Glacier National Park encompasses over one million acres of pristine wilderness in northwest Montana and with its Canadian partner, Waterton Lakes Park in Alberta, BC, forms the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Named for the glaciers that etched the rugged Rocky Mountains during the last ice age, Glacier National Park is a geological and ecological wonder. From soaring mountain spires with colored sedimentary layers to deep blue alpine lakes and carved out glacial prairies, the history of the glaciers is everywhere. There are still 25 “active” glaciers within the Park and many of the glacial snowfields never lose their snow in summer.
The engineering triumph of the Going-to-the Sun Road in 1932 opened the heart of Glacier for all to see. This historic 52-mile road spans the width of Glacier Park and from either direction, climbs to breathtaking heights and panoramic vistas before reaching the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. It’s a driving adventure you’ll never forget! Or, if you’d rather leave the driving to others, sit back in comfort in an open-air famous 1930’s era red “Jammer” bus and enjoy an interpretive tour of Glacier’s history, flora and fauna – and probably some of its folklore.
Of the 762 lakes the glaciers left behind, none is more majestic than Lake McDonald, only minutes from Green Valley Ranch. In every season Lake McDonald offers magnificent views into Glacier, the “Crown of the Continent.” Tour the legendary Lake McDonald Lodge and enjoy a scenic lake cruise on the historic wooden DeSmet or rent a small boat at Apgar where there is a public boat launch, fishing and swimming. Or take the short hike from the bridge at McDonald Creek up to McDonald Falls to experience glacial waters’ mighty force.
Glacier is bordered by two beautiful rivers – the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western line, and the Middle Fork of the Flathead which defines the Park’s southern boundary. The headwaters of the Upper Middle Fork are considered to be the most pristine in the lower 48 states. Both rivers are a haven for trout, including native Westslope Cutthroats. From deep canyons for quiet fishing and bird-watching to exciting whitewater for rafting and kayaking, these waters offer unlimited enjoyment for all.
Northwest Montana is home to the largest and most diverse wildlife population in the continental U.S. Bears, especially Glacier’s famous grizzlies, share the forests with wolves, mountain lions, foxes, wolverines, coyotes, bobcats and lynx. Their “hooved” counterparts include moose, elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Other fun smaller wildlife sightings might include whistling marmots, Columbian ground squirrels, ptarmigans, grouse, loons, pine martens, barred and snowy owls, beavers, harlequin ducks , osprey and bald eagles. And any number of Rocky Mountain songbirds!
However you experience Glacier – hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping, rafting, sightseeing by car or flying over the Park by helicopter – it will undoubtedly be an experience of a lifetime.