Friday, May 31, 2013

Bear Monitoring Continues in Glacier

A long-term interagency program to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem will continue at Glacier National Park this year.

Bait stations, automated cameras, and traps are used to capture and monitor grizzly bears within the park. Bait stations and trap sites are marked with brightly colored warning and closure signs. Visitors are asked to respect posted signs and not enter sites where grizzly bear traps or bait stations are present.

Glacier National Park wildlife biologists attempt to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-collared female grizzly bears out of an estimated population of 300 grizzly bears living in the park. Trapping efforts will continue through October at various locations throughout Glacier National Park.

The interagency grizzly bear monitoring program began in 2004 and is led by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Participating agencies include: National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Blackfeet Nation.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Artwork Selected for 2014 Annual Park Pass

Glacier National Park and the Glacier National Park Conservancy, an official partner of the park, have announced the winners of the recent annual park pass artwork contest.

Valarie Kittle, a senior at Glacier High School, submitted the winning entry. Her image of the historic Lake McDonald Lodge will be on the 2014 Glacier National Park Annual Park Pass. This pass will be available in January 2014, and approximately 14,000 passes will be issued during the year.

The art contest was open to high school students. The purpose of the contest is to improve stewardship and understanding of cultural and natural resources in the park. The focus of this year's contest was the 100th anniversaries, in 2014, of three iconic cultural resources in the park - Lake McDonald Lodge, Sperry Chalet and Granite Park Chalet.

Isabella Ridgeway and Rosalie Tozer, both students at Glacier High School, were recognized for second and third place respectively. All three winners will receive a gift certificate from the conservancy that can be redeemed at any Glacier National Park Conservancy sales outlet, or their on-line store.

Wendy Hill, Glacier National Park Conservancy Executive Director of Products and Retail Sales, said, "Through this art contest, we are creating future stewards, future caretakers of the park, to help ensure the longevity of this national treasure." She added, "And, it's quite an honor to have your art displayed on the annual park pass."

The winning artwork will be available to view on the park's website, by clicking on the "For Kids" section.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Old Faithful's Geothermal System Subject Of Upcoming Scientific Review

Scientists and managers are getting together in early June to review what we know and don't know about the geothermal system in the Old Faithful area.

A three day meeting on the subject is set for June 3-5 in Yellowstone National Park.

Panelists with a wide range of backgrounds and experience will share what is currently known about the area's hydrothermal systems and will discuss potential areas for future research.

The goal is to help current and future park managers understand how the hydrothermal system is influenced or impacted by human actions in the area to aid them in decisions about any potential infrastructure changes.

The panel discussions begin at 8:00 a.m. each day and are open to the public. Limited seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the second floor conference room of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge where the panel discussions will be held.

A draft agenda of the three day session is available online here. A summary report of the proceedings will be prepared and released online this fall.

The panel is funded through a grant from the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Waterton Wildflower Festival

The spectacular setting of Waterton Lakes National Park is home to more than 50% of Alberta's wildflowers... more than any other Rocky Mountain national park. Over 50 of Canada's rare flowers grow in Waterton, 30 of which are found only in this park.

From beargrass to orchids, nature is on display in a panorama of blossoms among prairies and peaks. This amazing diversity of wildflowers will be celebrated in the tenth annual Waterton Wildflower Festival, June 15-23, 2013.

Join the Waterton Wildflower Festival for guided flower walks, hikes and workshops, and celebrate the first day of summer in a World Heritage Site.

This 9-day event, organized by the Trail of the Great Bear and partners, features more 80 educational courses and events on wildflowers, plants and ecosystems, workshops on photography and art, and evening slide shows and local entertainment.

Activities include: Wildflower Identification, Wildflower Habitat, Wildflowers by Horseback and by Cruise Boat, Photography Workshops, Botanical Watercolours, Afternoon Tea and much more.

Events throughout the 9 days are led by highly qualified professionals including talented wildflower photographers Paul Gilbert (author of "Wild Colours" and "Wild Light" books), Steve Harrington and Frans Brouwers; botanical artist Margaret Best; naturalists and scientists, John Russell, Dr. Brian Reeves, Jo-Anne Reynolds, Lyndon Penner.

For more information, please click here.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Bob Marshall Wilderness Seeks Input for the 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Conference

On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Wilderness Act, which has protected wild lands across America. With the 50th anniversary of that legislation rapidly approaching, there will be a "50th Anniversary National Wilderness Conference" that will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 15-19, 2014.

Some of the goals of the conference are to:

* Discuss the concept of wilderness and its related values: ecological, aesthetic, spiritual, and symbolic.

* Provide a forum for discussing the growing challenges for wilderness today.

* Deepen participants' engagement in wilderness stewardship.

Out of these goals will come about five themes to lend both breath and inclusion of multiple topics. These are listed under the areas of civic engagement, education , experience, science, and stewardship. These, hopefully, will allow for varied and interactive presentations.

"It is important that our diverse wilderness user groups involve themselves with this important wilderness event."

Deb Mucklow, the Spotted Bear District Ranger, is on the national planning committee to represent users and caretakers of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Right now she and others are seeking ideas, suggestions, or questions to make the conference fit the desired needs of the participants. All ideas will be presented to the total planning committee for consideration and possible involvement in the program.

If you wish to provide your input, you can contact Deb at 406) 758-5376, (406)387-3800 or

For more information on the conference, please click here. For more information on the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, please click here.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Avoiding Altitude Sickness in Glacier National Park

At 10,466 feet, Mt. Cleveland is the highest point in Glacier National Park. Reaching a maximum height of 8100 feet, the Siyeh Pass Trail is one the highest maintained trails in Glacier. And at only 6646 feet, Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. These elevations are hardly comparable to the heights regularly reached by hikers on the 13 and 14 thousand-foot peaks of Colorado, or motorists on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (12,183 feet), or even Beartooth Pass (10,947 feet) for that matter.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience altitude sickness in Glacier. Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur in some people at elevations as low as 8000 feet. For most visitors and hikers in Glacier, this won’t be an issue. However, for adventurers looking to visit the Swiftcurrent Mountain Lookout at 8436 feet, or go off-trail to summit any of the highest peaks in the park, it is something to be aware of. Moreover, there is a small segment of the population that can experience mild symptoms of AMS at altitudes as low as 6500 feet.

At elevations over 10,000 feet, 75% of people will experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness, which include, headache, nausea and dizziness, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a general feeling of malaise.

At higher elevations where moderate or severe cases of AMS can occur, be aware of severe headaches that aren’t relieved by medication, nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue, and decreased co-ordination.

If you experience any of these symptoms, the best remedy is to descend at least 1000 – 1500 feet, or more, as soon as possible.

There are several steps you can take beforehand to help prevent altitude sickness:

* Stay properly hydrated. Fluid loss normally occurs during the acclimatization process, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated.

* Eat a high calorie diet while at altitude.

* Take it easy and don't overexert yourself when you first arrive at high altitude.

* Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs.

* If possible, don't fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 10,000 feet and walk up.

* If you do fly or drive, don’t overexert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours.

* If you go above 10,000 feet, only increase your altitude by 1,000 feet per day, and for every 3,000 feet of elevation gained, take a rest day to acclimatize.

* Climb high and sleep low. You can climb more than 1,000 feet in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.

* If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude sickness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease.

* For more information you can visit the NOLS Wilderness First Aid altitude illness page.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

FWP Seeks Information on Two Grizzly Bear Shootings

The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is seeking information on two recent grizzly bear shootings in the areas just south and west of Glacier:

On May 16th Game Wardens investigated a dead grizzly bear in the Star Meadows area northwest of Kalispell, more specifically Sanko Creek. Initial investigation showed that the light colored bear died from a gunshot wound. Anyone with any information is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT, or Game Warden Chris Crane 406-249-6231.

On May 4th during a monitoring flight, FWP Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley located a collared male grizzly bear that was dragging its hind quarters. Manley landed, and euthanized the bear, which was located near Wolf Creek Drive and Highway 83, near the Swan River.

Game Warden Chuck Bartos investigated, and a necropsy determined that the bear had been shot.

FWP is looking for any information regarding this incident. Anyone with information on this case should call Warden Chuck Bartos (406-253-2934), or 1-800-TIP-MONT.

Callers can remain anonymous and a reward may be available for both incidents.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beartooth Highway To Open For Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

The Beartooth Highway, the scenic high elevation portion of US-212 linking Red Lodge, Montana, with the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, and the northeast
entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is scheduled to open for the season at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, May 24th. Spring road clearing and maintenance is conducted by the Montana Department of Transportation and the National Park Service.

Inside Yellowstone, the road over Dunraven Pass linking Canyon Village, Tower Fall and Tower Junction also opens for the season on Friday morning.

All other park roads and all park entrances have already opened for the season.

Most seasonal visitor services in the park open in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Saturday also marks the opening of fishing season in the park. Details are available online, by consulting the park newspaper handed out at entrance stations, or by asking the staff at visitor centers and information stations in and near the park.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a chance of afternoon or evening thunderstorms for the three day holiday weekend, with high temperatures in the 50s and low 60s, and overnight low temperatures near freezing. Spring visitors to the park are encouraged to have flexible travel plans and to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions.

All communities near and on the way to Yellowstone are open all year, offering a wide range of recreation opportunities, activities, and services for visitors to the region.

There will be no daytime travel delays or overnight road closures due to road construction during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Starting Tuesday morning, May 28, visitors should expect construction delays of up to 30 minutes on the road between Tower Fall and Canyon. This section of road will also be closed every night between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. due to construction.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117. Information on current conditions in the park is also available online here.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend at Glacier National Park

Hikers and bikers can enjoy unrestricted access on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this holiday weekend at Glacier National Park. The Apgar Visitor Center is open and the St. Mary Visitor Center is scheduled to open Saturday, May 25. Many park concessioners and privately-owned facilities will begin to offer visitor amenities this weekend.

On Friday, May 24, hikers and bikers can travel as far as Bird Woman Falls Overlook on the west side, and as far as Siyeh Bend on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. There are no restrictions for hikers and bikers Saturday through Monday, May 25-27. For more information about hiker-biker access please click here or contact the park at 406-888-7800 for updated information.

Currently, 29 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open to vehicle travel. Visitors can drive 15.5 miles from the West Entrance to Avalanche, and 13.5 miles from the St. Mary Entrance to Jackson Glacier Overlook.

Snow plowing activities on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with the west-side road crew working their way towards The Slopes area located about two miles from Logan Pass. The east-side crew is now past Siyeh Bend, working towards No Stump Point. You can view pictures of current plowing activities on the park's Flickr page.

Campgrounds opening Friday, May 24 include: Many Glacier, Rising Sun, and Two Medicine Campgrounds. Apgar, Bowman, and Sprague Creek Campgrounds are currently open. The St. Mary Campground is currently operating in primitive status, with full services available May 24. Most campgrounds are first-come first-served, with reservations available at Fish Creek and St. May Campgrounds and at the group sites at Apgar Campground from June 1 through September 1. Reservation information and specific information about each campground, including a map of the sites, operating dates, available services, current and historic fill times, and more are available here.

The Camas Road, Bowman Road, Chief Mountain International Peace Parkway, Many Glacier Road, and Two Medicine Road are open to motorized travel. The Inside North Fork Road is currently open eight miles between the Polebridge Ranger Station and the head of Big Prairie. All other areas of the Inside North Fork Road remain closed at this time. The Cut Bank Road is currently closed at the park boundary. For updated park road status please click here.

Park visitors are reminded to be aware of changing weather conditions and plan accordingly. Spring rain showers may increase flooding and/or avalanche danger. Stopping in avalanche paths is not recommended, and caution should be used with any activity near or in water. Bears are currently active within the park and visitors are reminded to travel in groups and make loud noises when recreating to avoid surprise encounters. For your safety, do not approach or attempt to feed any wildlife in the park.

Backcountry permits are required for any backcountry overnight visit. Permits are available from the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office and the St. Mary Visitor Center, and from most of the ranger stations throughout the summer.

Visitors planning to boat within the park are reminded that all motorized watercraft require inspection and a permit before launching within the park. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, permits are available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at park headquarters in West Glacier, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations, including the St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and Many Glacier Ranger Station. Boaters wishing to launch on Bowman Lake should obtain a permit at park headquarters, and proceed to Bowman Lake after the inspection. Hand-propelled watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, and catarafts require a free self-certification permit. For more information and access to the self-certification permit please click here.

The park's summer entrance fee is $25 per vehicle and is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee for a visitor traveling on foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12 and is valid for seven days. An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year from time of purchase of the pass is available for $35. Other passes with America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program are also available. United States citizens 62 years of age and older may purchase a lifetime pass for $10, and citizens with a permanent disability may obtain a free lifetime pass. An annual pass available for $80 allows free entrance to federally operated recreation sites across the county, including many National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management sites. A free annual pass to active duty military members and their dependents is also available. For more information or to purchase a pass, please contact the park at 406-888-7800, visit the park headquarters building in West Glacier, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or a staffed entrance station.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Columbia Falls Climber Dies in Fall on Yosemite’s El Capitan

NPS Digest is reporting this morning that Mason Robison, a 38-year-old climber from Columbia Falls, Montana, fell to his death while climbing the Muir Wall on El Capitan this past Sunday morning.

Robison was roughly 2,300 feet above the monolith’s base in Yosemite National Park when he dislodged a large rock that severed his lead rope, and caused him to fall 230 feet onto his haul line, which was being used to bring the party's equipment up the route. Robison’s climbing partner was unable to immediately contact emergency services due to poor cell phone reception, and began to yell for help. Several other climbers, along with a Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) volunteer, reported witnessing the rockfall in the area of Robison and his partner, and notified the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center. Rangers responded to El Capitan Meadow for observation and heard faint cries for help up on the wall, but had difficulty pinpointing the location of the spot where the calls were coming from.

Robison’s partner, who wasn't hurt, continued to try to call for help via his cell phone, and was eventually able to contact dispatch.

Rangers were then able to locate the climbing party through a spotting scope, and determined that Robison was hanging motionless from the end of his rope. The park helicopter flew a technical rescue team to the summit of El Capitan around 12:30 p.m. Team members began rigging for a technical lowering of almost 800 feet to Robison’s location. Rangers Jack Hoeflich and Ed Visnovske were lowered down the cliff face; they were able to reach him shortly thereafter, and pronounced him dead upon arrival. They raised Robison and his partner to the top of El Capitan, and then flew both to the valley floor.

Tragically, Robison’s older brother, Mark, died while climbing Rainbow Peak in Glacier National Park in 1998.

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Win a $10,000 Adventure Grant from Outside Magazine

Got a bold idea for an expedition? Outside Magazine is willing to give you $10,000 towards your ultimate adventure dream - if you can encourage enough people to vote for your idea.

To drop your name into the hat, all you'll need to do is submit a proposal by June 1st. Included with your proposal will be an essay, no longer than 500 words, a photo of yourself, and a video of two minutes or less. Outside editors will then select a handful of finalists and post the videos online so that readers can vote on the winner. Last year the magazine received several hundred applications, while thousands of readers voted in the contest.

Last year's winner was Daniel Alvarez, a former corporate lawyer (pictured above) who paddled a sea kayak from Minnesota to Florida.

For more information and to enter, please click here.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Even bears like to have their backs scratched

Who doesn't like a good back scratching? Even bears like to have their backs scratched! This game camera in Swan Valley, Idaho caught several bears using a nearby tree as a backscratcher over the course of last summer. Be sure to check out the response of the moose at the end of the video:

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell Highlight Federal Preparedness for 2013 Western Wildfire Season

During a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlined the Federal Government's efforts to ensure collaboration in protecting Americans from wildfire, and urged homeowners and local communities to take steps to reduce their risks during the 2013 fire season. The outlook for the fire season is severe across much of the Western United States.

"The US Forest Service, Federal fire managers and crews will continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and our natural resources during what could be a challenging wildfire season," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are working together to preposition our firefighting teams and equipment to make the most effective use of available resources during this time of constrained budgets."

"One of our greatest strengths in wildfire management is that Federal, Tribal, State, and local government agencies recognize that the challenge is too great for any one organization to tackle on its own," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "As regions across the country face serious risks of wildfires this season, the work ongoing at the National Interagency Fire Center is important to ensure that we're doing everything we can to protect lives, communities and our natural resources. The public also has an important role to play, and I encourage homeowners and communities to take proactive steps when it comes to preparedness, prevention and safety."

This year, significant fire potential is predicted to be above normal in much of the West, including almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Idaho; and portions of Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. In 2012, 9.3 million acres of private, state, and federal land, and more than 4,400 structures burned in wildfires. That was the third highest number of acres burned since at least 1960, the earliest date with reliable records.

On average, Forest Service and Interior agencies respond to tens of thousands of wildfires per year, suppressing all but a small percentage during the first burning period. However, the few fires that cannot be suppressed during the initial stages run the risk of becoming much larger.

Federal assets include more than 13,000 firefighters, including permanent and seasonal federal employees; more than 1,600 engines; up to 26 multiengine air tankers and two water scooper aircrafts; approximately 27 single engine air tankers; and hundreds of helicopters. At the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighting experts from multiple government agencies continuously monitor fire activity, weather and fuel conditions while strategically positioning Federal firefighters, ground equipment and aircraft to support wildfires across the country as the season shifts.

During their visit, Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell urged the public to do their part to help prevent wildfires while preparing for fire season, noting that most wildfires are human-caused. They urged residents of the more than 70,000 communities at risk from wildfires to take proactive steps and improve safety by developing community wildfire protection plans. Communities and residents can access educational resources available at; and through the "Firewise," and "Ready, Set, Go!" programs.

More than 590 million acres of public lands are in significant need of restoration, including thinning and prescribed burning, due to the cumulative impacts of wildfire, insects and disease, and drought. More than 1,000 post-fire assessments show that these types of restoration efforts are effective in reducing wildfire severity. Forest Service and Interior continue to focus restoration treatments on high-priority areas to lessen the impacts of wildfire when it happens.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Taking care of your hiking feet

The following are a few tips, suggestions and strategies for taking care of your feet before and during a hike to help ensure that it isn’t ruined as a result of blisters:

Toenails: Make sure you take the time to trim your toenails before a big hike, especially one that involves long descents. It’s best to clip your toenails as short as possible so that there’s no extra nail length. If need be, file the nails down until they’re flush with the skin. Sometimes I forget to do this and end up with a long nail digging into the flesh of a neighboring toe!

Socks: One way of preventing blisters is to wear proper socks. This means staying far away from 100% cotton socks which absorb sweat and can lead to blisters. It’s best to wear socks made from synthetics, or a blend of synthetics and cotton, which wicks moisture away and keeps your feet drier and cooler. Also, make sure you wear socks that fit properly. Socks that are too big can bunch together in boots and create friction areas that result in blisters.

Finally, I always keep an extra pair of socks in my backpack just in case the ones I’m wearing get wet.

Boots: Much has already been written on boots, including what type to wear, proper fit, etc. That discussion is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’re looking for an informative article on the subject I highly recommend this one. Also, my wife has had problems with blisters, and even lost a toenail while hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon several years ago. She’s since discovered that as a result of her narrow feet, she wasn't wearing boots that fit her properly. This article on Backpacker Mag offers solutions for people who have similar issues.

Boot laces: One way to help prevent blisters from forming on your heels, and toes from hitting the front of your boot, is to make sure your boots are properly laced, especially on descents.

When heading downhill it’s important to make sure that your heel doesn’t slip forward, thus causing friction which leads to blisters. The key is to keep your heel secure within the boot, while still allowing some room for natural swelling that occurs in the fore and mid areas of your foot.

Most good hiking boots have two types of eyelets: closed metal rings along the top of the foot, and quick-release types on the top of the boot above the ankle.

On the lower eyelets along the top of the foot, it’s best to lace your shoes with a little give. In other words, not snug, but not real loose either. This will give your foot room to expand as your foot swells during a hike.

Then, on that last lace before you start lacing through the quick release eyelets, do a single, very snug, overhand loop. Lace through the first pair of quick release eyelets and then do another snug overhand loop. Do the same all the way to the top of the eyelets (don’t strangle your ankle though!). This will anchor your heel area to the boot and keep it from sliding.

Another option for lacing boots, especially if you have narrow feet, is to use the technique outlined by the Hiking Lady in this video:

Gaiters: Most people would agree that wet socks suck. Wet socks are not only uncomfortable, but can also be dangerous if it’s cold out. Moreover, hiking for long periods in wet socks is a prescription for blisters.

One way to combat wet terrain, snow, and even sand and pebbles from jumping into your boots, is to wear gaiters. Basically there are two types: high and low. High gaiters are used for snowshoeing and mountaineering, extend to just below your knees, and are designed to keep your socks and pants dry. Short gaiters generally cover the lower part of your shin and are used in warmer weather to protect against wet terrain, sand and pebbles.

Blisters: The following are a few other suggestions for avoiding blisters:

* Train your feet. Don’t go out on a long hike without taking the time to toughen up your feet by doing walks or short hikes leading up to the big day.

* Don’t try to break in brand new boots on a long hike either. Wear a new pair around town, or on short hikes, before taking them long distance.

* Walking barefoot around the house, especially outside, will toughen the skin of your feet.

* Stop and remove dirt, sand, or any other debris that gets in your boots ASAP.

* Air your feet out during a break in order to cool and dry them off.

* For people with feet that sweat excessively, try using extra-strength antiperspirant creams, roll-ons, or powders to reduce sweating.

* If you have areas on your foot that have caused problems in the past, try putting moleskin or athletic tape on before blisters have a chance to form.

* If you do develop a hot spot, cover them immediately with moleskin, athletic tape, Adventure Medical Kits GlacierGel pads, or even duct tape before they become blisters.

Treating Blisters: Well, if all of the above fails, and you still wind up with a blister, here are a few tips for treating them (and another good reason for keeping a small first aid kit in your pack).

* If the blister isn’t torn and is full of liquid, pierce it from the side with a sterile needle at its base and let all the fluid drain out. If the affected skin is still intact, don't remove it. Instead, cover the drained blister with moleskin.

* If the blister is already torn, carefully cut away the loose skin and clean the area with antiseptic. Allow it to dry and harden in the open air for as long possible. Before resuming your hike, put a band-aid or gauze over the torn blister and then put a layer of moleskin over the blister area. It’s best to cut a doughnut shaped piece of moleskin that fits around the blister rather than putting it directly on it.

* If you have a blister that's buried deep in the skin and doesn't hold a lot of liquid, it’s best not to puncture them. Instead, just cover them with a moleskin doughnut to relieve the friction.

If you have any other helpful tips, please feel free to add them in the comments section.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Glacier Park Announces 2013 Concessioner Schedules

The 2013 operating dates for concessioners operating in Glacier National Park have been scheduled. These concessioners, who work under contract within Glacier National Park, provide visitor services including lodging, food service, retail shops, tours, transportation, horseback riding, guided day hikes and backpacking trips, boat tours and small boat rentals.

Of particular interest to hikers are the opening dates for the two backcountry chalets. The historic Granite Park Chalet is scheduled to open on June 29th, while the Sperry Chalet is scheduled to open on July 11th.

You may also want to note that the park expects the full opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to occur on Friday, June 21st, at 7:00 a.m.

To see the full schedule of all concession opening dates, please click here.

Planning a visit to Glacier National Park? Please help support by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

2013 Construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road

As many of you are already aware, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is undergoing a multi-year project to rehabilitate the 50-mile engineering marvel that spans the interior of Glacier National Park.

Included in the recently published 2013 Summer Guide to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the official park newspaper, are details on the rehabilitation project for 2013, and what visitors can expect in terms of delays.

This year work will continue between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek on the west side of the Divide, as well as the section of road between Siyeh Bend and Rising Sun on the east side:

As of today the park expects the full opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to occur on Friday, June 21st (7:00am). However, that date is dependent on weather and plowing progress, and could be later than expected.

For the majority of the 2013 season, between Friday, June 21 and Monday, September 23, travelers should expect no more than two construction segments, with short daytime delays of less than 20 minutes each.

Once the 3.5 mile segment between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek is completed, all construction activities will switch to the east side, between Siyeh Bend and Rising Sun (9 miles). Visitors should expect daytime delays during this one project of 30 minutes or less.

Nighttime closures between Siyeh Bend and Rising Sun are anticipated from Monday night (9:00pm) through Friday morning (7:00am).

Beginning at 7:00am on Monday, September 23rd, the road will be closed to vehicular traffic between Siyeh Bend, and a point near the St. Mary Campground, in order to facilitate accelerated construction on the east side of the Sun Road.

Prior to the road fully opening for vehicle traffic, hiker and bicycle travel may be restricted in construction areas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Signs will be posted to advise visitors of access and restrictions.

Glacier officials are encouraging drivers to turn off their engines and set their emergency brakes during these short delays. They also ask that you remain in your vehicle so that the flow of traffic can resume promptly.

For more information on driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, as well as a quick reference guide, please click here.

Planning a visit to Glacier National Park? Please help support by supporting the sponsors on our Accommodations page.

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Glacier National Park Hosts Community Meetings

Glacier National Park is hosting two community meetings to share information about park activities and provide an opportunity for personal dialogue between park management and local community members and neighbors.

* A west-side meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Teakettle Community Hall in Columbia Falls.

* An east-side meeting will be on Thursday, May 23, 4-5:30 p.m. at the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.

The format of the meeting will include presentations by Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall and other park management team members. Following the presentations, there will be a question and answer period and opportunity for informal conversations.

Hall will share updates regarding 2013 park programs, including Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation, spring plowing, sequestration impacts, Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan, Dark Skies Initiative, and aquatic invasive species management. Community members are encouraged to attend and learn more about what's happening at the park.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Public Presentation on Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Tonight

The public is invited to a free presentation about Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Project tonight, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Flathead National Forest Supervisor's Office, 650 Wolfpack Way in Kalispell.

Glacier National Park Landscape Architect Jack Gordon and Federal Highway Administration Resident Engineer Mike Baron will share images and information about the extensive rehabilitation project on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, including construction activity for this summer.

For more information about the program, contact the park at 406-888-7800.

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Watercraft in Yellowstone Required To Be Invasive Species Free

In order to more thoroughly protect the waters of Yellowstone National Park, all motorized and non-motorized watercraft entering the park's lakes must first pass an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspection on their boats as part of the watercraft permitting process.

National Park Service (NPS) staff will also conduct daily required inspections, seven days a week, for all boats that launch from Bridge Bay, Grant Village and Lewis Lake boat ramps.

Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that can have significant ecological and economic impacts on the park's natural resources. Examples of destructive species that have become established in park waters over the past several years include New Zealand mudsnails, whirling disease and lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.

These species not only damage Yellowstone waters, but they may affect the entire delicately-balanced ecosystem as well. They also require a great deal of time and money in personnel and equipment needed to study them and remove them from park waters and in many cases, removal is not feasible. Since 2009, Yellowstone's AIS program staff has had contact with more than 7,000 park boaters and performed more than 3,000 watercraft inspections, which resulted in more than 120 affected boats being cleaned with the use of a non-chemical AIS decontamination treatment.

Motorized boating is allowed on Yellowstone and Lewis lakes. Only non-motorized boating is allowed on most other park lakes, and permits are required for all boats and float tubes. The park's South Entrance, Grant Village Backcountry Office and Bridge Bay Ranger Station sell all boat permits, while the Mammoth Backcountry Office, Lewis Lake Campground and West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center sell only non-motorized permits. The Northeast Entrance, Bechler Ranger Station and Canyon and Old Faithful backcountry offices sell only float tube permits. Watercraft owners must pass a successful AIS inspection or have their affected watercraft treated prior to being issued a permit. Violations should be reported to the nearest Ranger Station, or dial the park's main information line at (307) 344-7381.

Information on boating and boat permitting in Yellowstone can be found here. Information on AIS can be found here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Department of the Interior Announces 2013 "Share the Experience" Photo Contest

The Department of the Interior has announced the start of the 2013 "Share the Experience" contest, giving amateur photographers the chance to join the ranks of Ansel Adams, Thomas Moran, and others who have found recognition for their photographs of the nation's public lands.

The "Share the Experience" photo contest showcases our nation's public lands, including national wildlife refuges, forests, recreation areas and our national parks, such as Glacier, Rocky Mountain and the Great Smoky Mountains, and draws entries from all across the United States. It is the largest national park and public land photo contest for amateur photographers.

The winning photograph will appear on the 2015 America the Beautiful pass for entrance to 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests. All entries have the chance to be featured on the Interior Department’s popular Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Prizes provided by the National Park Foundation, Active Network, Air Wick and Historic Hotels of America include a $15,000 cash prize, a Columbia backpack, a pass to the national parks and other federal lands, and other items for the grand prize winner. Second and third place winners, as well as 7 Honorable Mention winners, will also receive prizes.

The "Share the Experience" begins May 10, 2013 and runs through December 31, 2013. Amateur photographers can participate by uploading photos on

"Share the Experience" is sponsored by Active Network, Air Wick, Historic Hotels of America and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

To view the 2012 contest winners as wells as the contest rules and a complete list of prizes, please see

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The supreme glory of the Glacier National Park

"The supreme glory of the Glacier National Park is its lakes. The world has none to surpass, perhaps few to equal them. Some are valley gems grown to the water's edge with forests. Some are cradled among precipices. Some float ice-fields in midsummer.

From the continental divide seven principal valleys drop precipitously upon the east, twelve sweep down the longer western slopes. Each valley holds between its feet its greater lake to which are tributary many smaller lakes of astonishing wildness.

On the east side St. Mary Lake is destined to world-wide celebrity, but so also is Lake McDonald on the west side. These are the largest in the park.

But some, perhaps many, of the smaller lakes are candidates for beauty's highest honors. Of these Lake McDermott with its minaretted peaks stands first—perhaps because best known, for here is one of the finest hotels in any national park and a luxurious camp.

Upper Two Medicine Lake is another east-side candidate widely known because of its accessibility, while far to the north the Belly River Valley, difficult to reach and seldom seen, holds lakes, fed by eighteen glaciers, which will compare with Switzerland's noblest.

The west-side valleys north of McDonald constitute a little-known wilderness of the earth's choicest scenery, destined to future appreciation."

-- From the National Parks Portfolio brochure from 1916.

One of the grandest of all the lakes in Glacier National Park is Cracker Lake in the Many Glacier area:

For suggestions on some of the other top lake hikes in Glacier, please click here.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

National Trails Day 2013

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan authorized the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors. The final report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors, and within fifteen minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps. The recommendation, dubbed Trails for All Americans, became the impetus behind several public and private parties joining the American Hiking Society in launching the first National Trails Day in 1993.

In less than three weeks, on June 1st, the American Hiking Society will celebrate its 21th National Trails Day. More than 2000 events across the nation will take place, including trail maintenance, hiking, paddling, biking, horseback riding, bird watching, running, trail celebrations and many other trail related events.

Below are a few events in Montana that might be of interest to hikers:

* Trail work with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

* Rock Creek Trail Maintenance with the Bitter Root Back Country Horsemen

* Drinking Horse Trail Clean-up with the Montana Outdoor Science School

* Ranger Guided Hike at the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

For a full list of events in your area, please click here.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bighorn Canyon Receives 2013 Active Trails Grant from National Park Foundation

Bighorn Canyon is one of 22 national parks across the country selected to receive a 2013 Active Trails grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. Now in its fifth year, the Active Trails program supports hands-on projects that encourage the public to lead healthy lives by actively engaging in trail work, special events and community activities that help restore, protect and/or create land and water trails across the country.

"Through the Active Trails program, we are able to help national parks across the country in their efforts to maintain and enhance the 17,000 miles of land and water trails that we currently have," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "These grants also help national parks create new trails and encourage healthy lifestyles by offering opportunities for the public to be active in their national parks."

Bighorn Canyon will kick-off their Small Boats, Big Canyon Waterways Trail program during the annual Bighorn Lake Celebration on July 6, 2013. With the help of Northwest College Outdoor Recreation program and volunteer Steve Keil, Bighorn Canyon staff will be able to design backcountry camping maps, train park staff, and develop canoe and kayak lake interpretive tours lead by park staff. Special programs will also be available for youth groups.

The Yellowtail Dam near Ft. Smith Montana, creates the 72 mile long Bighorn Lake. Approximately 58 miles of the lake are surrounded by the 1000 to 2500 foot cliffs of Bighorn Canyon. Peregrine falcons and bighorn sheep make their homes on the near vertical canyon walls. Along the park road visitors enjoy several scenic overlooks and hiking trails, but to truly experience the depth of the canyon visitors, need to see it from the lake.

Since 2008, the National Park Foundation has granted nearly $1.7 million through its Active Trails program. To date, Active Trails has engaged more than 4,700 volunteers and 131 project partners who combined have contributed more than 21,000 hours to help promote, refurbish or build national park trails that were ultimately enjoyed by 304,000 visitors (and counting!).

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 10, 2013

US Fish & Wildlife Service Opens Comment Period on a draft Conservation Strategy for the Northern Continental Divide Grizzly Bear Population

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking the public’s input on a draft conservation strategy for the Northern Continental Divide (NCDE) grizzly bear population. The NCDE extends south from the Canadian border through the Flathead and Mission valleys, to the Blackfoot River basin near Missoula, and includes Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The grizzly population in this area includes approximately 1,000 animals.

Since listing in 1975, the NCDE grizzly population has increased in numbers and distribution thanks to the protections of the Endangered Species Act and our many state, federal, and tribal partners who have implemented recovery actions, coordinated research efforts, and improved habitat management.

The proposed conservation strategy was recently published in the event of NCDE grizzly bears being removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The final document will be the post-delisting management plan for the NCDE grizzly bears and their habitat.

Biologists are seeking public review and input on the draft strategy, which describes the regulatory framework for management and monitoring of the NCDE grizzly bear population and its habitat upon delisting (recovery and removal from the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife).

The key to public support and successful management of grizzly bears is to balance multiple land uses, public safety, and careful consideration of grizzly bear needs. Human-caused mortality is the limiting factor for nearly all grizzly bear populations in the world and this Conservation Strategy aims to manage mortality at sustainable levels through habitat protections that minimize mortality risk while emphasizing conflict prevention, conflict response, and decisions grounded in scientific data and monitoring.

The conservation strategy demonstrates the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms that will remain in place, post-delisting, to assure the health of the NCDE population. It describes the management and monitoring direction to maintain a recovered grizzly bear population in the NCDE and documents the commitment of the following signatory agencies through a Memorandum of Understanding: Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Blackfeet Nation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Implementation of the strategy will allow the signatories to continue managing NCDE grizzlies and their habitat according to the agreements reached during the interagency process of developing the document.

Instructions on how to comment on the draft strategy are available by clicking here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yellowstone's South Entrance Opens Tomorrow

The South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park will open for the season on Friday morning, May 10, as originally scheduled.

As of 8:00 a.m. Friday, visitors will be able to travel through the South Entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb Junction and on to Fishing Bridge and across Craig Pass to Old Faithful.

Inside the park, the road between Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt over Dunraven Pass will open to travel May 24 in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Due to construction, there will be daytime delays of up to 30 minutes and nightly closures on the section of road between Tower-Roosevelt Junction and Chittenden Road beginning May 28.

All other interior park roads are open for the season.

In addition, National Park Service (NPS) crews are clearing a section of US-212 outside the park's Northeast Entrance. The road from Cooke City, Montana, to the intersection with WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, will open May 10, weather permitting.

The section of the Beartooth Highway between the junction of US-212/WY-296 and the community of Red Lodge, Montana, is set to open on Friday, June 14.

Visitor services throughout the park are opening for the season. Operating dates and hours are available online or by consulting the free park newspaper, provided to visitors at each entrance station.

Visitors should be aware that spring in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and often brings cold temperatures, high winds and falling snow. Cleared sections of roads can be narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Visitors should use extreme caution when driving as road clearing operations can be ongoing at any time throughout the park. In the case of extreme weather conditions, temporary road closures are also possible with little or no advance warning.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117. Information on current conditions in the park is also available online.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day In Yellowstone With Free Programs

Yellowstone National Park and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center staff will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 18th, with free programs and a field trip that are open to the public.

A ranger-led bird watching car caravan is set for Saturday morning from 8:00 a.m. to noon inside the park. Those interested in participating should meet at the Madison Junction picnic area. Caravan riders are reminded they will still need to pay the $25 park entrance fee.

Saturday afternoon between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana, will host a live raptor program and games and crafts. Children of all ages can play the migration game, "It's a Risky Journey," create bird masks and origami, or participate in a variety of other programs and activities.

For further information, call 307-344-2296.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Flathead Forest Friday Focus: Forest Plan Revision

The public is invited to spend a Flathead Forest Friday breakfast with Flathead National Forest Planning Staff Officer Rob Carlin and Interim Forest Plan Revision Team Leader Joe Krueger at the Perkins Restaurant (1390 U.S. 2, Evergreen, Montana) starting at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, May 17, 2013. This is an opportunity to hear from the planners on the multi-year Forest Plan Revision effort on the forest and to provide feedback in a casual setting.

The National Forest Management Act of 1976 (NFMA) establishes direction for land and resource management plans, more commonly known as Forest Plans. It is the primary statute governing the administration of national forests. NFMA requires the Forest Service to use a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to resource management. The act requires the development of a planning rule that sets requirements for land and resource management plan processes and content. It also requires public involvement in preparing and revising Forest Plans.

A new rule governing how forests approach plan revision was released in 2012. The Flathead National Forest is about to begin the plan revision process as laid out in the new rule. The process will take at least three years and will shape how the Flathead National Forest is managed in the future. Carlin and Krueger will discuss the planning effort and how the public can engage in the process.

Every other month, the Forest Service will coordinate a no-host breakfast meeting at a local restaurant with the goal of sharing good food, great company, and a little information about what’s happening on our National Forest. Forest officials hope the event will be a great way to keep one another informed on public land management opportunities and challenges that are important to everyone.

If you plan to attend or have any questions, please notify Public Affairs Officer Wade Muehlhof at or (406) 758-5252. Your response allows USFS to plan accordingly with the restaurant.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Road Construction Projects Scheduled for 2013 Travel Season in the Grand Tetons

Summer road repair and rehabilitation projects begin next week in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This work will result in varying traffic delays during the 2013 travel season.

North Park Road between Jackson Lake Lodge and the Flagg Ranch area will have 30-minute delays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., 7 days per week from May-September. Because regular delays are expected on the North Park Road, motorists should plan for extra time to reach their destination -- whether traveling to or from Yellowstone National Park.

Grassy Lake Road will have intermittent 15-minute delays from June-October during a gravel resurfacing project.

Gros Ventre Road from Kelly Warm Springs to the east park boundary will have 15-minute delays during July for an asphalt overlay project.

The following roads will have 15-minute delays during August for routine chip-seal work:

* Teton Park Road from Moose to the Taggart Lake trailhead
* Kelly Road from Gros Ventre Junction to Kelly
* Antelope Flats Road
* Sagebrush Drive
* Dornans Road
* Chapel of Transfiguration Road

Construction schedules may change or be delayed due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances. Visitors are encouraged to call the road conditions line at 307.739.3614 or stop at park visitor centers for current and specific information. The park's newspaper, Grand Teton Guide, includes a road construction map and can be found online at or picked up at any park visitor center or entry station.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, May 6, 2013

Snowpack Level in Glacier Well Above Long-term Average

According to the latest data published by the Flattop Mountain SNOTEL (SNOw TELemetry) station, the amount of snow accumulated in Glacier National Park this year, is well above the 40-year average. As of May 1st, the SNOTEL is measuring a total of 52.4 inches of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), which is the weight of snow water equivalent to inches of water. The peak for the 40-year average is 45.9 inches of SWE.

Compared to last year, total SWE is slightly lower than the May 1st reading. Additionally, a snowstorm during the first week of May pushed the peak reading for the year to 55.8 inches, which occurred on May 6, 2012.

All in all, however, this year's snowpack potentially bodes well for a limited forest fire season later this summer and fall.

The Flattop Mountain SNOTEL station is located at an elevation of approximately 6300 feet on Flattop Mountain, which is a high plateau between the Lewis and Livingston Ranges in Glacier National Park. According to the website, "Flattop Mountain is a useful indicator of snowfall throughout Glacier National Park because it is subject to the factors that influence conditions elsewhere in the park".

Data from the Flattop Mountain SNOTEL is compiled by water year, which runs from October 1st through September 30th.

The following is a graph that compares SWE for 2013 versus the average and other significant water years (you can click here for a larger version):

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 3, 2013

International Migratory Bird Day Observance Takes Flight May 11 in Grand Tetons

Observance of the 2013 International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) gets underway at Grand Teton National Park with a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 11. To celebrate IMBD and conduct the annual North American bird count, Park Ranger Andrew Langford will visit areas throughout Grand Teton that provide the best opportunities to locate, identify and record birds.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate. The bird-watching excursion begins at 8 a.m. from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond by Jackson Lake Lodge. The activity is free and reservations are not required.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

"Life Cycles of Migratory Birds" serves as the theme for the 2013 IMBD observance. This year's theme focuses on all aspects of a migratory bird's life, from migration and nesting to breeding and raising young. Most importantly, it addresses the need for conservation throughout all phases of avian lives. As always, the annual conservation theme is relevant to host organizations and participants throughout the world. Participation in Grand Teton's IMBD tour offers a chance to learn about the importance of birds and their unique contribution to the health and beauty of the natural areas around the world.

Observed each year in May to celebrate and support avian conservation, IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight-an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that contribute to worldwide declines.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count, please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.

Participants of the IMBD activity are reminded that park entrance stations are open, therefore a park pass is required for travel through these fee stations.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yellowstone’s East Entrance To Open Tomorrow

The East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park will open for the season on Friday morning, May 3, as originally scheduled.

As of 8:00 a.m. Friday, visitors will be able to travel through the park's East, West, and North Entrances to many popular park destinations including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, and Fishing Bridge. The road from the park's North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs, and on to the Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, is open all year.

Budget cuts due to the impacts of sequestration prompted the park to take many administrative actions and make changes to park operations for this season. This included delaying the start of plowing which pushed back the scheduled opening of roads by one to two weeks.

However, the park's East and South Entrances are now set to open as originally scheduled thanks to the support of the communities of Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, who provided funding which allowed Wyoming Department of Transportation crews and equipment to join the National Park Service in clearing snow from some park road segments.

Travel through the South Entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb Junction and on to Fishing Bridge and across Craig Pass to Old Faithful is set to open as originally scheduled on Friday, May 10, given favorable weather conditions.

Visitor services throughout the park are opening for the season. Operating dates and hours are available online at or by consulting the free park newspaper, provided to visitors at each entrance station.

Visitors should be aware that spring in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and often brings cold temperatures, high winds and falling snow. Even cleared sections of roads can be narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Therefore, visitors should use extreme caution when driving as road clearing operations can be ongoing at any time throughout the park. In the case of extreme weather conditions, temporary road closures are also possible with little or no advance warning.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117. Information on current conditions in the park is also available online at

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Vast Unknown

The fact remains that the first American go at Everest will be an event. If we succeed, it will be a feather in our cap, a booster to our prestige, a refutation beyond argument of our detractor’s taunt that we are a nation gone soft and gutless. If we do not, we will at least have entered the arena, joined the rest of the world in one of its great enterprises, abandoned our “isolationism” in mountaineering, as we have long since in other fields.

It is still there. It always will be. And it is time we had a look for ourselves.
Today, May 1st, marks the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mt. Everest by American climbers. To help celebrate this important achievement, a new book about this incredible feat was released today.

The Vast Unknown recounts the story of a group of ragtag American climbers who made an improbable and daring attempt at climbing history. Although the world's tallest mountain had already been climbed nine times (or was it only six - there is much debate and controversy as to whether members of the 1960 Chinese expedition actually reached the summit), and numerous attempts had been made in the preceding decades, the Americans would become the first to ascend the unexplored and extremely formidable West Ridge route.

New York Times bestselling author Broughton Coburn re-tells the story of the historic climb through the backdrop of the Cold War and the space race. He also provides insight on the early days of climbing in America, where "the Tetons were the nursery for an embryonic clan of innovative and spirited American mountaineers".

It wasn't entirely about climbing the mountain, however. There was also a scientific element to the expedition. Psychologists and sociologists were brought along to conduct experiments for NASA, the Navy and the National Science Foundation. A glaciologist was also brought on board to study the Khumbu Icefall.

In subsequent years some members of the expedition would play a major role in a little-known espionage mission in the Himalayas. Coburn tells the story of the mission and the team of climbers that were selected by the CIA to plant a surveillance device on a neighboring peak, Nanda Devi, in order to spy into China where Defense Intelligence would monitor nuclear missile testing.

All in all The Vast Unknown is an excellent read, even if you're not a climber. From the assembly of the expedition team, to the logistics of moving 23 tons of gear from Seattle to India to Kathmandu, and finally onto Everest Base Camp; and from the triumph of Jim Whittaker becoming the first American to summit Everest, to the harrowing feat of conquering the West Ridge, as well the incredible story of survival - against all odds - during the descent from the peak, this book is an exciting and engaging look at a pivotal point in American climbing history.

The following is a short video that includes several clips from the 1963 expedition:

For more information on The Vast Unknown, or to purchase, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park