Sunday, September 30, 2012

Delicate Arch

If not the best known arch in the world, Delicate Arch certainly qualifies as the most iconic rock formation in Arches National Park.

The hike to the arch begins from the Wolfe Ranch parking area, located in the east-central portion of the park. If you wish to go home with some great photos the park recommends hiking the trail in the late afternoon. However, summer afternoons are usually quite hot. You may want to consider hiking in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are a little cooler and the crowds are a little thinner.

The first stop on the trail is the Wolfe Ranch. John Wesley Wolfe settled at this location in the late 1800s, and was joined by his family in 1906. Although the cabin they built on this 100+ acre homestead was a little rustic, it was still stocked with fine china ordered from the Sears Catalog.

Beyond the cabin is a petroglyph panel depicting bighorn sheep and Ute hunters on horseback. It was carved sometime between 1650 and 1850. The side path leading to the petroglyph re-joins the main trail further up-trail, and can be taken on your return trip from the arch if you prefer.

The first three-quarters of a mile are relatively flat as the trail passes through desert scrub, but then turns sharply up a steep, slickrock slope. Hikers should keep an eye out for rock cairns to help guide the way for most of the remainder of the route (or just follow the crowds - see photo below!). After climbing for roughly a half-mile the trail levels out. However, just before reaching Delicate Arch, the path traverses a rock ledge for about 200 yards while passing over a fairly steep drop-off.

Once past this section Delicate Arch comes into view for the first time:

Delicate Arch stands 65-feet high, and has an opening roughly 46 feet in height and a width of nearly 32 feet. In the background, roughly 35 miles away, are the La Sal Mountains.

With virtually no shade along the way, this can be a very hot hike. You should take at least 1 quart of water per person.

Trail: Delicate Arch
Roundtrip Distance: 3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 535 feet
Max Elevation: 4820 Feet

Best Easy Day Hikes Canyonlands and Arches National Parks: this fully updated and revised edition includes trail descriptions and maps of the best short hikes that venture into some of the most scenic sections of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Website and Name: The Flathead Avalanche Center

The Flathead National Forest is taking steps towards improving its avalanche program in response to public feedback, including a new name and website. By early December 2012, winter enthusiast will be able to view the website, learn about avalanche courses being offered in the Flathead Valley, and read the avalanche advisory. The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) formerly Glacier Country Avalanche Center will be managed by the Flathead National Forest.

The advisory area will be more focused and will no longer include Glacier National Park. It will cover areas in the Swan, Middle Fork, Hungry Horse Reservoir, and the Kootenai National Forest. Flathead Avalanche Center’s region will be approximately 7,000 square miles and encompasses seven mountain ranges.

The Flathead Avalanche Center will continue to provide advisories to the public and offer a yearly advanced avalanche course. As the FAC looks to the future and tries to respond to public needs, the center will continue to work with our partners such as Whitefish Mountain Resort to provide junior avalanche awareness classes at the Summit Education Center, and Big Mountain Patrol, Inc. to provide a Level I and possibly a Level II Avalanche Course. The FAC is eager to work with other partners, groups, individuals, and retail companies that want to become involved.

The Center’s website will be a key component of the Forest’s outreach to the community. Besides the advisory posting, people will find information on the beacon park atop Big Mountain, observations and incidents posted by volunteers and avalanche specialists, educational opportunities, and weather forecasts. The mountain weather forecasts are based on information produced by the National Weather Service in Missoula, Montana and local Forest Service weather stations.

At this point it's not clear what website or organization will be providing avalanche information for Glacier National Park.

For more information about the Flathead Avalanche Center, contact Wade Muehlhof, Public Affairs Officer for the Flathead National Forest at 406-758-5252.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

Friday, September 28, 2012

Points of Interest Along The Going-to-the-Sun Road

As many of you already know, the Going-to-the-Sun Road through the heart of Glacier National Park is an engineering marvel. The park has put together a series of short videos explaining some of the history and some of the early engineering problems workers had to overcome to build the road.

On the west side of the park, the famous Loop is the switchback that defined the Going-to-the-Sun Road as we know it today:

Triple Arches is one of the most recognizable features along the Going-to-the-Sun Road:

Did you know that the Weeping Wall waterfalls were man made?

To learn more about the making of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the park has a couple of excellent eTours on their website. To learn more about driving the road, including the location of trailheads along the way, please click here.

Glacier National Park Hiking

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Colorado Man Dies in Glacier National Park

The body of a man that was recovered from the North Fork of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park on Tuesday has been identified as 67-year-old David Hughes from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Hughes was fishing in the park near Camas Creek with a relative from the local area when they became separated from each other's sight by a bend in the river. The relative went downstream to check on Hughes and was unable to find him. The relative left the area to call for help.

Individuals and rescue teams responded from Flathead County Sheriff's Office, North Valley Search and Rescue, Border Patrol and Glacier National Park. A.L.E.R.T. helicopter from Kalispell Regional Medical Center also responded to the scene. The victim was located submerged about 100 yards south of Camas Creek. Hughes was wearing waders, but was not wearing a life jacket. Hughes was pronounced dead at the scene, and cause of death is under investigation.

Visitors to Glacier National Park are reminded to always keep personal safety in mind by being prepared for changing weather conditions, using personal protective equipment as appropriate, and communicating recreational and travel plans, including estimated return time, with someone. Drowning is the number one cause of death in the park. Caution should always be used near water and life jackets should be worn.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

A Walk Down Park Avenue

Earlier in the week I mentioned that I had just returned from a three-week tour of the southwest. After spending more than a week in Rocky Mountain National Park, Kathy and I paid a visit to Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. It was Kathy’s first venture into this park, and my second.

One of the first stops along the main road in the park is the Park Avenue Trail. Although the overlook at this stop may appear to be a little touristy, you really shouldn’t pass this hike up, even if you’re only spending a couple of hours in the park. The trail travels one mile through an incredibly beautiful red rock canyon, and can be done as a one-way hike if you have another car parked at the Courthouse Towers parking area.

From the Park Avenue overlook the trail drops roughly 320 feet onto the canyon floor, and continues down a dry wash bed towards the Courthouse Towers. Along the way you’ll have commanding views of massive fins (vertical slabs of rock), balanced rocks and lofty monoliths, including the Three Gossips, The Tower of Babel, and the Courthouse Towers.

As you might expect, the inspiration for the trail’s name comes from the towering spires, which to early visitors reminded them of Manhattan's famous skyscrapers:

If you wish to go home with some great photos the park recommends hiking this trail in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Trail: Park Avenue
Roundtrip Distance: 2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 320 feet
Max Elevation: 5000 Feet

Best Easy Day Hikes Canyonlands and Arches National Parks: this fully updated and revised edition includes trail descriptions and maps of the best short hikes that venture into some of the most scenic sections of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yellowstone Begins Cutthroat Trout Restoration in Elk Creek

Yellowstone is taking another step forward this week in efforts to restore native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in park waters.

Elk Creek and its tributaries including Lost and Yancey creeks are located near Tower Junction in the Yellowstone River drainage.

Decades ago, the streams were stocked with non-native brook trout. Their presence has contributed to a decline in native cutthroat trout in park lakes, rivers and streams. Brook trout compete with cutthroat trout and often completely displace them and other native fish species.

This week biologists will introduce a fish toxin into the streams to remove the non-native brook trout as part of Yellowstone's Native Fish Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, which was approved in May 2011. The project will not impact the nearby Yellowstone River.

While the chemical Rotenone will be introduced in small quantities, visitors are advised not to swim in or drink from the streams now through October 7. Warning signs will be posted at all treated areas.

This year's treatment is the first in a series that is expected to continue over the next two to three years. Treatments will be conducted until brook trout have been completely removed from the streams. The park will then reintroduce genetically pure native Yellowstone cutthroat trout to the streams. The long term plan is not only to support native species restoration, but also for these streams to provide a brood stock population of cutthroat for future restoration efforts.

More information on the park's Native Fish Conservation Plan can be found online.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back From Grand Tour of the Southwest

I’m back! I just returned from a three week tour of the southwest. Along the way Kathy and I visited 5 national parks, 3 national monuments, climbed 2 peaks above 12,600 feet, summited another state high point, all while knocking out a couple of bucket list items. We were able to achieve all of our objectives, with the exception of climbing Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado. This was the second time our attempt on this mountain was thwarted before taking even one step on the trail. In 2009 we had to cancel this portion of the trip because the Colorado DOT closed Gaunella Pass for road reconstruction. This year, rain put the kabbash on our plans.

I know this may be complete heresy, but I thought Zion National Park was far more scenic than the Grand Canyon. Some of you may even want to burn me at the stake when I say that the Grand Canyon would barely make my list of top 10 national parks, even though it’s the 2nd most visited park in the system.

On a positive note, I have to give a shout out to the state of Arizona. The people in the “Grand Canyon State” were extremely friendly, especially in Flagstaff. From cheerful, helpful attitudes, to providing samples of local flavors, Arizona truly gave us the red carpet treatment. In Sedona the bartender at the Oak Creek Brewing Company gave us samples, without asking, of some very exotic beers, such as a banana and clove beer, a Belgian Abby Ale/Oktoberfest, and a dessert beer made with vanilla and mandarin orange – one of the smoothest tasting beers I’ve ever had.

In Flagstaff, the 1899 Bar and Grill allowed us to taste a locally made pumpkin spiced porter, as well as a local vodka made with green chiles. While visiting the Flagstaff Farmers Market I inquired about fresh roasted Hatch (New Mexico) chiles. Although he couldn’t sell me a small batch, the owner simply gave me two homemade canned jars of roasted green chiles, a product they just began selling this year.

Anyway, we did a heck of a lot of hiking throughout Colorado, Utah and Arizona during the trip. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting hike reports and photos from all of our adventures.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Project is Complete

The Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Modification and Improvement Project was recently completed on Quartz Creek to prevent additional non-native fish from reaching Quartz Lake. The barrier is located approximately six miles from the nearest trailhead and lies between Lower and Middle Quartz Lakes. The project took seven days to complete.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright said, "Completion of this project represents a significant step in our continued native fish conservation efforts in the Quartz Creek drainage."

The remote location of Quartz Creek was a challenging aspect of the project. Park employees used hand tools for construction of the barrier in the backcountry. Quartz Lake is located in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage and is home to some of the strongest remaining migratory bull and westslope cutthroat trout populations remaining on the west side of the park. A fish passage barrier was partially constructed in 2004 to keep lake trout out of Quartz Lake, but lake trout were subsequently detected in the lake in 2005. The park halted construction of the barrier until lake trout status and removal options could be better assessed. A National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey cooperative experimental lake trout suppression project was initiated in 2009.

An environmental analysis was conducted and released for public comment in February 2012. In May 2012, after review of environmental impacts and public comment, no significant impact was found and a decision was signed by the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director to move forward on the project.

Planning and completion of the fish barrier project was supported by the Glacier National Park Fund and Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The park is considering other native fish conservation projects in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage and the planning process is underway for a fish passage barrier on Akokala Creek and additional lake trout suppression efforts on Quartz and Logging Lakes.

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Outdoor Survival - Fire

In this episode of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife outdoor survival video series, outdoor expert Peter Kummerfeldt discusses techniques for starting fires in a survival situation:

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall In Yellowstone Spectacular, But Call or Click Before You Go

Fall in Yellowstone means fewer crowds, better chances to spot wildlife, and the opportunity to witness the spectacular change in seasons in the world's first national park. While the scenery is wide open, not all of the park's roads and facilities are, so check some valuable information resources below before you travel.

The majority of the park's roads are open until November 5 when they are closed in order to prepare for the winter season. After that date, only the year-round North Entrance Road from Gardiner to Cooke City, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs will remain open to auto travel, weather permitting.

The road from Tower Junction to a barricade just north of the Chittenden Road turnoff on Dunraven Pass will close for the season at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 22, for a road construction project. Visitors will be able to access Chittenden Road and the Mt. Washburn area from Canyon Village to the south until that section of road closes for the season at 8:00 a.m., October 9.

Outside the park, the high-altitude section of the Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), between the junction of Highway 296 and Red Lodge, Montana, can close unexpectedly depending upon snowfall. The highway officially closes for the season October 9, and travel between Red Lodge and the Northeast Entrance is not possible until it reopens in late May.

Fall weather is unpredictable, and roads may be closed temporarily by snow or other weather conditions with little or no warning. Visitors should be prepared for winter weather and winter driving conditions, and are advised to have flexible travel plans. Updated information on park roads is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117. Outside the park, you can check Wyoming roads by calling 888-WYO-ROAD or by visiting, or Montana roads at 800-226-7623 or

By the end of October all lodging and most visitor centers have closed in the park, and all services (food and shopping) are unavailable by the first week in November. Limited lodging and services will not be available again until the winter season begins in mid December. 24-hour pay at the pump fuel remains available at all service stations year-round. For winter season information, visit

For specific facility and service closing dates, visit

By the first week of November, most campgrounds will be closed for the season. The Mammoth Hot Springs campground is the only site that remains open all year. Check specific campground closing dates at

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Truck Crash Results in Major Paint Spill in Bandelier

NPS Digest is reporting that on the morning of Tuesday, September 18th, a tractor-trailer rig traveling eastbound on New Mexico State Highway 4 in Bandelier National Monument missed a sharp curve, went off the road, and plunged roughly 200 feet down a steep slope into the park. The truck was carrying about 2200 gallons of highway striping paint that spilled and spread over nearly an acre of park land. The truck’s gas tank also leaked diesel fuel as well. The driver survived the accident.

Park staff are working to determine the toxicity of the paint and assessing its impacts to the environment. The paint spill is visible from roads and hiking trails in and around the monument. By the day following the accident, the paint had congealed, allowing workers to remove the clumps by hand and revealing minimal subsurface damage.

The Los Alamos Laboratory hazardous materials team minimized the spread of the diesel fuel. Bandelier is working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico State Police, the Los Alamos Police Department, Los Alamos Fire Department, and New Mexico Department of Transportation to investigate safety issues and threats to vulnerable resources in the affected area.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

The Face on Rising Wolf Mountain

Last summer, while sitting atop Pitamakan Pass, I noticed a face staring at me. It wasn't a hungry hiker eye-balling my sandwich after realizing he forgot to pack his own snacks. No, this was a face in the mountain staring at me from across the valley. If you look closely, right in the middle of Rising Wolf Mountain, you'll see a clearly outlined face:

Here's a closer look:

According to Through The Years In Glacier National Park: An Administrative History, the 9513-foot Rising Wolf Mountain "was the Indian name for Hugh Monroe, the first white man to live with the Blackfeet Indians. The name is said to have been suggested by Monroe's habit of getting out of bed in the morning on his hands and knees. "

Wikipedia sheds a little more light on the name. According to the online encyclopedia, the Blackfeet name for the peak, "Mahkuyi-opuahsin", meaning, "the way the wolf gets up", was later translated to the current name of the mountain. After Hugh Monroe's death, his close friend and author James Willard Schultz, named the peak after Monroe.

I wonder if the face in anyway inspired the Blackfeet in naming the mountain. Did they think the geological oddity resembled Monroe in anyway?

One other thing about the photo at the top. Check out those clouds - they looked like a weave that day. It reminded me of the cover of the Tommy album by The Who.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free Entrance to all National Parks on September 29th

All 397 national parks will offer free entrance on Saturday, September 29 for National Public Lands Day. The 19th annual event encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Visit for a list of parks and information to help plan your park adventure.

“National Public Lands Day reminds all of us of the vast and diverse nature of America’s open spaces, from small neighborhood parks to large national parks, and the importance of each one,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We are fortunate that more than 600 million acres of public land, including national parks, provide all of us with cherished places where we can go to unwind, recreate, or learn.”

Many people will lend a hand to help the land and spend part of National Public Lands Day volunteering on work projects. More than 170,000 people are expected to plant trees, clean watersheds, remove invasive plants, replace signs, and otherwise beautify 2,000 public sites throughout the country. Visit for more information.

Other Federal agencies offering free admittance on September 29 include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Classic Hikes of North America

Classic Hikes of North America, the latest release from Peter Potterfield, offers hikers of all abilities details on "25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada".

Illustrated with more than 150 color photographs, Classic Hikes of North America covers a diverse range of hikes: from routes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Grand Canyon; from the Sierra Mountains to the Black Hills, as well as Big Bend, North Cascades National Park, the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina, the Slate Range in the Canadian Rockies, the Long Range Traverse of Newfoundland, and more than a dozen other classics.

Peter Potterfield, an experienced hiker and photographer, has hiked more than 10,000 miles on six continents, including the trek to Mount Everest, a retrace of Ernest Schackleton's route in Antarctica, the wilds of Arctic Sweden and the rugged coasts of Tasmania. Potterfield now brings his expert advice back home in Classic Hikes of North America, a beautifully photographed and eminently practical guide of the best backcountry treks in the United States and Canada. The author has photographed, analyzed, and graded these spectacular wilderness experiences with both beginners and avid hikers in mind, and puts them within reach for any aspiring hiker.

Each chapter includes:

* Level of difficulty, both in physical effort and psychological challenge
* Details on trail conditions and recommended seasons
* Notes of potential hazards or difficulties
* Detailed route descriptions
* Detailed maps for every route
* Resources for information, staging, accommodations, and transportation

For more information on this wonderful book, please click here.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another Insane Hiking Video

Check out this video of this hiker - actually, he should be called a daredevil - as he walks along the Mt. Huashan Cliffside Path in China - without a harness! Would you do this...even with a harness?

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Saturday, September 15, 2012


In this episode of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife outdoor survival video series, outdoor expert Peter Kummerfeldt discusses signaling for help in the backcountry:

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Missing Hiker Located in Glacier

Glacier National Park Rangers have recovered the body of missing hiker Jakson Kreiser. At approximately 12:30 pm on Thursday, hikers notified park personnel that they found evidence believed to be related to the search for Kreiser. The hikers found human remains in an area southwest of Hidden Lake. Park rangers and a Flathead County Coroner traveled to the site and the coroner confirmed that the deceased body was Kreiser. The body was recovered and an autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.

A search for Kreiser began July 29 after he was reported missing when he failed to return following a hike on July 28. Glacier National Park employees, with assistance from North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead Search and Rescue, Can Am Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Sheriff's Office, and the US Border Patrol, conducted an extensive ground and aerial search for eight days before scaling back efforts.

The search area was focused between Hidden Lake and Avalanche Lake, and in the Floral Park area. This area includes some treacherous country filled with rock cliffs, water falls, wet and slippery rocks and boulders, and dense vegetation.

Kreiser, age 19, was from Michigan and a seasonal employee with Glacier Park, Inc. at Lake McDonald Lodge. This was his first year working in the area.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exploring the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

Just south of Glacier National Park, across U.S. Highway 2, is the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. This massive expanse extends for 60 miles along the Continental Divide within the Flathead, Lolo, Helena, and Lewis and Clark National Forests, and includes the Great Bear, Scapegoat and the Bob Marshall Wilderness areas. The complex, encompassing more than 1.5 million acres, forms the third largest wilderness area in the lower 48.

By far the largest of the three wilderness areas in the complex is the Bob Marshall, also known as the “Bob”, which includes more than 1 million acres, and is considered to be one of the most completely preserved mountain ecosystems in the world. Counting more than 700 wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System, the Bob is the 19th largest wilderness in the United States, and the 5th largest in the lower 48.

The preserve is named after Robert "Bob" Marshall, a forester, conservationist, writer, wilderness activist, and one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society. As the head of recreation management in the Forest Service in late 1930s, Marshall was the first to suggest a formal, national organization of individuals dedicated to the protection of primeval land. Twenty-five years after his death, Congress passed the Wilderness Act of 1964 which protected nine million acres of federal land from development. As part of this key legislation the Bob was among the original wilderness areas set aside for preservation.

In addition to the “Bob”, Mt. Marshall in the Adirondacks is also named in his honor.

The Bob is home to moose, elk, black bear, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolverines, mountain lions, lynx, gray wolves, bald eagles, osprey, pelicans and trumpeter swans. It’s also prime grizzly bear habitat, and has the highest population density of the species found anywhere in the United States outside of Alaska. As of 2010 it’s estimated that roughly 940 grizzlies live within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which includes the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, Glacier National Park and the surrounding forests.

Elevations in the complex range as low as 4000 feet, to 9411 feet at the summit of Red Mountain in the Lewis and Clark Range. Perhaps one the most impressive feature of the wilderness, at least from a geological standpoint, is the long limestone escarpment known as the Chinese Wall. Part of the Continental Divide, the wall extends for 22 miles, and has an average height of more than 1000 feet. From the Haystack Mountain area west of the Divide the view of the escarpment is virtually unbroken for almost 20 miles.

Due to its geography, pacific maritime weather provides ample moisture, resulting in lush, dense forests on the west side of the Continental Divide. However, the eastern side of the Divide has a much drier climate, and is much more characterized by open country.

In addition to its rugged peaks, deep canyons, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, grassy meadows, towering forest of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, larch, aspen and spruce, the Bob is also home to big river valleys, including the headwaters of the South Fork Flathead River.

Hiking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex:

As you may have already guessed, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is a hiker paradise. In fact, its home to more than 1700 miles of trails, and offers numerous recreational opportunities for day hikers, backpackers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. Some of the more popular day hikes can be found in the Sawtooth Range near Choteau, Marion Lake near Essex, Stanton Lake near Hungry Horse, Jewel Basin near Big Fork, and Holland Lake near Condon, Montana.

Although there are no paved roads that bisect the interior of the Bob, the wilderness can be accessed by roads surrounding the complex. To the north is U.S. Highway 2; to the east are U.S. Highways 89 and 287; Montana Highway 200 to the south; and Montana Highway 83 to the west.

Additional Information:

* The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

* Flathead National Forest

* Flathead National Forest Trails

* Lolo National Forest Trails

* Lewis and Clark NF Trails

* Hiking Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness – by Erik Molvar

* Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex Map (Northern Half)

* Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex Map (Southern Half)

Hiking Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Year-to-Date Visitation at Glacier Increases Almost 14%

More than 1.7 million people have visited Glacier National Park between the months of January and August this year, which is an increase of approximately 13 percent compared to 2011. Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright said, "This summer has been busy with many visitors enjoying the opportunity to discover the park's spectacular beauty and rich history." Peak visitation happens June through August, with more than 630,000 people visiting the park in July. Cartwright said, "We look forward to seeing additional visitors this fall when changing foliage and increased opportunities for solitude can be experienced."

Record visitors have also visited the park through the park's many social media sites. As a leader of social media efforts within the National Park Service, the park has over 123,000 "likes" on Facebook and over 8,600 followers on Twitter. These communication channels provide information about the park and park programs to individuals interested in Glacier National Park.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle system served almost 140,000 passengers this summer. The shuttle system provides access for visitors to locations along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and helps reduce congestion during the road rehabilitation work. The shuttle system is operated through a cooperative agreement with Flathead County Eagle Transit System, and funded using a portion of park entrance fee revenue with no additional cost to riders.

Cartwright encourages locals to enjoy and learn more about the park through a variety of ranger-led activities that continue through September 23. Guided hikes, boat tours, and evening programs are offered regularly and available throughout the park. Most programs are free of charge.

Evening programs are scheduled nightly at the Lake McDonald Lodge. Join a ranger for a creek side stroll along lower McDonald Creek and discover why Glacier National Park is famous for its biological diversity. Take a tour of the historic Many Glacier Hotel and learn about its history and restoration. Evening programs are available daily on the west and east side of the park with topics including, "Whitebark Pine: A Keystone Species" and "Artists of Glacier National Park." For more information on Glacier National Park ranger-led programs click here or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Visitors are reminded the last day to access Logan Pass via the west side is Sunday, September 16. Vehicle traffic will be restricted at Avalanche Creek on the west side starting Monday, September 17. This schedule allows for accelerated rehabilitation work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. East side access to Logan Pass will be available through Sunday, October 14.

Entrance fees will be waived for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 29. Visitors are invited to experience the park during this time, but reminded to come prepared for changing fall weather and limited services. For more information about National Public Lands Day, including national events and programs, visit

Hiking Glacier National Park

Backpacking Trip Over Gunsight Pass

Thanks to Mike and Kristan for this pretty cool video of their twenty-plus mile journey across the heart of Glacier National Park in August of 2009. Their five-day trek took them from the Gunsight Pass Trailhead to Gunsight Lake, up the Jackson Glacier Trail, over Gunsight Pass to Lake Ellen Wilson, to the Sperry Campground before exiting at the Lake McDonald Lodge:

Hiking Glacier National Park

Monday, September 10, 2012

Who Was Chief Two Guns?

If you've ever been to the Many Glacier area, chances are you're familiar with Chief Two Guns, the tour boat that cruises the waters of Swiftcurrent Lake. Many people take the boat to shorten their hikes up to Grinnell Glacier or Grinnell Lake:

However, many people may not be aware that Chief Two Guns was a real person.

Born in 1872, Chief Two Guns White Calf was the son of White Calf, who was known as the last tribal chief of the Pikuni Blackfeet, and was responsible for many of the Blackfoot Tribe's treaties, including the sale of lands that would become Glacier National Park.

After the death of his father in 1902, Two Guns became a tribal leader, and would arguably become one of the most famous Native Americans in the 20th century. One of his claims to fame is that he was a model for the Indian Head nickel, more commonly referred to as the Buffalo nickel. Actually, he was among a couple of models that were used to create a composite image of an Indian, or maybe not.

The famous five-cent piece, designed by sculptor James Fraser, was issued by the U.S. Mint from 1913 to 1938. Fraser claimed to have used Iron Tail, Two Moons, "and one or two others". Fraser would later write that he had used three Indians for the piece, including "Irontail, the best Indian head I can remember. The other one was Two Moons, the other I cannot recall." However, Chief Two Guns always claimed he was the other model, and based on what I've read there was much controversy, or even conspiracy, as to why he was never given credit as being the third model.

Below is a short video from a 1926 Fulton Petroleum business film in which Chief Two Guns appears. You be the judge as to whether he was one of the models:

Hikes in Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Avalanche Lake Trail Is Open

The Avalanche Lake Trail is open. The trail was recently closed due to the Avalanche Wildland Fire.

Fire activity remains minimal on the Avalanche Wildland Fire due to suppression actions and recent moisture and cooler temperatures. The fire area is located on Mount Brown near Avalanche Lake on the west side of the park. The fire area will continue to be monitored and additional suppression activities will be implemented as appropriate. Some smoke may be visible from locations within the park. The fire area is closed to the public.

For additional park information, please visit Glacier National Park's website or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

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Outdoor Survival - Clothing

In this episode of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife outdoor survival video series, outdoor expert Peter Kummerfeldt discusses clothing (your only dependable shelter) and layering:

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Weather Slows Avalanche Wildland Fire Activity

Glacier National Park received up to eight-tenths of an inch of rain yesterday, slowing the growth of the Avalanche Wildland Fire. Cool temperatures, wind, and chances of rain are expected to continue throughout today. Current fire activity is minimal.

Weather conditions do not allow firefighters to be on the fire line or any aviation operations today, but monitoring efforts continue. The number of people dedicated to this incident will begin to decrease as the fire becomes contained. The Avalanche Lake Trail remains closed until further notice.

The Avalanche Wildland Fire is approximately 70 acres and located on Mount Brown, near Avalanche Lake on the west side of Glacier National Park. Smoke was reported on Saturday, September 1 at approximately 2:30 p.m. and the cause of the fire is believed to be lightning. Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation assisted Glacier National Park fire managers with fire suppression operations.

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Waterton Wildlife Weekend

Fall is an excellent time to view wildlife along the Crown of the Continent, and Waterton Lakes National Park is a critter-watchers paradise. Experience a learning vacation September 23rd thru 25th during the Waterton Wildlife Weekend, sponsored by Trail of the Great Bear in cooperation with Parks Canada.

Visitors to Waterton this September can help the town and park celebrate the area's animal world at the three-day wildlife festival. From bears and bison to elk and eagles, the annual event features a variety of activities and presentations, including guided hikes, wildlife viewing on horseback, shoreline boat cruises, special photography workshops, wildlife readings by authors and presentations on tracks, scat and antlers.

For more information you can call 1-800-215-2395 or click here.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Best Fall Hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a wonderful place to visit during the autumn. Hikers will have many options for viewing the beautiful colors of fall, especially those of aspens and western larch.

Roughly 55% of Glacier National Park is covered by forest. Of that percentage, roughly 90% is coniferous forest. The remaining 10% is considered to be deciduous forest, and is primarily made up of aspen, western larch and black cottonwood.

Some of the best places to see aspens, in all their shimmering golden yellow and orange glory, are on the eastern side of the Continental Divide. Towards the end of September is usually the best time to see aspens at their peak, and some of the best trails to find them include Redrock Falls andApikuni Falls in the Many Glacier area, Oldman Lake / Pitamakan Pass and Firebrand Pass in the Two Medicine area, the Beaver Pond Loop near the St. Mary entrance, as well as the Forest and Fire Nature Trail near the Camas Creek Entrance (just north of Apgar).

Western larch:

The western and southern portions of Glacier are some of the best places to see larch as they turn bright yellow during the mid-to-late October timeframe. Although western larch, also known as tamaracks, appears to be an evergreen, they’re actually needle-bearing deciduous trees. After turning golden yellow in the fall, the trees lose their needles, and appear to be dead during the winter months.

If you wish to hike among the larch during the fall, visit any of the trails from the Sperry Chalet trailhead near the Lake McDonald Lodge. Rocky Point on the western end of Lake McDonald is another great choice. Any of the trails on southern end of the park, such as Loneman Lookout, Scalplock Mountain Lookout or the South Boundary Trail, are all excellent options for viewing tamaracks at peak color.

The park strongly urges autumn hikers to make sure they are familiar with safety precautions while traveling in bear country, and to be prepared for variable temperatures and rapidly changing weather conditions.

Glacier National Park Hiking

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The St Mary's Trailhead Shuttle Stop

The St Mary's Trailhead Shuttle stop provides access to several trails on the east side of Glacier National Park. One of these, St Mary's Falls, is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and for good reason. Watch this short Glacier National Park video to learn more:

The hike to St. Mary's Falls and Virginia Falls are both outstanding hikes. Another option is the 5.2-mile loop that also includes Baring Falls, Sunrift Gorge and an excellent view of St. Mary Lake.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fire Danger Remains High on the Flathead

As you enjoy the last holiday weekend of the summer season on the Flathead National Forest (FNF), please keep in mind that fire danger remains “high.” While there is no fire restriction on the FNF everyone is asked to be diligent with campfires and ensure they are dead-out before leaving them.

Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber says “Fire-fighting resources are very tight right now because of all of the fires burning around the region. After a week of warm dry weather we all need to be extremely careful with all ignition sources.” This includes, but is not limited to, carefully monitoring any cooking activities, not tossing cigarettes on the ground and making sure vehicles and trailers are not dragging anything that could create sparks.

All campgrounds and developed recreation areas are open this weekend except for the Murray Bay Campground & Riverside Boat Launch on the Hungry Horse Reservoir, which are closed for renovations. There are several concession-operated campgrounds in which reservations are required for some sites, and other sites are first-come first-serve. Campers are reminded that at a fee campsite the site must be occupied on a daily basis. Saving campsites is not permitted at a fee campground. Campground information, including a list of developed campgrounds on the Flathead National Forest, is available here.

To minimize human-grizzly bear encounters, forest users are reminded to store all food and beverages so they are unavailable to bears. It’s the law. Food and beverages must be stored in a bear resistant container, or a hard-sided camper, vehicle trunk or cab, or hung at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from any vertical support, like a tree. Campers may comply with this by storing coolers and other food and drink in a vehicle when the ampsite is unoccupied. The food storage order across the entire Flathead NF is intended for visitor safety, and safety and recovery of the grizzly bear.

There are a number of seasonal road closures effective September 1, 2012. For details on road closures please contact the appropriate ranger district.

Please visit or contact a local Flathead National Forest Office for updated information:

Hungry Horse Ranger District 387-3800
Swan Lake Ranger District 837-7500
Tally Lake Ranger District 758-5204
Spotted Bear Ranger District 758-5376

Glacier National Park Trails