Rising like a ghostly apparition above the windswept prairies of western Montana, this World Heritage Site and International Peace Park is lauded for its back-country hiking and spectacular big-sky scenery. Come celebrate Glacier National Park’s centennial this summer and check out our top 10 park treasures.
1. Going-to-the-Sun-Road: Crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, this engineering marvel, juts through the heart of the park’s wilderness.
2. Grinnell Glacier: Named for the 19th century conservationist George Grinnell, this beautiful (but receding) glacier lies in Many Glacier Valley. It’s an 11-mile hike there and back, but the views more than make up for the effort you’ll expend in getting there.
3. Two Medicine Valley: Famous for its healthy bear population and deeply imbued with Native American legends, the region is less visited these days, though it has lost none of its haunting beauty. Towering authoritatively over sublime Two Medicine Lake is the distinctive hulk of Rising Wolf Mountain.
4. Logan Pass: Perched above the tree line atop the wind-lashed Continental Divide, and blocked by snow for most of the year, 6646ft Logan Pass is the park’s highest navigable point by road.
5. Wildlife: Glacier offers a unique habitat for bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, myriad birdlife and a bundle of fluff called the hoary marmot. Sometimes known as whistling pigs, these mammals can often be seen along high mountain trails.
6. Highline Trail: This Glacier classic cuts across the famous Garden Wall, a sharp glacier-carved ridge that forms part of the Continental Divide. The views here are some of the best in the park.
7. St Mary Lake & Wild Goose Island: It might just be a tiny stub of land with a handful of lopsided trees, but Wild Goose Island in the middle of St Mary Lake makes a popular photo op.
8. Kintla Lake: Soak your feet in the beautiful Kintla Lake, close to the Canadian border, before heading off on the 4-day Boulder Pass Trail.
9. Parkitecture: Designed to provide top class visitor facilities without infringing upon the fragile natural environment, pioneering park buildings were first constructed in the early 1900s. Glacier’s early experimentation with the style came with the construction of the Glacier Park Lodge, followed by Many Glacier Lodge and Lake McDonald Lodge.
10. Horse Trails: If you’re after a really authentic mountain experience, you can’t beat seeing Glacier National Park from the saddle. Comprehensive listings of pack-trip companies and outfitters can be found at Montana Outfitters & Guides Association.
For park news visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/parknews/glacier-centennial-2010.htm.