Glacier National Park – A Tribute to Shrinking Glaciers

Glacier National Park, Montana.

Upon good advice, we decided to head to Saint Mary Lake Entrance on the east side of the park. We were given explicit options for sights with a couple of options for spectacular views as we approached the park’s eastern entrance. Fortunately for us, somewhere along the way, while looking for things to see in the park, we noticed that the eastern entrances were closed due to road renovations.

By making this discovery before we’d gotten off our westbound highway, we were able to just keep going around the south end of the park to enter at the West Glacier entrance. Oh, and, we did get to see Saint Mary Lake eventually as the road was closed east of the lake. The opening image is a recently featured Cellpic Sunday view of the lake. As you can see, the view was obscured by haze and smoke from all of the wildfires in the western states.

The park is over a million acres in size and has over 700 lakes, only 131 are large enough to have a name. With over 500 streams, you can expect to find a few waterfalls. That we did, and you’ll find a few images of waterfalls like the one above in the gallery of images at the end of this post.

Our visit to the park was in mid-September, and the trees at higher altitudes were just starting to show their colors. As our trip played out throughout the western states, we hit many areas at peak for fall colors. More autumn photos in the weeks to come.

The main road through the park is called the Going to the Sun Road. It is a beautiful drive, though some people might have a case of nerves when driving along the edge of the highway where there are steep dropoffs. There are a few tunnels along the highway as well. Near the tunnel in the image above is a scenic pull-off. If you walk along the edge of the highway, there is a sidewalk inside the tunnel and there are windows in the tunnel to get a view of the valley below.

Climbing higher and higher, we got more expansive views of the valleys below. Unfortunately, most of my images reflected the smoky haze that permeated the park. Going to the Sun Road climbs to Logan Pass at an altitude of 6646 feet (2025 m), then descends down the other side. I’ve been to Glacier Park only three times in my life. The first time I was there, the road was closed near the top due to an early heavy snow. The second time we visited, the upper section of roadway was closed due to road construction. The third time was the charm as we made it all the way to Logan Pass and down to the eastern road closure where we simply turned around, exited the park on the west where we entered and proceeded westbound toward our next stop on our journey.

The northern border of the park runs along the 49th parallel of latitude. That border is the southern end of Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. There are no border crossings into the Canadian park from within Glacier Park. People wishing to also visit Waterton Lakes Park can gain access through border crossings in the vicinity of Glacier National Park. The two closest to Glacier are Roosville (open 24 hours); west of the park on Highway 93, north of Whitefish, MT and south of Fernie, B.C. and Chief Mountain Highway, near the northeastern corner of the park, at the joining of Montana 17 with Alberta Highway 6. Another crossing, east of Chief Mountain is Piegan/Carway at the joining of U.S. Highway 89 with Alberta Highway 2. As this is being written during the Covid-19 pandemic, these border crossings are closed. Be sure to check before heading north to find out the current status and hours of operation at each crossing. A passport is now required to re-enter the United States from Canada.

With apologies for the smoky haze in these photos, I present a small gallery of images captured on our journey through Glacier Park. I am resolved to visit again when the smoke has cleared and the views are back to normal. If your browser supports the option, click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

 

 

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