Glacier National Park


June 20, 2014 is the earliest that the Going-To-The-Sun-Road will be open to through traffic

note: weather permitting ~ we will be lucky if the GTSR opens by July 1, 2014

Officially it's spring in Glacier Park which does NOT mean it won't still snow in the valleys.

April 17, 2014

Glacier Park webcams show that it is snowing at Apgar Lookout and in the Two Medecine Valley. Elsewhere it is raining. D. Fagre of the USGS stationed in West Glacier has 30 years of Snotel Data from Flattop Mountain plus lots of math calculation to estimate possible opening dates for Logan Pass. Most everyone is aware that the amount of winter snowfall is a major determining factor in that date. What D. Fagre shows is that spring weather is also a critical element effecting Logan Pass opening. See the data at NOROCK USGS GNP NOROCK

April 16, 2014

Not sure what the status is for the Merch in Polebridge as the North Fork Newsletter posted information that the owners would not be there for the scheduled May 1st opening date. Will post back on May 1st regarding the status for the Merch this summer.

It snow yesterday at Apgar Lookout and it seems from photo's posted on GNP Facebook site that St Mary got several inches of new snow. Can't confirm how much as the St Mary Web Camera is out of service this morning. Camus Road opened to motor vehicles yesterday.
GTSR is plowed to Red Rocks. Hope to post a photo of a biker in front of the Red Rock Avalanche soon. It appears to be about 30 feet high which is in the 'average' range for that location.

April 14, 2014
Photo of the first avalanche cleared by the west side plow crew. Note: photo sent to me by "Amelia".

Red Rock Falls 4-14-14 GNP

April 12, 2014
Snowed in Glacier National Park ~ Areas with bare ground or bare pavement quickly melted after the storm passed and the sun came out. Two Medicine appears to have gotten a few inches and since the ground is covered with over 4 feet of snow it stayed. My guess is that Many Glacier conditions will be similar.

April 10, 2014 from GNP "Due to plowing operations in the Avalanche area, Hiker/Biker access will be to 1/2 mile below Avalanche Campground."

On April 9, 2014 wind gust of 139 mph were recorded at Logan Pass.

According to reliable sources Camus Road has been plowed.

April 9, 2014 I biked to Avalanche for the first time this year. (the work crew was out to get an excavator so the road wasn't closed that day) GTSR from West Glacier to Avalanche is totally clear of snow and ice. Beyond Avalanche the road is plowed but has a 2" thick layer of ice. The roads to the picnic area have been plowed but are sill snow covered. Lake McDonald was mostly frozen on the 8th but is now almost totally free of ice.

April 1, 2014 ~ It is still snowing at higher elevations, Lake McDonald is starting to thaw out and plowing on the GTSR will hopefully start soon.

On October 17, 2013, Glacier Park re-opened, hopefully for another one hundred years without interruption.

GTSR now open on the west side to Lake McDonald Lodge were it will stay until around Mother's Day 2014, when historically the road opens to Avalanche.

Environmental Assessment for Continued Lake Trout Suppression on Quartz Lake & Lake Trout Removal and Bull Trout Conservation in the Logging Lake Drainage. Logging Lake can be reached by the Logging Lake Trail which connects to the inside North Fork Road. It is one of the earlier opening trails into the backcountry The trail is frequently very muddy and a popular passage for wildlife. The muddy aspect of the trail makes for great photos of bear tracks in mud. This is also the only trail in the park that I have ever encountered a bull elk.

Moonlight on snow for another special night. Today marks the official start to winter but here in Northwest Montana winter has been with us for the last six weeks. Will start snowshoeing after the Xmas holidays but before New Years. Lots and lots of powder. Browning which is the nearest reporting weather station to Glacier Park on the east side is reporting 2 F at nine thirty am today.

December 19, 2013.
Clear skies and a full moon last night and the night before. Below zero and more than crisp. But the beauty is breathtaking — a snowy forest enveloped in soft light, seemingly bright as day, stars glinting in the darkened heavens. Such are the compensations of living nearer the North Pole than the Equator. (thanks to J Conner)

The view from the Apgar web camera at noon today 12-15-13 makes me want to drive to Apgar but a close look at the temperature of 31F and the wet pavement keeps me tied to my computer desk. Light on heavily overcast days is usually pretty flat but today there must be holes in the cloud cover over Lake McDonald to create such gorgeous reflections from the lake.

Kalispell newlywed pleads guilty
to husband's murder!

according to Missoulian at around 1 pm MST on December 12, 2013. Below photo was taken on the day that Cody Johnson's body was recovered from below the Loop. The murder / manslaughter trial finished on December 12, 2013 with a guilty plea from Jordan Graham to second degree murder at the federal courthouse in Missoula, Montana. Cody Lee Johnson's fate was decided this past July in Glacier Park. Somewhere near the dead birch tree at the bottom of the rock retaining wall is where Jordan Graham pushed Cody Lee Johnson off the ledge into the creek bed below. Most likely it was out of sight to the left along that ledge but news reports to date have been very vague regarding such details. The recovery crew was descending this rock retaining wall about 20 feet to the left of this spot, later in the afternoon. This photo was taken just before 9 am on the day that Glacier National Park Rangers recovered Cody Lee Johnson's body.

Loop Wall  Shawn Coggins

December 12, 2013 Two Medicine Web Camera is back on-line!

December 11, 2013 ~ "Overall, the avalanche hazard is CONSIDERABLE. This means that human triggered avalanches are likely particularly on steep slopes with unsettled and wind affected recent storm snow and in areas where buried surface hoar and crust layers are more reactive." source Flathead Avalanche Center
Note: Flathead Avalanche Center does not actually rate the snow conditions in Glacier National Park, however it does the rate the mountains to the west of Glacier National Park.

Arctic air gone for the moment with sunrise temps rising 20 degrees on December 9, 2013 to 5 F up some 20 degrees from last week. Many Glacier was getting temps of minus 48 last week, currently that SNOTEL is reading 6 F. Lake McDonald has started to freeze. Another two weeks until official start of winter.

Dec 11, 2013 well it snowed nearly a foot at my place yesterday. So had to take the bucket off my tractor and switch to the snow plow. Then plow my driveway. This year is starting to remind me a lot of the winters of 90-91 and 95-96.

Newlywed bride murder trial started December 9, 2013, in Missoula. Despite all the discussion of the Loop Trail all of the activity on the recovery of her husband's body occurred at The Loop below the rock ledge opposite to the lower parking area at The Loop. Once the jury is selected I will put up a photo taken that day of the drop down from that rock wall.

November 24, 2013
Went to Polebridge hoping to snowshoe in the park. Turns out that Polebridge had way less snow than I was expecting, plus heavily crusted. So walked on the road to Kintla Lake with just hiking boots and poles. Shortly after crossing Akokala Creek there is a swale with a small creek which feeds into Akokala Creek just below the bridge. While Akokala Creek was mostly frozen this unnamed creek in the swale was mostly not frozen with occasional ice flowers on the tips of the meadow grass.

The Polebridge Merch which according to their website closes today November 24, 2013, however according to the sole employee manning the bakery counter they will be open till next Sunday. (call before you go to verify) About halfway between the Camus Road intersection with the North Fork Road and Polebridge it appears that Flathead County plow crews have decided that single track is good enough.

Long time Park employee retires. I will miss Fred. I have a neighbor that is a couple of decades older then Fred who still works at the Apgar Visitor Center.

Saturday November 16, 2013 winter is here as snow covers most of Glacier Park. Earlier this morning the Two Medicine web cam was operational it now has joined the Lake McDonald web camera and is off line. However since this is a weekend there is no historical photo as a place holder. The Lake McDonald webcam is down as it is showing high clouds and no lower elevation snow while Apgar is showing about 4 inches of new snow which is about twice what I have in Whitefish. St Mary's camera is only showing light snow which is not unusual for that area while Two Medicine is snow covered. Weather forecast is for snow mixed with rain for the next six days.

Tuesday November 12, 2013, Hungry Horse News article on negative impact of Glacier Park Shuttle on wildlife.

Monday November 11, 2013 latest twist in the Glacier Park murder charges against the 8 day bride in todays Missoulian.

For topo map users here is a helpful link to the NGDC site which will calculate Magnetic Declination. FYI the zip code for West Glacier, Montana is 59936.

Husband and wife stranded on Beartooth Highway for six freezing nights. Link to The Missoulian article. Beartooth Highway

On Sunday October 20, 2013 the GTSR was open on the west side to Big Bend. It was a sunny, warm day. I was lucky to find a parking spot at Big Bend in the early afternoon. Hiked to Logan Pass the Going To The Sun Road was clear of snow and ice until the RimRock area just before Oberlin Bend. Their was a small avalanche that had come down and covered over half of the road just before the right hand 90 degree bend. From Oberlin the road was covered with a thin layer of compacted snow and intermittent ice. Once I reached the snow line there was a very pronounced thermocline with the temperature dropping at least 20 degrees. The snow and ice on the road bed was not melting from Oberlin on up to Logan Pass.

I was in Glacier Park on Saturday October 26, 2013 for a Stop, Look and Listen lecture by Dan Fagre the USGS glacier specialist for Glacier National Park. Will write more regarding that lecture on Monday as high winds from winter storm front may knock out my power (there were two lectures need to verify spelling for the second lecturer). Watched as four trees blew over, still have power. Photo below is from the beach at the Apgar Winter Camping area. Please note that free winter camping doesn't start until November 1, 2013 for Apgar and St Mary. St Mary is not showing up on the web as closed but don't know how accurate that information is at this time. The haze in the distance is from a large slash burn just across the Middle Fork River from Glacier Park. I had hoped to get some data on water flow on Upper McDonald Creek which has dropped considerably during the summer months over the last few years but surprise, surprise, budget cuts eliminated the water gauge on Upper McDonald Creek. I hope this winter to be able to get together with Dan Fagre or Lisa McKeon to help me properly identify all of the glaciers that are visible from SwiftCurrent Lookout. Lisa McKeon has been very busy with the Repeat Photography Web Site for USGS. There are a lot of new images added since I last visited this past spring.

The Montana House puts on the Stop, Look and Listen lecture series. The Montana House is located next to the visitor center in Apgar and is the only thing in West Glacier that is open year round. Excluding holidays and this year it is my understanding that the first week of December they will be closed to refinish the floors. They have a very large selection of books on Glacier Park, Native American history, wildflowers and other subjects related to Northwest Montana.

I'm leaving for the winter this photo of Swiftcurrent Mountain from Oberlin Bend the Photo series is now located to mark the closing of Glacier Park is now located here. Swiftcurrent Mountain if you squint there is a small rectangular shape at the top center of the mountain. This is the Swiftcurrent Lookout which this year I got within 200 vertical feet before turning around due to muscle cramps. The photos from the Lookout which you can see here were taken last year, while the photos looking down at the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail were taken this year.

Glacier National Park was closed for the first time in over 100 years!
Day 1 Snow Depth Flattop Mountain 6 inches
Day 2 Snow Depth Flattop Mountain 10 inches
Day 3 Snow Depth Flattop Mountain 10 inches ~Temp 30 Deg F
Day 4 Don't know weather station now off line. It was 22 Deg F in Whitefish this morning

The Loop Trail murder is in the news again
(10-3-13) with first degree murder charges served on Jordan Linn Graham the bride of 8 days. Trial date set symbolically enough for December 9, 2013. The starting Trial Date is set for one more day than the marriage lasted. While news reports discuss The Loop Trail actual recovery took place at The Loop. The outer stone wall on the Going To The Sun Road as it goes up towards Logan Pass from Apgar is directly above a very steep, rock retaining wall built to create the sharp switch back that is now known as The Loop. It is on this wall that the two Park Rangers were waiting when I started up The Loop Trail early that morning. It was on this same wall that the rescue crew member in full climbing gear and helmet was waiting for the rescue helicopter, when I returned from Granite Park Chalet. The staging area for the helicopter was near the restrooms below Logan Creek further down the Going To The Sun Road. updated (10-15-13)

This past summer was a great year for wildflowers, the alpine meadow between Granite Park Chalet and Swiftcurrent Pass was filled with blooming glacier lilies. My last hike in Glacier Park this year on September 17, 2013, was also my first time to Firebrand Pass. Hope to get a page together for it some time this week. Earlier this year I hiked, on July 19, 2013, again for the first time to Two Medicine Pass which is five air miles from Firebrand Pass, not trail miles as there is no direct maintained trail between the two passes. Firebrand Pass is a much easier hike than Two Medicine Pass but Two Medicine Pass wins the visceral award hands down.

Added to that was the treat of sunrise reflecting Sinopah Mountain onto Two Medicine Lake just as I started the hike. There is a ridge to the left of Sinopah also brushed by the warm early light of sunrise. The little notch on that ridge is as far as I made it that day as the wind gusting across the ridge curtailed my hike.

Winter arrived early this year in the higher elevations of Glacier National Park. The remote weather station at Flattop Mountain is reporting 8 inches of snow as of noon on October 1, 2013. The thirty year average for this date is zero inches.
Looks like October 1 snow depth dropped to 6 inches by midnight then started to climb again on October 2 and as of 7 am stands at 10 inches.

grinnell glacier from above glacier national park © Shawn Coggins

Logan Pass opened this year to through traffic on June 21, 2013
~ Logan Pass opened from the East Side of Glacier Park on June 15, 2013
September 23, 2013 - A section of the road (GTSR) will close to vehicle traffic to accommodate accelerated road rehabilitation. You will still be able to drive to Logan Pass, most likely from the West Entrance. October 20, 2013 - The last day to drive to Logan Pass. October 21, 2013 - The alpine section of the road will be inaccessible to vehicles.

Shuttle Service started July 1, 2013 at 7:30 AM please note the later starting time! Logan Pass opened June 21, 2013
~ Logan Pass Opened June 19, 2012
~ Logan Pass Opened July 13, 2011 ~

GNP Trail Status Reports DO NOT Appear to be current or up to date
as of 9-25-13

Glacier National Park Trail
Status Information for 2013

I have divided information for 2013 into three separate pages.

2013 info from January till the end of June 2013 is now located on the 2013-Winter-Spring-GNP page.

2013 info for July is now located on the 2013-July-GNP page
Information concerning trail opening dates and other historical weather dependent information for 2011 and 2010 is located here

Here is an on the scene video of one of the twelve rock slides that occurred on July 19, 2012 in GNP on The-Going-To-The-Sun-Road . . . . YouTube

Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes.
They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy,
set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.
log John Muir

Current Conditions in Glacier National Park for 2013

This is a compilation of on-line news from various government web sites and on the ground observations from my various visits to Glacier National Park it is as accurate as I can make it but there is not a guarantee of its complete accuracy. For the most current trail conditions all campgrounds have a weather and trail report posted on their boards.

road closed 2013

October 1, 2013
Glacier Park is closed for the first time in over one hundred years. Google has joined in it's own unique way it's silent protest of the folly that is Congress. Today on my screen is displaying a collage of National Park patches.
Flattop Mountain remote weather station on the western side of Glacier Park is reporting 8 inches of snow as of noon today. When GNP was reporting 8 inches of snow at Logan Pass FlatTop Mountain was reporting zero inches of snow. So a good guess would be about 16 inches minimum at Logan Pass today. Winter is settling into the upper reaches of Glacier Park blissfully unaware of the games going on in Washington DC.
FYI October 1st is the start of the official snow / water year data collection. There was about 85 inches of precipitation last year at Flattop Mountain. Which if memory serves is pretty near to average over the last 40 some years. A good friend of mine has a political commentary website I will leave to him further comments on this truly sad subject.

September 30, 2013
Quote is from todays NYTimes
"Hikers headed into the wilds of Utah's Zion National Park on Monday were warned to pack up their trail mix and head back to civilization within 48 hours, said Aly Baltrus, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Parks Service."

Looks like its snowing in Two Medicine. Will try and get to Demer's Ridge soon. It is clear in Whitefish but the web cams in Glacier Park show low cloud cover. Apgar webcam is showing a very distinct snow line on its view towards the Garden Wall. GTSR closed at the Loop. It seems I was wrong and the GTSR was open for a day or so to Logan Pass from the west. With the government set to 'shutdown' tomorrow it will be anyones guess as to were the gate is left shut. Since The Loop historically stays clear of snow for some time hopefully that gate will remain were it is at present. My optimism seems to be refuted by the above quote from the NY Times. There is a possibility that the web sites as well as the web cameras will go dark.

September 29, 2013
All of the GNP web cams appear to be down Except for Two Medicine. Winter has arrived early this year at the higher elevations. I do not expect to be able to drive to Logan Pass until next summer. With the expected government shutdown park services will be severely limited. In the past the GTSR has remained opened to whatever gate was in place on the the day of the shutdown. Hopefully that will be the case this year. Since visibility is extremely limited I don't plan on driving over to West Glacier any time soon. Will wait until the cloud layer lifts.

Wouldn't recommend starting on any trails that have suspension bridges as despite the lack of updates on the Trail Status Page my guess is all the suspension bridges have been removed.

If anyone know otherwise please send me a note!

September 26, 2013
The Going To The Sun Road is closed due to heavy snow at Logan Pass at Big Bend on the west side and due to construction on the east side at St Mary.

September 25, 2013
Well The Going To The Sun Road is closed on the east side. Only four more days of camping in Many Glacier and after that ALL of the National Park campgrounds on the east side of the park will be closed well before winter sets into the valleys. Lots of drive time to visit the east send me the park this fall. I'm starting the slow process of individual wildlife pages with the most famous of Glacier Parks wildlife the grizzly bear.

September 20, 2013

This weekend was your last chance to drive the entire Going to The Sun Road!

It is also the last time that you will be able to hike ANY of the East Side Hikes that intersect the Going to The Sun Road!

The St. Mary Campground, located on the east side of the park, is closed temporarily.

September 19, 2013
Trail Postings Highline Trail, from Granite Park Chalet to Logan Pass - bear frequenting St Mary Falls Trail, from Jackson Glacier Overlook to Sun Point - bear frequenting Sperry Trail, b/w Sperry Chalet and Gunsight Lake – bear frequenting Hidden Lake Trail - bear frequenting Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, 1/2 mile east and west of Bullhead Lake - bear frequenting
Above Info from NPS
This years service berry is spotty, while in some areas such as St Mary Campground has lots of berries while Many Glacier had a poor crop.
Of course St Mary Campground berry crop is the same as offering a young child candy then slapping their wrist when the reach out to take it.

September 18, 2013
Snow at Logan Pass and other locations above 6,000 feet.

September 17, 2013
Hiked to Firebrand Pass. Nice views moderate hike, actually the easiest pass hike that I have done in Glacier Park.

In addition to the views was fortunate to have great, back-country experienced, hiking partners. Actually my hiking partners have a more diverse back-country experience with other National Parks.

September 16, 2013
Discovered that St Mary Campground is hard sided campers ONLY. No notice on parks website to this effect! Expect that it will show up on parks web site in two or three days. Luckily for me it had rained the night before in Many Glacier and there were camping spaces available.

September 15, 2013
Two murders in Glacier Park that occurred thirty years apart. Both in the same general area of the park. The Missoulian today reports on the first recorded murder in Glacier Park which occurred thirty years ago this past July.

September 13, 2013
Missoulian article on hiker who fell into Jackson Glacier crevasse. Amazing that it wasn't a fatal accident

September 11, 2013
Flathead Beacon has an article about the new superintendent of Glacier Park Jeff Mow.

September 9, 2013   
This appears to be the first murder in Glacier Park's 100 years. There have been some suspicious deaths but never before has anyone been arrested for murder in GNP. Press reports mention The Loop Trail but recovery efforts were focused on the steep terrain below The Loop retaining wall which faces Heavens Peak.

The more I read about the murder of Cody Lee Johnson with his newly wed spouse 'discovering' his body the more it reminds me of a short story written in 1843, by Edgar Allen Poe the 'Tell Tale Heart'.

Several newspapers (most of the newspapers in the US plus the Daily Mail in UK) have published that the newly wed wife of the young man, Cody Lee Johnson, from Kalispell, whose body was found at the bottom of The Loop this summer, has been arrested for his murder. I was camping at Sprague Creek Campground the night his body was found. For those of you not familiar with Glacier Park police sirens at dusk, along with the sound of loudly racing police motors racing by the campground are not an everyday occurrence. The next morning I drove up to The Loop to hike to Granite Park Chalet. Two Rangers were sitting on the rock wall above the sharp drop-off at The Loop. In addition several police cars were parked several spaces apart with yellow tape linking them together.

When I returned from my hike to Granite Park Chalet The Loop was swarming with Park Rangers and an assortment of others some in serious climbing gear rigged to belay down the sharp rock wall at The Loop. After leaving The Loop and heading back to my campsite, the helicopter staging area just below Logan Creek was almost as crowded with rescue crews and Park Rangers as The Loop had been.

Due to the steep terrain in Glacier Park, the park has established multiple locations throughout the park as designated helicopter rescue spots. Currently rangers are not set up for long line helicopter recovery and rely on aid from the Canadian Park service. Just as during this summers flooding from Calgary to Banff the US provided red cross helicopters to rescue stranded by the flooding.

This has been a very tragic year from a fatality standpoint in Glacier Park. My condolences to Cody Lee Johnson’s family. I will need to do some research to determine when the last murder occurred in the park. This is not the kind of news that I want to report.

I think I have some photos of the rocks below The Loop if so I will post them later. I am impressed with how quiet the FBI has been during this investigation. Yesterdays news reports were the first instance that I came across with a reference to the fact that the newlywed 'discovered' the body. When you see my pics of The Loop you will understand why this 'discovery' immediately made her the prime suspect in his murder.

September 4, 2013   Top of Page
Man Falls in Crevasse at Jackson Glacier

At approximately 8:50 a.m. this morning park dispatch received a call from a backcountry ranger reporting there was an injured visitor at the Gunsight Lake Backcountry Campground. The campground is located approximately five miles from the trailhead along the Going-to-the-Sun Road east of Logan Pass. According to reports from backcountry campers, a 36-year old male from California suffered injuries sustained from a 30-40 foot fall into a crevasse on Jackson Glacier Tuesday evening. It is believed the man was able to self rescue out of the crevasse and hike approximately 2.5 miles to the backcountry campground. Campers at the campground assisted him and spent the night at the campground with him. Early this morning three campers began hiking to the trailhead to report the need for medical assistance and that the man was unable to hike out due to his injuries. Several other campers stayed with the injured man. A backcountry ranger patrolling in the area was notified of the situation and contacted park dispatch for medical assistance. A.L.E.R.T. Air Ambulance was called and responded to the scene at approximately 10:00 a.m. today and transported the man to medical facilities. The extent of the man's injuries are unknown, but reported as not life threatening. It is believed the man was hiking and climbing alone. Travel on and around glaciers in the park is not recommended.

September 3, 2013
Glacier Parks web site status update has been 'adjusting' to the Labor Day closings of campgrounds. For a day it showed Bowman Lake Campground as closed which I am happy to say is no longer the case.

September 2, 2013
Labor Day marks the 'official' end of summer for Glacier Park. Sadly this years budget cut backs are going to make hiking on the east side of the park a matter of logistics since both Two Medicine and Many Glacier campgrounds will not be open as long as they have in the past.
Many Glacier will not be open in October this year, while Two Medicine will close on 8th of September 2013 which is 7 weeks earlier then normal. I expect that St Mary Campground will see a major upswing in it's fall camping use this year.

The following campgrounds closed today: Avalanche, (Bowman Lake now shown as NOT CLOSED), Fish Creek and Rising Sun.
Today is also the LAST DAY of operation for the Free Park Shuttle!

August 31, 2013   Top of Page

Earlier today I posted that all front country campgrounds were full. As of 3:12 pm today ALL the Campgrounds in Glacier Park are full except for Rising Sun and who knows how they are calculating full or not full since at this time they only allowing hard sided campers. Blue skies, warm weather and no smoke on the horizon certainly contributed to the campgrounds operating at capacity.
All front country campsites filled last night along with Bowman and Kintla Lakes. Not exactly a surprise. Weather looks near perfect for the 2013 Labor Day weekend in Glacier Park.

Monday is the LAST day of operation for the GNP free shuttle!
If you are planning on visiting GNP after Labor Day be sure and read the NPS Press Release on the Fall Shutdown Schedule. There is a link below on the August 28th entry.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream.
    Mark Twain