Friday, September 28, 2018

Glacier National Park Prepares for Colder Temperatures

Glacier National Park has begun preparing for the winter season. Most concessioner operated services including hotel accommodations, horseback rides, guided hikes and boat tours have all ended. Sun Tours and Red Bus Tours will continue through mid-October. Village Inn will close October 1. National Park Service ranger-guided programs will continue into the fall and winter. Check the park’s website for scheduled activities.

The boating season is coming to a close. All waters east of the Continental Divide (including but not limited to Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake, and Swiftcurrent Lake) will close to boating on October 1. West side waters including but not limited to Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, and Kintla Lake, will close on November 1. The Apgar boat inspection station will be staffed every day from 8:00 - 4:00 in October. From October 14 - October 31, the station will be staffed by law enforcement rangers and may be intermittently closed due to medical emergencies or other law enforcement priorities. Similar to 2018, west side waters will reopen to boating in May of 2019 and east side waters will reopen in early June of 2019. Precise dates will be released in the early spring.

Many campgrounds have closed or have entered primitive status, which means that no running water is available. The only fully operational campground remaining for the season is the Apgar Campground. It will enter primitive status on October 9. More information about Glacier’s campgrounds can be found on the park’s Campground Status webpage.

Road crews have begun installing snow poles in the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The road will close in the alpine section the morning of October 15, meaning that October 14 is the last day to drive the road in its entirety before the alpine section closes for the winter. Once the alpine section of the road closes, crews will take down just under a mile of removable guardrail in eight foot sections to protect them from avalanches that cross the road all winter long, along with other winterization activities.

The park closes the Going-to-the-Sun Road in segments for the winter. The first segment to close is typically between Avalanche Creek on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side. That closure typically occurs on or before the third Monday in October, weather conditions dependent. This year, a construction project will briefly close the road at the foot of Lake McDonald from October 15-19, rather than Avalanche Creek. The road then closes at Lake McDonald Lodge on the west side and the “1.5 mile gate” just past the St. Mary Campground turnoff on the east side on December 15, weather conditions permitting. It remains closed at those gates until road crews begin the spring road opening process, which typically takes approximately 3 months, starting at the beginning of April each year.

Visitors traveling to the park for the later fall and winter months should plan on dressing warmly and prepare to be more self-sufficient as some visitor services in and immediately adjacent to the park will be closed for the season. However, multiple nearby communities remain open with a full suite of year-round services for fall and winter travelers.

Information about traveling to Glacier can be found on the park’s website including trip planning information for both fall and winter.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Yellowstone Seeks Information on Gunshots Fired in the Park - Possibly at Wolves

On September 22, 2018, rangers began investigating a report that a man had fired a shotgun at some wolves that were chasing his dog east of Sedge Bay along the East Entrance Road. Law enforcement investigated the scene and found no evidence of injured wolves but they did find shotgun shells.

It is illegal to discharge a firearm in Yellowstone National Park.

In the park, pets must be physically controlled at all times. They must be in a car, in a crate, or on a leash no more than six feet long. Pets are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Yellowstone Tip Line at 307-344-2132.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 21, 2018

Proposed Grizzly Bear Population Objectives Administrative Rule Out for Public Comment; Public hearing scheduled in Missoula September 26

A proposed administrative rule that would provide a regulatory framework for grizzly bear population objectives in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) is out for public comment through Friday, Oct. 26.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is holding hearings on the proposed rule in several communities this month, and the Missoula hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 26, 6:30pm, at the Holiday Inn Downtown (200 S. Pattee St.). FWP staff will answer questions and take public comment on the content of the proposed rule.

The rule pertains to the NCDE, which is one of six recovery areas for grizzly bears in the lower-48 states and would codify NCDE population objectives outlined in the conservation strategy recently completed and found at

Upcoming Public Hearings:

Sept. 26 – Missoula, Holiday Inn Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St., 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 – Kalispell, Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building, 777 Grandview Drive, 6:30 p.m.

Comments can be submitted during the hearings and also online at under “proposed grizzly bear ARM Rule.” Or by mail to Grizzly Bear ARM, Wildlife Division, FWP, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620-0701; or e-mail, and must be received no later than Oct. 26, 2018.


National Park Service releases Yellowstone Vital Signs Report

Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service’s Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network have released The State of Yellowstone Vital Signs and Select Park Resources, 2017. Vital signs highlighted in the 60-page report include the status of animal species like bison and grizzly bears, ecosystem-altering forces like climate and fire, and much more. Park and network staff compiled the report with input from park researchers.

“We are pleased to release this report to inform park staff and the public about the status and trends of our resources, and to provide updates on monitoring activities and management actions related to those resources,” said Yellowstone Center for Resources Chief Jennifer Carpenter.

“This report integrates up-to-date information on park resources from many sources, including the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring program,” added Greater Yellowstone Network Program Manager Kristin Legg. “Partnerships within the parks and with collaborators are critical to ensuring long-term conservation of America’s national treasures.”

Download the report at or Yellowstone previously published Vital Signs reports in 2008, 2011, and 2013.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

West Side of Going-to-the-Sun Reopens to Private Vehicles

The Going-to-the-Sun Road has reopened to private vehicle travel between Apgar and Logan Pass. It is now possible to drive the entire length of the road.

The west side of the road was closed on August 12 when the Howe Ridge Fire grew significantly, burning structures and threatening the road corridor.

Drivers will not be able to stop along the road between Lake McDonald Lodge and the Avalanche Creek developed area. Avalanche is open for day use recreation, including day use areas, restrooms, the Trail of the Cedars, and the Avalanche Lake Trail. Flattop Trail and The Loop Trail are also reopening.

Winter weather has begun in some areas of the park. Intermittent snow has fallen at Logan Pass. While most trails remain open, visitors should come prepared for changing conditions and pack extra layers in the event that they encounter cold conditions as they travel throughout the park.

Access to Logan Pass will close on or before the third Monday in October for the winter season, weather conditions dependent. This year, that date is October 15th, meaning that October 14th is the last day to drive the entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

A culvert project near the Apgar area is scheduled to begin on October 15th, which will necessitate a temporary road closure at the foot of Lake McDonald from October 15-19 before the road reopens to Avalanche, as is customary for the fall season.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fire Danger has Increased to Very High: Exceptionally Dry Conditions Exist in Grand Teton

The fire danger rating has been elevated to very high for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, National Elk Refuge, and remaining portions of the Teton Interagency Dispatch area.

The area has seen exceptionally dry conditions since the last appreciable rain in late August, and fuel conditions are at their driest of the season. In addition, several days of red flag warnings have elevated local fire conditions. A red flag warning is issued by the National Weather Service when relative humidity is expected to be at or below 15% and strong gusty winds are anticipated, and conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion and rapid spread. Red flag warnings have been issued for the Teton Interagency and surrounding areas each day since late last week. Under these conditions, local residents and visitors alike should practice heightened fire safety at all times.

When the fire danger is very high, fires can start easily from both human-caused and natural causes and, immediately after ignition, spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. Small fires can quickly become large fires and be difficult to control. They often become longer-lasting fires, exhibiting extreme fire behavior and requiring more personnel and resources. When determining fire danger, fire managers use several indicators such as the moisture content of grasses, shrubs, and trees; projected weather conditions including temperatures and possible wind events; the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and availability of firefighting resources across the country.

Over the past several days, multiple fires have started on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park. The two largest fires are the Roosevelt Fire on the Big Piney District and the Marten Creek Fire on the Greys River District, both located on the national forest. Additional fires are burning in Grand Teton National Park and the Blackrock and Pinedale Districts of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. For current information and media releases on any fires in the area, check the Teton Interagency Fire website at

At this time of the season, fire resources are stretched thin as employees finish their seasons and crews are released for the year. Many visitors and recreationists may drop their guard as nights get colder and fires season seems to wane. As hunting season picks up in the area, it is especially important to extinguish warming fires and campfires before leaving the area. Ensure all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving your site. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended. The fine for an abandoned campfire is $225, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire.

To report a fire or smoke in the immediate area, call the Teton Interagency Fire Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Going-to-the-Sun Road Temporary Road Closure at Apgar Scheduled this Fall for Culvert Project

A new culvert construction project is scheduled for this fall along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, four miles up Lake McDonald. Fire conditions permitting, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be temporarily closed from Apgar Loop Road at the foot of Lake McDonald to Avalanche from October 15-19, 2018. Access to Apgar Village and the Apgar Visitor Center will still be available during the week. The closure is timed to coincide with the third Monday of October, the day the Going-to-the-Sun Road typically closes in the alpine section for the winter.

Hiker-biker access between October 15 and 19 is not anticipated. Administrative and local resident traffic will be permitted from 7:00 am-7:30 am, from 3:30 pm-4:00 pm, and after 6:00 pm daily during construction.

Last year the park undertook a significant culvert replacement initiative at the same location, successfully installing two large culverts. However, drainage is not behaving as anticipated, and the park is installing a third large culvert to continue to address this frequent flooding issue on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

On October 20, access to Avalanche will once again reopen, fire conditions permitting, and will remain open until the gate closes at Lake McDonald Lodge for the winter on or before December 15. Hiker-biker access will resume above the Avalanche gate on October 20. Standard hiker-biker restrictions will be in place as road winterizing procedures begin to ensure pedestrian and work crew safety.

October 14 will be the last day that visitors are able to drive to Logan Pass from both the east and west side as the park road crew begins to winterize the road, including removing log barriers to protect them from avalanche hazards, removing directional signs, and installing snow poles.

This project is a part of the larger rehabilitation efforts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in partnership with the Federal Highways Administration. Other road rehabilitation projects underway in 2018 include slump improvements on the Many Glacier Road, road grading/gravel replacement on Bowman Lake Road, and Avalanche Campground Road, which will be closed for approximately two weeks beginning September 17 for repairs, fire conditions permitting.

In the fall, construction on the roads in front of the Many Glacier Hotel and the upper parking lot will begin. This is part of the larger rehabilitation project for the section of the Many Glacier Road from Babb, MT, to the park boundary, and from the Many Glacier entrance station into the Many Glacier Valley.

The St. Mary Entrance Station will also undergo additional changes this fall and into the spring following its construction last year to extend the building height for oversized vehicles. No significant traffic delays are expected with that work.

Looking ahead to 2019, the park expects to undertake a significant routine pavement preservation project. Pavement preservation lays layers of a protective coating over the road, extending the life of the pavement substantially. The preservation work includes the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road, Chief Mountain Road, a portion of the Camas Road, Apgar Village Loop, and other minor areas. The work requires dry and moderately warm conditions to cure. The park expects some Going-to-the-Sun Road closures related to this work. Further details about pavement preservation in 2019 will be released this winter.

The park will also repair portions of the Inside North Fork Road. The Anaconda area in need of substantial repair will not be addressed within the scope of this more minor repair. However, construction will occur at “Lover’s Leap” and Logging Creek. When completed, visitors will be able to drive the Inside North Fork Road to just north of Anaconda Creek from the Polebridge Entrance, and the Dutch Creek Trailhead from the Fish Creek Entrance. Note that the Inside North Fork Road is not the main “North Fork Road” that provides access to Polebridge and other neighboring communities.

Funding dependent, sections of Camas Road may also undergo rehabilitation. Additional details will be available in 2019 if this project is scheduled.

Current information about park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services can be found by visiting Glacier National Park’s website at or by calling park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Please note that as of the writing of this press release, the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road has been temporarily closed due to Howe Ridge Fire activity adjacent to the Going-to-the-Sun Road.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Interagency Firefighters Respond to Leigh Canyon Fire in Grand Teton National Park

Teton Interagency firefighters responded to the Leigh Canyon Fire Saturday afternoon after reports of smoke in the area. Fire management staff are monitoring the fire and assessing management options for the long term management of the fire. The fire is located about one mile above Leigh Canyon from the west side of Leigh Lake at about 7,600 feet in elevation in Grand Teton National Park. As of Saturday evening, the size of the fire is estimated to be around three and a half acres with some spotting of downed logs in avalanche debris which caused smoke to be visible from the roads. The fire cause is unknown.

The Leigh Canyon Fire is being closely monitored by both ground and aerial resources. The fire is in a remote area and priority is firefighter and public safety. Monitoring of the fire will continue overnight.

Grand Teton National Park has evacuated three Leigh Lake backcountry campsites including 16, 14A, and 14B on the west shore of Leigh Lake. Backcountry permits are not being issued for the CMC camp on Mount Moran, campsites near Leigh Lake, Bearpaw Lake and Trapper Lake, Bearpaw Bay, and Little Grassy Island as a precautionary measure. Campers and hikers using Paintbrush Canyon and to southern Leigh Lake should be alert and prepared to modify their plans if fire behavior changes.

Grand Teton National Park was under Red Flag warning until 7 p.m. today due to high winds and low humidity. Tomorrow, lighter winds, slightly cooler temperatures, and more humidity is expected.

Fire plays a vital role in the ecosystem reducing fuel loads, allowing future fires to not grow as rapidly. Fire management objectives include firefighter and public safety, park, and forest infrastructure; while monitoring the fire as it fulfills its natural role on the landscape. Management strategies will adjust to changing conditions.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Grizzly Bear Killed in Train Collision Near West Glacier

A male grizzly bear was killed in a train collision earlier this week on the railroad tracks near West Glacier.

The 2-year-old bear was wearing a GPS radio collar, which notified Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks of the animal’s location near Nyack Flats. The collision occurred on the evening of Sept. 10, 2018. FWP personnel retrieved the carcass the next morning and confirmed the cause of death through a necropsy. FWP notified BNSF Railway and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bear was originally captured and fitted with a radio collar at the end of May east of Bigfork and it was translocated to the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir.

So far this year, 33 grizzly bear mortalities have been identified in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem due to a variety of circumstances, including management action, collisions, and augmentation. Bears are classified as mortalities if they die, are taken to an accredited zoo or research facility if possible, or euthanized. One-to-two bears are annually targeted for relocation to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem as part of an augmentation program.

The NCDE is home to more than 1,000 grizzly bears. The NCDE is a designated grizzly bear recovery zone that spans Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests and a significant amount of state and private lands.

FWP maintains a population monitoring program and follows protocols and management objectives that are designed to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the NCDE. This includes tracking known mortalities, whether bears are killed or removed from the population for a variety of circumstances, and notifying the public.

Right now bears are actively seeking food sources before the winter denning season, and residents are urged to reduce or secure attractants. FWP Region 1 has recently seen an uptick in reports of bears approaching food sources, such as fruit trees and garbage.

More safety information is available on the FWP website, Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Grand Teton To Observe National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 22

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, and in recognition, Grand Teton National Park entrance fees will be waived and volunteer opportunities will be available on Saturday, September 22. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort. It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and general health.

Volunteers are invited to join park staff to work on the Taggart Lake trail from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 22. Work will include construction of buck and rail fencing and trail de-compaction and maintenance with light to moderate physical activity. All ages and skill levels are encouraged. Volunteers will need to bring water for the day, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes, and clothing to match the weather. Those interested in volunteering should register by contacting Angela Timby at 307-739-3379 or in order for tools and vehicles to be coordinated. Work gloves, tools, and safety equipment will be provided and all volunteers will receive a voucher that can be used for a one-time entry into any public land site that charges an entrance fee. Participants should meet at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 9:45 a.m.

National Public Lands Day is organized annually by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in cooperation with Department of the Interior, Department of the Army, and Department of Agriculture. The National Park Service is one of the event’s largest providers of sites and volunteers. Other participating federal agencies include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and US Army Corps of Engineers. National Public Lands Day is celebrated across the country to encourage enjoyment and volunteer opportunities on public lands.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Grand Teton Publishes Fall Closing Dates for Park Facilities and Services

The closing dates for seasonally operated facilities in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway were published yesterday, and are available here.


Monday, September 10, 2018

State Trails Advisory Committee Meeting in Great Falls -Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Montana State Parks ( announced today that the citizen Montana State Trails Advisory Committee (STAC) will hold a meeting on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 from 8:30am-3:30pm at the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 4 Headquarters, located at 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT.

The committee will advise on a number of trail issues, including FY2019 Recreational Trails Program guidelines and miscellaneous trail-related topics. 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 meeting is open to the public. For more information contact Michelle McNamee, Recreational Trails Program Manager at (406) 444-7642 or

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

What: Montana State Trails Advisory Committee Meeting

When: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 from 8:30am to 3:30pm

Where: Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 4 Headquarters, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Glacier National Park Offering Limited Shuttle and Tour Access From West Side of Going-to-the-Sun Road beginning September 7

Glacier National Park, in coordination with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 has begun preparations to allow limited visitor access on the currently closed west side portion of the Going-to- the-Sun Road.

Based on information from fire managers on the Howe Ridge Fire, the park will offer limited shuttle and tour access from the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road beginning September 7. The road was originally closed for public safety on August 12 when the Howe Ridge Fire on the west side of Lake McDonald threatened the area due to extreme fire behavior, resulting in structure loss, evacuations, and significant fire traffic on the road.

Visitors will be required to use shuttle or tour services to travel through the closed area in order to provide for visitor safety and firefighter access in the fire closure area. Shuttles will not stop between Apgar and Logan Pass. Currently, private vehicles will not be allowed due to significant ongoing fire traffic operating in the closed area. Shuttle and tour services will provide visitors with access to the popular Logan Pass Visitor Center via the West Glacier Park Entrance. Shuttle capacity will be limited.

Visitors will be able to ride the park shuttle system with a free park shuttle pass, available beginning at 7:30 am each day at the Apgar Visitor Center Shuttle Stop. The passes will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Shuttles will depart every 30 minutes. The last shuttle will depart at 1:30 pm. The last returning shuttle from Logan Pass will depart at 4 pm.

Concessioner operated Sun Tours and Red Bus Tours will also operate in the closure area. Visitors who would like to make reservations with Sun Tours should visit the Sun Tours website. Visitors who would like to make reservations for a Red Bus Tour should visit the Glacier National Park Lodges website.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains open to private vehicles from St. Mary to Logan Pass, accessible from the east side of the park. Since the Howe Ridge Fire began on August 11, visitor services have continued in all other areas of the park, and numerous visitors continue to access the park via the St. Mary Entrance as well as the Many Glacier and Two Medicine park areas.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Conquering A Granite Goliath

Below is an outstanding short film by Christopher R. Abbey on what it's like to climb 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. The film has recently become an official selection for the Highlands Park Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

CONQUERING A GRANITE GOLIATH - Summiting Mount Whitney from Christopher R. Abbey on Vimeo.