Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is an American national park, located in the northwestern state of Montana on the Canada -United States border and adjacent to the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia on the Canadian side. Has happened. The park covers more than one million acres (4,000 km2 ) and includes two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains ), more than 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different plant species , and hundreds of species of wildlife. Are. This vast ancient ecosystem , which is part of a protected land covering 16,000 square miles (41,000 km 2 ), has been referred to as the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem".
locationFlathead County and Glacier County, Montana , United States
Nearest citycolumbia falls
index48°41′48″N 113°43′6″W / 48.69667°N 113.71833°W
Area1,013,322 acres (4,100.77 km 2 )
Established11 May 1910
visitor2,965,309 (in 2018)
governing bodyNational Park Service
Websiteformal website
UNESCO World Heritage Site
PartWaterton-Glacier International Peace Park
criteriaNatural: vii, ix
Inscription1995 (19 seasons )
Glacier National Park contains almost all the native local plant and animal species. Large mammals such as grizzly, bears , moose , and mountain goats, as well as rare or endangered species such as wolverine and Canadian lynx, also inhabit the park. Hundreds of species of birds, more than a dozen species of fish and a few reptile and amphibian species have been documented here. The park contains many ecosystems from prairie to tundra . The southwestern part of the park contains forests of western redcedar and hemlock. Fires are a common occurrence in park forests. The park has experienced fire every year except 1964. There were 64 fires in 1936, the highest number on record. Six fires in 2003 burned approximately 136,000 acres (550 km 2 ), more than 13% of the park.


According to archaeological evidence, native inhabitants first came to the glacial region some 10,000 years ago. The Blackfeet tribe inhabited the Great Plains to the east along the eastern slope of what is now part of the park. Today, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is located on the eastern border of the park, while the Flathead Indian Reservation is located to the west and south of the park. In 1895 Blackfeet Chief White Calf authorized the sale of approximately 800,000 acres of mountain territory to the U.S. government for $1.5 million. On the condition that as long as it remains public land of the United States, he will be able to use the land for hunting for a long time.This established the current boundary between the park and the sanctuary.

Traveling up the Marias River in 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came within 50 miles (80 km) of what is now the park. A series of discoveries after 1850 helped shape the understanding of the area that would later become the park. In 1885 George Byrd Grinnell hired renowned explorer (and later well-known author) James Willard Schultz to guide him on a hunting expedition to the area.After several more trips to the area, Grinnell became so inspired by the landscapes that he spent the next two decades establishing it as a national park. In 1901 Grinnell wrote a description of the area in which he called it the "Crown of the Continent". His efforts to protect the land made him a major contributor to the campaign.

In 1891 the Great Northern Railway reached the continental divide at Marias Pass at 5,213 feet (1,589 m) which forms the southern boundary of the park. The garden was designated as a forest preserve in 1897. Despite being a forest, mining was still permitted, but could not be commercially successful. In 1910, a bill was introduced in the US Congress designating the area a national park. This bill was signed into law by President William Hoover Taft in 1910. The Great Northern Railway, under the supervision of president Lewis W. Hill, built a number of hotels and cottages to promote tourism throughout the region in the 1910s. These buildings were modeled on Swiss architecture as part of a plan to portray Glacier as "America's Switzerland ".

When the park was fully developed and visitors began arriving by car, work began on the 53-mile (85 km) long "Going-to-the-Sun Road". It was completed in 1932. It is also known as "Sun Road". This is the only road that goes inside the park. Sun Road is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1985. Another route along the southern border between the park and the national forest is U.S. Route 2, which crosses the Continental Divide at Marias Pass and connects the towns of West Glacier and East Glacier.

Geography and Geology

The park is bordered to the north by Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park and British Columbia's Flathead Provincial Forest and Akamina-Kishina Provincial Park. To the west, the north stream of the Flathead River forms the western border while its middle stream forms part of the southern border. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation forms most of the eastern boundary. The Lewis and Clark and Flathead National Forests form the southern and western borders.

There are a dozen large and 700 small lakes in the park but only 131 of them have names. Lake McDonald on the western side of the park is the longest at 9.4 miles (15.1 km), the largest with an area of ​​6,823 acres (27.61 km2), and the deepest at 464 feet (141 m). Many small lakes, known as tarns, are located in glacial caverns formed by glacial erosion. Some of these lakes, such as Avalanche Lake and Cracker Lake, are an opaque turquoise color due to suspended glacial silt. Due to this, many streams coming out of lakes appear milky white in colour. The lakes of Glacier National Park remain cold throughout the year. The temperature at their surface rarely exceeds 50°F (10°C).  These types of cold water lakes are adapted to plankton growth, causing the lake water to be remarkably transparent. Due to the lack of plankton, the rate of pollution filtration is reduced. Due to which the duration of stay of pollutants in water increases. As a result, lakes are considered leaders in environmental pollution measurements because they can be quickly affected by even small increases in pollutants.

There are two hundred waterfalls spread throughout the park. However, during periods of drought, many of these are reduced to small streams. The largest waterfalls include McDonald Falls in the Two Medicine area and Swiftcurrent Falls in the Many Glacier area. These can be easily seen and there are many glacier hotels near it. One of the tallest waterfalls is Bird Woman Falls, which falls 492 feet (150 m) from a hanging canyon below the north slope of Oberlin Mountain.

The rocks found in the park are mainly sedimentary rocks of the Belt Supergroup. They were deposited in shallow seas between 1.6 billion and 800 million years ago. During the formation of the Rocky Mountains 170 million years ago, an area of ​​rocks now known as the Lewis Overthrust was pushed 50 miles (80 km) to the east. This overthrust was several miles (kilometres) thick and hundreds of miles (kilometres) long.


Glacier National Park is dominated by mountains that were carved into their present shapes by the giant glaciers of the last ice age. These glaciers have largely disappeared over the past 12,000 years. Evidence of widespread glaciation can be seen throughout the park in the form of U-shaped valleys , ice caves , sharp ridges , and large outflow lakes radiating like fingers from the base of the highest peaks. Since the end of the Ice Age, warming and cooling trends of the region have occurred several times. The last recent cooling trend was during the Little Ice Age, which occurred between about 1550 and 1850. During the Little Ice Age, glaciers in the park expanded and advanced, although far behind their expansion during the Ice Age.

During the mid-20th century, examination of maps and photographs from the previous century provided clear evidence that the 150 glaciers that existed in the park a hundred years ago had melted, and in many cases had disappeared completely. Visual confirmation of the melting of glaciers is provided by consecutive photographs taken between 1938 and 2009.

The impact of glacial loss on the park's ecosystem is not fully known, but plant and animal species that depend on the cold waters may become extinct due to habitat loss. Shrinking glaciers can impact water flow due to less melt during the dry summer and fall seasons, leading to lower water levels and increased wildfire risk. The loss of glaciers also reduces the aesthetic visual appeal that visitors come to see.

As the park straddles the Continental Divide, and elevation variations exceed 7,000 feet (2,100 m), multiple climates and microclimates are found in the park. As in other alpine systems, average temperatures generally fall with increasing altitude. Due to the low elevation of the Pacific watershed in the western part of the park, it has a hot and humid climate. Precipitation is highest during winter and spring, averaging 2 to 3 inches (50 to 80 mm) per month. Snowfall can occur at any time of the year, and especially in summer at higher elevations. Winter is characterized by prolonged cold waves, especially on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, which has higher elevations. Snowfall is significant during the winter, with the largest accumulations occurring in the west. During the tourist season, daytime high temperatures average 16 to 21 °C (60 to 70 °F), and nighttime lows typically drop to 4 °C (40 °F). Temperatures can be very cold in higher areas. In the lower western valleys, daytime temperatures can reach 30 °C (90 °F) in summer.

The air and water quality in the glacier is considered excellent. No major areas of dense human population exist nearby and industrial impacts in the area are minimal due to the lack of factories and other potential contributors of pollutants. However, the sterile and cold lakes found throughout the park are easily contaminated by wind-borne pollutants that fall onto the lake during rain or snowfall, and some evidence of these pollutants has been found in the park's waters. Wildfires can also affect water quality. However, pollution levels are currently considered negligible, and the waters of the park's lakes and other bodies of water have been rated A-1, the highest grade given by the state of Montana.


The glacier is part of a larger protected ecosystem collectively known as the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem", which is mainly virgin forest of a pristine quality. Virtually all the plant and wildlife species that existed at the time of European explorers are still present in the park.

A total of 1,132 plant species have been identified in the park. The predominantly coniferous forest is home to a variety of tree species such as Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir, subalpine fir, limarin pine, and western larch, a deciduous conifer that has a conical shape but with a pointed tip. It ends in winter. Cottonwood and aspen are the more common deciduous trees and are found at lower elevations, usually along the shores of lakes and streams. Due to exposure to the cooler winds and weather of the plains, the tree lines on the eastern side of the park are approximately 800 feet (244 m) lower than those on the western side of the Continental Divide. West of the Continental Divide, forests receive more moisture and are more protected from winter, resulting in a more dense population of tall trees. Above the forested valleys and mountain slopes, alpine tundra conditions prevail, in which grasses and small plants survive in an area that remains without snow cover for up to three months.  Thirty species of plants are found only in the park and surrounding national forests. Beargrass, a tall flowering plant, is commonly found near moist sources, and is relatively abundant during July and August. Monkeyflower, glacier lily, fireweed, balsamroot and Indian paintbrush are common among the wild floral plants.

The forested areas fall into three major climatic zones. The west and northwest are dominated by spruce and cedar and the southwest by red cedar and hemlock; East of the Continental Divide there is a combination of mixed pine, spruce, fir, and prairie zones. The cedar-hemlock groves near Lake McDonald are the easternmost example of this Pacific climate ecosystem. 


The park provides biologists with an intact ecosystem for plant and animal research, with the presence of virtually all historically known plant and animal species , except bison and woodland reindeer . The park is home to two endangered species of mammals, the brown bear and the bobcat  . Although their numbers are at historical levels, in almost every other region of the US outside Alaska , they are either extremely rare or absent from their historical range, leading to both being listed as endangered species. . On average, there are one or two bear attacks on humans each year; Since the park's creation in 1910, there have been a total of 10 bear attack-related deaths. The number of bears and bobcats in the park is unknown, but park biologists believed that as of 2008 the number of bears in the park was over 300. The exact population figures for grizzly and small black bears are unknown, but biologists are using several methods to determine the exact population extent. According to another study, the wolverine, a very rare mammal from the other 48 states, is also found in the park. Other mammals such as mountain goat (the official park symbol), bighorn sheep, moose, elk, mule deer, skunk, white-tailed deer, bobcat, coyote, and cougar are either abundant or common. Are. Unlike Yellowstone National Park, which implemented a wolf reintroduction program in the 1990s , wolves are believed to have naturalized in Glacier National Park during the 1980s. Sixty species of mammals have been documented, including badgers, river otters, porcupines, minks, martens, fishers, two species of ground squirrels, six species of bats, and many other small mammals.

A total of 260 species of birds have been recorded, including the bald eagle, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, osprey and several species of falcon. The Harlequin duck is a colorful species found in lakes and water bodies. The great blue heron, tundra swan, Canada swan and American wigeon are commonly found waterfowl species in the park. Horned owl, Clark's nutcracker, Steller's jay, pileated woodpecker and cedar waxwing inhabit the dense forests, and at higher elevations, the ptarmigan, timberline sparrow and rosy finch are most commonly seen. Clark's nutcracker is less commonly seen than in previous years due to the decline in the number of whitebark pine trees.

Only six species of amphibians have been documented in the park, although those species exist in large numbers. A total of 23 species of fish reside in the lakes and rivers here. The park is also home to the endangered bull trout, which is illegal to hunt and must be released back into the water if caught inadvertently. 

Forest ecology

For many decades, wildfires were seen as a threat to protected areas such as forests and parks. Forest ecology became better understood in the 1960s, and forests were considered a natural part of the ecosystem. Common in fire: Dead and rotting trees and plants etc. are destroyed by burning. Many species of plants and animals actually require wildfires, the nutrients they bring into the soil help grasses and small plants thrive. Glacier National Park has a fire management committee that ensures that human-caused fires are generally extinguished. In the case of natural fires, the fire is monitored and controlled when it poses a threat to human safety and homes.

An average of 14 fires burn an area of ​​5,000 acres (20 km2) in Glacier National Park each year. In 2003, following five years of drought and little to no summer rainfall, a park fire destroyed 136,000 acres (550 km 2 ). This was the most heavily burned area by fire since the park's creation in 1910.


Glacier National Park is managed by the National Park Service , headquartered in West Glacier, Montana. The park has been visited by approximately 22 lakh visitors annually over the ten-year period between 2007 and 2016. However some of those visitors have visited only roadways, hotels, and campgrounds rather than visiting parks. The number of visitors in 2019 was approximately 32.7 lakh.

Glacier National Park had a budget of $13.803 million in 2016 and a projected budget of $13.777 million in 2017. In 2010, to commemorate the park's 100th anniversary, reconstruction of "Going-to-the-Sun Road" was completed. The Federal Highway Administration managed the reconstruction project in cooperation with the National Park Service. Also completed were some major structures such as the visitor center and historic hotel, as well as improvements to wastewater treatment facilities and campgrounds. Additionally, work such as fisheries studies at Lake McDonald, updates to historical archives, and restoration of trails were also carried out.

In 1974, a wilderness study was presented to Congress that identified 95% of the park's area as suitable for wilderness. Unlike some other parks, Glacier National Park has yet to be protected as a wilderness. But National Park Service policy requires that the areas listed in the study be managed as wilderness until Congress makes a full decision. Ninety-nine percent of Glacier National Park is managed as wilderness, even though it is not officially designated as such.

Tourist attractions

This glacier is away from major cities. The nearest airport is located in Kalispell, Montana, southwest of the park. Amtrak trains stop at East and West Glacier and downtown Essex. A fleet of 1930s White Motor Company coaches, called the Red Jammers, provide tours on all of the park's main routes. The tour buses were rebuilt by Ford Motor Company in 2001. The body of the vehicle was removed from its original chassis and built on a modern Ford E-Series van chassis. To reduce their environmental impact, they run on propane . 

Historic wooden boats were launched on some of the larger lakes in the 1920s. Many of these boats have been in continuous seasonal operation in Glacier National Park since 1927 and can carry a total of 80 passengers. Three of these decades-old boats were added to the National Register of Historic Places in January 2018.

Hiking is popular in the park. More than half of visitors report hiking the park's approximately 700 miles (1,127 km) of trails. Dogs are not allowed on any trails in the park due to the presence of bears and other large mammals. However dogs are allowed in camps that are accessible by vehicle and paved roads. Anyone entering the United States by land or water from Canada is required to have a passport.

Winter recreation in the glacier is limited. Snowmobiles are illegal throughout the park . Cross-country skiing is permitted in low altitude valleys away from avalanche areas. 

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