Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grizzly Encounters of the Pleasant Kind

The following is by a guest author:

Seeing the epic scenery of Glacier National Park first-hand, can be an almost spiritual experience. Its beauty and majesty are legendary, which is why it’s such a popular destination for visitors from around the globe. You can enjoy the area by driving along the 50 mile long ‘Going to the Sun’ road but to truly experience the full splendor, throw on your boots and backpack and hike those trails (you’ve got 700 miles to choose from).

Of course mountains, meadows and waterfalls aren’t the only reason tourists flock to the park. It offers good opportunities to view a wide range of wildlife, including bison, lynx, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, elk, wolverines, and of course bears. Although the park is also home to black bears, the grizzly is what most visitors come to see – from a safe distance.

Weather in Glacier is very changeable, so sturdy, waterproof clothing is essential. Because of its elevation and northerly position, it can snow at any time of the year, so make sure you bring a hat and gloves. The hikes can be many miles long and depending on the trail, can take all day, so you’ll need a stout pair of hiking boots, as well as a comfortable backpack. All the necessary clothing and equipment can be found at e-outdoor.co.uk. You can visit the park every day of the year and while it’s quieter in Fall, when you can see the beautiful color changes, most of the lodges and concessions close at the end of September, so you’d have to be more self-reliant.

While you can never guarantee seeing a grizzly, trails in the Many Glacier Valley (Iceberg Lake Trail, Cracker Lake Trail, Grinnell Glacier Trail); on Huckleberry Mountain (Huckleberry Lookout Trail) and in the Logan Pass area (Hidden Lane Trail, Highline Trail) on average, get the highest reported sightings.

It’s recommended that you never hike alone; groups of four or more are safest. The most sensible option is to go on a ranger-led hike. While spotting a bear in the distance is magical, up close and personal can be very dangerous. To avoid that happening, make noise along the trail by clapping and shouting every few minutes. Most grizzlies avoid humans and will leave if they hear or see you coming, but some have become somewhat bolder and may stay on the trail. The National Park Service has produced some excellent guidelines for staying safe in bear country.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

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