Glacier National Park Sprague Fire Overview 09/14/17

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Sprague Fire from the shore of Lake McDonald at Apgar Village

SPRAGUE FIRE OVERVIEW 09/14/17
Below is a brief overview of the major events involved in the growth of the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park, from its beginning on August 10th, through today, September 14th at 3:40 pm.

On the evening of August 10th, 2017, lightning struck a tree covered slope near Crystal Ford above the Gunsight Pass Trail. This trail was the main trail to the Sperry Chalet, which is a historic back country National Historic Landmark located about 6 miles above the trail head at Lake McDonald Lodge. This was a direct hit in the heart of the Lake McDonald Area, where several historic buildings were in close proximity.


Lake McDonald Lodge

According to high level Glacier National Park officials, who we personally spoke with after the September 6th public meeting at West Glacier, because the fire conditions were so severe, the 2017 summer policy for ALL forest fires in Glacier Park was “put it out immediately” instead of the “let it burn” policy that is typically used for natural, lightning caused fires.


Canadian “Super Scooper” dropping water on Sprague Fire

So when the Sprague Fire was reported on the evening of August 10th, the next day eleven fire fighters rappelled out of helicoptors to attempt to fight it. Helicopters dropped 48,000 gallons of water the first day, and 98,000 gallons of water the second day, while the ground crew did what they could do to suppress the fire. According to Glacier Park officials, the fire became a tree fire almost immediately, and became a very hot fire shortly after it started. Unfortunately, the efforts made by the fire fighters proved to be ineffective in stopping the momentum of the Sprague Fire. And at this point, the NPS felt it was then too dangerous to bring in more personnel to fight the fire on the ground at that point in time. Several other lightning caused fires throughout the park during this period were successfully suppressed, but not the Sprague Fire.


Sperry Chalet

By the evening of August 10th (day five) the Sprague Fire grew to 100 acres, and the next day it doubled in size, and became a very serious force to be reckoned with from that point forward as this menacing Glacier Park fire was very close to the historic Sperry Chalet, the historic Lake McDonald Lodge and the historic Mount Brown Lookout. Other concerns were the Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Lake Trail and Avalanche Campground, which were only 6 miles down wind of the fire.


Sprague Fire

The Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park continued to grow, and on August 31st the winds picked up and the fire aggressively made its way up the slopes toward the Sperry Chalet. At approximately 6:00 pm that evening, the Sperry Chalet was overtaken by fire and burned to the ground. The six fire fighters on the ground assigned to protect this national historic landmark, and the four support helicopters, were unsuccessful in their attempt to save it. The fire doubled in size on that fateful day, growing from 2,549 acres to 4,646 acres by that evening.  On a personal note, we were devastated by the news, just as everyone who has ever spent time at this charming back country chalet.  Truly a rare, national treasure was lost that night, and there will forever be a deep dark “hole” where the Sperry Chalet once stood for over one hundred years.


Sperry Chalet

With the loss of the Sperry Chalet and due to the dramatic growth of the fire, officials dramatically ramped up the fire fight. Their immediate concern was the possibility of losing the historic Lake McDonald Lodge, which was less than two miles from the advancing Sprague Fire.


Lake McDonald Lodge

On September 3rd, because a major wind shift was predicted in the forecast, there was an evacuation order issued for the Lake McDonald Lodge area and north lake area.  At 9:00 pm a strong east wind hit the area, causing the Sprague Fire to essentially blow up and reaching 9,403 acres before the winds subsided. All structures remained intact, and the fire remained one mile from the historic lodge. Sophisticated water systems, including “Rain for Rent”, at Lake McDonald Lodge, Trail of the Cedars boardwalk and Avalanche Campground, and have been dowsing these areas ever since to hopefully protect these areas in the event of an aggressive run by the Sprague Fire.


Super Scooper fighting the Sprague Fire

The fire continued to grow, even with an aggressive fire fight with two Canadian “Super Scoopers” and multiple helicopters, and on September 13th, because yet another threat of a wind shift, an evacuation warning was issued for Apgar Village and most of West Glacier. This wind shift was caused by a system bringing in hopefully moisture in the form of both rain and snow, as well as cold temperatures. This system is possibly the break everyone was hoping for.


Sprague Fire at dusk

Today is September 14th, 2017, and the cold weather has come into the area. Fortunately wind shift the evening before did not create much fire growth, however the evacuation warning is still in effect. As far as precipitation, there has been very little as of 3:49 pm this afternoon, but it’s early and everyone is still hopeful. The cold air has dramatically increased the humidity, which will very much help slow the fire down in and of itself.


Trail of the Cedars

In the days ahead, we will continue to keep our readers informed on what is undoubtedly one of the most potentially destructive fires Glacier National Park has experienced in recent years. Hopefully the continued aggressive fire fight by our brave and tireless fire fighters, in combination with colder and wetter conditions, the Sprague Fire will be contained… with hopefully all remaining structures and iconic destinations intact.

CLICK HERE for official information and current updates on the Sprague Fire.

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Glacier Park Day Hike: Olson Creek Valley

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Glacier Park Day Hike:  Olson Creek Valley

Olson Creek Valley
Among the many outstanding Glacier National Park Hikes that hikers can enjoy is the amazing hike through Olson Creek Valley. Part of the Boulder Pass Trail that begins at Kintla Lake and ends at Goat Haunt Montana, this amazing day hike includes such landmarks as Lake Janet, Lake Francis, Thunderbird Pond and Brown Pass… all of which are part of the remote Northern Wilderness of Glacier National Park.

This 8.6 mile hike up the Olson Creek Valley in Glacier National Park is one of the most scenic Glacier Park hiking trails we’ve ever been on.  Beginning at Goat Haunt Montana, this Glacier Park hiking trail runs up the middle of the Olson Creek Valley along the Boulder Pass Trail, and “ends” at Brown Pass. The mountains surrounding this remote lush green valley are incredible, as well as the chain of 3 lakes found along this unbelievably scenic area of Glacier National Park.

Trailhead
The trailhead begins just beyond the Goat Haunt Ranger Station in Glacier National Park, which is actually the trailhead for the Waterton Lake Trail. In just one half mile you will encounter the Boulder Pass Trail Junction, and it is here that you begin your gradual ascent of 1,900 vertical feet in 8.6 miles. As you hike westward up this famous Glacier Park hiking trail (Boulder Pass Trail), you will encounter 3 lakes that are so beautiful that they will literally take your breath away.

Lake Janet
Lake Janet is the first lake you will encounter on your Glacier Park hiking adventure. Especially in the morning, when the water is completely calm and the sky is crystal clear, Lake Janet is gorgeous. The huge peaks of the Porcupine Ridge reflect in the water, and the image this creates is better than a post card. Also located at Lake Janet is the Lake Janet Backcountry Campground which is used by backpackers who are coming down from either Boulder Pass, Hole In The Wall, or Brown Pass along the Boulder Pass Trail.

The only thing missing at Lake Janet Lake is a nice beach… but I guess we can’t have everything!

Lake Francis
The next lake you will encounter as you hike up the Olson Creek Valley along the Boulder Pass Trail is the amazing Lake Francis, and it just might be one the prettiest lakes not only in Glacier National Park but in all of North America. Nestled below unbelievably high walls, this turquoise-colored glacial lake is breathtakingly beautiful. There is an amazing beach that is located at the center of this great amphitheater, and you will be in awe of the size of these vertical walls that tower above the lake, as well as the overall beauty of the surroundings. Waterfalls that originate at Dixon Glacier cascade down these enormous walls into Lake Francis, which makes for an even more spectacular sight.

To get to the beach on Lake Francis, you must hike through the Lake Francis Backcountry Campground. This campground is an extremely popular place for Glacier National Park hikers to spend the night during their multi-day backpacking trips along the Boulder Pass Trail, and because there are only 2 campsites, it’s rather hard to get a spot. But if you don’t, don’t worry because the Hawksbill Backcountry Campground is just up the trail from Lake Francis.

Fun Day Hike From Goat Haunt!
The Olson Creek Valley is without question on of the most scenic valleys in Glacier Park, but is mainly only enjoyed by multi-day hikers heading east on the Boulder Pass Trail from Kintla Lake and planning on ending their hike at Goat Haunt, Montana.  What many people do not realize that the Olson Creek Valley is a very fun and easy day hike if you start at Goat Haunt early in the morning by taking the first Waterton Boat Tour boat from Waterton Village into Goat Haunt, and then taking the last boat back to Waterton Village.  If you want to see seldom seen scenery that is absolutely breathtaking, then consider this wonderful hike.

CLICK HERE for all the details on the hike through Olson Creek Valley

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Yellowstone Park Lodging Facilities

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Yellowstone Park Lodging Facilities
There are six locations in Yellowstone National Park that provide Yellowstone Park lodging facilities such as lodges, hotels, motels and/or cabins. These Yellowstone lodging options are conveniently located throughout Yellowstone Park, and are outlined below….

1. Mammoth Hot Springs Area
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Mammoth Hot Springs Cabins

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins are located near the north entrance of Yellowstone Park, and is a very popular Yellowstone Park lodging choice for visitors exploring the northern region of Yellowstone Park. The historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is one of only two Yellowstone Park lodging facilities that are open for both the summer and winter season, as is located on the only road in Yellowstone Park that is open all year round for wheeled vehicles. This road runs from Gardiner Montana (located at the north entrance) to Silver Gate and Cooke City Montana, via Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley. During the summer season, there are several cabin rental options in addition to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

Click Here for all the details on Yellowstone Park lodging options at Mammoth Hot Springs.

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2. Tower/Roosevelt Area
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins

Along the Grand Loop heading east from Mammoth Hot Springs, the next area that provides Yellowstone Park lodging facilities is the Tower/Roosevelt Area, known as Tower Junction. The Roosevelt Lodge and area was President Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite places in Yellowstone Park, and is still the best place to visit if you’re looking for a true “Old West” feeling. Not only are there cabins available, but also Old West Cookouts, Stagecoach Rides and Horseback rides are provided.

Click Here for all the details on Yellowstone Park lodging options at Roosevelt.

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3. Canyon Village
Canyon Lodge
Canyon Cabins

Canyon Village is located very close to the world famous Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and provides Yellowstone Park lodging options for park visitors who are exploring this iconic area. There are two lodges available that have guest rooms, as well as a main lodge that provides a restaurant and gift shop. In addition to the Canyon Lodge, there are also cabins available.

For all the details on the Yellowstone Park lodging options at Canyon Village, click here.

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4. Lake Village
Lake Yellowstone Hotel
Lake Yellowstone Cabins
Lake Lodge Cabins

Lake Village is located along the northern shore of the legendary Yellowstone Lake, and is yet another popular location for park visitors seeking Yellowstone Park lodging facilities during their Yellowstone Park vacation. Yellowstone Park lodging facilities include the iconic Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins, and the Lake Lodge Cabins. Built in 1891, the historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel is the oldest Yellowstone Park lodging structure in Yellowstone Park, and is an iconic symbol of Yellowstone National Park.

For all the details on the Yellowstone Park lodging options at Lake Village, click here.

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5. Old Faithful Area
Old Faithful Inn
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
Old Faithful Lodge Cabins

The Old Faithful Area is an extremely popular Yellowstone Park lodging choice for visitors, and it includes the Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins, and Old Faithful Lodge Cabins. And due to the popularity of the Old Faithful Inn, known as “The Old House” is without question the most popular Yellowstone Park lodging facility in the park, and requires reservations far in advance. Built in 1999, The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is the newest Yellowstone Park lodging facility, and is open for both the summer and winter seasons.

For all the details on the Yellowstone Park lodging options at Old Faithful, click here.

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6. Grant Village
Grant Village Lodging Complex

Grant Village is the closest Yellowstone Park lodging facility to Grand Teton National Park, and is located along the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake just south the the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Completed in 1984, the Grant Village Lodging Complex includes 6 two-story buildings and have 50 units in each.

For all the details on the Yellowstone Park lodging options at Grant Village, click here.

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Waterton Lakes National Park: Our Newest Park Featured On EnjoyYourParks.com!

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Waterton Lakes National Park: Our Newest Park Featured On EnjoyYourParks.com!
We are extremely excited to announce to our viewers that we have just added Waterton Lakes National Park to our EnjoyYourParks.com website. We’ve spend 30+ years in and around this incredible park, and we are now going to share everything we’ve learned with you. You will know exactly where to go, what to do and where to see animals in Waterton Lakes National Park, including our list of the Top Ten Things To Do In Waterton Lakes National Park!

Waterton Lakes National Park is located in Alberta, Canada, and shares the northern boundary of Glacier National Park, Montana, U.S.A. This 124,800 acre national park is incredibly scenic, as well as being a great place to watch and observe wildlife. Towering mountains, crystal clear streams, lakes and gorgeous forests are waiting for you at Waterton Lakes National Park, as well as an extremely popular boat tour on Waterton Lake that takes you to the remote area of Goat Haunt, Montana, which is the gateway to the northern wilderness of Glacier National Park.

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
On June 8, 1932, Waterton Lakes National Park was “combined” with Glacier National Park, Montana to become the world’s first “International Peace Park”. This is a shining tribute to the peaceful and friendly relationship that exists between Canada and the United States of America, and this example has been duplicated throughout the world ever since this first International Peace Park was created.

Red Rock Parkway
The Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park is a paved road that allows visitors to drive into the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park. This wonderful, winding two lane road is a great place to see not only amazing landscape, but it is also a fantastic road to see wildlife such as black bear, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and moose. Along the Red Rock Parkway are several outstanding hiking trails, such as Crandell Lake Trail, Blakiston Falls Trail, Blakiston Valley Trail and Snowshoe Trail.

One of the highlights of the Red Rock Parkway is Red Rock Canyon. This bright red-colored canyon is a fun place for families to play and relax in Red Rock Creek, and you can even walk up the creek into a narrow section of Red Rock Canyon, with towering red cliffs soaring above you on each side.

For more information on the Red Rock Parkway, click here.

Akamina Parkway
The Akamina Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park is another incredibly popular parkway that takes you into the interior of this scenic park. This 9.4 mile drive allows you access to several terrific hiking trails, such as Crandell Lake Trail, Lineham Falls Trail, Rowe Lakes Trail, Tamarack Trail and Akamina Ridge.

The entire drive is extremely scenic and enjoyable, and at the end of the Akamina Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park, the ever-popular Cameron Lake awaits you, which will take your breath away. This gorgeous sub-alpine lake is a popular place to canoe, boat and kayak, and the scenery is spectacular. Mount Custer rises above the lake to south, which is the perfect backdrop to this pristine lake.

For more information on the Akamina Parkway, click here.

Waterton Lake Boat Tour
Without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park is to take an historic wooden boat tour across the gigantic Waterton Lake. This famous Waterton Lake Boat Tour takes you about 9 miles through the scenic Waterton Valley, and halfway through the tour you will cross the U.S./Canadian Border, where you will then enter Glacier National Park Montana. At the head of the lake, the historic boat “International” stops at Goat Haunt, Montana, which is the gateway to the remote northern wilderness of Glacier National Park. There you can take one of several hikes that are available here, or simply explore the immediate area and return to the boat for the tour back to Waterton Park Townsite, which is where this spectacular tour began.

For more information on the Waterton Lake Boat Tour, click here.

Crypt Lake Trail
One of the most popular hikes in Waterton Lakes National Park is the Crypt Lake Trail. This amazing hike includes 3 major waterfalls, a 100 foot natural rock tunnel, a steel ladder, and a cable to hold onto as you hike above a harrowing cliff! And how you get to the trailhead is by taking a 15 minute boat shuttle to what is known as “Crypt Landing”, which is across Waterton Lake and is where your Crypt Lake Trail hiking adventure begins.

For more information on the Crypt Lake Trail, click here.

Waterton Park Townsite
In the center of Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the most charming and adorable little towns you’ll ever see in your life. Waterton Park Townsite is so neat and clean, and with such a wonderfully perfect little main street it reminds us of Disneyland! There is wonderful shopping, dining, hotels, cabins, and some of the best ice cream you will ever taste! Exploring the main street of Waterton Park Townsite is the perfect end to a great day on the parkways, boat tour, or on one of the many hiking trails.

For more information on Waterton Park Townsite, click here.

Prince of Wales Hotel
Resting above Waterton Park Townsite high on a bluff is the historic Prince of Wales Hotel. This beautiful hotel was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1927, and is absolutely oozing with “old-world charm.” It’s Swiss-like architecture is wonderful, and the grand room has huge picture windows allowing for an incredible view of Waterton Lake and the spectacular Waterton Valley. The Prince of Wales Hotel is a popular attraction for visitors of Waterton Lakes National Park, and is also a popular place to stay while spending time in this wondrous park.

For more information on the Prince of Wales Hotel, click here.

And there is much, much more at Waterton Lakes National Park!
We touched on some of the most popular attractions in Waterton Lakes National Park in this article, but there are of course many more things to see, things to do, and things to explore that we didn’t have time to mention on this blog. All we can say is that you’ll be glad you added Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada to your vacation itinerary. The scenery, the animals, the hiking trails, the boat tour, and the charming camelot of Waterton Park Townsite makes for a wonderful vacation for the entire family.

For all the details on Waterton Lakes National Park, click here.

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Short & Easy Hikes in Glacier Park: Our Ten Favorite

 

 

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Short & Easy Hikes in Glacier Park: Our Ten Favorite
We’ve hiked every trail in Glacier National Park, and we feel that Glacier Park provides some of the best day hikes and overnight backpacking adventures in the world.  No matter what type of trail you are looking for, and no matter what level of difficulty, Glacier Park has the perfect trail(s) for you.  For those of you who are interested in gorgeous Glacier Park day hikes that are very easy short, and yet provides hikers with spectacular scenery, then you’ve come to the right place…

We’ve just completed a page that outlines our Top Ten Favorite Short and Easy Hikes in Glacier National Park.  And even though they’re short and they’re easy without much elevation gain, the rewards are huge.  You will enjoy every single one of these hikes!

The  following Short & Easy Glacier Park Hikes are not listed in any particular order…

Trail of the Cedars

Red Rock Falls / Fisher Cap Lake

Grinnell Lake

Sun Point

Swiftcurrent Lake Loop Trail

Trick Falls

St. Mary Falls / Virginia Falls

Hidden Lake Trail

Highline Trail

South Shore Trail, Two Medicine Lake

Again, the great thing about these wonderful Glacier Park Day Hikes is even though they are quite short and do not require a lot of elevation gain, the scenery is fantastic and the hikes are extremely rewarding.

And here’s some more wonderful short and easy Glacier National Park hikes that didn’t make the top ten list but should have….

Avalanche Lake

South Shore Lake Josephine Trail

North Shore Lake Josephine Trail

Baring Falls

Bowman Lake Trail

North Shore Kintla Lake Trail

Johns Lake Loop Trail (coming soon)

So for those of you who are looking for some high quality Glacier National Park Hikes, and yet don’t want to deal with a 25 mile day or a lot of elevation gain, then these trails that we’ve just listed are perfect for you!

To visit this new page detailing our favorite short and easy Glacier Park hikes, click here.

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Climbing Glacier Park: Grizzlies on the Summit of Rising Wolf Mountain

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Climbing Glacier Park:
Grizzlies on the Summit of Rising Wolf Mountain
My wife Shannon and I love to climb mountains in Glacier National Park, and having over 100 summits under our belt, we’ve had our share of amazing situations while climbing these incredible peaks. One such amazing situation was when we climbed Rising Wolf Mountain several years ago.

Rising Wolf Mountain is located in the Two Medicine Area of Glacier National Park. We were looking forward to seeing the views from the summit of this famous mountain as it is the tallest mountain in the area. It was mid August, which is prime time for grizzly activity in the high country because of the moth larvae that are located under rocks on the alpine slopes and ridges. Grizzly bears love these larvae because they are packed with protein, and this draws them to these high altitudes. This grizzly behavior is known as “mothing”, and it can make mountain climbing in Glacier National Park quite interesting at times.

As we made our way up to Dawson Pass we were fully aware of the grizzly situation, and we knew that the long ridge between Flinsch Peak and Rising Wolf Mountain commonly had grizzlies “mothing” on it during the month of August, and this was the route that we had chosen. We’ve been around grizzlies our entire lives, and we always do our best to avoid encounters with them by talking loud and letting the grizzlies know we are in the area. We also ALWAYS carry bear spray just in case.

As we began working our way up the south slope of Flinsch Peak from Dawson Pass, and as we eventually reached the long west ridge located between Flinsch Peak and Rising Wolf Mountain, we noticed that there was a lot of evidence of recent “mothing” activity by grizzlies. So we were definitely on the “alert” as we made our way along this long ridge that would eventually take us to the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain.

Along the ridge, we did not see any recent signs of “mothing”, and did not see any other signs of grizzlies in the area, so we were hoping that the grizzly (or grizzlies) that were mothing under Flinsch Peak were not on this ridge as of yet. We didn’t let our guard down, but we were admittedly more relaxed. It was a gorgeous morning, and we were excited to get to the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain early while the light was still good.

Everything was going great as we began scrambling up the last thousand feet above the ridge toward the summit, and the views started to really get good. We saw no signs of grizzlies up to this point, so most of our attention was on getting to the summit so we could enjoy the view and start snapping photographs. We also stopped talking loud, thinking we were “out of the woods” as far as grizzlies were concerned. Shannon and I then reached the final hundred yards of scrambling, and the summit cairn was in sight.

Just as we reached the summit cairn, our day changed in an instant. We had just hiked, scrambled and climbed over 11 miles, and were ready for an enjoyable hour or so on the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain in Glacier National Park, but instead we found ourselves staring at a grizzly sow and young cub who were on the other side of the summit cairn.

We instantly froze and began to softly and gently say “nice bear, nice bear” as we began slowly backing up. As we were backing up we were also removing the safety pins from our bear sprays. The sow and cub both looked at us, and fortunately began to walk away from the cairn (and us) until they reached a snow field about 100 yards east of the summit. The sow then stopped and just stared at us… which made us feel a little uncomfortable. Then the tiny cub began to play with its mom. The mom responded by beginning to “play wrestle” with this tiny little cub, making the cub think it was actually “winning” the wrestling match. It was one of the cutest and most amazing sessions we’ve ever witnessed with grizzlies, and will never forget it.

When the “wrestling match” began to wind down, and the cub then began sliding down the snow field like a little kid on a sled, we quickly stopped video taping, and took about 5 photos from the summit of Rising Wolf Mountain, and then reluctantly began working our way back down the west side of the peak and headed back to where we came from. It was a gorgeous day and the photos would have been wonderful, but we felt that we had already really pushed our luck and needed to quickly and quietly get out of there. We kept looking back to make sure the sow and cub were not coming down off the summit and heading for the same ridge that we were on, and thankfully they did not. We never saw these bears the rest of the day.

What really “diffused” the situation dramatically was when the cub started playing with the sow on the snow field. Prior to that the sow was very concerned and we weren’t sure what decision she was going to make as she stared at us from the snowfield. That tiny little cub literally may have saved the day by starting the wrestling match with its mom. We must admit that this day in Glacier National Park was one that we’d never forget.

CLICK HERE to see our “views from the summits” of Glacier National Park.

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Glacier National Park Beargrass: When and Where?

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Glacier National Park Beargrass
Beargrass Plants in full bloom on the sub-alpine slopes of Glacier National Park is a famous iconic image of Glacier Park, and many visitors ask us when the best time is to visit Glacier Park to witness this beautiful spectacle.  They also ask “where” in Glacier Park is it best place to see these amazing flowers (a member of the Lily Family).  Well, the answers to these questions are not what you probably want to hear….

Every Year is Different
From our experience, we have found that every year seems to be completely different from the year before, and Beargrass blooms at different times and locations throughout Glacier Park during a specific year.  AND, you never know from year to year what the extent of the Beargrass bloom will be.  Some years, we’ve barely seen any Beargrass in bloom, and other years, blooming Beargrass is literally everywhere.

July or August?
We’ve also found that during certain years in Glacier National Park the Beargrass begins to appear in early to mid July, and other years the Beargrass doesn’t appear until late July or early August.  Throughout the years, we’ve tried to “predict” if-and-when the Beargrass will appear, and we usually fail miserably.  The only factor that we’ve seen to somewhat indicate a good year for Beargrass is a slow snow melt, and a cool and wet summer.  For whatever reason, this type of summer has usually a “bumper crop” of Beargrass throughout Glacier National Park.

If we had to pick the most common month to see Beargrass in bloom, it would be July… and typically mid July.  However, we’ve shown up in early July and the Beargrass is already in full bloom, and other years we don’t see a single Beargrass flower until early August.  But if we had to pick the most common time that we see Beargrass in bloom, we would have to say mid to late July.

Each Area of Glacier National Park is Different
Beargrass usually blooms in different areas of Glacier National Park at different times.  So you might not see any Beargrass on Logan Pass, but when you arrive at Many Glacier, the Beargrass is everywhere.  It seems to have something to do with elevation.  Beargrass seems to bloom in lower elevations first, and in time shows up in higher and higher elevations, eventually reaching elevations such as the Logan Pass Area along the Going To The Sun Road.  So if you don’t see Beargrass in a certain area of Glacier National Park, you just might see a “bumper crop” of blooming Beargrass just a few miles down the road.

Short Season of “Blooming”
Once Beargrass blooms in Glacier National Park, each plant stays in bloom for only a few days, so this also makes your timing even more critical (and lucky).  So if you see a wonderful slope of Beargrass in full bloom, take advantage of this opportunity for photos on that day.  Don’t assume this slope in Glacier National Park will look the same the following day…. you never know when the small flowers begin to fall off the stalks.

Beargrass Blooms Every Eight Years!
That’s right!  Each Beargrass plant blooms only once every eight years!  Now of course that doesn’t mean you only see Beargrass in Glacier Park only once every eight years, because every plant is on a different schedule.  But it is fascinating that after a particular Beargrass plant blooms, we won’t see that same exact plant bloom for another 8 years!

Where are the Best Places To See Beargrass?
Beargrass can show up anywhere and everywhere along the sub-alpine slopes of Glacier National Park.  And again, you never know which slopes (and when) these plants will appear.  With this in mind, some of our favorite places to enjoy Beargrass in full bloom is Iceberg Lake Trail, Grinnell Glacier Trail, Logan Pass Area, Highline Trail, Hidden Lake Trail, and the Two Medicine Area.  Of course, this just gives you an idea of where we typically see Beargrass, but during certain years, we have seen Beargrass on virtually every trail in Glacier National Park.

So with all this being said, it’s really anyone’s guess as to when and where you’ll see blooming Beargrass in Glacier National Park.  It’s all about fortunate timing and a lot of luck.  July is typically the best month, but “when” in July is the million dollar question.  So the bottom  line is this…  Enjoy Glacier National Park in all of its glory, and if the Beargrass is in bloom, then that’s a bonus!

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Glacier Park Lodging Facilities

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Glacier Park Lodging Facilities
Glacier National Park provides eight locations throughout the park that offer Glacier Park lodging facilities for its visitors. These facilities range from famous historic lodges, cabins, motor inns, and backcountry chalets. And each of these Glacier Park lodging facilities are strategically located to help maximize your Glacier National Park vacation. Below is a list of these Glacier Park lodging facilities:

1. Many Glacier Area
Many Glacier Hotel
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins

The Many Glacier Hotel is one of the greatest lodges in America, and is a National Historic Landmark. Built by the Great Northern Railway and opened in 1915, this glorious lodge is located in one of the most scenic mountain setting found anywhere in the world. The Many Glacier Area is known as “The Heart of Glacier Park”, and the Many Glacier Hotel rests right in the middle of this amazing place.

The Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins is another popular Glacier Park lodging facility that is located just a mile down the road from the Many Glacier Hotel, and is surrounded by towering mountains. The Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is also a popular location to watch grizzly bears feeding high above the motor inn on the open slopes of Altyn Peak. Some of the most popular hikes in Glacier Park originate here as well, such as the Iceberg Lake Trail and Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

For all of the details on the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Many Glacier Hotel, click the following link:
Many Glacier Lodging Facilities.

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2. St. Mary
St. Mary Lodge, Cabins and Motel

The St. Mary Lodge, Cabins and Motel is conveniently located just outside the boundary of Glacier National Park at the East Entrance in the town of St. Mary, and is another popular Glacier Park lodging option for park visitors. The East Entrance marks the beginning of the east side of the Going To The Sun Road.

For all the details, click the following link:
St. Mary Lodge Facilities

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3. Rising Sun
Rising Sun Motor Inn, Cabins and Motel

The Rising Sun Area is located about 5.5 miles from the East Entrance of Glacier National Park along the Going To The Sun Road. Just north of the incredible St. Mary Lake and less than a half mile from the famed Wild Goose Island turnout, the Rising Sun Area is yet another popular Glacier Park lodging facility largely due to its convenient location.

For all the details, click the following link:
Rising Sun Lodging Facilities

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4. Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge, Cabins and Motor Inn

Lake McDonald Lodge is one of the most popular Glacier Park lodging choices for vacationers exploring the west side of Glacier National Park. This historic “Swiss-style” lodge was built in 1895, and is nestled along the southeast shore of the beautiful Lake McDonald, which is the largest lake in Glacier National Park, and is only about 10 miles west of Apgar Village and 6 miles east of the Trail of the Cedars along the Going To The Sun Road. A National Historic Landmark, the Lake McDonald Lodge is not only charming, but the surround area is covered in monstrous cedars, hemlocks and cottonwoods, and is a great place to relax and take in the beauty.

For all the details, click the following link:
Lake McDonald Lodge Facilities

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5. Apgar Village
Village Inn at Apgar
Apgar Village Lodge

Apgar Village is regarded as the “hub” of the west side of Glacier National Park. Located just inside the west entrance of Glacier National Park near West Glacier Montana, Apgar Village is yet another popular Glacier Park lodging choice for park visitors. Located directly next to the famed Lake McDonald, the view of the lake and the Glacier Park mountains towering to the east is a classic Glacier Park scene. Apgar Village offers many amenities, and is conveniently located along the Going To The Sun Road.

For all of the details, click the following link:
Apgar Village Lodging Facilities

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6. East Glacier Park
Glacier Park Lodge

Known as “The Big Tree Lodge”, the Glacier Park Lodge is another Great American lodge that is a very popular Glacier Park lodging facility for those visitors exploring the East Glacier Park / Two Medicine Area of Glacier National Park. Completed in 1913, the Glacier Park Lodge is a National Historic Landmark, and is supported by HUGE douglas fir timbers that make quite an impression as you walk in to the main lobby. Located in the small town of East Glacier Park, this location is ideal for visitors taking Amtrak, as the historic East Glacier Station is just across the street from the Glacier Park Lodge. The famous Two Medicine Area is only about 11 miles northwest of the lodge, which makes the Glacier Park Lodge an ideal place to stay while exploring this magnificent area.

For all the details, click the following link:
Glacier Park Lodge

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7. Highline Trail
Granite Park Chalet

The historic Granite Park Chalet is one of only two original backcountry chalets remaining in Glacier National Park. A National Historic Landmark (built in 1914), the Granite Park Chalet is located along the Highline Trail, about 7.6 miles north of Logan Pass and the Going To The Sun Road. The only way to reach the famous Granite Park Chalet is by hiking or riding a horse, and is an incredible Glacier Park lodging opportunity where visitors can spend the night in the back country of Glacier National Park without having to backpack in with a tent and all the other gear necessary for a multi-day backpacking trip.

For all the details, click the following link:
Granite Park Chalet

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8. Sperry Trail
Sperry Chalet

The historic Sperry Chalet is one of only two original backcountry chalets remaining in Glacier National Park. A National Historic Landmark (built in 1914), the Sperry Chalet is located about 6.4 miles up the Sperry Trail. The trailhead is found along the Going To The Sun Road across from the Lake McDonald Lodge parking lot. The only way to get to this remote backcountry chalet is by hiking or horseback, and is 3,432 vertical feet elevation gain in this 6.4 mile hike. The Sperry Chalet provides visitors with the unique opportunity to experience a night in the backcountry of Glacier Park without having to backpack in with a tent and all the other gear necessary for a multi-day backpacking trip.

For all the details, click the following link:
Sperry Chalet

Click Here for details on all of the Glacier Park Lodging Facilities.

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Grand Teton National Park Hikes: Taggart Lake Trail

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Among the many popular Grand Teton National Park hikes is the Taggart Lake Trail. This short and easy day hike is one of the top things to do in Grand Teton National Park, and many park visitors throughout the years have thoroughly enjoyed their time on this wonderful hiking trail.

The Taggart Lake Trail Head is located about 3 miles north of the South Entrance to Grand Teton National Park along the Teton Park Road. The hike is only 1.6 miles to Taggart Lake, and the elevation gain is only 277 vertical feet. Therefore, most visitors who are in reasonably good physical condition should not have any difficulty hiking to Taggart Lake and back.

One of the best features of the hike to Taggart Lake is the view of the majestic Teton Mountain Range. The trail is located on the east side of the these mountains, and not actually “in” the mountains. This allows hikers to get an incredible panoramic view of the mighty Teton Mountain Range directly in front of them. This hike in fact may be one of the best “close-up” views of the Tetons anywhere in the park.

Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park is a beautiful lake that has the towering Tetons directly behind it. This really makes for a great setting as you enjoy your lunch on the shore of the lake.

Taggart Lake Trail Hikers then have a choice of returning to the trail head or hiking just another half mile or so to Bradley Lake. If you’ve got time, Bradley Lake is also quite beautiful and worth seeing. You can then take another trail back that eventually connects with the original trail you took to see Taggart Lake in a loop-like fashion, so you will get to see different scenery along the way on your return hike.

So while your vacationing in Grand Teton National Park, and you’d like to take a short, easy hike with an incredible view of the incredible Teton Mountain Range, the Taggart Lake Trail is a great choice.

Click Here for more details on the hike to Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

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Glacier Park Hiking in Late Spring and Early Summer

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Glacier Park Hiking in Late Spring and Early Summer
Glacier National Park receives an incredible amount of snow each year, and it takes several months for much of it to melt.  In fact, several popular Glacier Park Hikes such as the Highline Trail and Grinnell Glacier Trail are usually not open until mid July, and often times late July and even into August. With this in mind, the following information will prove to be useful to those of you interested in attempting Glacier Park Hikes in the months of May and June…

Mountain Axe (a.k.a. Ice Axe) Self Arrest Skills Required!
For anyone who is embarking on Glacier Park hiking trails that involve medium to significant vertical elevation gain, each hiker should be adequately skilled in self-arrest techniques using a mountain axe, also known as an “ice axe”.  The snow fields in Glacier National Park that are covering much of the Glacier Park trails during the early season can be extremely dangerous, and one slip could result in serious injury or death.

Simply carrying a mountain axe and using it for stabilization does not make you safe.  Each hiker must know exactly how to “self-arrest” if he/she begins to slide down the snow field.  This requires not only proper training, but also a lot of practice.  If a hiker is not skilled in self-arrest, then he/she can pick up so much speed so quickly that nothing will stop them as the hiker literally flies down the snow field.  Here’s the bottom line:  If you’re not skilled with a mountain axe, especially with self-arrest techniques, you should definitely not attempt any Glacier Park trails that involve snow fields that have medium to steep grades… whether you’re hiking in May, June, July or August.

May Is Too Early For Most Glacier Park Hikes
For most of the Glacier Park Hikes, the month of May is really too early for any enjoyable hiking excursions, especially if the Glacier Park hiking trail involves a mountain pass, such as the Pitamakan Dawson Loop Trail in the Two Medicine Area.  And to be quite honest with you, even those trails not involving mountain passes are more than likely snow-covered, and finding the actual trail at times will be a challenge.

There are a few trails that may be open and safe in May, such as the Swiftcurrent Lake Loop Trail and Red Rock Falls in the Many Glacier Area, Trail of the Cedars near Lake McDonald Lodge, and the South and North Shore Trails in the Two Medicine Area.  These particular trails are fairly low in elevation and do not involve much elevation gain.

Glacier Park Hiking In June… Still Quite Early
The month of June is still a little early for enjoyable hiking in Glacier Park.  Even though a few more of the lower elevation trails will open up by mid June (in a typical year), such as Iceberg Lake Trail in the Many Glacier Area, any of the Glacier Park Hikes that involve mountain passes are more than likely still snow covered and will require adequate self-arrest skills with a mountain axe.  And keep in mind, the Going To The Sun Road doesn’t open until mid to late June on a typical year, which gives you an indication as to the status of any trail involving mountain passes, such as Siyeh Pass, Piegan Pass, etc.   Also keep in mind that many of the backcountry campsites are not open until mid July, if not later, such as Fifty Mountain, Boulder Pass and Hole-In-The-Wall.

Mid July and Beyond Is Best
A fair amount of Glacier Park hiking trails are open by mid July on a typical snow year, but certainly not all of them.  We have waited until mid August for some trails to open during heavy snow years, especially the backcountry trails in the Northern Wilderness, such as Boulder Pass Trail, Northern Highline Trail, etc.  And again, remember that several of the backcountry campsites do not open up until late July or early August.  And some of the most popular trails, such as Grinnell Glacier Trail, Highline Trail and Swiftcurrent Pass Trail seem to not open until later in July, and during a heavy snow year, as late as mid August.

Ask A Ranger
Before you begin any of the Glacier Park hiking trails during the months of May, June and early July, make sure you ask a ranger (at any visitor center or ranger station) the status of the trail you wish to hike.  These rangers will be aware of current trail conditions, and let you know if that particular trail is safe to hike on.

Quick Tips
For early season Glacier Park Hikes, we recommend that you not only learn proper self-arrest techniques with a mountain axe, but you may also consider these recommendations:

1) Traction Devices
Traction devices for your hiking boots, such as YakTrax or equivalent while hiking across snow fields can really help make the hike safer and more enjoyable.

2) Gators
Consider wearing water-proof / breathable gators that cover your boots and lower legs (to just below the knee).  These will help keep your boots and pants dry.

3) Hiking Poles
Hiking poles really help keep you stabilized and balanced as you are walking through snow.  HOWEVER, before navigating a snow field that has a medium to steep grade, put your poles away and use your mountain axe… and be constantly ready to use it for self arrest purposes.

4) Water-Proof / Breathable Boots
We are firm believers in wearing water-proof / breathable boots while hiking in Glacier National Park no matter what month it is.  Though no boot is completely waterproof if it gets wet enough, GoreTex or equivalent really makes your Glacier Park hikes much more comfortable.

5)  Watch Out For Early Morning Ice!
The most dangerous time of day during the months of May, June, July and even August is early morning. If the air temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit the night before, Glacier Park’s snow fields will be completely iced over and will be EXTREMELY SLIPPERY AND DANGEROUS.  In fact, these snow fields will turn into deadly ice-skating rinks.   Either really know what you’re doing and you are professionally skilled with ice, or do not attempt to cross these snow fields until they begin to soften up as the temperature begins to rise.

With all of this being said, if you are really wanting to enjoy some wonderful Glacier Park hiking experiences, and hiking in Glacier Park is the main focus of your trip, it really is best to plan your Glacier Park vacation no earlier than July… mid July to be more specific.   Glacier National Park receives a TON of snow each year, and it takes a long time for it to melt, especially along the mountain passes.  If you take our advice, you’re Glacier Park hiking experience will be far more enjoyable and memorable.

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