Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary May 2010. George Grinnell, known as the "father of Glacier National Park", and Charles N. Pray, a Montana congressman, championed the idea of creating a national park in the area. It became the 10th national park when President Taft signed a bill on May 11, 1910. It got its name because of all the glaciers in the area. Glacier National Park is 1.2 million acres of mountain ranges, deep valleys, and lakes. The park features 60 glaciers, alpine meadows, dense forests, waterfalls, majestic valleys, and over 200 sparkling lakes. The park is home to 936 miles of rivers and streams.
Hiking is a popular activity in the park. Over half of the visitors to the park report taking a hike on the park's nearly 700 miles of trails. Due to the presence of bears and other large mammals, dogs are not permitted on any trails in the park, though they are permitted at front country campsites that can be accessed by a vehicle, and along paved roads.
Many of the trails, lakes, and points of interests are named after people who helped Glacier Park become what it is today. The Grinnell Glacier Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in Glacier National Park. The Grinnell Glacier Trail begins in the Many Glacier Valley. The trailhead is located just down the road from the Many Glacier Hotel at a picnic area. When hiking the Grinnell Glacier Trail, you will pass by crystal clear mountain lakes, towering mountains and will have the unique opportunity to stand on a glacier if one chooses. The trail runs for 6 miles and has a vertical gain of 1600 feet. The first two miles of the trail are essentially flat. Beyond that, the trail has a gradual incline up to its end. The trail ends at Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier at the base of the continental divide.
It is commonly thought that the present name of Lake McDonald was named after trader Duncan McDonald, who carved his name on a tree nearby in 1878. McDonald Lake which lies at an elevation of 3153 feet is the largest lake in Glacier Park. Gouged by a glacier which was 2,000 feet high, the lake itself is 10 miles long and 427 deep at its deepest point. Lake McDonald offers breathtaking scenery and a myriad of activities for the entire family. Bring your hiking boots, fishing poles, and binoculars. You'll want to get the most out of the trails, fishing, and sightseeing that Lake McDonald provides. Apgar is located at the southwestern tip of Lake McDonald. Here you will find amenities such as a visitor center, restaurants (Eddie's Restaurant was started by the first park ranger's son, Eddie and is still in the family today), gift shops, lodging, and a campground. This is a good place to stop and gather all the provisions for a backcountry trip. Apgar is also a gateway to the Going-to-the-Sun Road that follows the eastern shore of Lake McDonald.
Going-to-the-Sun Road runs approximently 50 miles from the east entrance at St. Mary across the continental divide to the west entrance at West Glacier. The road was a spectacular engineering feat, constructed between 1921 and 1932 and costing $3 million. The final section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, over Logan Pass, was completed in 1932 after 11 years of work. The road is considered an engineering feat and is a National Historic Landmark. This road provides some of the most spectacular views of mountains and lakes in any of America's national parks. This summer the road work will continue west of Logan Pass between the West Tunnel and Haystack Creek. Weather permitting, the entire road will be open for public vehicle traffic from Friday, June 13 to Monday, September 15, 2008. Gas is not available anywhere in the park or on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Food and lodging can be found along the road at Rising Sun, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Apgar Village. Picnic areas may be found at Rising Sun, Sun point, Avalanche, Sprague Creek, and Apgar.
Glacier Park has a variety of wildlife. Big horn sheep, mountain goats, wapiti, (elk), black bear, and whitetail and mule deer are frequently seen. Grizzly bear, moose, wolves and mule deer also live here all year. Locally prevalent birds include osprey, ptarmigan, golden eagle, Clark's nutcracker, and Harlequin duck. The bald eagle also nests and fishes here. As you walk along trails or hike into the back country you can expect to see deer (some will even walk the trails with you), squirrels, chipmunks, birds, etc. One of the most famous animals in the park is the grizzly bear. Visitors to the park often hope to see a grizzly bear but few seldom get the chance. There were once tens of thousands of these animals but now there are only about 900. Glacier Park has the highest concentration of grizzlies in the lower 48 states, it has around 200-300 hundred. At higher elevations mountain goats can be seen scrambling along cliffs and foraging for food. These goats may remain active and on the cliffs year round, living alone or in groups of 2 or 3 animals. When you are traveling the Going-to-the-Sun-Road you will probably see groups of mountain goats along the trails and cliffs. Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep are typically seen near Logan Pass.
Today in Glacier Park you can enjoy a variety of activities, including bicycling, hiking and camping, wildlife viewing, photography, horseback riding, boating and fishing in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.