Saturday, May 31, 2014

Swiftcurrent Bridge in Many Glacier to be Replaced

An environmental analysis and review process for a proposal to replace the Swiftcurrent Bridge in Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Valley has been completed, and a decision was signed by the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director to move forward on the project.

An analysis of the environmental impacts associated with the project and review of public comments on the proposal were considered before a final decision was determined. The environmental assessment was released in February 2014. Five comment letters were received on the proposal, all supportive of the project. Concerns voiced regarding impacts to concession operations were addressed and contributed to the final decision.

Bridge replacement work will begin in late September, after the Many Glacier Hotel and other concession operations close for the season, and will proceed through the first week of December. The project may be scheduled to occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The access road to the Many Glacier developed area and Many Glacier Hotel will be closed to traffic during the September-December work period. Masonry construction, roadway preparation, and paving required to complete the project will occur in late summer to early fall of 2015. This final stage of construction work will be limited to day-time hours, and access to the Many Glacier developed area including the hotel will remain open.

The Swiftcurrent Bridge, located at the foot of Swiftcurrent Lake, provides vehicle and pedestrian access to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District and the Many Glacier Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. The bridge is losing its structural integrity; the deck is severely damaged, the abutments and piers are in disrepair, and the bridge has limited capacity to handle high water due to the four interior piers. Other concerns include deteriorated concrete curb and sidewalks, loose or missing stone masonry, and the non-code compliant suspension of utility lines on the bridge. If the bridge is not replaced, visitor access to the hotel and associated Many Glacier developed area will become severely limited and may eventually be prohibited.

The existing 75-foot, 5-span Swiftcurrent Bridge will be replaced with an 85-foot, single span bridge on the existing alignment. The interior piers and existing abutments will be removed, and new abutments will be constructed at the outer edges of the stream channel. Utilities will be reorganized and contained within the new bridge to reduce safety hazards, improve aesthetics, and comply with applicable codes. The replacement bridge will be designed to be compatible with the historic and architectural characteristics of the historic district. The new bridge will replicate two 9-foot lanes, a 3-foot wide sidewalk, and a 5-foot wide bridle path. The existing railings will be replaced with new railings of similar design to the historic, but with modifications to height and spacing.

The environmental analysis and the finding of no significant impact (decision document) can be found here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 30, 2014

Two Medicine Campground Opening Delayed

Snow conditions are delaying the opening of the Two Medicine Campground on the east side of Glacier National Park. The Many Glacier Campground will open Friday, May 30, in primitive status, and the St. Mary Campground is open with services.

Feet of snow are still covering most of the Two Medicine Campground camping sites and access to facilities is limited. The campground is not open, but anticipated to open by June 6, or as conditions allow.

The Many Glacier Campground will have approximately 55 camping sites available at 12 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, May 30. At this time, water is not available at the Many Glacier Campground, and only pit toilets will be available. Water may be available over the weekend, but campers should be prepared and arrive with water. The campground fee is $20 per night, but if water is unavailable the fee will be $10 per night.

The St. Mary Campground is open with services. There are approximately 50 sites available at this time. Potable water and flush toilets are available, and the nightly fee is $20. Beginning June 1, the St. Mary Campground will be available by reservation through the National Recreation Reservation website or by calling 1-877-444-6777. The nightly fee will be $23 per night.

There is no hiker-biker access on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at this time due to road rehabilitation work. Hikers and bikers will have unrestricted access on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road this weekend. For more information about hiker-biker access please click here.

On the west side of the park, the Apgar Campground is open with services. The nightly fee is $20. The Fish Creek Campground will open June 1 and sites are available through the National Recreation Reservation website or by calling 1-877-444-6777. The nightly fee will be $23 per night. Sprague Creek and Bowman Lake Campgrounds are open. Sprague Creek Campground is a small campground along the northeast shore of Lake McDonald and the Bowman Lake Campground is located in the North Fork area of the park. Both campgrounds are focused for tent camping. The nightly fee is $20 for Sprague Creek and $15 for Bowman Lake. For more information on park campgrounds, click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Grizzly Bear falls to its death in Glacier National Park

A dead grizzly bear was discovered along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park on Thursday morning. At approximately 10 a.m. on May 22nd, a member of the park road crew was traveling down the Going-to-the-Sun Road when he came upon a dead grizzly bear located on the road about one mile above The Loop.

An initial investigation by the National Park Service indicated that the bear probably fell onto the road from a steep snowbank between approximately 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on May 22. Park snow plow crew members had traveled up the Going-to-the-Sun Road at approximately 9 a.m. Thursday and saw no bear.

Park officials notified the US Fish and Wildlife Service as required since the grizzly bear is listed as an endangered species, and informed Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks of the incident. Park law enforcement rangers conducted an investigation and wildlife biologists conducted a necropsy of the bear.

The bear was a 190-pound male, believed to be approximately five years old. The bear had no markings to signify any prior capture. The necropsy indicated death was the result of a fall and considered a natural death. The bear had head injuries, broken ribs and other internal injuries consistent with a fall. There was no evidence of any struggle or fight prior to the fall, or any indication of a vehicle collision. The terrain above the location where the bear was found includes a steep snowbank, some steep cliffs and a drop of approximately 12 feet.

There is an estimated grizzly bear population of 300 in Glacier National Park. Numerous state and federal agencies have worked together to manage and recover the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), including Glacier National Park.

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) encompasses about 9,600 square miles of northwestern Montana, and includes Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests (Flathead, Helena, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark and Lolo), Bureau of Land Management lands, and a significant amount of state and private lands.

Under the Endangered Species Act, grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975 in the lower 48 States.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, May 26, 2014

Paradise Found: The Skyline Trail

"... the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings."

That was John Muir’s reaction upon seeing the Paradise valley for the very first time in 1889. I dare say you might have the same reaction yourself. The best way to explore the Paradise valley below the southern slopes of Mt. Rainier is to hike the Skyline Trail loop. Below is a short video highlighting some of the amazing scenery you'll see on this hike. For more information on this outstanding hike, please click here to visit our new Discover the West website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beartooth Highway To Open In Time For Memorial Day Weekend

The Beartooth Highway, the scenic high elevation portion of US-212 linking Red Lodge, Montana, with the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is scheduled to open for the season at 9:00 a.m. this morning, May 23rd. Spring road clearing and maintenance is conducted by the Montana Department of Transportation and the National Park Service.

Inside Yellowstone, the road over Dunraven Pass linking Canyon Village, Tower Fall and Tower Junction also opens for the season this morning.

All other park roads and all park entrances have already opened for the season.

Most seasonal visitor services in the park open in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Saturday also marks the opening of fishing season in the park.

All communities near and on the way to Yellowstone are open all year, offering a wide range of recreation opportunities, activities, and services for visitors to the region.

The National Weather Service forecast for the holiday weekend, calls for partly cloudy skies with a chance of afternoon or evening thunderstorms with high temperatures in the 50s and low 60s, and overnight low temperatures near freezing. Spring visitors to the park are encouraged to have flexible travel plans and to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions.

There will be no daytime travel delays or overnight road closures due to road construction during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Resuming Tuesday morning, May 27, visitors should expect construction delays of up to 30 minutes, with nightly closures between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. beginning June 1, north of the entrance to the Norris Campground on the road to Mammoth Hot Springs. A 5.4 mile section of the road is being rebuilt, as is the bridge over the Gardner River. This section of road will be closed to all traffic from 11:00 p.m. September 14 to 7:00 a.m. on September 30.

Work will also begin this year to replace the Isa Lake Bridge, which is on the road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Junction. This section of road will close to through travel for the season at 6:00 a.m. on September 2.

Details on both of these projects and updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117 or click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Grizzly Bear Research Trapping to Begin in Grand Tetons

Biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) plan to conduct scientific research and trapping operations within Grand Teton National Park as part of ongoing efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to collect data and monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). These operations will begin Tuesday, May 27 and continue through October 15, 2014. Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution, as well as their food selection and other activities, is vital to recovery of grizzlies across the GYE.

Trained professionals with the IGBST will bait and trap bears at remote sites across Grand Teton National Park. Once trapped, grizzly bears are sedated to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All trapping and handling are done in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.

Trap sites will not be located near established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all sites will be posted with bright-colored warning signs around the closure perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs. All backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas must obey the warnings and stay out of the closure area. It is critical that all members of the public respect these warning signs.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to research and monitor bears across the GYE in a collaborative effort between federal land managers and state wildlife agencies. Gathering of critical data on these protected bears is part of a long-term research effort to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing recovery of the GYE's grizzly bear population.

The IGBST is composed of representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

For more information regarding grizzly bear trapping, you can call IGBST at 1-406-994-6675.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Glacier National Park in June?

Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but June is really a great time to visit Glacier National Park! Obviously July and August are by far the most popular months for visiting the park; however, if you wish to avoid the crowds, you may want to check-out the month of June. Sure, the Going-to-the-Sun Road likely won't be open all the way to Logan Pass until later in the month, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to do. In fact, all of the services outside of the park, as well as almost all of the concessioners within the park, will already be open.

So why visit in June? For one, June is an absolutely great time for observing wildflowers. Whitewater rafting is also at its best during this time period. Other popular activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and as a result of far fewer motorists on the road, June is also a great time for road cycling. And there's nothing like taking a cruise on one of Glacier's lakes to soak in the splendid beauty of the snow-capped mountains. For more information on many of these activities, please visit our Thing To Do page.

Although the nights are still relatively cool, temperatures usually reach into the 70s during the day, which makes for nearly perfect hiking conditions. Although trails in the higher elevations will still be closed due to snow, there are still a ton of great hiking opportunities around the park. Here are just a couple of suggestions (many of which are normally part of the June ranger-led hikes program - which are free, by the way):

West Glacier / Lake McDonald:

* Avalanche Lake

* Apgar Lookout

* Johns Lake Loop

* Rocky Point Nature Trail

St. Mary:

* Beaver Pond Loop

* Virginia Falls

* St. Mary Area Waterfalls Hike

Many Glacier:

* Redrock Falls

* Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail

* Belly River

* Apikuni Falls

* Grinnell Lake

Two Medicine:

* Rockwell Falls

* Aster Park Overlook

* Running Eagle Falls

If you do plan to visit Glacier this June, or anytime this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, May 19, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend at Glacier

Glacier National Park visitors are welcome this holiday weekend, with many services and facilities available, but reminded that in some places of the park the transition from winter is slow.

Two campgrounds on the east side of the park will have a delayed opening due to snow conditions. The Many Glacier Campground and Two Medicine Campground are anticipated to open Friday, May 30, rather than this week. Snow levels on the east side of the park are generally more than normal, and cooler temperatures have slowed the spring melting process. There is still much snow and ice on many lakes, including Two Medicine Lake, located inside the park boundary.

Hiking and access opportunities are limited across the park due to snow conditions. Visitors should be prepared to encounter snow, fast-moving water and changing weather conditions. With some increased snow load, some areas in the park are prone to avalanches and slides, so caution should be used as traveling and recreating in these areas. It is important to know the terrain you are about to hike or climb, and carry the appropriate equipment.

The St. Mary Campground and Bowman Lake Campground will transition to non-primitive status by Friday, May 23, as scheduled. Apgar and Sprague Creek Campgrounds are open. Reservation information and specific information about each campground, including a map of the sites, operating dates, available services, current and historic fill times, and more are available by clicking here.

Hikers and bikers can enjoy unrestricted access on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road this weekend. On Friday, May 23, hikers and bikers can travel as far as The Loop and there will be no restrictions for hikers and bikers on the west side from Saturday through Monday, May 24-26. There is no hiker-biker access on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road due to road rehabilitation work. For more information about hiker-biker access please click here or contact the park at 888-7800 for updated information.

Visitors can drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance to Avalanche, and for about one mile from the St. Mary Entrance to the foot of St. Mary Lake on the east side. The Camas Road, Many Glacier Road, Chief Mountain Road, and Two Medicine Road are currently open to vehicle travel. The Inside North Fork Road is partially open. From the Polebridge Ranger Station, visitors can drive northeast to Bowman Lake or south to Logging Creek. All other areas of the Inside North Fork Road remain closed at this time. The Cut Bank Road is currently closed at the park boundary. For updated road status within the park click here.

Snow plowing activities on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with the west-side road crew working near Big Bend, about three miles from Logan Pass. The east-side crew is working their way past Jackson Glacier Overlook.

The Apgar Visitor Center is open and the St. Mary Visitor Center is scheduled to open Saturday, May 24. The Apgar Visitor Center has been relocated to the facility formerly known as the Apgar Transit Center, approximately one mile north of the park’s west entrance.

Several park concessioners and privately-owned facilities will begin to offer visitor amenities this weekend. Glacier National Park Lodges, the park’s newest concessioner, will begin operations of Lake McDonald Lodge and Camp Store May 24. Lake McDonald Lodge, Granite Park Chalet, and Sperry Chalet celebrate their centennial anniversaries this year.

Bears are currently active within the park and visitors are reminded to travel in groups and make loud noises when recreating to avoid surprise encounters. For your safety, do not approach or attempt to feed any wildlife in the park.

Backcountry permits are required for any backcountry overnight visit. Permits are available from the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office and the St. Mary Visitor Center, and from most of the ranger stations throughout the summer.

Glacier National Park’s shuttle system is scheduled to operate July 1 through September 7. The system provides two-way shuttle service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center. More information about the park shuttle system is available here.

The park’s summer entrance fee is $25 per vehicle and is valid for seven days. The per-person entrance fee for a visitor traveling on foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12 and is valid for seven days. An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year from first time of use is available for $35. Other passes with America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program are also available. United States citizens 62 years of age and older may purchase a lifetime pass for $10, and citizens with a permanent disability may obtain a free lifetime pass. An annual pass available for $80 allows free entrance to federally operated recreation sites across the county, including many National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management sites. A free annual pass to active duty military members and their dependents is also available. For more information or to purchase a pass, please contact the park at 406-888-7800, visit the park headquarters building in West Glacier, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or a staffed entrance station.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this weekend, or anytime this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

National Trails Day 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014, marks the American Hiking Society’s 22nd annual celebration of National Trails Day, which is America’s largest trail and outdoor celebration - a day devoted to appreciating America’s trails and the hard-working individuals who build and maintain them. In honor of this day, thousands of public events will be hosted nationwide and hundreds of thousands of trail enthusiasts will be outside as they hike, pedal, and paddle through some of America’s most beautiful areas. National Trails Day activities will occur in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan authorized the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors. The final report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors, and within fifteen minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps. The recommendation, dubbed Trails for All Americans, became the impetus behind several public and private parties joining the American Hiking Society in launching the first National Trails Day in 1993.

Below are a few events in the Glacier Park region that might be of interest to hikers:

* CDT Work Week with the Montana Wilderness Association

* National Trails Day: Great Falls

For a full list of events in your area, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Public Closures Scheduled for Schwabacher Landing Area in Grand Tetons

From Monday, May 19, through June 30, a temporary public closure will be in effect for Schwabacher Landing Road, parking lot, and surrounding area that provides direct access to the eastbank of the Snake River from Highway 26/89/191 (Hwy 89). The area closure is necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities that involve large trucks and heavy machinery. This construction project will repair and pave the upper (.3 mile) portion of Schwabacher Landing Road.

The area closure begins a quarter mile south of the Hwy 89 intersection with Schwabacher Landing Road. The temporary closure includes the road itself, as well as the parking lot near the eastbank of the Snake River; it extends northward along the Snake River and continues eastward to include Teton Point Overlook on Hwy 89.

No pedestrian access to the Snake River or parking along the shoulder of Hwy 89 between the Schwabacher Landing intersection and Teton Point Overlook will be permitted during the construction project.

Other area closures along Hwy 89 include Teton Point Turnout and Blacktail Ponds Overlook. These wayside turnouts will be closed while an overlay project is taking place on Hwy 89 between the Antelope Flats Road junction and Cunningham Cabin, just south of Spread Creek—a distance of 10.5 miles. Glacier Point Turnout and Snake River Overlook on Hwy 89 will remain open with periodic construction closures throughout the summer.

Through the Hwy 89 overlay project area, motorists should expect 30-minute delays, 7-days a week from June –September. Visitors are also advised to drive slowly and be alert for large, slow moving equipment.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 16, 2014

REI's Anniversary Sale

With spring hiking season already in full gear, and summer just around the corner, you may be finding yourself in need of some new gear. If money's a little tight, you may want to check-out REI's current sale - which they're calling their "Biggest Sale of the Year".

Thru May 26th REI will be offering up to 30% on a wide array of outdoor gear and apparel. REI members can also get an additional 20% off.

For more information simply click on the graphic Ad:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program Continues in Glacier

Glacier National Park continues its boat inspection and permit program this summer as part of an on-going aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention program. Aquatic invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, continue to threaten park waterways. Recently established mussel populations in the southwest present new threats to park waters, as mussel-positive boats from that region have been intercepted in the northwest.

Motorized and trailered watercraft must have a thorough boat inspection by a park employee upon every entry to the park. A free permit is issued after the inspection, which may take up to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the boat. A boat may launch multiple times provided the boat does not leave the park between launches. To receive a permit, boats must be clean, drained and thoroughly dry (including bilge areas and livewells) upon inspection. Boats with internal ballast tanks or other enclosed compartments that exchange water with the environment and that cannot be readily cleaned, dried, and fully inspected are prohibited from launching in Glacier National Park.

Hand-propelled watercraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, catarafts) being launched within the park are required to obtain an AIS-free self-certification permit. The permit is free, completed by the boater, and is required upon each entry to the park. The permit must remain with boaters while they are floating. It is available at all park visitor centers, backcountry permit offices, park headquarters, and at maintained boat launches. Visitors can download the permit before entering the park.

Though launch hours are not restricted, inspection hours are limited. Hours vary throughout the park and will be adjusted seasonally. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, permits are available daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at park headquarters in West Glacier, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at all other locations, including the St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, and Many Glacier Ranger Station. Boaters wishing to launch on Bowman Lake should obtain a permit at park headquarters and then immediately proceed to Bowman Lake after the inspection.

Boats failing inspection will be denied a permit. Boaters may re-apply for a permit after their boat is thoroughly cleaned, drained and dried. Boats found with infestations of any aquatic invasive species may be quarantined until they are fully decontaminated, which may take up to 30 days. All boaters are encouraged to thoroughly clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and/or fishing equipment before coming to the park. Fishing equipment must be clean and dry as well.

Invasive mussels have been found on boats within Montana and passing through Montana over the past few years. Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic plants are also present in western Montana waterways, necessitating a high degree of vigilance to prevent spread. Federal law prohibits the transportation and introduction of invasive species into the ecosystem in Glacier National Park

Park managers appreciate the cooperation of recreational boaters to help prevent aquatic invasive species entering Glacier National Park. The consequences of aquatic invasive species becoming established in park waters at the headwaters for the Columbia, Missouri and Hudson Bay Watersheds are dire for aquatic ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and economic concerns downstream. Park officials urge all boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats and related equipment after every outing.

For rules and regulations on boating, please visit the park’s web page. For more information on AIS, please visit the AIS web page.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

2014 Concessioner Schedules for Glacier Published

The 2014 operating dates for concessioners within Glacier National Park are now scheduled. These concessioners, who work under contract within Glacier National Park, provide visitor services including lodging, food service, retail shops, tours, transportation, horseback riding, guided day hikes and backpacking trips, boat tours and small boat rentals.

To see the full schedule for all services, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Video: Celebrate 100 Years of Rocky Mountain National Park

On September 3, 2014, Rocky Mountain National Park will kick off its year-long 100th Anniversary celebration. Honor the past, inspire the future, and celebrate the present wilderness, wildlife and wonder with this new video from the park!

If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park during the centennial celebration, or anytime this year, please note that our hiking website for the park offers a wide variety of accommodation listings in both Estes Park and Grand Lake. Also, don't forget to check out our other Things To Do page to also help with your trip planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Apgar Visitor Center is Relocated

The Apgar Visitor Center in Glacier National Park is relocating to the existing Apgar Transit Center facility, and will begin daily operations Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The new location will be identified as the Apgar Visitor Center and will provide visitor information services, pick-up and drop-off services for the park’s shuttle system and concession-operated tour and transportation services, retail sales managed by the Glacier National Park Conservancy and restroom facilities. The building is recognized as LEED Gold Certified. The new location of the Apgar Visitor Center is located at the t-intersection approximately one mile north of the West Entrance Station on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy is assisting with the relocation. Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “The Conservancy has been instrumental in working with their donors to provide engineering and design expertise, materials and labor to retrofit the facility to serve as the Apgar Visitor Center.” Mow said he was impressed with the assistance from several local and regional businesses and appreciates the Conservancy’s leadership with this project.”

The small building that housed the visitor center in Apgar Village will have public restroom facilities available, but the main building will be closed. An analysis to determine the future use of that facility will begin later this year.

The park’s general management plan (1999) identified the construction of a West-side Discovery Center and Museum, but a lack of funding prevented such a facility. In 2007, the Apgar Transit Center was constructed to serve as a transit staging area and facilitate visitor access and orientation along the Going-to-the-Sun Road during road rehabilitation. It has been the park’s intention to relocate the existing west-side visitor center operations from Apgar Village to this area. To accommodate increased visitor use at the site, the parking area is being expanded, per an environmental assessment completed in 2012.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Montana State Trails Advisory Committee Meeting - Open to the Public

Montana State Parks announced yesterday that the citizen Montana State Trails Advisory Committee (STAC) will hold a meeting on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 at 9:30 am in the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Regional Office, located at 1400 S. 19th, in Bozeman.

The committee will advise staff on a number of trail issues, including FY2014 Recreational Trails Program scoring criteria and application review; re-authorization of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21); alternative funding sources for development and renovation of trails; and promotion of recreational trails. State Trails Advisory Committee members represent both motorized and non-motorized trail user groups and provide advice and assistance for the Recreational Trails Program.

The Montana Recreational Trails Program provides grant funding to support trail construction, trail maintenance and grooming, and trail-related education so enthusiasts can enjoy trails throughout Montana.

The meeting is open to the public. For more information contact: Beth R. Shumate, Trails Program Manager at (406) 444-4585 or

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Glacier National Park Issues Safety Reminders for Spring Visitors

The transition from winter to spring at Glacier National Park is happening, offering some popular recreational opportunities, as well as some challenges and hazards.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and prepare for a visit to the park this spring. Visitors may encounter snow, cold and swift-running waters and changing weather conditions, as well as spectacular vistas and wildlife viewing opportunities.”

Snow accumulations across the park are above average and there is still much snow at the higher elevations and locations on the east side of the park. Many areas in the park are prone to avalanches and snow slides, so caution should be used in these areas, including along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As the snow begins to melt, the rivers and streams begin to fill. The water is extremely cold and fast moving. Use caution when crossing or stepping near bodies of water, and be alert to areas with snow as thin snow bridges can be hazardous. Listen for muffled sound of running water under snow, moats, and avoid stepping onto snow cornices. River users should be cautious of avalanche debris along and in the rivers, and always wear a life jacket when boating.

Hikers and climbers visiting some of the higher elevations in the park should expect snow and ice, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. It is important to know the terrain you are about to hike or climb, and carry the appropriate equipment. When hiking may include snowfield travel, visitors should know how to travel in such challenging conditions, including knowing how to use crampons, ice axe and appropriate avalanche gear.

Layers of clothing, extra clothing and appropriate footwear are encouraged, as well as water, snacks and a map (hiking checklist). It is a good idea to have a first-aid kit available, and always communicate to someone your planned route of travel and your expected time of return.

Since the park is home to black and grizzly bears, park visitors should be alert for spring bear activity and be familiar with responsible actions to maintain human and bear safety. Recreational visitors to the park should travel in groups and make loud noise by calling out and/or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams and at blind spots and curves on trails. These actions will help avoid surprise encounters. Anyone recreating in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible and the user should have knowledge on how to use it. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get closer looks. Visitors are required to keep a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from any other wildlife including nesting birds. Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800. For more information about bears and how to recreate safely in Glacier National Park, please click here.

Snow plowing activities on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with the west-side road crew working near the Haystack area located about five miles from Logan Pass. The east-side crew is near the Jackson Glacier Overlook. For updates and images of plowing activities, click here.

Currently, about 17 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open to vehicle travel. Visitors can drive 16 miles from the West Entrance to Avalanche, and about one mile from the St. Mary Entrance to the campground area. Road rehabilitation work is taking place on the east side, with slump repairs near the foot of St. Mary Lake.

Visitors can hike or bicycle on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road beyond vehicle closures. There is no hiker-biker access on the east side due to heavy truck traffic related to road rehabilitation. Pets are prohibited on trails, and on park roads that are closed to vehicle use.

Be alert for snowplows and other heavy equipment on park roads as well as areas of ice, slush, avalanche zones and fallen rock. Additionally, spring storms can cause hazardous driving conditions and temporary road closures, please drive with care.

For more information, contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Share the Experience Photo Contest is Back!

The 2014 Share the Experience Photo Contest is now accepting entries through December 31, 2014. If you’re an amateur photographer, this is your chance to submit your inspiring images of America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites. The 2014 contest features many prizes and a brand new submission category – Night Skies.

Share the Experience showcases amazing photography that highlights the endless recreation opportunities and breathtaking scenery offered by our federal lands. In 2013 about 18,000 images were submitted. You can a complete list of 2013 winners and honorable mentions by clicking here.

Will you be the next winner? The 2014 Grand Prize package includes $10,000, and the winning image will be featured on the 2016 America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. For a full listing of prizes and rules, or to submit a photo, please click here.

2014 submission categories include:

• Adventure and Outdoor Recreation

• Historical and Cultural

• Let's Move Outside!

• Night Skies

• Scenic, Seasons and Landscapes

• Wildlife

Participating Federal Agencies include: National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service.

You can also visit to view amazing photos and weekly winners, vote for favorites, and submit your entries.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 9, 2014

Temporary Public Closures Scheduled for South Jenny Lake Area

Starting Monday, May 12, a temporary area closure will be in effect for several south Jenny Lake locations within Grand Teton National Park. The temporary public closures are necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities involving helicopter-assisted transport of heavy material to trail locations on the west side of Jenny Lake. These public closures will last from May 12 through May 19, and possibly longer.

For safety during the staging of several loads of construction materials, the following locations will be closed to all public access: the western portion of south Jenny Lake parking lot; the multi-use pathway from Lupine Meadows to south Jenny Lake parking area; the access trail to the east boat dock on Jenny Lake; access roads and trails to backcountry locations including the Lupine Meadows trailhead, Moose Ponds, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon. Signs will be posted throughout the closure area, and Grand Teton staff will be positioned to provide suggestions for alternate routes/detours for anyone visiting this area of the park.

Areas not affected by this temporary public closure include: the Teton Park Road; Jenny Lake scenic loop road; eastern portion of the Jenny Lake parking area near the Jenny Lake Store; and String Lake parking lots and trailheads.

This slight and temporary inconvenience will be short-term in nature. Park managers appreciate the public's cooperation in observing all posted closure notices in the south Jenny Lake area.

This transport of material via helicopter is part of the Jenny Lake Renewal project. Work on the backcountry trail system from the westshore of Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls will be underway this summer. Detour routes will be well marked for visitors wishing to reach Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point or Cascade Canyon during the hiking season.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Glacier Park Campgrounds Begin to Open

Many of the Glacier National Park’s campgrounds will be opening for the summer season in upcoming weeks. Currently, Apgar Campground, located on the west side of the park, is open with services available.

The Apgar Campground is the largest campground in the park and hosts almost 200 camping sites for tents and RV campers. Potable water is accessible in the campground, and restroom facilities provide flush toilets and sinks with running water. All Apgar Campground sites are first-come first-serve, with a summer overnight fee of $20.

Most campgrounds in Glacier are on a first-come first-serve basis. Reservations are available at Fish Creek and St. Mary Campgrounds beginning June 1, and may be made up to six months in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Campers without prior reservations are also welcome at these campgrounds, as space is available.

Water is available at most campgrounds, but there are no electrical or water hookups at any campground in the park. Dump and water fill stations are available at most campgrounds. Water is not available when a campground is in primitive status. Many campgrounds can accommodate campers and trailers, with some size restrictions.

Campgrounds in primitive status cost $10/night. When campgrounds are in primitive status no water is provided. Any water taken from streams or lakes requires treatment before use. Primitive and winter front-country campgrounds include pit toilets, no running water and only a limited number of sites.

Hiker/bicyclist sites are available at Apgar, Avalanche, Many Glacier, Rising Sun, Sprague Creek, and Two Medicine Campgrounds for $5 per person per night, and at Fish Creek and St. Mary for $8 per person per night.

Group sites are available by reservation for groups of 9 to 24 campers. These sites are located in the Apgar and St. Mary Campgrounds. These sites can be reserved up to one year in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Many Glacier and Two Medicine Campgrounds have one group site at each campground, and both are on a first-come first-serve basis.

Campers are reminded to keep a clean camp and obey food storage regulations. Animals are attracted to food and food odors. All food, garbage, and equipment used to cook, serve or store food must be kept sealed in a vehicle or in an approved bear-resistant container. For more information about food storage regulations you can visit the park’s website or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Specific information about each campground, including a map of the sites, operating dates, available services, current and historic fill times, and more is available by visiting

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Snowboarder killed in 1500-foot fall in Grand Tetons

A backcountry snowboarder died in Grand Teton National Park on Monday, May 5th, likely from the traumatic injuries he sustained during a 1,500 foot fall on Teewinot Mountain that morning. Joseph Lohr, 24, from Anchorage, Alaska, and two companions had summited the 12,325-foot mountain around 10 a.m. and were descending the snow-covered peak on snowboards and skis when the accident occurred.

Lohr's partners made an emergency call for help via cell phone soon after they reached their friend, who lay unconscious but breathing on a steep slope of Teewinot's eastern flank. Lohr's companions worked continually to keep him warm and breathing while awaiting rescue.

Upon receiving the emergency call, park rangers immediately mobilized a response and summoned a helicopter from Ogden, Utah to assist with the rescue operation. A hasty team of rangers skied 3,000 vertical feet up the eastern flank of Teewinot Mountain to reach Lohr and assist with emergency medical care while preparing him for transport. When the ship arrived around 3 p.m., snow squalls, high winds and low visibility prevented an aerial rescue attempt.

Lohr died from his injuries at 4 p.m., not long after park rangers arrived on scene.

One park ranger assisted Lohr's companions to the valley floor, while the remaining rescue personnel used a litter, ropes and pulleys to move the Lohr's body to a less hazardous area down the mountain slope. Due to hazardous snow conditions and waning light, rescuers secured the rescue litter on the mountain for the evening and returned to the valley floor approximately 10 p.m. Rescuers returned to the mountain on Tuesday morning to retrieve Lohr's body.

Although most recently a resident of Salt Lake City, Lohr was in the process of moving to Jackson. His parents happened to be in the valley on a visit and were present for much of the park's rescue effort on Monday and recovery mission on Tuesday. According to his father, Lohr and his companions were all experienced backcountry snowboarders/skiers, who knew how to handle themselves well in such mountainous terrain. Lohr was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Teewinot Mountain is a popular destination for both backcountry skiers and climbers. The mountain contains several steep snowfields that can present a real challenge to those who seek to explore them. Rangers remind backcountry users to be prepared for the unexpected and carry appropriate emergency gear. Inclement weather, access to rescue aircraft, and mountain conditions—such as an unstable snowpack—may prevent a timely rescue, and backcountry users must be prepared to take care of themselves, first and foremost, in the event of an emergency situation.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Joseph Lohr's family and friends, "said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela. "The park's rescue personnel made every effort to tend to Joseph's injuries and get him off the mountain and transported to the appropriate medical facility," added Superintendent Vela. "Sadly, this marks the first fatality in the park's backcountry for the 2014 season."

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Get Acquainted with Avian Companions in Grand Tetons

Observance of the 2014 International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) gets underway at Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway with a bird-watching caravan Saturday, May 10. To celebrate IMBD and also conduct the annual North American bird count, Park Ranger Andrew Langford will visit several areas throughout the park that provide the best opportunities to locate, identify and record birds.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate. The bird-watching excursion begins at 8 a.m. from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond by Jackson Lake Lodge. This public activity is free and reservations are not required.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

"Why Birds Matter: the Benefits of Birds to Humans and Nature" serves as the 2014 theme. This topic focuses expressly on the diversity of birds around the world, the incredible migrations they make each year and/or seasonally, and the fascinating range of behaviors, songs, and plumages that birds exhibit. Many bird species naturally provide insect and rodent control. Others disperse seeds and effectively revegetate disturbed areas. Still others assist in the pollination of flowering plants, trees, and shrubs which provide both food and beauty for humans. Beyond the utilitarian, birds often inspire artistic expression through paintings, photography, poetry, music and dance.

As always, the annual conservation theme is relevant to host organizations and participants throughout the world. Participation in Grand Teton's IMBD tour offers a chance to learn about the many benefits of birds and their unique contribution to the health and beauty of the natural areas in both northwestern Wyoming and around the world.

Observed each year in May to celebrate and support avian conservation, IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight—an international conservation program with a goal to reverse dwindling populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that contribute to worldwide declines.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count, please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399. To learn more about the International Migratory go to

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, May 2, 2014

National Interagency Fire Center Releases Fire Outlook

The National Interagency Fire Center has released its current significant wildland fire potential forecast for the months of May through August.

During the key travel months of July and August, Glacier National Park is within the zone of below normal wildfire potential, which obviously bodes well for travelers. A summary of the fire potential for this time period is as follows:

Above Normal - Most of California, northern Nevada, and central Oregon will continue to have above normal potential, which will also expand into eastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, and the Great Lakes region.

Normal – Southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and Alaska will return to normal fire potential.

Below Normal – Below normal potential is forecast for the northern Rockies.

Here's a map for the same time period:

You can find additional information and maps on a ten-page PDF file published by the National Interagency Fire Center by clicking here.

For the most up-to-date weather conditions and forecasts for the Glacier National Park region, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, May 1, 2014

NPS Approves & Signs FONSI for Jenny Lake Renewal Plan

The Intermountain Region of the National Park Service (NPS) approved and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Jenny Lake Renewal Plan/Environmental Assessment (Jenny Lake Plan/EA). The purpose of the Jenny Lake renewal initiative is to design and implement a master plan that provides for a safe, environmentally sensitive and enhanced visitor experience in the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park.

The FONSI determined that none of the proposed actions in the approved alternative will have a significant impact on park operations or the following resources: ethnographic, archaeological or cultural resources, including historic structures and cultural landscapes; geologic resources and vegetation; wildlife, including special status species; wilderness and natural soundscapes; and visitor experience. These changes will, however, mitigate safety concerns, protect natural and cultural resources, and improve visitors' experience of this area. The NPS, the Wyoming Historic Preservation officer, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signed a programmatic agreement outlining stipulations that Grand Teton National Park will apply to mitigate any adverse effects to cultural resources as proposed in the selected alternative.

This plan was developed to address several unfavorable conditions in the Jenny Lake area, such as: aging and/or poorly designed trails and walkways that do not meet current trail and accessibility standards; aging and failing bridges in the backcountry; user-created trails with resource degradation; compacted soils and bare ground in destination locations; limited self-guided interpretation and orientation opportunities; outdated water and wastewater systems; and inadequate restroom facilities.

The selected alternative is broken into two distinct areas: front-country sites and backcountry locations. The front-country portion of the Jenny Lake renewal initiative will make improvements to the south Jenny Lake complex, Jenny Lake overlook, and String Lake outlet. The renewal plan targets improvement of visitor circulation throughout the south Jenny Lake complex and creates enhanced visitor orientation and interpretation. The plan will also provide accessible trails, furnish additional restrooms, and rehabilitate the water and wastewater systems within the south Jenny Lake area. Backcountry improvements will include rehabilitation of the west boat dock, improvements to the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point viewing areas, and rehabilitation of trails connecting these two locations. The plan calls for replacement of unsustainable bridges and other infrastructure, as well as the improvement of circulation and crowding within two miles of the west boat dock. Key areas addressed in the backcountry portion of the plan include Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and the Cascade Creek crossing.

Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the park's primary fundraising partner, will help finance this project through their Inspiring Journeys campaign. This signature initiative to raise funds for the renewal of the highly visited Jenny Lake area will also help highlight the National Park Service's 2016 centennial milestone. For information about the Foundation or their Inspiring Journeys campaign, go to or call Leslie Mattson at 1-307-732-0629.

Implementation of the Jenny Lake Plan/EA is due to begin this spring. The full plan and FONSI can be reviewed online at

Hiking in Glacier National Park