Saturday, April 30, 2016

Deadmans Bar Road Construction Work to Begin

Construction will be underway this summer at the Deadmans Bar Road, parking area, and boat launch in Grand Teton National Park. The project will improve the road surface, expand and formalize the parking area to improve traffic circulation, provide better access to the Snake River, and re-vegetate areas that have been impacted by overflow parking in the past. While the construction schedule has been designed to maintain access during the heart of the busy summer season, the road will be closed during the shoulder seasons to accommodate crucial road work that cannot be completed on the narrow road with traffic present.

Key dates for the project:
Start of Season to May 26: Closed
May 27-July 21: Up to 30 minute delays
July 22-Sept. 15: No construction, no delays
Sept. 15-Sept. 30: Up to 30 minute delays
Oct. 1 to End of Season: Closed

When the Deadmans Bar Road is closed, river users will still be able to make a through trip from the Pacific Creek Boat Launch to Moose, however there will be no formal river access between those two locations. Restrooms at Deadmans Bar will remain open throughout the project, including when the road is closed.

The project will improve the experience of visitors to the Deadmans Bar area and the sustainability of the facilities. Work on the Deadmans Bar Road includes an overlay of the existing paved sections of road and establishment of a consistent 20-foot width on the gravel portion of road to better accommodate two-way traffic. Crews will expand the gravel parking area by less than an acre and delineate parking spaces to improve efficiency.

Future visitors to the area will also enjoy a hardened boat ramp designed for dynamic river conditions, accessible parking spaces and river access, and improved signage and traffic flow. Areas that have been used as informal overflow parking in the past will be revegetated.

This project is a part of the Snake River Headwaters Comprehensive River Management Plan. The Snake River Headwaters was designated a national wild and scenic river in 2009 to protect its free-flowing character, water quality, and opportunities for its benefit and enjoyment.

Other road projects during the 2016 summer season will have relatively minor impacts and include the following:

Kelly Road: Up to 15 minute delays in July
Pacific Creek Road: Up to 15 minute delays in August
Grassy Lake Road: Up to 15 minute delays in August
Signal Mountain Summit Road: Closed 10 am to 4 pm on Tues, Wed, and Thurs from mid-June through early July. You'll still be able to reach the summit by using the Signal Mountain Trail.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Arches National Park Seeks Graffiti Vandals

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people? Arches National Park recently discovered another act of graffiti vandalism, and posted this message on their Facebook page yesterday:
We need your help. Staff recently discovered new graffiti at Frame Arch, just off the trail to Delicate Arch. If you saw anyone carving or writing on the rock on the Delicate Arch trail, please contact the park via email or phone listed here:

Graffiti—marking, scratching, chalking, and carving on rocks—is unsightly and illegal. It damages the rocks and ruins other people's experience in this natural place. Rangers and volunteer groups spend hundreds of hours every year removing graffiti from the park. Help us protect your national park: if you discover graffiti in the park, please let us know.
No doubt, the two losers who did this, "Staten" and "Andersen", likely took congratulatory selfies after leaving their mark. By the way, this isn't an isolated case. This type of "tagging" seems to be a growing trend in parks around the country. Here's the photo Arches published on their FB page which shows the damage done:


Tourism to Yellowstone National Park creates $638.6 Million in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 4.1 million visits to Yellowstone National Park in 2015 totaled $493.6 million in spending in communities near the park. That spending supported 7,737 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $638.6 million.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Facility Opening Dates for Grand Teton National Park

Opening dates for seasonally operated facilities and roads in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway are as follows:


• Teton Park Road-May 1
• Moose-Wilson Road-May 1
• Signal Mountain Summit Road-May 1
• Grassy Lake Road-June 1, dependent on snow conditions
* Paved multi-use pathways are open when they are predominately free of snow and ice.

Visitor Centers & Ranger Stations:

Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center-Open
Colter Bay Visitor Center-May 7
Jenny Lake Visitor Center-May 27
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center-June 4
Flagg Ranch Information Station-June 6
Jenny Lake Ranger Station-June 4


Gros Ventre-May 6
Signal Mountain-May 6
Jenny Lake-May 6
 Colter Bay-May 26
Colter Bay RV Park-May 12
Headwaters Campground & RV Sites-May 20
 Lizard Creek-June 10

All backcountry camping permits cost $25. Backcountry reservations may be made until May 15 with an additional $10 fee for advanced booking. Reservations can be made online at After May 15, all backcountry site permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis no more than one day before the trip begins.


Signal Mountain Lodge-May 6
Jackson Lake Lodge-May 16
Colter Bay Cabins-May 26
Triangle X Ranch-May 22
Jenny Lake Lodge-June 1
Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch-June 1

Entrance Stations:

The Moose, Moran, and Granite Canyon entrance stations are open and charging entry fees.

Bicyclists are reminded that they must stop and show an entry pass before proceeding through the gates, just as vehicles are required to do. An automated self-serve machine is located on the multi-use pathway adjacent to the Moose Entrance Station. People traveling on the pathway by foot, bike, or rollerblade will be required to stop and pay or have a valid pass in possession.

Personal identification is required with any pass that requires a signature.

For additional information about activities and services within Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, please visit the park's website, stop by any visitor center, or call 307.739.3300. For detailed information on hiking trails in the park, please click here.


Total Eclipse Of The Sun Will Pass Through Grand Teton National Park

There's no time like the present to begin planning for the future. Yesterday I just happened to come across a website that mentioned there will be a total eclipse of the Sun next year. This is significant because it will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States since 1979.

In case you fell asleep during your high school astronomy class, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thus totally (or partially) obscuring the Sun. If you're located within the narrow path of a total solar eclipse, the Moon will appear to be larger than the Sun, thus blocking all direct sunlight and briefly turning the day into night.

Next year's lunar/solar event will take place on Monday, August 21, 2017. The path of the total eclipse will pass directly over Grand Teton National Park, with the center passing between Wilson and Teton Village.

The longest duration of totality will take place within the Shawnee National Forest, located just south of Carbondale, Illinois, and will last for 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds. The greatest extent will occur between Hopkinsville and Princeton, Kentucky. Viewers must be within the central path to see the total phase of the eclipse, though you'll still be able to see a partial eclipse hundreds of miles away (as seen in the nearby NASA GIF map).

For much more information, please visit the NASA website which has an interactive map, as well as tables listing times for important stages of the eclipse.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grizzly Bear Research Trapping Begins in Grand Teton National Park - Public Reminded to Heed Warning Signs

Biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will be conducting grizzly bear research and trapping operations within Grand Teton National Park beginning Wednesday, April 13, through April 30. This research is part of on-going efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

When bear research and trapping activities are being conducted, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. For bear and human safety, the public must respect these signs and stay out of the posted areas.

Trained professionals with the interagency team will bait, trap and handle grizzly bears in accordance with strict protocols. Once trapped, the bears are sedated to allow wildlife biologists to collar the bears and collect samples and data for scientific study.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to research and monitor bears across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in a collaborative effort between federal land managers and state wildlife agencies. Gathering of critical data on these protected bears is part of a long-term research effort to support the recovery of the area's grizzly bear population. The team includes representatives from the National Park Service, U. S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Video Hike to Ramsey Cascades

Awhile back the Great Smoky Mountains Association published a video of the hike to Ramsey Cascades. Dropping roughly 100 feet over the course of multiple tiers, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the Smokies. The popular trail takes hikers though the largest old-growth forest remaining in the Great Smoky Mountains, and passes the 6th tallest tree in the park. For more information on this beautiful hike, please click here.

© GSMA 2010. All rights reserved.

With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to Ramsey Cascades, the park offers many other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Many Glacier and Chief Mountain Roads Open

The National Park Service announced today that Many Glacier and Chief Mountain Roads on the east side of the Park are now open to vehicles for the season. Visitors are welcome to drive the 8-mile Many Glacier Road as far as the Many Glacier Campground. The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail loop on the valley floor is open in its entirety with parking available at Grinnell Picnic area.

Currently, no services are available along the Many Glacier Road with the exception of pit toilets at the ranger station and picnic area. The access road to the Many Glacier Hotel is closed due to construction at the hotel. Temporary parking for hotel trailheads is available along Many Glacier Road at the “T” junction with the road to the hotel. To access trailheads beyond the hotel, visitors should follow posted signs from the junction and stay clear of the posted construction zone.

On both the east and west sides of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (GTSR), avalanche concerns have prevented plowing operations from advancing since Wednesday. Park officials are recommending that hikers and bikers use caution if they plan to travel on the GTSR this weekend.

Sometime between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning this week, two large glide avalanches released at Haystack and Heaven’s Gate, according to a park avalanche report. Both of these were large magnitude events with the debris running several thousand feet down into the valley bottoms. The avalanche at Haystack is blocking the GTSR where road crews had previously plowed the road and debris is plugging the stone archway that spans Haystack Creek. The report also notes that three separate glide avalanches occurred last weekend.

West side plowing crews discovered the 30-foot deep avalanche debris at Haystack on their way up to plow the road on Thursday morning. Due to continued avalanche danger, the crew returned to complete road work at lower elevations without plowing further up the road.

On the west side of the park, visitors can drive the Camas Road and the first 11.5 miles of the Going to the Sun Road (GTSR) from the park entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge. Beyond the The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Lodge, people on foot or on bicycles can continue up the traffic-free road for another twelve miles to the Loop where the hiker/biker sign is currently located. For the next several days, due to avalanche danger, officials are advising recreationists not to travel above the Loop.

On the east side of the park, vehicles may drive the first 5.5 miles of the GTSR from St. Mary entrance to Rising Sun. Beyond that gate, hikers and bicyclists may continue on the road as far as Siyeh Bend. For at least the next few days, travel beyond Siyeh Bend is not advised due to avalanche danger. Two Medicine Road is closed to vehicles at Running Eagle Falls, with no restrictions for hikers and bikers beyond that point.

In addition to avalanche concerns, hikers and bikers are reminded that bears have emerged from their dens and that pre-cautions are advised, including carrying bear spray and making noise along roads and trails where visibility is restricted. Recreationists should be prepared for variable, spring conditions including mud, snow and patches of ice both on roads and trails.

Since road conditions and openings change frequently this time of year please visit the park’s website or check the park’s social media sites or call 406-888-7800 for the latest information. On weekends, visitors can stop at the Apgar Visitor Center from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the latest information.

National Park Week continues with free entrance to all National Parks, including Glacier National Park, through April 24 in honor of the National Park Service Centennial.


Visitation to Grand Teton National Park Generates Over 728 Million in Economic Benefit to Local Communities

A new report released today concludes that visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2015 spent an estimated $560 million in local gateway communities. The ripple effects of that spending had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $728 million and supported 8,862 jobs in nearby communities such as Jackson, Teton Village, and Dubois, WY as well as Victor and Driggs, ID. As it did in 2014, Grand Teton ranked among the top five national park areas in terms of economic benefit along with Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Denali National Park & Preserve.

"My staff, as well as that of our partners and concessioners, welcomed over 3.1 million recreational visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2015," said Superintendent David Vela. "We are proud to share the story of this place with those visitors and introduce them to this part of the country. National park tourism is a significant driver in our national and local economy, returning over $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. While we are primarily responsible for the preservation and visitor enjoyment of park resources, we also value the health and sustainability of our local economy and our partnerships with the communities that help serve travelers from across the country and around the world."

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally;252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors also produced an interactive tool, which is new this year, to illustrate their findings. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and full report are available at the National Park Service Social Science Program webpage.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. National park visitors spent an estimated $890 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands in Wyoming.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Montana State Parks Seeks Public Comment on Proposed 2016 Trail Grant Applications

Montana State Parks is seeking public comment on 79 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant applications for the current grant cycle which closed March 11, 2016. Project applicants requested approximately $2.6 million from Montana’s Recreational Trails Program. Approximately $1.4 million in funding will be available for projects. Comments will be accepted through Friday, May 20th at 5pm.

Recreational Trails Program grant funds can provide assistance for trail projects, including development and rehabilitation work on urban, rural, and backcountry trails; planning and construction of community trails; snowmobile and cross-country ski trail maintenance and grooming operations; and, a variety of trail stewardship and safety education programs statewide.

A list of all trails grant applications for consideration is accessible online (click on ‘Recreational Trails Program’). Copies of individual RTP applications are available by request at (406) 444-4585.

Public Comments must be received by 5pm on Friday, May 20th, 2016 and may be submitted online here.

Comments may also be submitted by email to: or by regular mail to: Montana State Parks, Trails Program, 1420 E. Sixth Ave., P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is federally funded and is administered and managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks with oversight from the Federal Highway Administration. RTP funding is made available through the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Bill called the Fast Act which is a five-year funding bill.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Summer in Jackson Hole

The following is a guest post by Sands Whitewater & Scenic River Trips:

Ahhhh. Summer in Jackson. Where the days linger forever, the air is so crisp you’ll want to bottle it up and the adventures you’ll have here are endless. Once you experience a Jackson Hole summer day, you’ll soon be trying to figure out a way to extend your trip or better yet, plan your next one.

There isn’t exactly a shortage of things to do in the valley once you get here. A personal favorite of mine is hitting the river and going rafting. You’ll soon learn that everyone and their mother (and probably their grandmother) has taken a rafting trip down the Snake River. Why you ask? Because it’s the most amount of good, clean fun you can have in Jackson in three hours or less!

The day is a breeze. You roll up to the office 20-30 minutes before your trip, sign your life away fill out a waiver and jump on a bus to take you to your starting point. When you arrive, your guide/new best friend will give you detailed instructions on how the day will play out. Before you know it, you’re in the raft with all your new friends heading down the river.

What to expect on the ride down the river? Well… a little bit of the unexpected. You’ll hit famous rapids like the Big Kahuna, Lunch Counter and Champagne. You’ll be bounced around a little or maybe a lot. You’ll laugh so hard your cheeks will hurt and the smile will inevitably take hours, maybe days, to be wiped from you face. Finish your trip by serving up high fives all around the boat with all your best friends. As you head back to town, a wave of adrenaline will overcome you. You’ve officially had a real Jackson experience. For those of us who live here, we just call that a normal day, so good on you for living it up like a local while you’re here.

So… You’re coming to Jackson. You want to have the classic experience, yeah? Well, what are you waiting for?! Give us a shout and we’ll give you the classic Jackson Hole day and so much more.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tips for Hiking with Kids

So you want to go on a hiking trip this summer, but you’re thinking that it might not be a good idea due to the young kids in the back seat. It’s likely you’re concerned that your children will be bored by the idea of traipsing through the woods. Although I hear this concern quite a bit, you really don’t have to hang up your boots until the kids go off to college.

Fortunately there are several things parents can do to make hiking enjoyable for their kids. The key is to keep them interested, motivated and, most importantly, make sure they have fun. Although that might sound easier than it really is, there are several things you can do to accomplish these objectives.

For very young kids you’ll have to keep the hike very short. As they get older and begin to build confidence and endurance you’ll be able to gradually increase the distance. Although we as adults enjoy expansive views, this really isn’t important to kids. Children much prefer things that are scaled down to their smaller world view. As a parent you should try to appeal to their sense of discovery and adventure, such as visiting a waterfall, a cave, large boulders, a hollowed-out tree, a gurgling stream, or a lake to possibly where they can skip rocks. In fact, water is usually a great motivator.

As you venture further down the trail during your hike try to point things out along the way. Perhaps playing a game similar to that of a scavenger hunt where your children try to find a variety of items such as certain trees, pine cones, wildflowers, boulders, insects, birds’ nests and various wildlife. National parks like Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains are all perfect for finding any of these items.

A few other important tips to keep children motivated are to let them set the pace, bring lots of snacks, take frequent breaks, be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, and maybe even consider allowing them to bring a friend along.

Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains all offer many outstanding easy hikes that will appeal to both children and adults alike.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Grizzly Survivor Reflects on Attack

This is precisely why you should never venture into grizzly country without bear spray. The man interviewed in this National Geographic video survived severe injuries when he was attacked by a grizzly bear not far from his home near Cody, Wyoming. He explains why he feels guilty and says "it really wasn't the bear's fault."


Friday, April 15, 2016

North Fork Prescribed Burns Planned

Two prescribed fire projects are planned along the Inside North Fork Road area of Glacier National Park in the next month, depending on weather and fuel conditions.

NPS fire crews plan to burn 100 acres in the vicinity of Sullivan Meadow, approximately two miles east of Logging Ranger Station. The primary objectives of the burn are to reduce the number of understory trees serving as “ladders for fire” underneath mature ponderosa pine, thin out trees that established after the 1999 Anaconda Fire and the 2001 Moose Fire, and to expose mineral soil to provide a seed bed for natural ponderosa pine regeneration.

A second prescribed burn of approximately 70 acres is proposed in Round Prairie approximately eight miles northwest of Polebridge. The primary objective of this burn is to reduce the density of young trees that are encroaching on the native prairie grassland. Managers also hope to reduce the sagebrush within the prairie while improving the vigor of the native grasses and forbs.

These prescribed burns will only take place if optimum weather and smoke dispersal parameters are met. For additional information, please contact the park at 406-888-7800.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ken Burns: Secrets of Rocky Mountain National Park

What makes Rocky Mountain National Park so special? Back in 2014 Ken Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared some of the secrets of Rocky Mountain National Park. Burns, along with Dayton Duncan, are the creators of the PBS documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." If you haven't been to this park yet, here's why it needs to be on your bucket list:

With more than 350 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, and a wide variety of outstanding hikes, Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely a hikers paradise. If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Epic Animal Migrations in Yellowstone

Some of the world's most incredible animal migrations take place within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Among them are a 120-mile pronghorn migration, as well as nine elk herds with unique migration patterns. While on assignment in Yellowstone for National Geographic, photographer Joe Riis was able to capture the awe-inspiring migrations that few tourists are ever able to see:


Friday, April 8, 2016

Many Glacier Hotel Rehabilitation

The National Park Service (NPS) awarded a 13.56 million dollar contract on March 16 to Swank Enterprises of Valier, Montana, to correct remaining health and safety concerns within the National Historic Landmark Many Glacier Hotel.

The contractor began staging for the project on April 1, 2016 and will continue through December 2016, when work will cease for the winter. Work will restart on April 1, 2017 and is anticipated to be completed no later than June 2, 2017, in time for next year’s peak season and the 100th anniversary of Annex II. This work represents the final two phases of a seven-phase plan that has been implemented over the past 15 years, with significant components completed in 2005 and 2012.

The 211 room Many Glacier Hotel was built by the Great Northern Railroad starting in 1914. The hotel opened to guests on July 4, 1915, but Annex II was not completed until 1917.The passage of time, the evolution of stricter building codes for occupant safety, and harsh environmental conditions have contributed to its deteriorated condition. Considerable media attention and public interest was generated in the late 1990’s regarding the condition of this National Historic Landmark. Glacier National Park’s 1999 General Management Plan highlighted the deteriorated condition of the Many Glacier Hotel and other historic park facilities as a critical issue.

“Capital improvements in our signature historic structures like the Many Glacier Hotel help reduce our annual operating and maintenance costs and serve as a welcome sign to the next century of park visitors,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “I know this project investment will pay dividends in the future for our guests.”

The 2016-17 construction includes all of Annex II, South Bridge (Breezeway), and the Lobby sections of the hotel, which comprise the southern section of the building. The fire suppression, fire alarm, plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems will be replaced within this section of the building. Additional work will address seismic stability, replace structural members, enhance accessibility, and abate hazardous materials. In 2012, a similar scope of work was completed for the northern portion of the facility, including the 100 guest rooms in Annex 1, the North Bridge (Interlaken Lounge), the dining room, the kitchen, and employee and maintenance areas.


During the summer of 2016, approximately half of the Many Glacier Hotel’s 211 rooms will be closed due to the construction. The affected rooms are located above the lobby and within Annex II. Additionally, the lobby spaces (including the deck and lake level areas) will be under construction and inaccessible.

Glacier National Park Lodges (Xanterra), the concessioner who operates the hotel as part of a NPS concessions contract, will be providing check-in and other guest functions in the Interlaken Lounge area. The front doors and portico will be impacted, and the main entrance to the hotel will be temporarily moved to the northern half of the building. Traffic patterns for arriving and departing guests may be altered but directional signs will be posted. The upper parking lot will remain available for guest parking.

While construction hours will be limited, work will be ongoing on the hotel during the entire summer season. Visitors will encounter some daytime construction-related noise, visible construction staging areas, and areas closed to entry. Dining, retail, and overnight accommodations will continue within the hotel, and bus tours (including services offered on both the historic Red Buses and by Sun Tours) will continue to arrive and depart from the hotel. Boat tours and horseback rides will be offered by Glacier Park Boat Company and Swan Mountain Outfitters from their operational locations near the hotel. Ranger Naturalists will offer evening programs at the Many Glacier Campground Amphitheater, though there will not be any programs offered within the hotel.

Restoration of lost historical elements are not funded as part of this project; however, separate funding was acquired through NPS Centennial matching funds, private donations, and entrance fee funding to restore the historic helical staircase between the main and lower lobby levels and to install the historic corridor lighting of Annex II similar to what was done in Annex 1 in 2012. The gift shop currently located within the lobby will be relocated to the lake level as part of the construction project.

In advance of the 2017 summer season, Glacier National Park Lodges will be completing additional upgrades, including replacement of select guest room d├ęcor and finishes, as well as the lobby and public area furnishings. Sixty of the guest rooms will be converted to “upscale” rooms with enhanced amenities. Additionally, the concessioner will be completing upgrades to the retail spaces (both the gift shop and Heidi’s) which, once completed, will both be located on the lake level.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Iceberg Lake

Below is another outstanding video from "The West is Big! Travel Guides". This short video highlights the popular hike to Iceberg Lake, one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, if not the entire national park system. The hike features stunning alpine scenery, up-close views of the Ptarmigan Wall, wildlife, wildflowers and of course, the alpine lake that typically features floating icebergs.

In this video the videographer is forced to temporarily retreat due to a family of grizzly bears on the trail. This is fairly typical, as I have seen at least one bear on this route every time that I've hiked it. Because the trail passes through prime grizzly habitat, most visitors choose to take a ranger-led hike. Hiking in groups is the safest mode of travel in grizzly country. Most human-bear encounters occur with solo hikers who don't make enough noise to warn bears that they're passing through. As a result, the park recommends hiking with at least two other people - groups of four is even better. Although you might balk at the idea of doing a ranger-led hike, I've had nothing but great experiences with the ranger-led hikes in Glacier. For more information on this outstanding hike, please click here.

With more than 740 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Glacier National Park. In addition to the Iceberg Lake Trail, the park offers many other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Lady Of The Mountain

Her name is Bronka Sundstrom. 13 years ago she hiked to the summit of 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier - at the age of 77, thus becoming the oldest women to summit the peak - a record she still holds today.

Bronka and her husband Aki moved to Tacoma WA in 1949. As a survivor of the Holocaust during World War II, Bronka and her husband would find peace while hiking around Mt. Rainier National Park. By sheer luck or accident, my wife and I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Bronka during a hike in the Paradise Valley of Mt. Rainier in 2013.

Below is short video by Outdoor Research that provides a little background on her life, as well as some footage from her historical climb of Mt. Rainier in 2002:


Friday, April 1, 2016

Montana Wolf Numbers Remain Stable in 2015

Wolf numbers in Montana remain healthy and well above federally-mandated minimums as the fifth and final year of federal oversight of state wolf management comes to an end in May.

Montana’s annual wolf report shows a minimum wolf count of 536 wolves in 2015, which is down from 554 in 2014. Included in this number is a minimum number of breeding pairs of 32, which is down from 34 in 2014.

The difference between the overall minimum wolf counts in 2014 and 2015 is 18, well within the variability expected when counting a wide-ranging species that often occupies rough timbered country.

“It is important to remember that these are minimum counts, meaning that only wolves FWP could actually document as being on the landscape were included,” said John Vore, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Management Bureau Chief. “As wolf numbers have increased there is just no way we can physically count them all. We know there are more wolves out there. According to our best estimates the actual number of wolves is at least 30 percent more than the minimum count.”

In both the USFWS delisting rule and Montana state plan, Montana is required to maintain at least 150 wolves, including 15 breeding pairs. Wolves were officially delisted from the Endangered Species Act in Montana in 2011. The delisting required oversight by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for five years to ensure wolves in Montana stayed above population minimums. That oversight period ends in May.

Montana’s approach to wolf management includes hunting, trapping and management removal of problem wolves, which provides opportunities for hunters and trappers and the flexibility to address problems with isolated instances of wolf depredation.

In 2015 the number of wolf depredations on livestock increased by 17 over the previous year to 64. This included 41 cattle, 21 sheep and two horses.

The total documented wolf mortality in 2015 was 276 wolves, down from 308 in 2014. These numbers include all documented wolf deaths, including those from vehicles, poaching and disease. Included in this number are 39 wolves killed to address depredation issues in 2015, the lowest number in a decade and 18 fewer than last year. Twelve wolves were killed under Senate Bill 200 authority, which allows landowners to kill wolves threatening livestock or pets. The total number of wolves harvested by hunters and trappers during the 2015 calendar year was 205, which were eight fewer than in the 2014 calendar year.

The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. In the mid 1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, the USFWS released 66 wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. FWP began monitoring the wolf population and managing livestock conflicts in 2004. After several court challenges wolves were successfully delisted in 2011.

The delisting of wolves in 2011 allows Montana to manage wolves as it does any other game species, which is guided by state management plans, administrative rules and laws. “Although this year marks the end of the 5-year post-delisting oversight by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wolf management will continue as it has, under the guidance of Montana’s Wolf Management Plan,” said Ken McDonald, FWP Wildlife Bureau Chief. “In future years, FWP may be adjusting how it monitors and reports on wolf numbers, but doesn’t anticipate any significant changes in how wolves are managed.”

To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit the FWP 2015 Annual Wolf Report.