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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