Thursday, January 31, 2013

Glacier Intends to Retain Red Bus Fleet - Makes Modifications to Concessions Prospectus

The National Park Service announced yesterday that it was modifying the terms of a prospectus for the concessions operations at Glacier National Park to reinforce the park's intention to retain the operation of the entire fleet of red buses while providing safe, informative and memorable experiences for Glacier National Park visitors.

Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, "We love the red buses and our intent has been to retain this iconic symbol of the park."

Changes to the prospectus clarify how maintenance and rehabilitation of the bus fleet will occur. The newly selected concessioner will be responsible for the management and upkeep of the red buses. The National Park Service owns all the existing 33 historic red buses in the fleet. Through the terms of the pending concessions contract, the National Park Service intends to monitor the condition of the red buses and rehabilitate the buses as needed over the course of the 16-year contract. Hall said that modifications of the prospectus for the new concessions contract are being developed to clarify those requirements. The modifications to the prospectus will be posted on the agency's commercial services website in mid-February.

Hall said, "We appreciate the advocacy for the red buses by the Glacier Park Foundation and others, and their dedication to preserving the fleet of 33 iconic and historic buses."

As the historic buses age, rehabilitation work is required to keep the fleet safe and operational. The buses have 1930s-era bodies adapted to modern chassis. It is recognized that the required custom rehabilitation work on the buses will be very expensive.

A complete and custom restoration of the buses was last completed in 2002 with the generous assistance of the Ford Motor Company through the National Park Foundation. At that time the cost for the rehabilitation of the buses was more than $6 million dollars.

Hall said, "We want to maintain and continue the tradition of the iconic red buses on the road in Glacier National Park."

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone Proposes Campground Fee Rate Increase

Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on a proposal to increase the daily fee charged to stay in campgrounds operated by the National Park Service.

For the Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris campgrounds which have flush toilets, the daily fee would be increased from $14 to $20.

At Tower Fall, Lewis Lake, Indian Creek, Pebble Creek, and Slough (slew) Creek campgrounds which have vault toilets, the daily camping fee would go from $12 to $15.

Individuals who hold a Senior Pass or Access Pass would continue to receive a 50-percent discount on camping fees charged at these National Park Service operated campgrounds.

Under the current rate structure, Yellowstone's campground fees are lower than those charged by local commercial operators, neighboring National Forests, and Grand Teton National Park for campgrounds with similar facilities.

The Bridge Bay, Canyon, Grant, and Madison campgrounds and the Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone are operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Daily camping fees at these sites range from $20.50 to $45.00. They would not be affected by this proposal.

An electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found online here. Comments may be submitted through the website, in person, or by mail to Visitor Services Office, Attention: Campground Fee Rate Increase, National Park Service, and P. O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190. All comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, February 28, 2013.

Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail, and submitted responses may be made publicly available at any time.

This would be the first camping fee increase in nine years. Yellowstone National Park is planning to implement these rate increases on May 1, 2013.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Saving Glacier's Iconic Red Buses

A new concessions contract calls for replacing more than half of the iconic red tour buses in Glacier National Park with alternative fuel vehicles by 2029. The proposal has many fans of the "jammers" concerned and upset, including the Glacier Park Foundation, a non-profit organization comprised of former and current Glacier Park employees and visitors.

The new concession contract calls for the complete rehabilitation of at least 15 buses, and the replacement of the remaining 18 buses with alternative fuel vehicles by 2029.

As a result, the Glacier Park Foundation has posted this plea for help on their Facebook page:
The National Park Service is seeking tenders for a concessioner to operate its facilities in Glacier National Park. The proposed concession contract would see 18 of the 33 Red buses decommissioned and replaced with new vehicles. This decision was made without any consultation with the public.

The Glacier Park Foundation wants to see the Red bus fleet remain intact. Bidding for the concession closes March 14. The foundation urges all its members and fans of Glacier to raise their voices in any manner they can, including contacting the National Park Service, and Montana state and federal officials. Let them know you oppose any breakup of the Red bus fleet and are requesting a delay in the concession contract process until the matter has been aired in public.

NPS proposal:

Montana officials:
Sen. Tester:
Congressman Daines:
Gov. Bullock:
Sen. Baucus: |

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone Harnesses Hydropower…Again

More than a century after U.S. Army troops harnessed the power of flowing water to light Fort Yellowstone, the park is generating electricity from water again.

The idea of tapping into a sustainable resource to power Yellowstone came to the park in 1903, when the U.S. Cavalry under the direction of engineer Hiram Chittenden installed the first 100-kilowatt water turbine generator near its Mammoth Hot Springs headquarters. Relying on water flowing from Glen Creek down through Golden Gate, the power plant supplied ample energy to power residences, administrative offices, maintenance shops, lights on the parade grounds and the occasional picture show at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to great attendance. There was even a little left over to sell to concessioners.

Commercially supplied energy has long powered the lights in Yellowstone. But a new spin on the same century-old technology is not only adding a few hundred extra kilowatts of free, home-grown power to what's already being supplied by the grid. It's also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 800 metric tons each year. The park's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2016.

Much like the 1903 hydropower plant and a second version that was constructed in Mammoth in 1911, the new Mammoth micro hydro plant relies on naturally-occurring water dynamics. It captures energy from the water that flows approximately 560 feet downhill from the combined Gardner River, Panther Creek and Indian Creek water intakes on Swan Lake Flats to the existing storage reservoir at Mammoth's water treatment plant through an existing 12-inch pipe. A newly-installed generator and turbine rely on an average water flow volume of 4 cubic feet per second to produce electricity.

Construction on the electrical station housing the new generator and turbine at the reservoir inlet was completed by Montana-based Dick Anderson Construction. The power plant was officially brought on line last December.

The first hydropower plant located at Mammoth Hot Springs completed in 1903, and the newly constructed micro hydro system brought online last December:

The new plant is expected to generate an average of 175 kilowatts of energy depending on the normal fluctuation of the water supply, though it is capable of producing up to 230 kilowatts. Based on an "up-time" of 80 percent (20 percent calculated for maintenance down time), that equates to more than 1.2 million kilowatt hours supplied to the park each year.

The new technology also allows for this fully sustainable energy source to be synchronized directly with Northwestern Energy's electric grid, providing a savings to the park's electrical bill of approximately $73,000 annually.

The project was funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds at a cost of $1.1 million and is expected to pay for itself in about 12 years.

One hundred years ago, Chittenden's ingenious, independent green power source provided valuable energy to Yellowstone residents' homes and workspaces. Now that nostalgic thinking is working to ease Yellowstone's energy consumption and help preserve the park's valuable natural resources for generations to come.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grand Teton National Park Trails Worker Dies in Avalanche

Rangers began a recovery mission yesterday morning for the body of a backcountry skier who died in an avalanche on Sunday, January 27th. Nick Gillespie, 30, of Jackson, Wyoming, was caught in an avalanche on the southeast face of Survey Peak in the northern Teton Range about 5 p.m. Sunday and died as a result of injuries suffered in the slide.

Gillespie was a long-time seasonal employee of Grand Teton National Park who’d worked on the park’s trail crew for the past six years, and before that had worked for Rocky Mountain NP, and the Willamette and Lassen National Forests. There were three people with him at the time of the accident, one a fellow seasonal trails worker at Grand Teton, but none was injured.

Rangers enlisted the assistance of the Teton County Search and Rescue contract helicopter and crew for the recovery mission. Teton Interagency helitack personnel assisted with a temporary helibase established near Colter Bay, 25 miles north of Moran Junction. Four rangers were inserted into Berry Creek canyon on Monday about 11 a.m. Recovery of Gillespie’s body and an investigation into the details of the incident are ongoing.

The avalanche danger on Sunday, January 27th, was listed as low in the morning, rising to moderate in the afternoon at elevations between 9,000 and 10,500 feet. Moderate danger means that natural avalanches are unlikely, but human-triggered avalanches are possible. However, the report also reported, “At upper elevations new snow and winds overnight and expected snow today will create the potential for backcountry users to trigger soft slabs or sloughs to a foot in depth by the afternoon.”

Hiking in Glacier National Park

FWP Won't Challenge Yellowstone-area Wolf Ruling

State wildlife officials canceled a January 29 conference call to reconsider a recent court-challenged decision to close the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in two areas north of Yellowstone National Park.

The areas were closed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission on Dec. 10, in response to concern about the harvest of wolves with collars that supply scientific information to YNP researchers. The seasons, however, were reopened by the district court in Livingston in response to a lawsuit brought by several sporting groups and a state representative from Park County.

FWP officials said today that the best course of action is to fully follow the judge's Jan. 18 order that prohibits FWP from enforcing the wolf hunting and trapping closure.

"The judge clearly stated that FWP would have to return to the court to apply for an order to dissolve the injunction and have proof that requisite public notice was given. We have simply run out of time,” said Ron Aasheim, FWP’s spokesman in Helena.

Aasheim noted that wolf hunting and trapping season is set to end in 34 days, on Feb. 28, and that obtaining a hearing and court action prior to the end of the wolf hunting season would be unlikely.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone Rangers Credited With Saving Visitor’s Life

Yesterday's NPS Digest published this report from Yellowstone National Park:
On January 18th rangers received a report of a person suffering from an allergic reaction at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. Ranger/paramedic Sonja Brester and ranger/EMT Steve Glaser responded via snowmobile and over-snow ambulance. When they arrived, they found that victim was showing signs of respiratory distress and was unable to speak. They quickly recognized the seriousness of the situation and took decisive action, administering the appropriate medications and treatments. A life-flight helicopter was called and transported the ailing visitor to an advanced care facility. After the call was wrapped up the medical staff from the helicopter company called to express their gratitude at how the patient was treated before the transport and credited Brester and Glaser with saving the visitor’s life.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, January 28, 2013

What would you see if you went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park?

What would you see if you went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park? Hopefully this video, which I recently published, will partially answer that question:

For more information please visit:

Hiking Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunset Crater / Wupatki National Monument

During our tour of the southwest this past September, my wife and I visited the three National Monuments that surround Flagstaff, Arizona. About an hour north of town, located in the Coconino National Forest, is Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument, which are in close proximity to each other, and are usually visited together.

Our first destination during this leg of the trip was to hike the one-mile Lava Flow Trail at Sunset Crater. All of the mountains in northern Arizona, known as the San Francisco Peaks, are dormant volcanoes and cinder cones. The result is a very unique landscape, which in some places reminds you of something you would see on the moon. Sunset Crater (below) is one the larger cinder cone volcanoes in the area. One of the significant features of this 1000-foot high cone is that the rim area lights up with a reddish glow during sun sets.

The Lava Flow Trail doesn’t climb atop, or even on Sunset Crater, but it does explore a variety of interesting volcanic formations near its base:

From the volcano we drove north on the Loop Road to visit the Wukoki Pueblo. These ruins were once the home of families from the Kayenta Anasazi culture, who built the Wukoki (a modern Hopi word for “Big House”) in the early 1100s, and were occupied for nearly a century. In 1896, archeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes is quoted as saying that Wukoki “is one of the most impressive masses of aboriginal masonry…. It is visible for many miles, and from a distance resembles an old castle as it looms… above the plain.”

From Wukoki it’s a short drive over to the Wupatki Pueblo. The centerpiece of the Wupatki National Monument is a four story stone apartment house that was also built roughly 900 years ago. It’s estimated that by 1182 roughly 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki, the largest building for at least fifty miles around. The complex featured a 100-room pueblo, a community room and a ball court. Within a day's walk, it’s estimated that a population of several thousand people surrounded Wupatki:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Glacier Park Planning Season

Planning a visit to Glacier National Park this summer? Now's the time to make your reservations, as accommodations are limited and will soon be filling up for peak season over the next few weeks.

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind readers that if you're planning a trip to Glacier this summer, please take a moment to check out the listings on our lodging and accommodations page on Our website offers a wide variety of overnight accommodations that offer a wide variety of amenities in the Glacier Park area.

We also offer several other tools and information resources that can be helpful as you plan your vacation. Trying to figure out where to hike can be challenging, especially if you're unfamiliar with the park. As a starting point you can check our list of the Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park, or the Best Easy Hikes in the park.

If you're looking for other activities besides hiking, check out our Things To Do page.

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

Finally, if you know of anyone planning a trip to Glacier this year, we would really appreciate if you could forward this link onto them as well.

Thank you very much!

Hiking Glacier National Park

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Glacier National Park: Walk in the Clouds

A Walk in the Clouds is a short story about wilderness, and is narrated by Robert Redford. The film was produced for the St. Mary Visitor Center a couple of years ago, however, I'm not sure if it's still being shown there. This is the official trailer:

Now, don't you wish you were in Glacier right now...

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wolf population declines by 20% in 2012

Yellowstone National Park is reporting that its wolf population has decreased by roughly 20% in 2012.

Since December of 2007 the wolf population has declined from 171, to just 80 in December of 2012. The sharp declines are the result of wolves killing each other, food stress, disease, and human-caused mortality inside and outside the park.

The park also states that these fluctuations are natural and primarily in response to fewer elk, their primary prey.

For more in-depth information on Yellowstone's wolves and the 2012 Wolf Hunt, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hall Fills Interim Superintendent Role

Kym Hall, a 26-year veteran of the National Park Service, has taken the roll as acting Glacier National Park Superintendent until the position is filled permanently. Hall has been at the park since July 2011 as the deputy superintendent.

Glacier National Park Chief Ranger Mark Foust and Chief of Interpretation Tracy Ammerman will share deputy superintendent responsibilities during the interim.

Prior to Glacier National Park, Hall was superintendent of three park sites in Southeastern Arizona; Coronado National Memorial, Chiricahua National Monument, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site. She began her National Park Service career at Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. After a variety of positions, including dispatcher and paralegal, Hall took a position at the National Park Service headquarters in Washington D.C. where she worked on regulations across the country. While serving in the Washington Office, she was promoted to the position of Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks where she represented the National Park Service on a variety of challenging issues, including land use, concessions contracts, weapons in parks and other high-profile topics.

It's anticipated that a superintendent for the park will be selected this spring. National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels will make the selection, with concurrence by the Department of the Interior Secretary's Office.

Chas Cartwright retired at the end of December after serving four years as Glacier National Park Superintendent.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The connection between St. Peter’s Basilica and Glacier National Park

Is there a connection between Glacier National Park and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City? You be the judge.

Last week Glacier National Park posted these photos to their Facebook page.

The first photo shows a pattern in the rocks at Sunrift Gorge that has striking resemblance to Michelangelo’s Renaissance sculpture, the Pietà (see inset):

The Pietà, sculpted in 1498 and 1499, and depicting the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion, is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo. The resembling rocks can be seen from the Sunrift Gorge overlook at the angle shown in this picture:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weekend Snowshoe Walks Begin in Glacier

Glacier National Park will again be hosting Winter Signs Snowshoe Walks every Saturday and Sunday this winter, at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., between now and March 17th.

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Walnut Canyon National Monument

During our tour of the southwest this past September, my wife and I visited the three National Monuments that surround Flagstaff, Arizona. One of those was Walnut Canyon, just a couple miles east of town. The canyon is culturally and historically significant due to the ancient Sinagua people that once lived here, and the pueblos they etched along the canyon walls that still stand today.

The Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that lived in Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250, constructed several cliff dwelling rooms. The best way to get an up-close view of the ancient homes is to walk the one-mile Island Trail, which loops around a rock “island”, while hugging the cliff’s edge. From the trailhead, just outside of the visitor center, the path drops 185 feet - via 240 steps! You may want to note that you’ll have to climb those same stairs on your return. Once on the loop portion of the hike you’ll pass the remains of 25 cliff dwelling rooms, as well as several plant life zones that span the west from Mexico to Canada.

The park does a great job of interpreting the historical sites and the wide variety of plant life found along the way. Here are a few of the sights you’ll see:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pinnacles Becomes Number 59

Yesterday the former Pinnacles National Monument in California received a promotion when legislation was signed, making it the 59th U.S. National Park.

Legislation to upgrade Pinnacles National Monument to a National Park was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, before finally receiving the nod from the Senate on December 30th.

The Pinnacles National Monument was created by President Theodore Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The initial area designated by the president was 2,080 acres, but has since grown to its current size of 26,606 acres.

The new park is located roughly 80 miles south of the San Francisco Bay Area, and about 40 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.

The park gets its name from the massive monoliths, sheer-walled canyons, rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano. The volcano eroded over millions of years as it moved northward along the San Andreas Fault.

Pinnacles is also home to a successful California condor re-establishment program. Every fall since 2003 captive-bred condors have been released into the wild. In 2010, for the first time in more than a century, a condor chick was successfully hatched within park boundaries. The national park now manages a population of 32 condors.

Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of hiking trails. Hikes range from flat stretches of grasslands, to uphill climbs through talus caves, to the High Peaks Trail that takes hikers through the heart of the Pinnacles rock formations.

Due to extreme hot summer temperatures, Pinnacles is most popular in the cooler months. The park warns:
During the summer, extreme temperatures can make hiking uncomfortable at best, and possibly dangerous for those who are unprepared. If you plan to visit Pinnacles from late May through early September, please check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
During the spring, when the grasses are green and a variety of wildflowers can be seen along any trail, hiking is at its best. Fall and winter are also excellent times to visit.

For more information on the park, please click here. For more information on hiking in the park, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Winter Camp Comfort Tips

Backpacker Magazine has recently published a pretty good video that offers some sound tips for making your winter camp a little more comfortable. If new to winter camping, you might benefit from this video:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Sees Sharp Increase in Visitors to Glacier National Park

After a relatively dismal year in 2011, Glacier National Park saw a sharp rebound in the total number of visitors in 2012. This past year saw a total of 2,162,034 visitors to the park, which represents a 16.4% increase over the prior year.

The 2012 year saw the 4th highest number of visitors in Glacier history. 1983 still holds the record when just over 2.2 million visitors entered the park.

Here's a look at annual visitation trends since Glacier became a national park in 1911:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Skier Sustains Significant Injuries in Avalanche in Glacier National Park

Two skiers triggered an avalanche on Elk Mountain in Glacier National Park yesterday afternoon. Park dispatch received a call at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8th, indicating that two skiers were involved in an avalanche and one skier was injured. Park rangers and local emergency personnel organized and responded to the incident.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. park rangers found the skiers and transported them to a nearby trailhead. The Glacier County EMS Ambulance transported the injured skier to a medical facility and the other skier was released at the scene. The skiers, male age 34 and male age 35, both from the local area, were skiing a ridge of Elk Mountain, just west of Marias Pass, when one of the skiers fell and triggered an avalanche. The skier was carried with the slide and partially buried. The other skier was skiing below when the avalanche occurred and was able to escape from the avalanche slide path, and then help rescue his companion. The skier that was partially buried sustained significant injuries.

Emergency personnel assisting Glacier National Park Rangers included members of the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services, Glacier County Sheriff's Office, Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Flathead County Search and Rescue, and North Valley Search and Rescue.

All backcountry recreationists are highly encouraged to be prepared for winter conditions, including awareness and understanding of avalanche terrain, mountain weather, snowpack conditions, current avalanche advisories, as well as being prepared with appropriate equipment such as beacons, probes, poles and shovels. Recreationists should have the knowledge and skills to safely utilize the equipment as needed.

An excellent resource for all winter outdoor recreationists is the Flathead Avalanche Center website, The website provides avalanche information, including three advisories each week, educational opportunities, and snow observation conditions. Upcoming educational programs include an advanced avalanche awareness class that continues through Saturday, January 19 with the Flathead National Forest, Level 1 Avalanche Course in Libby January 18-19, and Level 1 and Level 11 Courses at Whitefish Mountain Resort in January and February. Please visit the website for more information.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Glacier Park Lodge Centennial Celebration

Mark your calendars for June 22, 2013. The Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier will be celebrating its 100th year anniversary that day.

To celebrate, the lodge will offer a Centennial Celebration Dinner, which will feature the same items that were served at the original opening celebration for the Glacier Park Lodge on June 22, 1913. In addition to great food, live music will also be on tap.

Constructed by the Great Northern Railway almost a century ago, the lodge was built around a three-story lobby that measures 200 feet by 100 feet, and is lined with Douglas-fir columns 40 feet tall, and between 36 and 42 inches in diameter. Each column was brought in by rail from the Pacific Northwest because trees in Montana rarely grow so large. A total of 60 such trees were used, with Douglas-fir in the lobby and cedars for the exterior. The lodge was loosely styled as a Swiss chalet, similar to other lodges and backcountry chalets built by the Great Northern Railway between 1913 and 1917.

Here are a couple of photos from around the lodge:

For more information on the centennial event, please click here. To make reservations for overnight lodging, please visit our accommodations page for East Glacier.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, January 7, 2013

ULA Discount Offer on Sleeping Bags

Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA), maker of ultralight backpacking equipment, is offering $55.00 off the purchase of a 20-degree Down Sleeping Bag (regular $185) with the purchase of any of ULA backpack.

If you've never heard of ULA, their website states that nearly half the hikers completing the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail are carrying a ULA pack. Since ULA only very seldom promotes discounts, I thought I'd bring this to your attention in case you're in the market for a new sleeping bag and/or backpack.

For more information, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter scene from Apgar Lookout

This photo was taken from the Apgar Lookout webcam last year. Look in the lower right hand corner and you'll see the snowman someone built. The trail to Apgar Lookout is usually one of the first higher elevation trails to be free of snow in the spring:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, January 4, 2013

US Senate approves maintenance on pipeline in Glacier National Park

Earlier this week the U.S. Senate passed a bill that protects Kalispell's natural gas supply. The city receives its natural gas supply from an aging pipeline that runs through Glacier National Park. The National Park Service currently does not have the authority to issue a permit to Northwestern Energy to upgrade and maintain the 50 year old pipeline.

Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus' bill allows the Park Service to issue a permit to perform maintenance on the pipeline, allowing Kalispell to safely receive needed energy while protecting some of Montana's most treasured lands.

Specifically, the bill allows maintenance work on a 3.5-mile section of pipeline that parallels U.S. 2 on the southern boundary of Glacier National Park.

The Montana Power Company constructed the pipeline in 1962 and received its first special use permit in April of that year. The permit was renewed through 1990, but the Park Service later determined that it did not have the authority needed to grant permits.

The pipeline runs 118 miles and carries natural gas to 25,000 consumers in the Flathead.

The House of Representatives passed a similar version of the measure in December and the President is expected to sign the bill into law.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Winter in Yellowstone National Park

Here's an older (but classic!) video of Yellowstone National Park from the National Parks Traveler that I just ran across:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Trails Day in the Flathead Valley

The Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region, is celebrating Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 12 with several free outdoor activities.

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

* Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Glacier National Park will be hosted at 10:30am and 1:30pm. Each hike will last approximately two hours and reservations are not required. Snowshoes are available for hike participants. Visitors need to purchase a park entrance pass. Please meet at the Apgar Visitor Center. Call 888-7939 for more information.

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

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

* Join Whitefish Legacy Partners, Stillwater Mountain Lodge and Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center for a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fun winter games from 10am to 2pm at Stillwater Mountain Lodge and the Whitefish Trail, Beaver Lakes Trail Section, north of Whitefish. Participants can ski on the Stillwater Nordic Center’s groomed trails or snowshoe across the road on the Beaver Lakes Trail Section. Bring your own equipment or use the provided demo equipment. For more information contact Whitefish Legacy Partners, 862-3880.

* A short snowshoe hike for ladies new to the sport will be offered by the Swan Ecosystem Center from 10am to 12:30pm in Condon. Snowshoes are available. Participants will learn about snowshoe basics and the guided hike will take participants over gentle terrain through open and forested areas. From 2pm to 4pm more experienced snowshoers are invited to join a guided four-mile hike. Please meet at the Forest Service Condon Work Center, 6887 Hwy. 83. Call 406/754-3137 to sign-up and for more information.

For more information about local events and Winter Trails Day visit

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Advanced Avalanche Awareness Classes Offered

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) is hosting an Advanced Avalanche Awareness class which is a free course and is 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 at You can also sign up to follow the center on Twitter at Avalanche advisories are issued weekly on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. 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