Friday, January 31, 2014

Montana State Parks Announces 2013 Annual Visitation - Highest Visitation on Record

Montana State Parks ( announced earlier this week that the 2013 annual visitation numbers are the highest on record, with more than 2,112,000 visits to Montana’s 54 state parks from January – December 2013. The 2013 visitation numbers represent a 5% increase over 2012. Annual visitation is also up 28% over the 10-year trend (2004-2013).

The North Central Region (Great Falls area) had the highest annual visitation overall in 2013, and Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls had the highest visitation for the year of all state parks with more than 307,000 visits. Visitation is up for the Montana State Parks system despite Bannack State Park being closed for 7 weeks last summer due to a flash flood.

“These numbers are incredibly strong and exciting,” said Chas Van Genderen, Administrator for Montana State Parks. “Montana families and out of state visitors know that our state parks are affordable places to explore and experience some of the best camping, hiking, fishing, floating and outdoor recreation in the state. We also provide tours, special events, ranger programs and education opportunities enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors each year. Last year, more than 25,000 school students experienced state parks as outdoor classrooms. We thank the public for their continued support, and look forward to continuing this exciting upward trend in visitation this year in celebration of our 75th Anniversary.”

By comparison to national parks, Glacier National Park was up +2% in 2013 (with 2,190,374 visits) over 2012, and Yellowstone National Park visitation was down -8% for 2013 with (3,188,030 visits) over 2012.

This Montana State Parks 2013 visitation record, compares equivalent data collection dating back for the past decade.

The Top 10 Parks for Annual Visitation:

1- Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls at 307,666 visits (up 5% over 2012)
2- Lake Elmo State Park in Billings at 172,357 visits (down 20% over 2012)
3- Spring Meadow Lake State Park in Helena at 158,842 visits (up 55% over 2012)
4- Cooney State Park in Roberts at 157,198 visits (up 17% over 2012)
5- Wayfarers State Park in Kalispell at 124,949 visits (up 11% over 2012)
6- Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell at 77,591 visits (up 16% over 2012)
7- Tongue River Reservoir State Park near Decker at 76,297 visits (up 36% over 2012)
8- Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park in Whitehall at 70,617 visits (up 9% over 2012)
9- Whitefish Lake State Park in Whitefish at 62,003 visits (down 3% over 2012)
10- Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings at 60,072 (up 17% over 2012)

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brins Mesa

For years my uncle raved about Sedona, telling me how beautiful the red rock landscape was, and every Christmas would encourage me to visit one day, saying that I would absolutely love the area. Well, that one day finally came. Two years ago my wife and I finally got the chance to visit Sedona. We spent the day hiking the Brins Mesa Trail, one of the more popular trails in the area. For details and photos from our hike, please click here. By the way, Sedona isn’t a bad place to visit for a mid-winter getaway!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Legislation to Protect North Fork Passes Key House Committee

Glacier National Park’s western edge is bordered by rushing whitewater, a wild and scenic river fringed by the tall pine forests of the North Fork Flathead River Valley. While travelers from around the world hike and camp their way through Glacier’s alpine heights, locals work and play in this important national forest borderland – biking, rafting, fishing and hunting, and cutting firewood and Christmas trees and logs for the mill. On Tuesday, Montana’s top Republican worked alongside his U.S. House colleagues to advance unanimous support for legislation that will protect these lands and the communities that rely on them for future generations.

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont) spoke Tuesday on behalf of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act during a meeting of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, which then approved the measure with unanimous consent. Rep. Daines has joined Montana’s entire Congressional delegation on behalf of the bipartisan legislation. This popular bill, which grew locally from the ground up, ensures Montana’s rural heritage and its economic future by protecting the North Fork Flathead River Valley from the permanent scars of strip mines and oil fields.

In successfully moving the bill through the House committee, Daines proved himself the latest in a long line of committed Glacier Park stewards that dates back more than a century. It is a rare and important piece of legislation, with support from local residents, business and conservation groups, major energy companies and elected officials from across the political spectrum. Rep. Daines noted during Tuesday’s hearing that the bill represents the first time in three decades that Montana’s entire delegation has unanimously backed public land conservation legislation.

“Rep. Daines absolutely recognizes the important role of Glacier National Park and the North Fork in our regional economy,” said Michael Jamison, Glacier program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “By introducing this legislation and working toward its passage, the Congressman has proved his commitment to championing local solutions to land-use issues. Now it’s up to Congress as a whole to protect this iconic place for those who live and visit here.”

The bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont) and Jon Tester (D-Mont). When passed, it will safeguard 400,000 acres of park-adjacent lands from future oil and gas leasing, forever protecting Glacier’s headwaters and downstream communities. The legislation costs taxpayers nothing, protects the engines driving the region’s economy, and honors all private property. It not only protects Glacier National Park, but also the municipal water supply for the city of Whitefish as well as commercial operations at destinations such as Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Tuesday’s passage in the House Natural Resources Committee clears the way for the bill to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. In 2013, the bill passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Montana State Parks' Recruiting for AmeriCorps Spring/Summer Positions

Montana State Parks have announced that the Montana State Parks AmeriCorps’ program is now recruiting members for 2014 Spring/Summer positions.

AmeriCorps is a national service program where members earn money for college or to pay off student loans, gain job skills and give back to local communities.

Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps members help strengthen volunteer and interpretive programs, enhance the condition and quality of park lands, and create public awareness and outreach with local communities. In 2013, Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps program, which included 18 members, contributed more than 19,500 service hours.

“Our members have an opportunity to spend time in the outdoors helping kids and families learn, connect, and explore nature, Montana’s heritage/culture and recreation in our great state parks,” said Katie McKeown, Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps Program Specialist.

There are 5 spring/summer positions currently available with members serving terms of either 18 or 23 weeks.

23-week (March – August) positions are available at:
• Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo near Missoula (900 hours) – National Historic Landmark
• Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls (900 hours)

18-week (April-August) positions are available at:
• Missouri Headwaters State Park in Three Forks (675 hours) – National Historic Landmark
• Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park in Whitehall (675 hours)
• Cooney State Park in Roberts near Billings (675 hours)

To learn more about the specific positions listed above, click here.

Montana State Parks’ AmeriCorps members can earn an Education Award of either $2,775 (23 week) or $2,114 dollars (18 week) to be used towards a college education or to pay off student loans. 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 also receive a modest living allowance to help cover incidental costs, such as commuting.

Montana residents and out-of-state applicants are encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as positions are open until filled.

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. Some college experience is preferred.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Study: Hikers are poorly able to recognize Lyme disease

According to an article recently published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, the official Journal of the Wilderness Medical Society, 46% of Appalachian Trail hikers are unable to recognize symptoms of Lyme disease (using photographs).

In the study conducted between June of 2011 and May of 2012, 379 hikers responded to a survey given by 4 researchers at 3 geographically separate locations at or proximate to the Appalachian Trail. Ten percent, or 37 of those hikers, stated that they had been diagnosed with Lyme disease as a result of hiking.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease that's transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Early symptoms of the disease may include fever, headache, and fatigue. A rash occurs in 70–80% of infected persons at the site of the tick bite, after a delay of 3–30 days (average is about 7 days), and may or may not appear as the well-publicized bull's-eye (erythema migrans). The rash is only rarely painful or itchy, although it may be warm to the touch. Approximately 20–30% of infected persons do not experience a rash. Left untreated, later symptoms may involve the joints, heart, and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated by antibiotics, especially if the illness is treated early. Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to more serious symptoms, which can be disabling and difficult to treat.

The disease has been reported in all states with the exception of Montana. However, 99% of all reported cases are confined to five geographic areas: New England, Mid-Atlantic, East-North Central, South Atlantic, and West North-Central.

The study (abstract) warns that with nearly 2,500 Appalachian Trail hikers entering the endemic area for as long as 6 months, exposure to the disease is likely.


The CDC recommends wearing protective clothing, including a hat, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers tucked into socks or boots. Light-colored clothing makes the tick more easily visible before it attaches itself. People should also use special care in handling and allowing outdoor pets inside homes because they can bring ticks into the house.

The CDC also recommends using insect repellents with Picaridin, IR3535, DEET or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus to repel ticks. Additionally, Permethrin sprayed on clothing kills ticks on contact.

After returning from a hike, or any area where you might have been exposed, closely check your skin and clothes for ticks. Immediately remove them from your body using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly and as close to your skin as possible, and then pull the tick's body away from your skin with a steady motion. Make sure to clean the area with soap and water. Removing infected ticks within 24 hours reduces your risk of being infected with the Lyme disease bacterium.

For additional information on Lyme disease, please visit the CDC website. For a first hand account on what it's like contracting the disease, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

58NationalParks produced this excellent overview of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If this video inspires you to visit the Smokies this year, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to hike along one of the many trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, January 24, 2014

Park Rangers Investigating the Discovery of Dead Coyote & Red Fox

Grand Teton National Park rangers began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the presence of two wildlife carcasses - one coyote and one red fox - lying alongside the road near Gros Ventre Junction and just east of Highway 26/89/191 within Grand Teton National Park.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, January 24, several passersby called the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to report that two animal carcasses were located near Gros Ventre Junction. Park rangers arrived shortly after these initial calls and began an investigation to determine how these two animals died and why their carcasses were located near each other at the junction.

If anyone has further information about this incident, please phone Grand Teton's Park Watch line at 307.739.3677. Callers can remain anonymous.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Naches Peak

Although the Naches Peak Loop is considered to be a fairly popular hike, it doesn’t attract the crowds that some of Mt. Rainier’s star attractions see, such as in the Paradise or Sunrise areas. There are several reasons why you should put this gem on your hiking itinerary: it’s a relatively easy hike, it provides outstanding views of 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier, and it mostly travels through open country and lush meadows bursting with wildflowers.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gray Wolf Shot & Killed Within Grand Teton National Park

A gray wolf was shot and killed at a private inholding within Grand Teton National Park on Monday, January 20, 2014. The person who fired the lethal shot notified Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens and they reported the situation to park rangers at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Grand Teton National Park rangers and a park biologist responded to the area to investigate the incident. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is conducting a concurrent investigation.

The wolf was a two-year-old male and was not radio-collared; its pack affiliation is unknown. At the time of the shooting, this wolf was in the company of three to four pack mates.

The incident is under investigation by the National Park Service in consultation with the United States Attorney's Office, District of Wyoming, and no further information will be released until the investigation is concluded.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Should cameras be installed on popular hiking trails?

Should cameras be installed on popular hiking trails? According to North Shore Rescue in British Columbia, Canada, the answer to that question is yes.

North Shore Rescue spokesman Tim Jones told CBC News that once a search and rescue is activated, crews will be able to review film footage to get a better idea on where to look when a hiker goes missing. He makes this argument in light of the $40,000 in air time, and 1600 hours that his team put into searching for a 22-year-old man that went missing in the North Shore Mountains last November 25th. Had there been video surveillance footage, rescuers believe they could've narrowed their search for the man.

I'm not sure what the conditions were like the day Tom Billings went missing, but I do know that rescuers had to deal with snow and cold during their 7 or 8-week search. What if Tom wore a balaclava? Or what if he was wearing a ski hat and sunglasses? Would rescuers have been able to identify him on film footage?

For me, the question comes down to the issue of privacy. More and more, cameras are creeping into our everyday lives. How far are we willing to allow cameras to intrude into our lives - in the name of safety and security? By using the line of reasoning I've heard for more cameras and more security, you could make the argument that we should be installing cameras in our homes so authorities can make sure were not abusing our spouses or children.

One of the commentors on the story cynically stated:
"Why not make everyone who might possibly go off hiking in the wilderness take a course (Hiking 101), then take a test, much like a driving test, and issue them a Hiking Licence once they've passed the test? Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as installing surveillance cameras on hiking trails, IMHO."
Another commentor said:
"Why don't they make everyone have a GPS chip implanted in them so the police . . . i mean SAR can find them easier."
On the other hand, this commentor presented this viewpoint:
"Every time you walk into a convenience store, gas bar or any make and manner of business and most probably even your own employment you subject yourself to being captured on video yet you still enter so what's all the yippin' about."
So what are your thoughts? How do you feel about surveillance cameras at trailheads? Would we also have to install them at all trail junctions as well, so that potential searchers will know which direction hikers have turned? Perhaps more importantly, is the idea of getting away from it all slowly becoming an illusion?

Thanks to Jeff Clark at Meanderthals for giving me a heads-up on this story.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Highlighting the Highline Trail

Below is an excellent "hikelogue" from The West is Big! Travel Guides. The film highlights one of the best hikes in America. This epic starts from Logan Pass in the heart of Glacier National Park, and takes hikers along the famous Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet. From the Chalet the filmmakers take you up to the Continental Divide at Swiftcurrent Pass, and then down the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail and into the Many Glacier area. In all, this quintessential Glacier trip covers roughly 15 miles!

Although this might be a fairly difficult hike for most people to do in one day, hikers still have several options for enjoying this spectacular scenery. You could plan to stay overnight at the Granite Park Chalet, thus breaking the hike into two relatively easy days. However, reservations are usually needed several months in advance to stay at this popular backcountry inn. You should also note that you'll need to have two cars, or hire a shuttle to do this one-way hike.

Another option is to take the one-way, 11.8-mile hike from Logan Pass to the Loop. This option takes hikers along the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet, and then travels west bound down the mountain to a spot on the Going-to-the-Sun Road known as the Loop. Hikers can take the free park shuttle back up to Logan Pass (actually, it's better to park your car at the Loop, and then take the shuttle to Logan Pass first thing in the morning). If this still seems like too many miles, you'll also have the option of hiking out to Haystack Pass. This moderate 7.2-mile out and back hike still offers hikers a lot of world-class mountain scenery.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hike and Learn in Glacier National Park

Since 1983 The Glacier Institute, a private nonprofit organization, has been providing hands-on, field-based educational adventures to people from all over the world in Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest. The Institute provides visitors with the chance to "Hike and Learn" in Glacier National Park, while experiencing field-based, in-depth learning opportunities. The Institute provides visitors and locals with the chance to connect with the park through one of the many programs offered throughout the year.

With their 2014 schedule now posted to their website, here's a small sampling of some of the programs that will be offered this year:

* Spring Wildflowers: June 14
* Wolves of the North Fork Valley: June 22
* Nature Photography in Glacier Park: July 8-11
* Of Bears & Berries: Hiking in the Track of the Griz - August 17
* Geology Along the Highline - August 28 and September 6

For more information on these, and many other field seminars, please visit The Glacier Institute's website.

While planning your visit to Glacier this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Fun Hogs

Viva Los Funhogs! That was the motto for five adventurers who traveled 8000 miles, from California to Patagonia, in a Ford Econoline Van during the summer of 1968. Their goal: to climb Fitz Roy near the southern tip of South America - and have a lot of fun along the way.

These weren’t just any five people. This crew included Doug Tompkins, the founder of The North Face, as well as Yvon Chouinard, who would go on to found Patagonia, a name that was inspired by this trip. The team also included Lito Tejada-Flores, a budding filmmaker who produced a movie about the trip, called Mountain of Storms, that went on to become a cult-classic.

In celebration of this epic road trip the climbers have published a new book to mark the 45th anniversary of their big adventure.

Climbing Fitz Roy, however, isn’t your ordinary climbing book. Its set-up is more like that of a slide show, the way climbers used to present their expeditions in order to raise funds to feed future adventures. Interspersed within the photos (slide show) are essays written by members of the Funhogs that provide insights on their thoughts and perspectives on the trip. There’s also an excerpt from the original 1969 American Alpine Journal article, the premiere journal of all things climbing.

It’s a bit of luck that this book was even published. It was thought that all of the photos were lost in a wildfire that destroyed the home of Funhog photographer Chris Jones in 1996. Fortunately the fifth member of the team, Dick Dorworth, found copies he had kept in a storage locker some eight years later.

As the group made their way down through Central and South America, a journey that would take three months, they spent a great deal of time skiing and surfing along the way. Their ultimate goal, however, was to climb Fitz Roy, a daunting 11,289-foot granite spire on the Argentine-Chilean border. The Funhogs would become only the third team to climb the mountain. Despite its moderate height, it’s considered to be among the most technically challenging mountains on Earth.

Climbing the peak took a lot longer than they expected. The Funhogs were forced to wait through 60 days of storms before they could even attempt the climb. This included 31 days of living in ice caves. Finally, on December 20, 1968, they reached the summit during a 30-hour roundtrip trek.

Climbing Fitz Roy includes dozens of outstanding photos. Some of them you can tell have been scanned, while others look like they’ve been taken by modern-day digital cameras.

My only complaint with the book was with Dick Dorworth’s essay. I thought his re-hashing of the 60s (for the umpteenth time!) was mostly off topic. Speaking as a post-boomer, how many more times do we have to be told how great “their generation” was?

If you’re into climbing, or enjoy spectacular mountain photography (especially that of Patagonia, one of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world), this is a great pick.

For a little more perspective on the historical context of the adventure, here’s the original trailer from the film, Mountain of Storms:

Mountain of Storms (Trailer) from Patagonia on Vimeo.

For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting High in Yosemite

The hike to Gaylor Lakes near Tioga Pass traverses one of the highest maintained trails in Yosemite National Park, and offers some of the most spectacular high-country views off Tioga Road. The hike visits two alpine lakes, and during the summer you’ll enjoy a profusion of wildflowers that grow in the surrounding meadows. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the abandoned Great Sierra Mine where you’ll find the remnants of stone cabins, a powder house and a blacksmith shop. 

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beyond the Bear

I just finished reading an outstanding book this past weekend called Beyond the Bear. It’s a first-person account by Dan Bigley who tells his story of being attacked by a grizzly bear in the Alaskan bush, and his long road to recovery.

Dan survived a horrific mauling by a grizzly sow while fishing on the Russian River on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula in 2003. The attack was probably about as much as a person could take without actually dying, and left the 25-year-old badly disfigured and permanently blinded.

Although what he experienced was horrendous, his story is extremely inspiring. The book describes how Dan would overcome the attack. It all started at the Russian River that evening. While lying in a pool of blood, and almost drifting off forever, he remembers making the conscious decision to live. Dan discusses how he survived with the help of his friends, medics and doctors, what he had to do to reclaim his life, and how he refused to allow his blindness to stop him from enjoying life.

Interwoven in this story is a woman whom he had just met weeks before, and more or less fell in love with on the night before his attack.

Although you might think this could be a pretty heavy read, the opposite is true. Dan comes across as having a great sense of humor, and it’s obvious he was able to move forward with a mostly positive, can do, attitude.

All in all I thought this was a great read, and highly recommend it. For more information on the book, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Visitation Up In Glacier National Park

Despite a government shutdown in October, visitation at Glacier National Park increased by 1.3% in 2013. During the year, 2,190,375 people visited the park, compared to 2,162,034 in 2012. Moreover, 2013 saw the 4th highest number of visitors in Glacier's history. So who knows, had the park not been closed for two weeks in October, it may have broken its record for the most visitors in one season. Afterall, it was less than 13,500 visitors from that record set in 1983.

Here's a graphical look at visitation counts since Glacier became a national park:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Go west, young man

Take my advice, "go west, young man".

That famous quote is attributed to Horace Greeley, the influential 19th century author. Greeley, who was also the founder and editor of the New York Tribune, saw westward expansion as the ideal place for hard working people to find opportunities to succeed.

Today, the west symbolizes the place for adventurers and enthusiasts to enjoy and play in the great outdoors. One of the most iconic destinations in the west is Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Coincidentally, less than 50 miles away from the park is the small town of Greeley, which happens to be named after ole Horace.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Actually, it brings me to our newest hiking website, which we just launched in November of 2012. Just like, offers details on many of the trails throughout the park. In fact, you'll find quite a lot of information to help plan much of your trip.

First of all, trying to figure out where to hike can be challenging, especially if you're unfamiliar with the area. The park offers more than 350 miles of trails that lead to some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. As a starting point you can check out our list of the Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as our list of the Best Easy Hikes in the park.

Our website also offers many lodging options on our Accommodations page. Here you'll find a wide variety of overnight accommodations that offer a wide variety of amenities in the Rocky Mountain National Park area.

If you're looking for additional activities during your stay, besides hiking, take a moment to check out our Things To Do page. Then, take a day to go horseback riding, rafting, birding, photography touring, or maybe even take a hot air balloon tour of the Rockies!

If you're currently planning, or just considering a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, now's the time to begin making reservations before accommodations begin filling-up during the peak travel season.

Please know that by supporting one of our advertisers you help to support

Finally, if you know anyone else that's planning a trip to RMNP this year, we would really appreciate if you could forward this link onto them as well.

Thank you very much!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Montana FWP Seeks Comment On Fish And Wildlife Action Plan

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking comment on an update to the state's comprehensive conservation plan for more than 100 of the state's fish and wildlife species and their habitats.

Initially completed in 2006, the recent revision of Montana's Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy was led by FWP, working closely with team members from other state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

"The team's planning efforts included regular public updates and participation opportunities. Public input continues to be an important part of wrapping up Montana's State Wildlife Action Plan for the next 10 year-cycle," said Deb O'Neill, FWP's fish and wildlife plan coordinator in Helena.

In 2000, federal legislation created the State Wildlife Grant program intended to fund conservation programs for all fish and wildlife, including species not pursued by hunters and anglers. Montana has since been awarded $12.7 million in SWG funds for conservation programs ranging from prairie fish surveys and loon research to trumpeter swan and grizzly bear conservation.

To continue to participate in the federal grant program states must revise their plans every 10 years.

"Montana's update contains the latest and best information available on the status of species and habitats in the greatest need of conservation, which will help to better direct Montana's conservation and management efforts through 2024," O'Neill said.

Comments on the State Wildlife Action Plan are due February 9th by 5 p.m. For more information and to comment, click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, January 10, 2014

Flathead Forest Friday Focus: Avalanche Program

If you recreate in the backcountry, are interested in snow science, or want to learn how you can to support the efforts of the Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC), the USFS hopes to chat with you during breakfast next Friday. The Flathead Avalanche Center continues to evolve in its mission to provide education on avalanche safety and current information on avalanche conditions. The public is invited to join new avalanche center director Erich Peitzsch and other members of the FAC team members at the Night Owl/Back Room Restaurant in Columbia Falls at 7 AM on Friday, January 17, 2014 for a no-host breakfast and discussion on new initiatives within the FAC that will gradually be rolled out this season.

Peitzsch is also the lead avalanche specialist for the USGS/GNP Going-to-the-Sun Road Avalanche Program in Glacier National Park and a Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey where he studies snow and ice. Erich will work part-time as the FAC Avalanche Director this season and continue with his current job with USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center in Glacier National Park.

Every other month, the Forest Service will coordinate these no-host breakfast meetings 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. We hope the event will be a great way to discuss public land management opportunities and challenges that are important to us all.

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hike Report: Humphreys Peak

Are you a peak bagger, state high pointer, or just looking for something additional to do while in the Grand Canyon or Flagstaff areas? Take the opportunity to hike above the tundra and stand atop the highest point in Arizona…or even sit on the bench at the 12,633-foot summit of Humphreys Peak:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weekend Snowshoe Walks Begin in Glacier

Beginning this weekend, Glacier National Park will again be hosting Winter Snowshoe Walks every Saturday and Sunday this winter, at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., through March 22nd.

The public is invited to join the two-hour, ranger-led snowshoe excursions of the winter environment. The program is free. Participants are encouraged to bring snowshoes or they are available to rent for a nominal fee at the Apgar Visitor Center. It's recommended that participants wear sturdy winter boots and dress in layers for a variety of winter conditions, and bring water and snacks. The snowshoe walks are suitable for all ages and abilities.

The walks begin and conclude at the Apgar Visitor Center. There is no group size limit and no reservations are taken. In the event of severe weather or insufficient snow, individuals should contact the visitor center at 406-888-7939 on respective weekend days, between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to confirm that day's outings. Please contact the park headquarters at 406-888-7800 for general information regarding the walks, or visit

Park entrance fees are required. The park's winter entrance fee is $15 for vehicles and $10 for single entrants (hiker /bicyclist /motorcyclist) for a seven-day pass.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Walk Amongst the Mighty Redwoods

Arguably one of the best hikes in Redwood National Park to enjoy the grandeur of the tallest trees on Earth is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Trail. This 1.4-mile loop trail takes hikers through an old-growth forest of ancient redwoods. While the trees tower more than 300 feet above, the forest floor is painted lush green with ferns, evergreen huckleberry and rhododendron.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Trails Day in Glacier and the Flathead Valley

The Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region, is celebrating Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 11 with several free outdoor activities.

These free activities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in winter and discover the fitness and social benefits of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Northwest Montana. All activities are suitable for beginners and families. Be prepared with warm clothing and wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots.

* A snowshoe walk on the Flathead National Forest, hosted by the Swan Lake Ranger District and Flathead Audubon, will be at the Blacktail Mountain cross-country ski trails near Lakeside, 10am-Noon. Participants may bring snowshoes, or a limited number of children and adult shoes will be available by reservation. Please meet at the upper trailhead parking area. Reservations are not required. For more information or to reserve snowshoes, please contact the Swan Lake Ranger District at 837-7500.

* Explore Lone Pine State Park on snowshoes. From 10am to 5pm, park visitors can borrow snowshoes and explore the many park trails. Adult and children’s snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A ranger-led snowshoe walk takes place at 1pm. Please contact the park at 755-2706 for more information and to reserve snowshoes for the 1pm walk.

* Join Whitefish Legacy Partners at Stillwater Mountain Lodge and the Whitefish Bike Retreat for a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow ‘fat’ bike riding and winter fun from 10am to 2pm. Participants can ski on the Stillwater Nordic Center’s groomed trails. Bring your own equipment or demo equipment is available on site from the Lodge and Sportsman & Ski Haus. Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center will lead family friendly wilderness skill and animal tracking activities. Across the road from the Lodge, check out a ‘fat’ bike demo or snowshoe on the Whitefish Trail courtesy of several area cycle and outdoor sport shops. For more information contact Whitefish Legacy Partners, 862-3880.

* Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Glacier National Park will be hosted at 10:30am and 2pm. Each hike will last approximately two hours and reservations are not required. Snowshoes are available for hike participants. Visitors need to purchase a park entrance pass. Please meet at the Apgar Visitor Center. Call 888-7939 for more information.

* Join the Swan Ecosystem Center for a family snowshoe event at the Holland Lake Day Use Area, south of Condon, MT from 11am to 3pm. Bring your own snowshoes or a limited number of children and adult snowshoes available by reservation. Join a ‘trail trek’ geared for the whole family, warm up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. For more information or to reserve snowshoes call the Swan Ecosystem Center at 406/754-3137.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Delicate Arch

You probably recognize this famous landmark:

If not the best known arch in the world, Delicate Arch certainly qualifies as the most iconic rock formation in Arches National Park. There’s more to this relatively easy hike than just the arch: hikers will also pass by an old settler’s home, as well as a petroglyph panel left by Ute hunters several hundred years ago. For more information on this outstanding hike, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park