Monday, December 31, 2012

NPS Purchases Second Wyoming State Lands Parcel in Grand Teton NP

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels and Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott recently announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has purchased the second of four parcels of Wyoming school trust lands within Grand Teton National Park. Eighty-six acres known as the Snake River Parcel were acquired for an appraised value of $16 million with funds made available from congressional appropriations in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, "This second purchase makes a significant step toward ensuring that state-owned lands within the park's boundary become entirely part of Grand Teton National Park."

Terms for the purchase of state school lands within Grand Teton National Park were set forth in a 2010 agreement between the Department of the Interior and the state of Wyoming. This agreement specified the order in which state parcels would be acquired, and the timeframes for doing so. In April 2011, the first purchase was made with the State receiving $2,000 for a 40-acre parcel of subsurface mineral rights.

Under the terms of the 2010 agreement, the next tract will be the Antelope Flats Parcel, a 640-acre section appraised at $45 million. The deadline for its acquisition is January 5, 2014. With that purchase, the NPS will retain a binding option to acquire the fourth and final parcel: 640 acres with an appraised value of $46 million located along the Gros Ventre Road adjacent to the east park boundary.

At the time of statehood in 1890, the Federal government granted Wyoming sections of land throughout the state to be held in trust to provide revenue for its public schools. Approximately 1,366 acres of school trust lands were subsequently included within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park when the park was enlarged to its present-day size in 1950. The state of Wyoming also held title to 40 acres of subsurface mineral rights within the park. Because of their location in Grand Teton, the State could not fully realize the economic value of these lands as required by its constitution.

Efforts by the NPS to acquire school trust lands within Grand Teton date back many decades. Over the past 10 years, acquisition of these state-owned parcels has remained one of the park's highest priorities.

"We look forward to the eventual purchase of the remaining 1,280 acres of state-owned lands within Grand Teton National Park so that future generations will enjoy unrestricted access to their public lands," stated Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Top 10 Stories from Glacier National Park in 2012

2012 was another busy year for Glacier National Park. The park made headlines in the national media on a couple of occasions. Mishaps in the backcountry seemed to dominate the news this year. Below is my rundown of the top 10 stories from the park over the past year:

10) In September Glacier officials announced that the Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Modification and Improvement Project had been completed. The barrier was constructed in order to prevent additional non-native fish from reaching Quartz Lake in the northwestern section of the park.

9) In July the National Park Service announced that it had acquired the second largest privately owned property remaining in Glacier National Park. The 120-acre property, which was in private ownership but located entirely within park boundaries, is on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Harrison Lake. It was originally settled by Dan Doody, who was appointed as one of the first six Glacier rangers after the park was created in 1910.

8) Back in August Glacier National Park announced that it will proceed with plans to expand the Apgar Transit Center parking lot in order to accommodate increased visitor use due to the relocation of visitor center operations. The parking lot will be extended approximately 90 feet to the north, and 90 feet to the east, and will provide approximately 190-195 spaces for passenger vehicles, including 9 accessible spaces, and 21 RV or oversized vehicle spaces.

7) After 40 years of government service, Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright announced his retirement in November, which will be effective at the end of the year.

6) Last January two lost cross-country skiers were rescued after an unplanned, overnight bivouac near Bowman Lake.

5) Sixteen miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road were closed for three days in July after several rock and mud slides occurred between The Loop and Triple Arches. One of slides was captured on video.

4) A Colorado man drowned in the North Fork of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park in September. The man was fishing near Camas Creek with a local relative when they became separated from each other's sight by a bend in the river. The relative went downstream to check on the man but was unable to find him. SAR rescuers found the victim’s body later that day.

3) In July a Glacier National Park trail crew member was seriously injured after sliding approximately 200 feet down a snow field from the Highline Trail to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below.

2) Back in October two hikers were rescued after spending an unanticipated five nights in the backcountry. One of the hikers slipped and fell approximately 100 feet down a steep area between Cut Bank Pass and Dawson Pass. Unable to make their back up to the ridge, the hikers dropped down to the Nyack Lakes area where they waited for rescuers.

1) In July, Jakson Kreiser, a 19-year-old seasonal employee with Glacier Park, Inc., went missing while hiking from the Logan Pass area. An extensive search was conducted for several days, but search personnel were unable to locate the Michigan native. His remains were found in September in an area southwest of Hidden Lake.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Invasive Plant Citizen Science Program at Glacier

This short video from the NPS provides an overview of the Invasive Plant Citizen Science Program in Glacier National Park, and how you can help:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Ranger-led Snowshoe Hikes on Tap in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park ranger naturalists invite visitors and locals to experience the extraordinary wonders of winter during one of the new snowshoe hikes scheduled for the season. In addition to the regular daily snowshoe hikes from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, rangers will also conduct guided snowshoe treks to Taggart Lake, as well as five full-moon snowshoe hikes.

Daily snowshoe hikes begin on Wednesday, December 26 at the Discovery Center in Moose, Wyoming. These two-hour excursions are offered every day at 1:30 p.m. and previous experience is not necessary. Snowshoes are provided for a fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years and up.

For something different, join rangers for a snowshoe trek across glittering snow and under a bright full moon. These two-hour outings travel a level section of one of the park's snow-covered trails. Previous snowshoe experience is not required, and snowshoes are provided free of charge for these hikes. Full moon excursions are offered once a month on the following dates:

December 27 (Thursday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
January 26 (Saturday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
February 24 (Sunday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
March 26 (Tuesday) from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
April 24 (Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

For more of a challenge, join a guided snowshoe hike to Taggart Lake. Explore the magic of winter and get your blood pumping at the same time. These moderately strenuous excursions gain 400 feet of elevation across a three-mile, round-trip trail to the lake. Dates and times will be announced throughout the winter. Previous snowshoe experience is not required, but may be helpful. Snowshoes are provided for a fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years and older.

People have used snowshoes as a means of winter travel for thousands of years. These ranger-led snowshoe outings are designed to introduce beginning and casual snowshoe hikers to a rare experience: oversnow travel across a frozen and pristine landscape in the company of others. Venture into the winter landscape and learn about the natural wonders and unique characteristics that make this season so special.

Those attending any of the snowshoe hikes should wear warm layered clothing, sturdy insulated boots, and a face scarf or ski mask. Bring along an energy snack and water and a sense of adventure.

Reservations are required for all snowshoe hikes. Call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor center at 307.739.3399 to sign up.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Section of Hay Creek Road Closed in the North Fork Area of the Flathead National Forest

To provide for public safety a section of the Hay Creek Road in the North Fork area of the Flathead National Forest will be closed to all vehicle traffic Monday through Friday from now until March 31, 2013. Logging trucks are operating on this stretch of road during those days as part of the Hay-More Stewardship project.

The section of road which will be closed is National Forest System Road (NFSR) #376 (Hay Creek) from the intersection of County Road #486 (North Fork Road) to the intersection of NFSR #909 (Cyclone Creek Road.)

The road will be open from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Monday at 12:01 a.m. for vehicle traffic. This stretch of road is being plowed which means it is not open to snowmobiles traffic.

For more information about area road access, contact the Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District, 406/387-3800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Take a First Day Hike

Start the year off on the right foot by taking a First Day Hike in a state park near you. All across the country state parks will be offering guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2013.

The idea for First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation State Park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, however, all 50 state park systems have now joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

An organization called America’s State Parks has compiled an online database of more than 600 hikes on their website. You can find a First Day Hike by clicking here.

There are a couple of opportunities for a First Day Hike across Montana, including three options near Glacier National Park:

* Lone Pine State Park
* Lake Elmo State Park
* First Peoples Buffalo Jump

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gable Pass in Glacier National Park

Most people who visit Glacier National Park tend to visit the most popular spots in the park, such as Logan Pass or Many Glacier. However, the park offers numerous destinations with stunning scenery that are off the beaten path. One such spot is at Gable Pass in the northeastern corner of the park. It's located to the northwest of Slide Lake, and towards the southwest of Chief Mountain. The video below highlights some of the outstanding scenery that can be seen in this part of the park:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, December 17, 2012

Threatened grizzly bear populations and their recovery

Prior to western expansion and settlement, grizzly bears ranged from Alaska to Mexico and as far east as the western shores of Hudson Bay. When Lewis and Clark explored the West in the early 1800s, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains, across vast stretches of open and unpopulated land. However, when pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range drastically declined. As European settlement expanded over the next hundred years, towns and cities sprung up, and habitat for these large omnivores--along with their numbers--shrunk drastically. Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, only a few small corners of grizzly country remain, supporting about 1,200 - 1,400 wild grizzly bears. Of 37 grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975.

In 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the Lower 48 States under the Endangered Species Act, placing the species under federal protection. Today, grizzly bear distribution is primarily within but not limited to the areas identified as “Recovery Zones”. Here are the latest population figures as of October 2012:

* North Cascades area of north central Washington (9,500 sq mi) at less than 20 bears.

* Selkirk Mountains area of northern Idaho, northeast Washington, and southeast British Columbia (2,200 sq mi) at approximately 80 bears.

* Cabinet Yaak area of northwest Montana and northern Idaho (2,600 sq mi) at more than 40 bears. The Selkirk Mountain and the Cabinet Yaak are also known as the Selkirk/Cabinet Yaak ecosystem.

* Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of north central Montana (9,600 sq mi) at approximately 765 bears.

* Bitterroot Recovery Zone in the Bitterroot Mountains of east central Idaho and western Montana (5,600 sq mi), however this area does not contain any grizzly bears at this time.

* Yellowstone area in northwest Wyoming, eastern Idaho, and southwest Montana (9,200 sq mi) at more than 580 bears;

(Note: the San Juan Mountains of Colorado also were identified as an area of possible grizzly bear occurrence, but no evidence of grizzly bears has been found in the San Juan Mountains since a bear was killed there in 1979.)

For more information on recovery in each of these ecosystems, please click here.

In September 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service completed a 5-year review of grizzly bear as listed in the lower 48 States. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review.

For more information on hiking in grizzly bear country, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grand Teton Launches Class Of 2016 Initiative

To highlight the National Park Service’s upcoming centennial in 2016, Grand Teton National Park will soon be launching a multi-year initiative focused on local “Class of 2016” students.

In partnership with the Grand Teton Association (GTA) and Jackson Hole High School, park staff will provide hands-on lessons and experiences for students throughout their high school years. Through this outreach program, Grand Teton hopes to create opportunities for students to find meaningful experiences in their nearby national park and gain a better understanding of its significance.

A kick-off event for the Class of 2016 initiative held yesterday introduced a group of freshman students to park scientists, interpreters and climbing rangers. During this initial event, students hiked with a ranger and discussed the ecology of the park, explored the Craig Thomas Discovery Center’s exhibits, and discovered how the area became a national park.

Over the next four years park staff will work with students in this multi-faceted program to provide similar experiences to upcoming high school classes. Members from the Class of 2016 initiative will serve as mentors to their underclass peers.

In partnership with the GTA, the park will host a Class of 2016 essay and creative arts scholarship competition. Through “From Past to Present: Stewardship for the Future,” students will respond to park-related prompts through essays, art, poetry, song or photography. GTA will fund the scholarship as well as transportation, materials and other supplies for programs and events.

The Class of 2016 initiative is one of many action items laid out in ‘A Call to Action’ by Director Jarvis. A ‘Call to Action’ charts a path toward a second-century vision for the NPS by asking park employees and partners to commit to concrete actions that advance the mission of the NPS. In conjunction with many other action items, it also directs all parks to help students develop a deep understanding of park resources and the relevance of parks in their lives through a series of park education programs.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 15, 2012

GNPF Announces Nine Grants for Glacier National Park for 2013

This week the Board of Trustees of the Glacier National Park Fund (GNPF) announced that they have awarded nine year-end grants from unrestricted funds to Glacier National Park for 2013 projects. Unrestricted funds come from the sale of the Montana Glacier National Park specialty license plate, as well as from annual fund donors who have allowed Trustees to allocate funds as needed by the Park.

As National Park budgets continue to be challenging, GNPF wants to provide support to the Park and assist in meeting the needs of the roughly two million visitors to the park each year.

The history of private/public partnerships has a long history in Glacier National Park. “We are fortunate to have so many wonderful donors - locally and across the country - who love Glacier National Park and understand the importance of giving back to ensure that others will be able to enjoy the Park well into the future.” says Jane Ratzlaff, Executive Director of the Fund.

The following nine grants have been awarded for 2013:

• Boardwalk and Trail at the Red Rocks Area
• Research on Harlequin Ducks Along the Upper McDonald Creek
• Going-to-the-Sun Road Podcasts
• Discovery Cabin and the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program
• Exhibit to Share the Significance of Lake McDonald to the Kootenai People
• Youth/Adult Citizen Science Stewardship
• Half the Park Happens after Dark – Astronomy Program
• Wireless Water Tank Monitoring System
• Oberlin Bend Overlook Repair

There are many other projects that still need to be funded in 2013. Some of these projects include: replacement of the Grinnell historic wall, building a raised walkway at Josephine Lake, the need for more bear-proof food storage lockers, preserving the genetic legacy of the fisher, research the breeding biology of the Northern Hawk Owl, and many more. If you would like to support any of these projects in Glacier National Park, it's not too late. Visit the website and make a general donation.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yellowstone Winter Season Begins Saturday

Yellowstone National Park will open to the public for the winter season as scheduled on December 15th.

Beginning at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, visitors will be able to travel to the park's interior roads on commercially guided snowmobiles or snowcoaches from the North, West and South Entrances. Travel through the park's East Entrance over Sylvan Pass is scheduled to begin December 22.

The road from the park's North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs and on to Cooke City, Montana, outside the park's Northeast Entrance is open to wheeled vehicle travel all year.

At Old Faithful, the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center open for the season on December 15. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins and the Obsidian Dining Room open on December 18.

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, dining room and gift shop will open for the season on December 20. The Yellowstone General Store, the medical clinic, campground, post office and the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs are open all year, as are the 24-hour gasoline pumps at Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.

All communities around and on the way to Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of winter recreation opportunities. Extensive information and assistance for planning a visit to Yellowstone during the winter is on the park's website.

Park staff members will continue to closely monitor road conditions and weather forecasts that can have an impact on roadways and guided oversnow travel operations. Weather during the winter season is extremely unpredictable in Yellowstone and road closures or delays can occur with little or no warning. Visitors are reminded to come prepared by carrying personal emergency survival equipment in their vehicles and dressing appropriately for outside activities in extremely cold weather.

All the administrative steps have been completed in order for the 2012-2013 winter season to open as scheduled on Saturday. Winter Use in Yellowstone this season is being managed under an operating plan much in the same manner as has been permitted the last three winters. Under the rule, up to 318 commercially guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches will be allowed into the park each day.

In early 2013, the National Park Service intends to issue a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and a proposed rule to guide long-term winter use in Yellowstone, which will take effect in time for the 2013-2014 winter season.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Glacier Visitor Mural

More than 800 visitors at Glacier National Park helped to paint this mural at the 1913 Ranger Station this past summer. This is the second mural created by visitors, both under the direction of park volunteer/artist Sheryl Mink. The mural will hang in the lobby of the St. Mary Visitor Center this coming summer. Park officials hope to have a third mural project to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ranger station. The 1913 Ranger Station is located near the trailhead for the Beaver Pond loop hike, across from the St. Mary Visitor Center.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Us and Them and Glacier National Park

The video below, by Scott McKinley, shows some nice footage of Glacier National Park and its wildlife. Scott did a great job of synching the video to the music:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Season Activities to Begin in Grand Tetons

Although winter seems to be unusually late in coming this year, activities for the 2012/13 season begin Saturday, December 15 in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is open year-round and winter hours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To observe the Christmas holiday, the Discovery Center (12 miles north of Jackson) will be closed on December 25.

A Single Day Pass is available to winter visitors at the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations. This winter-season permit allows a one-day entry into Grand Teton at a cost of $5 per vehicle. The single day pass is valid only in Grand Teton and cannot be used for entry into Yellowstone. Winter visitors may choose to purchase one of the following other options for entry:

• $25 Seven-day Pass valid for single vehicle entry into Grand Teton and Yellowstone
• $50 Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one year entry into both parks
• $80 Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all federal land fee areas

Ranger-led snowshoe hikes begin Wednesday, December 26 at the Discovery Center. This 2-hour activity is offered every day at 1:30 p.m., and previous experience is not necessary. Snowshoes are available for a rental fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years or older. Reservations are required and can be made at 307.739.3399.

Backcountry users and mountaineers planning to stay overnight in the backcountry must get a non-fee permit before their trip at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Permits are not required for day users. To obtain weather forecasts and avalanche hazard information, stop at the Discovery Center, visit the backcountry website, or call the avalanche hotline at 307.733.2664.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in the park. Most trails are skier tracked, but not groomed. The Teton Park Road (TPR) is currently a designated trail, open to non-motorized use only. The TPR gets intermittently groomed in winter for cross-country and skate skiing from the Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain; however, plowing of park roads and other access areas take priority and will often preempt grooming operations. In addition, grooming will only begin after sufficient snow (at least 2 feet) accumulates on the TPR. Important reminder: Snowshoers should walk adjacent to the groomed ski trail, as snowshoe treads ruin the grooved track set for skiers' use.

Skiers and snowshoers are not restricted to established trails; however, for protection of wildlife, they are required to observe closure areas from December 15 to April 1. To obtain trail maps, closure locations, or winter information, go to the park's website or visit the Discovery Center in Moose, Wyoming. Winter wildlife closure areas include:

• Snake River floodplain from Moran to Menor's Ferry near Moose
• Buffalo Fork River floodplain within the park
• Kelly Hill and Uhl Hill
• Static Peak and Prospectors Mountain
• Mount Hunt areas (see the park's cross-country ski brochure for descriptions)

Leashed pets are allowed on the park's plowed roads and turnouts, the unplowed Moose-Wilson Road, and the Grassy Lake Road. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, which includes all other park areas beyond the plowed roadways.

The unplowed TPR is open to visitors who wish to walk, snowshoe or ski with their leashed pet. Dogs are restricted to the TPR winter trail, and must be restrained at all times on a leash no longer than 6-feet in length. Dogs must also be leashed while in the parking areas at Taggart Lake or Signal Mountain. Please keep dogs off the groomed ski tracks as a courtesy to other trail users.

Mutt Mitt stations are in place at the TPR trailheads to dispense plastic bags for pet waste; trash receptacles are also available for disposal of used bags. Pet owners are required to clean up their pet's waste and properly dispose of the bags in the receptacles provided. Some pet owners have left used bags along the side of the road, and when these bags become buried in snow, they cause problems for rotary snow plows during the spring road opening. If pet owners do not comply with the rules and regulations-especially with regard to pet waste disposal and leash rules-it is possible that pets will be prohibited from the TPR in the future.

Snowmobilers may use the frozen surface of Jackson Lake for the purposes of ice fishing only. A Wyoming State fishing license and appropriate fishing gear must be in possession.

On Jackson Lake, snowmobiles must meet National Park Service air and sound emissions requirements for Best Available Technology (BAT). Before operating a snowmobile in Grand Teton, review the regulations and approved BAT machines here, or stop by the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

Snowmobiles may also use the Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JDR Parkway) for recreation. The BAT machine requirement does not apply to snowmobile use on the Grassy Lake Road between Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Dog sleds are not allowed on the Teton Park Road or on Grassy Lake Road in the JDR Parkway.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Glacier National Park named as a Top 10 Destination for 2013 by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet's experts have compiled a list of 10 US destinations that they think travelers should add to their wish lists for the upcoming year. Making that list is none other than Glacier National Park. Although it came in at the 10th spot, Glacier is the only national park to make the list. Here's what Lonely Planet had to say about the most beautiful place in the world:
One of the countries wildest, most remote and pristine national parks, Glacier is everyone’s favorite national park who’s been. Its jagged, snow-blanketed ridges and glacier-sculpted horns tower dramatically over aquamarine lakes and meadows blanketed in wildflowers. Most visitors stick to the drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, so it’s easy to escape crowds by venturing beyond it. A relatively new shuttle system offers an eco-friendly alternative. But go soon. The park’s 25 glaciers are melting – and could be gone altogether by 2030 if current climate changes continue!
Of course if you plan to take Lonely Planet up on their suggestion you'll definitely want to venture into Glacier's stunning backcountry. Be sure to visit to help plan your hiking itinerary. If you need some help in trying to determine which trails to hike, please visit our Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park.

To see the rest of Lonely Planet's top 10 U.S. destinations, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Proposal to Conduct Streambed Maintenance and Provide Protection along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Public comments are encouraged on a proposal to conduct streambed maintenance and install riprap as needed at bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Maintenance of bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road occurs under the park's road maintenance guidelines, which permit routine clearing of debris from within ten feet upstream or downstream. Rehabilitation of several of the road's historic bridges and extensive drainage work has also occurred as part of the road's ongoing major rehabilitation project. But a number of bridges and culverts are located where flooding and potentially damaging sediment loads occur frequently, and additional stream work is required.

High water from spring run-off and weather events can cause bridge spans and culverts along the road to become clogged with sediment and debris. Large upstream sediment deposits can alter the shape of the stream channel and, in some cases, result in unstable channel alignments that are prone to flooding.

The park is proposing to remove, or dredge, sediments as needed from stream channels at bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road beyond what already occurs. The proposal also includes placing riprap at the Logan Creek Bridge and other bridges and culverts along the road as needed to reduce sediment deposits caused by erosion.

Two alternatives have been identified:

1) No Action - no increase in sediment removal from stream channels at road bridges and culverts beyond what already occurs and no riprap would be installed at the Logan Creek Bridge or other areas.

2) Action - remove sediment deposits from stream channels at bridges and culverts along the road as needed, beyond what already occurs, and install riprap.

Additional information about this project is available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Comments can be posted to this website or mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: GTSR Bridge/Culvert EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936. Comments are due January 3, 2013.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Backcountry Horsemen Contributing Time and Muscle to Trail Work

Operating under a new five year agreement with the Forest Service, the Wildhorse Plains Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen has joined forces with the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District and Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) trail crews to clear and improve trails on the ranger district, bringing the added capacity of their stock to clear logs and rocks from trails, carry supplies and tools for restoration work, clear culverts and ditches, and repair water bars – all critical but sometimes unnoticed components that keep a trail system accessible and usable.

The two organizations have also been sharing expertise and skills in a series of work-days and training sessions that ultimately benefits public users of the trails. District trail managers organized their first trail maintenance instruction workshop for backcountry Horsemen in spring of 2010 under a previous agreement. This summer, the Backcountry Horsemen spent a day with members of a YCC crew, demonstrating how stock must negotiate a trail and why trail widths and switchbacks are required to be a certain size.

You can read the rest of this article on the Lolo National Forest website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scoping Begins for Removal of Failing Newbold Dam in Kelly, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge and Trout Unlimited propose to remove an aging diversion dam on the Gros Ventre River at Kelly, Wyoming. The Newbold dam impedes native fish passage, and in its current condition, will likely fail during spring runoff. Grand Teton is beginning to analyze potential impacts of the dam's removal and will develop an environmental assessment (EA) if it is determined to be an historic resource. Public comments will be considered for this project and the scoping period will be open from December 5 through January 11, 2013.

Grand Teton acquired the Newbold diversion structure in 1949, along with headgates, irrigation ditches and all associated water rights. The dam, a low-head log and rock structure, has eroded to the point that failure is inevitable. Its current failing condition is illustrated by the adjacent photograph taken November 16, 2012.

The Newbold dam has been identified by the National Park Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Trout Unlimited as an impediment to natural movements of native cutthroat trout and non-game fish, particularly bluehead sucker, a state-listed sensitive species. Both species have declined in distribution and abundance across their range. The diversion dam is the only barrier to upstream migration between the Snake River and numerous miles of upstream Gros Ventre River and tributary habitat. Recent radio telemetry movement studies indicate that some adult trout are able to pass the low-head dam; however others, including smaller trout, native suckers, and small non-game fish, are unable to cross the barrier. The Newbold dam could also pose a safety hazard to people fishing downstream should the diversion structures suddenly fail.

Because dam failure could affect the structural integrity of a bridge about 650 feet upstream, consultants from the NPS Water Resources Division (WRD) and Trout Unlimited recommend a controlled removal.

Trout Unlimited proposes to raise funds and contract for the removal of diversion structures during the spring of 2013 in partnership with Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. After removal, some bank restoration and revegetation would occur, including re-contouring the project access area.

Primary issues to be resolved during analysis include: determination and mitigation of potential effects of downstream dam removal on the upstream bridge; completion of an evaluation on the dam and associated ditches for their eligibility as historic resources; and attainment of cultural resource compliance with the State Historic Preservation Office, if structures are deemed historic.

To obtain information and submit comments, visit online at Comments may also be submitted to Grand Teton National Park; Attention: Carol Cunningham; P.O. Drawer 170; Moose, WY 83012.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, December 3, 2012

Public Meeting to Discuss Development of the Island Unit Non-Motorized Trail System

The Swan Lake Ranger District is hosting a public meeting on December 19, 2012, to discuss implementation plans for development of the Island Unit non-motorized trail system which is documented in the 2012 Decision Notice for the Island Unit Trail Systems Additions Project. The trails that will be discussed are the Foys to Blacktail Trail and the Lakeside to Blacktail Trail.

The intent of the meeting is to lead to a collaborative trail development plan for the non-motorized trails documented in the Island Unit Trails decision. Before developing the non-motorized trail system, USFS officials feel it's important to discuss and develop with trail users and partners the trail design and management plans, as well as a development timeline. The USFS will be limiting this discussion to the two non-motorized routes and will have an open house pertaining to the motorized portion of the Island Unit Trail system at a later date.

The meeting to discuss development of the non-motorized trails in the Island Unit Trails decision is scheduled for December 19, 2012 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office located at 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT.

If you are unable to attend the meeting and wish to participate, you can contact the office by December 31, 2012. Your knowledge and input may help with the development of the two trails.

Swan Lake Ranger District
200 Ranger Station Road
Bigfork, MT 59911
(406) 837-7500

Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Communication may be emailed to Shannon Connolly at or Joy Sather at or faxed to 406-837-7503.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Extreme Hiking: Angels Landing

One of Zion National Park’s most famous features is the death-defying hike up to Angels Landing. The trail climbs 1200 feet in roughly 2.4 miles. The last half-mile features sharp drop-offs along a very narrow path, and includes chains for hikers to hold onto. The chains are there for a very good reason. In the past eight years alone, six people have plunged to their deaths after losing their footing along this trail.

Below is an excellent video that shows what hiking this trail is all about. Back in September my wife and I visited Zion. Although this trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, we opted not to take it. Instead, we hiked up to Observation Point, which is a bit safer, and arguably offers better views, including a birds-eye view of Angels Landing.

If you've never been to the park, I highly recommend it. The question is, would you hike to Angels Landing? With a baby?

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Avalanche Danger, Risk Management, and How Did Things Go Wrong?

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will present a “special topics” avalanche safety program on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Avalanche specialist Stan Bones will lead a discussion concerning avalanche risk management and decision making using the three fatal avalanche incidents that occurred last season on the Flathead National Forest as case studies.

Stan says, “Each and every fatal avalanche incident is a unique and sadly tragic event. If we fail to study and learn from what happened in the incident however, they become even larger tragedies and losses as we are destined to repeat them. And this even further cheapens and makes futile the initial loss of life.” The discussion will be held December 4th from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Flathead National Forest Office, 650 Wolfpack Way, in Kalispell.

In addition to the special topics presentation, the FAC is hosting an Advanced Avalanche Awareness class which is a free course and open to the public. No registration is needed. The 2013 classroom sessions will also be held at the Flathead National Forest office in Kalispell from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the following days:

Monday January 7th
Wednesday January 9th
Monday January 14th
Wednesday January 16th

The two field Sessions will be held at the Whitefish Mountain Resort from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the following days:

Saturday January 12th
Saturday January 19th

For additional information on avalanche education classes and avalanche conditions, please visit the new Flathead Avalanche Center website. You can also sign up to follow the center on Twitter. Avalanche advisories will start December 8th if conditions allow. The phone number to call for recorded avalanche advisories remains the same: 406-257-8402.

For additional information please contact FAC coordinator Tony Willits at 406-837-7546.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear

You know who the boss is, but this black bear seems to be taunting his larger cousin. This footage was taken along the David Thompson Highway in Alberta, Canada this past summer:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Montana Wild To Screen "Where The Yellowstone Goes"

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will host a free screening of the outdoor film Where the Yellowstone Goes in Helena at Montana Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave., next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West. The film will be shown on Tuesday, December 18th at 7 p.m.

The critically acclaimed, 88-minute film focuses on a soul-searching and inspirational 30-day drift boat journey down the longest undammed river in the contiguous United States. Connect with colorful characters, get lost in the hypnotic cast of a fly rod, and savor silhouetted moments of fireside stories on this heartfelt river adventure.

For more information call Montana Wild at 406-444-9944, Below is the official trailer from the movie:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Grizzly Bear Shot And Killed In Grand Tetons

NPS Digest is reporting that a party of three hunters participating in the park’s elk reduction program encountered, shot and killed an adult male grizzly bear around 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day morning. The bear reportedly charged the hunting party, which was comprised of three men from Wyoming. None of the hunters was injured.

The incident occurred along the east side of the Snake River between Schwabachers Landing and Teton Point Overlook. A team of law enforcement rangers, park biologists and park science and resource management personnel are conducting an investigation into the incident. A cow elk carcass was discovered near the incident location. A half-mile area closure around the carcass is in effect until further notice.

This was the 51st known or probable incident of a grizzly bear mortality in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem this year, according to a tally maintained by the interagency grizzly bear study team. In recent years, an average of about a third of all grizzly bear mortalities are hunting related. This is the first hunter-caused bear death in Grand Teton National Park. Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 26, 2012

Montana Wild To Showcase Glacier's Top 10 Backpack Trips

A free program on the top 10 backpacking trips in Glacier National Park is scheduled for December 6th in Helena at Montana Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave., next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West.

The event, sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Glacier National Park, will feature Interpretive Ranger Lynne Dixon.

Dixon has planned numerous backcountry trips for Glacier National Park visitors and has experienced each of the top 10 backpack trips herself. She'll explain how to use the park's reservation system to help guarantee a place in the backcountry and she'll offer detailed descriptions of each hike.

The 90-minute program begins at 6 p.m. and will cover family friendly overnight trips as well as week-long strenuous adventures. For information call Montana Wild at 406-444-9944.

If your idea of spending a day in Glacier's backcountry excludes carrying a tent and sleeping bag, check out my list of the top 10 day hikes in Glacier National Park.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Help Support This Season

As you do your Christmas and Holiday shopping this season, please keep in mind that you can help support by shopping from our Amazon affiliate program. By clicking on the AD below (or any Amazon AD on our website) you receive the exact same low prices and great service that you would receive if you went directly to the Amazon home page:

Thanks again for all you support - we really appreciate it!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Discover the Joys of Winter Hiking

Many hikers tend to run from the woods as soon as the first snow flakes begin to fall. However, winter is great time to hit the trail. Not only are the crowds gone, but many parks show off their true beauty after a fresh snowfall. With just a little more attention to detail beforehand, anyone can have a safe and enjoyable hike during the winter.

Although it might feel quite frigid at the trailhead, your body will begin generating plenty of heat after just 10 or 15 minutes of walking. The best thing you can do to keep the cold out is to dress in layers: a base layer that wicks moisture off your body, a fleece jacket for insulating warmth, and a shell to keep you dry and to keep the wind from penetrating your core. Most importantly, dressing in layers allows you to adjust your attire as you heat-up or cool-off. When dressing for a winter hike, always remember the adage: cotton kills! Never wear anything made of cotton while hiking in the backcountry. Once wet, cotton no longer insulates you from the cold. Moreover, it wicks heat away from your body and puts you at risk of becoming hypothermic.

Some people are prone to cold feet in the winter. One of the keys to keeping your feet warm is to make sure they stay dry. Wear a good pair of hiking socks, made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics, that wick moisture away from your skin, retain heat when wet, and dry faster if they become wet. I always keep an extra pair in my pack in case the ones I’m wearing do get wet. (Expert Advice: How to Choose Socks) You should also wear above-the-ankle hiking boots which help to keep snow away from your feet. You may want to consider wearing gaiters, especially if there are several inches of snow on the ground.

To round-out your winter apparel, don’t forget about a good pair of gloves, a ski cap and maybe even a balaclava.

If the snow is too deep in the mountains, consider hiking at lower elevations, or even wearing snowshoes. If you expect a lot of ice, especially in areas where there might be steep drop-offs, consider bringing crampons specifically made for hiking. These are sometimes referred to as traction devices, or in-step crampons, which you can either strap-on or slide onto your boots.

Trekking poles are another excellent choice for helping to maintain your balance on sections of trail with slick ice and snow.

After outfitting yourself with the proper winter gear, hikers will then need to focus on staying hydrated and properly fueled while out on the trail. Hiking in the cold, especially in snow, burns more calories. By some estimates, hikers can burn as much as 50% more calories when compared to similar distances and terrain in the summer. By not consuming enough calories while on the trail you become prone to getting cold faster. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks with you to munch on periodically throughout your hike. Watch out for foods that can freeze solid, such as some power bars. Or, instead of storing in your backpack, put some snacks inside your fleece jacket. Your body should generate enough heat to prevent them from freezing.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it can actually be easier to experience dehydration in the winter, versus hiking in the summer. Dehydration can occur faster in cold weather because the air is much drier. Moreover, dehydration can be dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure you bring plenty of liquids with you, and drink often while on the trail.

If you’re storing water bottles in your backpack during a very cold day, you may need to insulate them to prevent them from freezing. An old wool sock will work in this case. Also, you may want to turn the bottle upside down to prevent the water from freezing at the neck. If you plan to be out for several hours, consider bringing a thermos containing a hot drink, or even soup.

Other winter hazards hikers need to be aware of include hiking in steep terrain that’s prone to avalanches, or a storm that covers the trail with fresh snow, thus making navigation difficult. You should always carry a topographical map and a compass with you in case you ever need help finding your way back to the trailhead if you were to become lost.

Other gear to bring with you includes a first aid kit, firestarter, waterproof matches, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and maybe even a bivy sack.

Finally, let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time.

With a little care and preparation up front, anyone can discover the joys of winter hiking.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sectional Trail Maps for Glacier National Park

National Geographic now publishes a total of four Trails Illustrated Maps for Glacier National Park. The original map (map 215) encompasses both Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.

For much greater detail, National Geographic also publishes three sectional maps: Many Glacier, Two Medicine and North Fork. The original map has a scale 1:100,000, however, the three new sectional maps have a scale of 1:50,000, and provide much greater detail such as backcountry campsite locations, footbridges, fords/stream crossings, points-of-interests, shuttle stops, nature/interpretive trails, as well as water and snow hazard locations.

Many Glacier Sectional Map:

The Many Glacier Map (map 314) includes: the Many Glacier area, Cracker Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Goat Haunt, Belly River, Upper Kintla Lake, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and more.

North Fork Sectional Map:

The North Fork Map (map 313) includes: Lake McDonald, Apgar, Avalanche Basin, Sperry Chalet, Kintla Lake, Bowman Lake, Waterton Lake, Flathead River, Pacific Northwest Trail, National Park Headquarters, and more.

Two Medicine Sectional Map:The Two Medicine Map (map 315) includes: Cobalt Lake, Dawson Pass, Logan Pass, Piegan Pass, St. Mary Lake, The Loop, Cut Bank, and more.

If you're looking to purchase all three sectional maps you're much better off purchasing the three-map bundle pack, which provides a fairly steep discount.

The Nat Geo maps provide far more information and detail than the official national park map. Additionally, all Trails Illustrated Maps are waterproof and tear-resistant.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fee Free Days Announced for Glacier National Park

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced dates in 2013 when more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal lands will offer free admittance to everyone.

“Our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and other public lands offer every American a place to get outdoors, learn about our nation’s history and culture, and restore our spirits,” Salazar said. “By providing free admission, we are rolling out the welcome mat for Americans to visit and enjoy these extraordinary treasures that belong to all of us.”

Tourism and outdoor recreation tied to public lands are powerful economic engines in communities across the country. Recreation on federal lands provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy in 2009. Each year, over 280 million national park visitors pump $31 billion into local economies, supporting 258,000 jobs.

The Fee Free Days in 2013 include:

* January 21: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

* April 22-26: National Park Week

* August 25: National Park Service Birthday

* September 28: National Public Lands Day

* November 9-11: Veterans Day weekend

Additionally, active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and over, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Top 10 Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Last week we announced the launch of our brand new hiking website for Rocky Mountain National Park. Today I wanted to offer you my top 10 hikes in case you're considering a visit to this beautiful national park in Colorado. If you're unfamiliar with the park, I think you'll find this list to be a helpful guide as you make your plans.

Hallett Peak - For those that feel that Longs Peak is just a little too hard, or maybe too dangerous, Hallett Peak just might be the perfect mountain to satisfy your big mountain, “summit fever”. Reaching a height of 12,713 feet, the mountain provides a great opportunity to feel like you’re on top of the Rockies, without being exposed to dangerous drop-offs

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

Emerald Lake - The hike to Emerald Lake takes you deep into the Tyndall Gorge, and visits three other beautiful subalpine lakes along the way. Although Bear Lake and Dream Lake are nice stops, Emerald Lake is the true gem in this chain of lakes fed by the Tyndall Glacier.

Ute Trail - Want great panoramic views without having to climb a lot of altitude? The Ute Trail is the perfect choice. This relatively flat hike along Tombstone Ridge offers hikers the chance to explore the alpine tundra zone, while soaking in the outstanding views of Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park and Estes Park.

Sky Pond - Surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff walls, Sky Pond offers hikers a dramatic scene. What makes this hike a RMNP classic is that you’ll visit two waterfalls and two other stunning lakes along the way. However, the scramble next to Timberline Falls to reach the basin may present a challenge for people with a fear of heights.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake TH - As a result of Rocky Mountain National Park’s excellent shuttle system, hikers have the option of taking the spectacular one-way hike from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead in Moraine Park. Along the way you’ll visit four magnificent lakes, a 60-foot waterfall, plus you’ll make the spectacular descent into the Odessa Gorge.

Lake Helene - Although Lake Helene is denoted on the official park map, the side trail leading to its shore isn’t marked with a trail sign. Don’t let this deter you - this is one of the most scenic lakes in the park.

Bluebird Lake - This is another hike that offers several attractions along the way, including three waterfalls. Bluebird Lake, which fills a deep cirque beneath Ouzel Peak along the Continental Divide, is the star attraction.

The Keyhole on Longs Peak - This hike should probably rank higher, but I had to take it down a few notches due to its level of difficulty. In terms of distance and elevation gain, this is a very difficult hike. The terrain - crossing the Boulder Field and then making the scramble up to the Keyhole - makes this an extremely difficult hike, and is likely the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. However, the payoff is quite large. The views along the way, as well as from the Keyhole itself, are simply amazing.

Lake Haiyaha - Lying in the heart of Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha offers a stunning vista of the surrounding area. From its rugged shore hikers will have outstanding views of Otis Peak and Hallett Peak.

If you think most of these hikes are too long, or maybe too strenuous, check out my list of the Best Easy Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Are Threats of Budget Cuts Closing National Parks Overblown?

A lot is being made recently on how Congressional budget cuts could possibly close several national parks around the country. Earlier in the month, Craig Obey, Senior Vice President for the National Parks Conservation Association, published this statement on the NPCA website:
“With looming closures throughout the national park system if scheduled cuts occur in January through the budgetary sequester, we are encouraged to hear President Obama and congressional leaders focusing on the necessity of a balanced approach to addressing the federal deficit. In fact, the first leg of that stool was the Budget Control Act, which already cut significant funds for national parks and other worthwhile programs. It is time for our leaders to bring more balance to the equation.

“If Congress fails to find a solution by January, more than $200 million dollars could be cut from the National Park Service budget, which would likely close visitor centers and campgrounds, and could put as many as 9,000 rangers and other park employees out of a job. These cuts could close as many as 200 park sites across the country.

“According to a recent poll, 92 percent of Americans believe funding for national parks should either remain steady or be increased. Sequester or not, our national parks will face a tough decade ahead. They cannot afford additional cuts after two consecutive years of cuts and a budget in today’s dollars that is 15 percent less than it was a decade ago.

“America’s 398 national parks – from the Statue of Liberty to Yellowstone’s geysers, to the magnificent Grand Canyon – are treasured places that tell the stories of our country’s shared heritage, drawing tourists, and tourist dollars from throughout the world. We call on the President and Congress to find a balanced approach that doesn’t mindlessly cut national parks, which generate more than $30 billion in economic activity each year.”
I'm going to have to take the contrarian view here, and say that these fears are simply overblown. Whenever the idea is floated that parks could be closed due to budget cuts, it conjures up images of the Great Smoky Mountains or Glacier National Park being shut down. In reality, those headlines are referring to national park units that most people have never heard of, such as Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in Texas, or River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Michigan. The cynical side of me thinks that these assertions are meant to scare people into coughing up more of their tax dollars.

Right now there are 398 national park units, which include national parks, monuments, battlefields, lakeshores, seashores, historic sites, etc. Based on the current budget shortfalls within the National Park Service - even before the proposed cuts - it's pretty obvious that the NPS has over-extended itself. From my perch it's clear that the NPS has taken on responsibilities for far too many properties beyond the scope of their charter.

Wouldn't it be better if the federal government sold parks such as Devils Postpile National Monument, or Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, back to the states to be managed under state park systems? Or, what if some parks, such as Weir Farm National Historic Site, or Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, were sold to private entities - with certain stipulations - and run as for-profit organizations, or maybe even as a non-profit foundation, similar to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello?

In my view, this would allow the NPS to concentrate its limited resources on running the parks and monuments that deserve national recognition and preservation, more efficiently.

What are your thoughts?

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Comment Period Extended On Proposed New Cell Tower for Yellowstone's Lake Area

The National Park Service (NPS) is extending the public comment period on a proposal by Verizon Wireless to construct a cell phone tower to serve the Lake and Fishing Bridge areas of Yellowstone National Park.

The public comment period is being extended for an additional 30 days, until December 17, 2012.

The proposed 100 foot tall gray steel lattice tower and accompanying ground facilities would be erected at an existing utility site, next to existing telephone and electric lines.

Information relating to the proposal, including documentation regarding compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found online at

Written comments may be submitted through the web site, in person or by mail to Compliance Office, Attention: Lake Cell Tower Proposal, National Park Service, and P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail, and submitted responses may be made publicly available at any time.

The Lake area is the only location in the park where construction of a new cell tower was permitted under the park's Wireless Communications Services Plan Environmental Assessment (Wireless Plan EA).

Comments will be reviewed by the NPS prior to approving a right-of-way permit for the facility. If the right-of-way permit is approved, construction would begin in early 2013.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glacier National Park Superintendent Cartwright to Retire

After 40 years of government service, Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright has announced his retirement, effective at the end December.

Cartwright joined Glacier National Park in the spring of 2008 and has been responsible for the management of over 1 million acres, a staff of approximately 130 permanent and 360 seasonal employees and numerous volunteers, an annual operating budget of almost $14 million, and partnership with four park partners, concessionaires, Blackfeet and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, landowners within the park, and local and regional communities and businesses.

Cartwright said he will miss the relationships and all the people that have been part of his job for the past 4½ years. "I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, internally and externally, that have a passion for Glacier National Park," said Cartwright. He has been especially impressed with the employees that care for it on a daily basis, as well as the many partners and neighbors that are actively involved.

Some of his highlights during his tenure at Glacier National Park include the resolution of mining issues in the North Fork, progress on the Going-to-the-Sun Road rehabilitation, leadership of the Flathead Basin Commission and the pro-active response to aquatic invasive species (AIS) and protecting the region's water, and the merger of park partners in an effort to grow private support and provide a more seamless way of connecting others with the park.

Cartwright said, "It has been an honor to be involved with public land management and public service for the past 40 years. I've enjoyed my career and protecting many of the nation's special places."

His career with the National Park Service has included superintendent positions at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota, and Hovenweep National Monument in Utah and Colorado. He held acting superintendent positions at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and National Bridges National Monument in Utah. He also served as the Associate to the Deputy Director of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.

Cartwright began his career with the National Park Service at Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and Natural Bridges National Monument as the group's first permanent archaeologist. Prior to joining the National Park Service, he worked for the Bureau of Land Management as an archaeologist and the US Forest Service as a fire lookout, river ranger and firefighter.

After graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology in 1972, Cartwright traveled west to begin his career in public land management

He is an avid athlete who regularly bikes, skis, swims, hikes and kayaks. He says working for the National Park Service has been a great way to explore some of our country's greatest outdoor areas. "Getting out and interacting with employees, partners and visitors on the trail has been a priority for me," said Cartwright.

Cartwright and his wife Lynda plan to stay in the Flathead Valley and continue exploring and enjoying the many outdoor recreational activities.

A reception to honor Cartwright is planned for Thursday, December 13, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Glacier's Community Building in West Glacier. For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact Connie Stahr at 406-888-7901.

It is unknown at this time who will serve in the interim as Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent until the position is filled.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Guided Snowshoe Walks Offered Again in Glacier

Glacier National Park has announced that the popular guided snowshoe walks will again be offered during the upcoming 2013 winter season.

Walks are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays from January 13 through mid-March, 2013. The walks will depart from the Apgar Visitor Center. Snowshoe rental is available at the Apgar Visitor Center or in the Flathead Valley adjacent to the park. Participants are urged to call the Visitor Center on the weekends after 9:00 am to find out if conditions will permit the walk, 406-888-7939.

Skiing and Snowshoeing: There are several ski and snowshoe trails that can be accessed throughout Glacier. Click here for more information, trail maps and current avalanche conditions.

Other Winter Travel Information:
Vehicle access is more limited during the winter as Apgar Village, 11 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the west side, and a mile and a half on the east side are the only roads maintained in the winter. Check the Current Road Status to find out which roads are open for vehicle travel.

For road conditions outside of the park, please visit the Montana Department of Transportation Road Conditions Report.

Auto camping is available at the Apgar Picnic Area and St. Mary Campground. There is no charge for camping in the winter. A free backcountry permit is required to camp in the backcountry and available on both sides of the park. Please call ahead to find out the most convenient location to obtain your permit, 406.888.7800.

Additional visitor information can be obtained in person at Headquarters (Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, except holidays) and Apgar Visitor Center (open weekends from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm), or by phone at 406.888.7800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brand New Trail Website for Rocky Mountain National Park

Today I’m proud to announce the official launch of our brand new hiking website for Rocky Mountain National Park. The new site provides details on more than 70 hikes in RMNP, and is organized similarly to our and websites. The URL for the new site is:

In addition to being a great source for trail information, we designed the site to be an excellent tool for vacation planning as well. We’ve included a lot of RMNP travel information that will be helpful while planning a vacation.

Even if you have no plans on traveling to RMNP, I hope that maybe you’ll enjoy some of the photographs on the site.

If you know of anyone planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, or any hikers in general that might be interested, please feel free to forward the website onto them.

The new website is organized in several directories to help hikers find the trails they want to hike. We have an alphabetic listing, trails listed by difficulty rating, by trail feature, and by location within the park. We also provide a directory of classic Colorado hikes outside of the park.

Thanks again for all of your support. Also, we would love to hear any feedback you might have:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, November 12, 2012

Goats and Sheep

As you're probably already aware, Glacier National Park is an excellent place to see wildlife. Many people visit the park in the hopes of seeing a bear, especially a grizzly bear (at least from the safety of their car!). But Glacier is also home to Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats. Here are two short videos featuring these iconic animals. The first is from CBS Sunday Morning:

The second video was taken from the Highline Trail in 2007:

For a list of some of the best trails for spotting wildlife in Glacier, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Within Two Worlds

Below is an absolutely stunning timelapse video from the Pacific Crest Trail by Brad Goldpaint. Brad's videos have been featured on NASA, National Geographic Magazine, Popular Science and MSNBC, among other media outlets.

Here's how he describes the video on his website:

"Within Two Worlds depicts an alternate perspective by giving us the illusion of times movement, signifying a beginning and end within a world of constant contradiction. It appears you are traveling in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, and touching the arch connecting heaven and earth."

Within Two Worlds from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.

By the way, later this week, I'll be making a big announcement that hikers and national park lovers should be interested in. Stay tuned!

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flathead Avalanche Center to Launch New Website

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will launch a new website on November 16th, 2012, to provide information on avalanche conditions and avalanche education opportunities. The website will launch with basic information, but will evolve to be responsive to the public’s needs. In addition to a new website, there is also a FAC Twitter feed which people can follow to receive immediate updates and notifications. The center will begin issuing advisories on December 8th unless there is not enough snow or conditions dictate a need to start earlier.

The new FAC website is part of an ongoing reorganization of the Flathead National Forest’s (FNF) avalanche program. FNF Snow and Avalanche Specialist Tony Willits is the center’s coordinator. Willits says “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead as we try to provide quality information and education so recreationist can make good choices.”

The FAC is also increasing the number of weekly advisories from two to three, which will now include a Saturday advisory in addition to the Tuesday and Friday advisories. The advisories will cover the prominent ranges in the Flathead and Kootenai national forests and some portions of Glacier National Park.

The new FAC website address is, and you can follow the FAC Twitter feed at The phone number to call for recorded avalanche advisories remains the same: 406-257-8402.

Hiking in Glacier National Park