parks is currently recruiting now for 1700 Hour Positions at Lone Pine State Park, Milltown State Park, and a Leader position at Helena Headquarters.

Applications for 900 Hour Positions will be accepted starting December 1. These positions are at Travelers’ Rest State Park, Smith River State Park, Pictograph Cave State Park, and Giant Springs State Park.

Members can range in age from young adults to retirement, but all members must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.

Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps members earn an Education Award from $1,415 to up to $5,550 per year depending on their term of service, to be used toward a college education or to pay off student loans. AmeriCorps members who are 55 years or older can transfer the Education Award to a child, grandchild or foster child. All Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps members will receive a modest living allowance to help cover incidental costs, such as commuting.

To learn more and apply, please visit:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Report Estimates Backcountry Winter Recreation Contributes $22.5 Million Annually to Teton-West Yellowstone Economy

A new study from Jackson economist Mark Newcomb estimates that human-powered backcountry winter recreation in Grand Teton National Park, parts of the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, and the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone contributes $22.5 million annually to the region’s economy.

Newcomb and colleague Karl Meyer conducted random surveys over the course of the 2012-13 winter season of resident and non-resident backcountry visitors who participated in the activities of backcountry skiing and snowboarding (also known as alpine touring or AT), cross-country skiing both on and off groomed trails, snowshoeing, walking/jogging on groomed backcountry trails, and over-snow biking. The survey asked for data about annual expenditures on goods and services related to these forms of backcountry recreation as well as the location and frequency of backcountry visits.

Topline findings include an estimated $12.5 million direct annual economic impact by nonresidents who participate in these activities while visiting the region and $6.5 million annual contribution from resident spending related to backcountry winter recreation. Newcomb estimates $3 million in annual wages to employees who work in jobs directly stemming from these forms of winter backcountry recreation and $1 million in tax revenues to state and local government. The geographic area of impact focused on the communities of Jackson, Driggs/Victor and West Yellowstone and includes Teton County in Wyoming, Teton, Bonneville, Fremont and Madison Counties in Idaho, and West Yellowstone, Montana.

“We know anecdotally that winter backcountry recreation is increasing throughout the study region,” said Newcomb who, in addition to experience in environmental economics and urban and rural planning, worked for 25 years as a backcountry ski guide and avalanche course instructor. “However, to date, there has been little information available about how these activities impact our economy.”

Newcomb added that the report takes a conservative approach both in its economic impact conclusions and in its estimate of total number of residents and nonresidents participating in backcountry winter recreation in the region. The report uses data from a combination of sources including National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, trail counts and concessionaire data to arrive at a population estimate of 7,419 residents and 41,336 nonresidents who participated in the above activities during the 2012-13 winter season.

“My intuition and my on-the-ground experience tell me the population numbers we arrived at are low,” said Newcomb, “and therefore, the economic impact is likely understated, but these are the best source numbers available so that’s what we went with.” Per person expenditure estimates are $803 spent annually by residents in-region and an additional $255 spent out-of-region on goods and services for backcountry winter recreation; and $273 per person per visit by nonresidents spent on backcountry winter recreation goods and services during their visit to the region.

The report incorporates data gathered in additional surveys: one of retailers in the area that sell gear, clothing and other goods and services related to backcountry recreation; and a second survey of organizations such as backcountry guide services and avalanche course providers, both for profit and nonprofit, that operate as authorized concessionaires on national forest or national park lands. This data provided information about employment and wages related to winter backcountry recreation and helped corroborate population estimates.

One surprise, according to Newcomb, is the significance of guided activity in the area. “While guided winter activity seems to have a relatively small footprint, our study found that the economic contribution is significant.” The study estimates that participants in guided activities and education programs spent 6,699 days in the backcountry and contributed $1.6 million in gross revenues and were responsible for $826,000 in wages.

The study also reinforced the quality of the winter backcountry opportunities in the region with 81 percent of nonresidents and 74 percent of residents who skied or snowboarded in the backcountry reporting they were "very satisfied" with their experience.

The report was commissioned by the Boise-based national nonprofit organization Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) and was funded through a grant from the LOR Foundation. “It’s a common refrain from land managers and decision makers that they need better and more economic data on our activities,” said WWA Executive Director Mark Menlove. “We chose to study the Teton-West Yellowstone area because it is renowned for its backcountry winter recreation, is well managed, and offers an excellent mix of recreational opportunities. This study verifies that backcountry recreation creates jobs and contributes significantly to the local economy. It’s hugely important for Winter Wildlands Alliance, both as a pilot project we hope to replicate in other regions and as a practical tool for land managers and planners in the region to use in resource allocation and management efforts.”

An executive summary and the full report, titled “Teton-West Yellowstone Backcountry Winter Recreation Economic Analysis,” are available at

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter Backcountry Camping - Part 2

Yesterday we published part 1 of a two-part series produced by Glacier National Park on winter backcountry camping. Part 1 provided information on hypothermia, handling various winter trail conditions, avalanches, and how to handle emergencies. The second part in this series discusses setting up camp, winter camping etiquette and wildlife encounters:

For more information on camping in Glacier, please click here.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Backcountry Camping - Part 1

With the imminent arrival of winter, it doesn't mean you have to confine yourself to the indoors for the next 6 months. Many hardy souls will still venture into Glacier's backcountry to enjoy the wintry beauty of nature. This short video produced by Glacier National Park offers advice and information to hikers and backpackers on hypothermia, handling various winter trail conditions, avalanches, and how to handle emergencies:

On Monday we'll publish part 2 of this two-part series from the park. For more information on camping in Glacier, please click here.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Top of Texas

The highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, is one of only four state highpoints to be located within a national park. Denali, Mount Rainier and Clingmans Dome are the other three. However, since Clingmans Dome is an easy walk of about a hundred yards, and Denali and Mount Rainier are probably out of the league of at least 99% of all park visitors, Guadalupe Peak is really the only state high point in a national park that most people can hike up to. From its 8749-foot summit you can see for at least a 100 miles in all directions. For more information on this excellent and surprisingly scenic hike, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 22, 2013

Planning a Visit to Glacier this Holiday Season?

Planning a visit to Glacier National Park this Holiday Season?  Please help support by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page. Our hiking website provides a wide variety of overnight options - from cozy cabins to luxurious resorts.

Thank you very much!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Top 10 Hikes in America (my list!)

While putting together our newest website, Discover the West, I couldn’t help realize how fortunate Kathy and I have been to be able to hike in so many beautiful places over the years. Over this past summer and fall, while I was piecing the website together, I started thinking about which of those hikes have been the most memorable, and which ones I would consider to be among my favorites. As a result of this thought process, I thought I would put together a list of my top 10 hikes.

The criteria I used in developing the list is based on what I enjoy seeing the most: expansive panoramic views, rugged peaks, lush alpine meadows, pristine wilderness, and the opportunity to see wildlife and wildflowers. Generally speaking, the more of those qualities included on a hike, the more I’m likely to enjoy it.

So, here’s my list. Maybe it will inspire you to discover new hiking destinations:

1) Highline Trail - This world famous hike in the heart of Glacier National Park should be on the bucket list of any self-respecting hiker. The absolutely incredible views along the entire route, the wildlife and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life.

2) Swiftcurrent Pass - Although this is one of the toughest hikes in Glacier National Park, it includes tons of spectacular scenery. You'll pass by three gorgeous lakes and a waterfall while traveling up the Swiftcurrent Valley. Once above the valley floor the trail offers outstanding birds-eye views of six lakes, as well as Swiftcurrent Glacier. Then, at the pass, you'll have stunning views of Heavens Peak and Granite Park.

3) Skyline Trail Loop - John Muir once said that Mt. Rainier’s Paradise valley was "the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings." I dare say you might have the same reaction yourself. The best way to explore the Paradise valley is to hike the Skyline Trail loop. This hike was so incredibly beautiful that it was the first time that I ever kept my camera in my hand for the entire trip. The amazing scenery never ended!

4) Blue Lakes - The Blue Lakes Trail travels to an extremely scenic glacial basin within the 16,566-acre Mt. Sneffels Wilderness area. Although not a national park, the San Juan Mountains near Ouray, Colorado are as spectacular as some of America’s most famous national parks. You could also make a strong argument that the Blue Lakes hike is as good as any of the best hikes in our national park system.

5) Hallet Peak - For those that feel that Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is just a little too difficult, 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 the perfect opportunity to feel like you’re on top of the Rockies, without being exposed to dangerous drop-offs.

6) Huron Peak - At 14,003 feet, Huron Peak just barely qualifies as a “fourteener”. However, that doesn’t mean the views are any less stunning than peaks that are hundreds of feet higher. The summit still offers mind-blowing views of Colorado’s Sawatch Range, including the Three Apostles.

7) Siyeh Pass Loop - This one-way hike offers visitors the chance to take-in some of the best of what Glacier National Park has to offer. Hikers will pass through the incredibly beautiful Preston Park, climb up to one of the highest maintained trails in Glacier, and then travel back down through the Baring Creek Valley where you'll have a relatively close-up view of Sexton Glacier.

8) Piegan Pass - Okay, so this is the 4th hike from Glacier National Park to make the list. You may think I’m a little biased, but I’ll make no bones about it, Glacier is definitely my favorite park. When compared to the other three Glacier hikes listed above, Piegan Pass is probably only a notch or two below those on the “awesome meter,” but is far less crowded. Big panoramic views await hikers along most of this hike.

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

10) Four Mile & Panorama Trail - Did you know that you can do one hike that encompasses nearly all of Yosemite’s iconic sights? This epic 12.6-mile hike includes a full view of Yosemite Falls from the only place in the park to see both the upper and lower falls in their full glory. Along the way you’ll also see El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Illilouette Fall and Nevada Fall. The one-way hike begins from the Yosemite Valley, climbs up to Glacier Point via the Four Mile Trail, and then travels back down to the valley via the Panorama Trail and the famous Mist Trail.

Honorable mentions (in no particular order):

Gregory Bald and Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains, Bear Lake to Odessa Lake, Emerald Lake, Mount Ida and the Old Ute Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Gilpin Lake Loop in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Mt. Elbert near Leadville, Ptarmigan Tunnel, Pitamakan Pass, Gable Pass, Iceberg Lake and Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park, Avalanche Peak in Yellowstone National Park, Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Mt. Rogers in the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, Grassy Ridge Bald in the Pisgah National Forest, and Observation Point in Zion National Park.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The tallest trees on the planet

The tallest trees on the planet are found along the coast of northern California and southern Oregon. Fortunately for today’s visitors, and generations to come, nearly half of all Coast Redwoods are under the protection of the combined Redwood National and State Parks. Walking through one of the old-growth groves in any of these parks is like walking into a cathedral.

The tallest redwood in the world, at almost 380 feet in height, is known as Hyperion. If you wish to visit this giant someday, you may want to note that its location is kept secret. However, there are many other areas where visitors can explore these ancient titans. One of the best places is the Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith State Park, considered by many to be the most scenic stand of redwoods in the world.

For more information on this truly remarkable stand of trees, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Grand Teton to Update its Cost Recovery Rates for Backcountry & Special Park Use Permits

Grand Teton National Park will soon update its cost-recovery rate for backcountry camping permits and for special park use permits to reflect the actual cost of operation for these programs. Adjusted charges for these specific permits will become effective beginning January 1, 2014.

Through a recent cost-recovery evaluation, Grand Teton conducted a comprehensive review of the financial aspects of its backcountry camping and special park use permit systems and determined that the park has not recovered the actual costs of operation for several years. The annual revenue under the current permits systems does not fully cover the operational costs of managing these programs. Cost-recovery includes all expenses incurred to process a permit application, monitor a permitted activity, and perform site restoration, when necessary.

In addition, Grand Teton will use an online process for making backcountry camping reservations through, managed by Reserve America. Transition to will allow users to plan their trip and receive immediate confirmation, and better facilitate management of the park's backcountry reservations. Advanced reservation requests will be accepted from January 8 through May 15, and updated cost-recovery rates for all backcountry camping permits will be $25, with an additional $10 fee for advanced reservations.

The park's charges for special use permits have not been updated since 2002. Increased oversight and management of special use permits—combined with an increase in the number of applications reviewed and permits issued—resulted in the need to conduct a cost-recovery evaluation of this rate structure as well. Approximately 250–300 special park use applications are received annually, all of which require review. Applications for permits include weddings, commercial filming, special events, scattering of ashes and First Amendment requests; and most of the applications result in the issuance of a permit, and the need for monitoring of the permitted activity.

The adjusted special park use charges for 2014 are: $100 for weddings, $175 for events, $275 for commercial filming less than 6 months, $325 for commercial filming 6–12 months, and no charge for scattering ashes or First Amendment requests.

Application fees cover the costs incurred for processing the permit, as well as for permit review to ensure the information supplied is sufficient to form a decision for issuance. It is a one-time, non-refundable amount submitted by the applicant with his/her completed application. If the application is approved, the permitee may be responsible for additional cost-recovery charges associated with monitoring the activity and for site restoration, if necessary.

In the future, all cost-recovery charges may be re-evaluated annually and adjusted, when necessary.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 18, 2013

Glacier Artist-In-Residence Applications Available

Artists are encouraged to apply for the 2014 Artist-in-Residence Program at Glacier National Park.

The program offers professional artists the opportunity to pursue their artistic discipline while being surrounded by the park's inspiring landscape. The program seeks professional artists whose work is related to the park's interpretative themes and supports the mission of the National Park Service.

The program provides an artist with uninterrupted time to pursue their work and the opportunity to engage and inspire the public through outreach programs. Park housing is provided for a four-week session during the summer or fall season.

The artist is required to present several public programs during their residency. The programs must be related to their experience as the artist-in-residence and can be demonstrations, talks, exploratory walks, or performances. Digital images of selected work produced as a part of the residency may be used in park publications, websites and presentations for education and outreach.

Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Applications are available online. The deadline to apply is January 30, 2014. For more information contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Affordable Footwear Act?

Cheaper hiking boots could be coming to an outdoor retailer near you in the future! Members of Congress are apparently working on a piece of legislation, known as the Affordable Footwear Act, that could significantly lower the cost of hiking boots and other outdoor footwear.

Bi-partisan legislation from Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) would suspend import duties on outdoor footwear for five years. Also co-sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Johanns (R-ID), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the bill would lower consumer costs, promote jobs and drive innovation in domestically produced outdoor footwear.

While the average U.S. tariff on consumer goods is 2%, tariffs on outdoor footwear products are as high as 37.5%. In fact, many of the high tariffs on outdoor footwear exceed federal taxes on cigarettes, a striking disparity which would be corrected by the Affordable Footwear Act’s passage.

The U.S. Treasury collects $2.3 billion in import duties on outdoor footwear each year. With mark-ups at the wholesale and retail level, those $2.3 billion in duties amount to a $7 billion tax on American consumers. The Affordable Footwear Act seeks to target $800 million of that $2.3 billion in import duties. This effectively translates into a savings of $2-3 billion for consumers each year.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is working closely with its members to ensure that none of the products covered by the bill are produced in the U.S. Additionally, the limited duration of the bill will allow Congress to remove any products that may be made in the U.S. in the future.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) introduced the House version of the bill – HR 1708 – last spring. It currently has a bi-partisan group of 48 co-sponsors.

“This common sense piece of legislation will benefit consumers and businesses,” said Kirk Bailey, vice president of government affairs of Outdoor Industry Association. “By eliminating disproportionally high tariffs, this bill will fuel innovation in the outdoor domestic shoe industry and help create new jobs in the U.S. By lowering costs for consumers, the Affordable Footwear Act of 2013 will make outdoor recreation and outdoor products more affordable for more Americans.”

OIA is asking its members to urge their Senators to become co-sponsors on the bill.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

After 45 Seasons, Ranger Fred Reese Retires

After 45 seasons at Glacier National Park, plus a few years working at other sites of the National Park Service, Fred Reese retired this fall.

Reese, 75 years old, began working as a seasonal park ranger at the Rising Sun Campground in 1966. He continued working summers at Glacier National Park until accepting a permanent position at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio for about three years, before returning to seasonal duties at Glacier National Park in 1982. He also worked several winter seasons at Death Valley National Park in California.

From 1990 – 2010 Reese worked as an elementary special education teacher for the Columbia Falls School District during the school year. The combination of working for the school district and the park was ideal for Reese, allowing for two careers.

Reese was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Chickasaw National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service, is located nearby and Reese believes that perhaps his connection to national parks was created when he was very young. Reese traveled to Montana for the first time when he was about seven years old. He would join his grandfather and uncles on annual fishing trips, including visits to Glacier National Park. Reese said that he thought that someday he would travel back to Montana and perhaps work at the park.

He served his country with the U.S. Army, and in 1966 he began his career with Glacier National Park and the National Park Service. Over the years Reese worked as a campground ranger, backcountry ranger, visitor-use assistant, fee collector and entrance station supervisor. Since 1990 he has been a familiar and friendly face at the West Glacier Entrance Station.

Reese says the favorite part of job was the people he worked with and the visitors he met, and being on the many trails in the park. He really enjoyed being a backcountry ranger. His knowledge of the backcountry and the trail system is extensive, and greatly served the visitor and other employees over his tenure at the park. When asked what he won’t miss about his job, he smiled and said, “long lines at the entrance station.”

Reese was recently recognized for his many years of contributions to Glacier National Park. He lives in Columbia Falls with his wife and son. He hopes that his health sustains him and he is able to enjoy some of the backcountry trails in his retirement.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Multnomah Falls

You’ve probably seen Multnomah Falls before. It’s been featured in many television and print ads over the years.

In fact, Multnomah Falls is likely one of the most famous and most photographed waterfalls in the entire world. In addition to dropping more than 600 feet, the view of the falls is enhanced by the iconic footbridge that spans just above its lower tier. It’s an easy hike to reach the bridge, but did you know that you can go all the way to the top for a birds-eye view of the waterfall as it plunges over the cliff?

Please click here for more information on this hike and traveling along the Columbia River Gorge.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scoping begins for Mountain Goat Management Plan in Tetons

The National Park Service is beginning to develop a plan to analyze potential strategies for managing non-native mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This management plan and environmental assessment (plan/EA) would support long-term protection for the mountain ecosystem and its associated native species in Grand Teton and the JDR Parkway. Public comments will be accepted during the scoping period through December 13, 2013.

A plan/EA is needed to address the impacts of non-native mountain goats which could include the loss or alteration of native ecosystems, especially native plant and animal communities, and effects on bighorn sheep, a native species of conservation concern. Primary reasons for evaluating management actions, which may involve potential removal of mountain goats from park lands, include: Resource damage; use of limited natural resources (habitat and food); competition with a small, genetically isolated population of native bighorn sheep; and potential risk of disease transmission to bighorn sheep.

Mountain goats currently found in the Teton Range are colonizers from herds that developed after goats were transplanted by the Idaho Fish and Game Department into the Snake River Range and Big Hole Mountains of southeastern Idaho beginning in 1969. These areas are about 20 miles from the southwest boundary of Grand Teton. Although mountain goats are native to northern mountain ranges in the western United States, including some in northern Idaho and Montana, the southeast Idaho transplant locations were outside their historical range. Within a decade, goats were occasionally seen in the Teton Range, however sightings were sporadic and the animals appeared transient.

Since 2008, park biologists have documented groups of mountain goats including nannies (adult females) with kids (young of the year) annually within Grand Teton National Park. These observations strongly suggest that goats are in the early stages of establishing a population in the Teton Range. Goat activity has primarily been concentrated in the Cascade Canyon area of the Tetons, but recent sightings have occurred throughout the mountain range.

To obtain information and submit comments, please click here. Comments may also be submitted to Grand Teton National Park; Planning & Environmental Compliance; P.O. Drawer 170; Moose, WY 83012.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Glacier Visits Down 52% in October

So how bad was the government shutdown for Glacier National Park? The October Public Use Report indicates that total visits to the park were down 52% when compared to October of 2012. The park recorded a total of 25,965 recreational visits this past month, versus 54,127 for October of 2012.

For the year-to-date, 2,172,695 people have visited Glacier in 2013. This is a slight increase of 0.79% when compared to the first 10 months of 2012.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Glacier Institute: We Believe...

The Glacier Institute celebrates 30 years this year, and to help celebrate they recently published this wonderful video:

Since 1983 the Glacier Institute has been providing hands-on, field-based educational adventures to people from all over the world. For more information, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Paradise Found: The Skyline Trail

"... the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings."

That was John Muir’s reaction upon seeing the Paradise valley for the very first time in 1889. I dare say you might have the same reaction yourself. The best way to explore the Paradise valley below the southern slopes of Mt. Rainier is to hike the Skyline Trail loop. This hike was so incredibly beautiful that it was the first time that I ever kept my camera in my hand for the entire trip. The amazing scenery never ended!

For more information and photos on this outstanding hike (now one of my all-time favorites), please click here to visit our new Discover the West website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Three Grizzly Bears Captured and Euthanized

Three grizzly bears were captured by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Grizzly Bear Biologists and euthanized with the assistance of local veterinarians, according to FWP Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley. The bears had become food-conditioned and caused conflicts resulting in property damage and in one case, lots of dead chickens.

FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams called the situation unfortunate. “We typically learn from the bear’s behavior when it is time to remove them,” says Williams. “There is a threshold at which it is not safe to release a problem grizzly bear back into the wild. In all three of these cases the bears had progressed to breaking through structures near occupied residences and/or had a long previous history of conflict with humans. In each case, the problems started with human attractants.”

Grizzly Bear Number 1: A 3-year old, 140 pound, female grizzly bear was captured and euthanized on October 28th, near Nyack east of West Glacier after the bear had caused property damage by breaking into a chicken coop to get chicken feed and attempting to get through a door on a porch to get dog food. Due to the property damage and history, the decision was made to remove the bear.

Grizzly Bear Number 2: Another grizzly was removed in the Glen Lake area near Eureka on October 30th. This 375-pound, 6-year old male grizzly was also food-conditioned and had been killing chickens and breaking into structures. Due to the property damage and large number of chickens that were killed at several places, the decision was made to remove the bear.

Grizzly Bear Number 3: The third grizzly bear removed was a 7-year old, 525 pound male that was captured on the east side of the Flathead Valley near Mud Lake on November 2. This bear had caused extensive damage to a tack shed that was used to store horse grain. The landowner had made a good effort to “bear proof” his shed after a bear had tried getting into it 10 years ago. He had put up steel diamond mesh over a metal door and window. The bear put a hole through the wall and also pulled down the mesh over the door and pushed in the metal door. Due to the extensive property damage the decision was made to remove the bear.

Manley noted that overall, this season had been fairly quiet with regards to grizzly bear conflicts, until the month of October. In addition to these three bears, trapping for grizzly bears causing conflicts has also occurred in the Farm-to-Market, Blankenship, Columbia Falls, and Pinkham Creek areas. Most grizzly bears den during the month of November, and a telemetry flight conducted on October 19th showed 3 female grizzly bears at their dens.

“The best thing that residents living in bear country can do to prevent bear conflicts is to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food, and bird feeders so that bears don’t get food rewards and start looking around homes and buildings for food,” said Manley. “Chickens and other livestock can be protected with properly installed and maintained electric fencing.”

History, Grizzly Bear Number 1: This female was originally captured in the Coram area as a cub in 2010 and relocated into the North Fork along with the adult female and its sibling. In the spring of 2011, the family group returned to the Coram area and the yearling female and its male sibling were again captured and moved to the Spotted Bear drainage. The adult female eluded capture. They were both fitted with an eartag transmitter and monitored. In the spring of 2012, the young female was observed in the horse corrals at Spotted Bear before any Forest Service personnel were down there for the field season. She was captured and fitted with a radio collar because the battery in the eartag transmitter would be going dead and, being two years of age, was old enough to wear a radio collar. She spent most of the summer in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, but during the fall, she returned to the Spotted Bear area and spent time around the guest ranches and Forest Service compound looking primarily for spilled horse grain. Forest Service personnel worked with the guest ranches on securing attractants and chasing her away if she was being seen around the buildings. She denned in the Bob Marshall Wilderness south of Spotted Bear and dropped her radio collar in June of 2013. On September 14, 2013, she was recaptured at the Spotted Bear compound after the report of a bear getting into coolers in the back of a pickup truck and climbing through the open window of another truck to get dog biscuits. There was also bear scat with grain in it. The decision was made to give her one more chance and move her into the Whale Creek drainage in the North Fork of the Flathead. The North Fork was chosen because most of the residents in the North Fork have secured bear attractants and there is very little chicken or horse grain in the North Fork. There were no reports of this bear causing any conflicts until she ended up at Nyack Flats.

History, Grizzly Bear Number 2: The male grizzly was originally captured in 2008 as part of a research project in the North Fork drainage of British Columbia. While he was collared in 2008, he spent all of his time in Southeast British Columbia. He was captured October 6th, 2013, near Glen Lake where the local game warden was trying to capture two young grizzly bears that had been seen getting on porches and were believed to have also killed chickens. The capture of this male was believed to have been incidental. He was fitted with a GPS radio-collared and released in the Whale Creek drainage of the North Fork of the Flathead. He returned to the Glen Lake area within a week. He was recaptured near Glen Lake after several chicken coops were broken into and over 30 chickens were killed. The GPS data from his radio collar also showed that he spent a lot of time around houses between Trego and Eureka once he returned to the Tobacco Valley.

History, Grizzly Bear Number 3: This bear was originally captured on the Rocky Mountain Front and was translocated to the Unawah drainage on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir in 2010. He dropped his radio collar in Wheeler Creek in 2011.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Adds 5 New Hikes to Website is proud to announce the addition of five new hikes to our website. You could make the argument that each of these are quintessential Glacier hikes. They include:

* Swfitcurrent Pass - Although this is one of the toughest hikes in Glacier, it includes tons of spectacular scenery. You'll pass by three lakes and a waterfall while traveling up the Swiftcurrent Valley. Once above the valley floor the trail offers outstanding birds-eye views of six lakes, as well as the Swiftcurrent Glacier. At the pass you'll have stunning views of Heavens Peak and Granite Park.

* Siyeh Pass Loop - This one-way hike offers visitors the chance to take-in some of the best of what Glacier has to offer. Hikers will pass through the incredibly beautiful Preston Park, climb up to one of the highest maintained trails in Glacier, and then back down the Baring Creek Valley where you'll have a relatively close-up view of Sexton Glacier.

* Hidden Lake - This extremely popular hike, starting from Logan Pass, visits the Hidden Lake Overlook where you’ll have outstanding panoramic views into the heart of Glacier, before descending down to the shores of a beautiful alpine lake.

* Bullhead Lake - You'll pass by three lakes and a waterfall while traveling up the Swiftcurrent Valley on this easy moderate hike. Each lake on this hike provides outstanding views of the surrounding mountains. You'll also stand a pretty good chance of seeing a moose.

* Gable Pass - This is truly a little known gem. Once you ascend Lee Ridge you'll have expansive panoramic views that include Chief Mountain, Gable Mountain, as well as the highest point in Glacier National Park, 10,466-foot Mt. Cleveland. In my opinion, these are some of the best views in Glacier Park.

To see all of the trails covered by our website, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Free Entrance to Glacier National Park This Weekend

Entrance fees to Glacier National Park will be waived Saturday through Monday, November 10-12, Veteran’s Day Weekend, in honor of those that serve and have served in the United States Military.

Glacier National Park, as well as the other 400 sites of the National Park Service, offers a free annual pass to active duty military members and their dependents. The annual pass allows free entrance to national parks and other federal recreation sites.

Active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents can obtain their pass at Glacier National Park’s headquarters building or any staffed park entrance station. A current and valid military identification card must be presented to obtain the pass. More information is available at

Winter entrance fees to the park are in effect November 1 - April 30 each year. The park’s winter entrance fee is $15 per vehicle and is valid for seven days. The per-person winter entrance fee for a visitor traveling on foot or bicycle is $10 and is valid for seven days. An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year is available for $35.

Backcountry permits are required for any backcountry overnight visit in the park. Permits for the winter season are available by calling the park up to seven days in advance, or by visiting the park headquarters office, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or the Apgar Visitor Center on weekends, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For backcountry campers desiring to obtain their permit on the east side of the park, please call ahead to arrange a meeting place. Winter backcountry campers need to view the park’s two Winter Backcountry Camping Videos prior to arriving in the park. The videos are available on the park’s YouTube site.

Winter camping is available at the Apgar Picnic Area and the St. Mary Campground. There is no charge for camping at these locations in the winter, and no services are provided.

For additional information about Glacier National Park, visit the park’s website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission Seeks Comment on Wolf Rule

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission is seeking comment on proposed amendments to rules that provide for landowners or their agents without a hunting license to take a wolf that is a potential threat to human safety, livestock or pets.

The proposed rule amendments would provide a means to carry out a new state law while ensuring the lawful take and reporting is formally defined and authorized. Proposed amendments also reflect various updates and clarifications identified since the wolf was delisted.

Public hearings to discuss the rule are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on the following dates:

• Dec. 2 Bozeman FWP Region 3 HQ; 1400 S. 19th St.
• Dec. 3 Great Falls FWP Region 4 HQ–via video–4600 Giant Springs Rd.
• Dec. 3 Billings FWP Region 5 HQ–via video–2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
• Dec. 3 Helena FWP HQ; 1420 E. 6th Ave.
• Dec. 4 Kalispell 490 N. Meridian Rd.
• Dec. 9 Missoula 3201 Spurgin Rd.
• Dec. 10 Glasgow FWP Region 6 HQ–via video–54078 US Hwy 2 W.
• Dec. 10 Miles City FWP Region 7 HQ–via video–352 I-94 Business Loop.

Copies of the draft rule and comment forms are available online here.

Public comment on the draft rule will be accepted through, December 20th.

A final rule will considered for approval by the Fish & Wildlife Commission in Spring 2014. For more information, call 406-444-2612, or visit the FWP website at

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 4, 2013

National Weather Service Creates Recreation Forecast Website for Glacier

Great news for Glacier National Park visitors and weather buffs alike. The National Weather Service has recently rolled-out a new "Recreation Safety Forecast" website specifically for Glacier Park.

The purpose of the new website is to allow people to obtain forecasts for a specific location within the park.

Due to its varying terrain, weather can vary dramatically from one side of the Continental Divide to the other, or even from one valley to the next.

So lets say you plan to go hiking up to Swiftcurrent Pass out of Many Glacier. This new website will provide you with a 7-day forecast, hourly forecast data, and even a hazardous weather outlook, specifically for Swiftcurrent Pass. You can even get weather data for the prior 3 days if need be.

As of right now, the website provides pinpoint weather forecasts for 46 locations within Glacier National Park.

If you wish to check out the new NWS website, we've linked to the page on our weather page. Just click on the link for "Pinpoint Forecasts".

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Walk in the footsteps of the ancients

Just north of Santa Fe is a relatively unknown and detached unit of Bandelier National Monument known as Tsankawi. Although this area is easy to overlook, park visitors shouldn’t pass up a chance to visit this gem. The primary attraction at Tsankawi is the short loop trail which provides access to numerous unexcavated ruins, cave dwellings carved into the soft volcanic tuff, as well as several petroglyphs from the Ancestral Tewa Pueblo that lived here until the 16th century. The trail offers hikers the opportunity to literally walk in the footsteps of the ancients. Generations of use have carved trails into the soft volcanic tuft:

For more information on this unique hike, please click here to visit our new Discover the West website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 1, 2013

Glacier National Park Conservancy Announces Select Opening of the GNPC Outlet Store

Giving the gift of Glacier just got easier. Earlier this week the Glacier National Park Conservancy announced the opening of a sales outlet in their office at 402 9th St West in Columbia Falls.

The new sales outlet will open today, November 1st. The store will feature a diverse selection of items that allow a greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of Glacier National Park, perfect for giving as gifts - everything from books to apparel and water bottles to blankets.

Special shopping opportunities and events are planned for both November and December and will be announced in the near future. “We are looking forward to this new step and being able to better engage the local communities in our mission to support Glacier. By shopping at our store, your purchase will support the Park,” says Wendy Hill, director of retail and product development for the Conservancy.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy is the result of the January 1, 2013 merger of two of Glacier National Park’s long-time nonprofit partners, The Glacier Natural History Association and the Glacier National Park Fund. Working closely with Glacier National Park leadership, the two Boards helped to form the Conservancy to provide a higher level of philanthropic and outreach support for programs in Glacier National Park.

Additional information about the Glacier National Park Conservancy as well as opportunities to support Glacier National Park can be found on the Conservancy website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park