This Info is from 2011 and 2010
Best Early Season Hikes for 2011
On the west side of the park the Rocky Point Trail is the current leader in best wildflower displays especially bear grass this year. Red Rock Falls Trail in Many Glacier has all it's bridges in place. The small beach at Red Rock Lake is under water but the views from the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail of Red Rock Falls and the Many Glacier Valley are spectacular. Red Rock Falls itself this year is the best and largest amount of water over the falls. Grinnell Lake Trail according to the latest NPS Trail reports is clear from the boat dock at the western end of Lake Joesphine.
NPS press Release 6-24-11
Hiker/Biker access will be limited this weekend due to the paving schedule this weekend in the construction zone between Logan Pit and the West Tunnel. Hiker/Biker restrictions will be three and a half miles beyond Avalanche Creek for both Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26.
Good chance that most of the resurfacing is complete as of 6-30-11
The Montana Highway Department is resurfacing Route 2 between Marias Pass and Bear creek. For some reason they have decided not to alert you of this with their fancy new signs. Expect delays up to thirty minutes.
Two weeks ago the NPS plow crew reported two and one half feet of new snow on sections of the Going To The Sun Road that had already been plowed. The Missoulian reports on plowing as of June 15, 2011. After reviewing photos that I took last year on opening day June 24, 2010 and other photos from hikes in Glacier Park over the next few days it is clear that two to three weeks later this year will be lucky for many of those hikes. With the exception of the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail which is always open on opening day for The Going To The Sun Road most of the Alpine Trails won't be passable till late July at the earliest. Hidden Lake Overlook Trail will most likely be snow covered until late July and possibly have some sections of snow still on the trail in August.
Summer Season Construction With Visitation Traffic 3 Segments: Big Bend to Logan Pass and Logan Pass to Siyeh Bend . . . each with 20 mins. daytime delay (June 17 to Sept 19) and Haystack Creek to Big Bend. . . construction forecast to begin late summer following completion of Logan Pass to Siyeh Bend . . .. Summer Season Night time Delays Expect nighttime closures from 9PM Monday through 7AM Friday between the Loop and Logan Pass. A 15-20 minute window for vehicle passage will begin at 2:00PM nightly.
After September 18, the road will be closed between Avalanche and the west side of Logan Pass. Logan Pass will be accessible from the St. Mary entrance.
Info above From USDOT web site. Were USDOT says June 17, 2011 substitute actual opening date of TGTSR which is currently UNKOWN. There is a Minus 50 percent chance that The Going To The Sun Road will open on June 17, 2011. After going back to the USDOT website and rereading the information it appears that Logan Pass will be open from the east side all summer.
As of June 5, 2011 the main entrances to Glacier Park are all open, you can drive to Many Glacier, and Two Medicine Lake. Many Glacier Campground to open June 17, 2011. Two Medicine Campground to open June 24, 2011. Most of the ground level snow is gone in Many Glacier while Two Medicine at Two Medicine Lake still has lots of snow as of June 15, 2011. Glacier Lilies are blooming along most of the park roads on the east side as of June 15, 2011. It's wet and muddy most everywhere in Northwest Montana with three days to go until the official start of summer.
As of June 10, 2011 late spring weather has been very wet in some of the valleys in the form of rain and in others as heavy wet snow. In the mountains snow continues to accumulate. On the west side of the park GTSR is open to Avalanche assuming the road doesn't wash out from spring flooding. Camus Road is open from Apgar to the park boundary. On the east side of the Park GTSR is open to Jackson Glacier Overlook. All other roads except for GTSR and the Inner North Fork Road are open as of June 10, 2011. Well that lasted about a day as the Cutbank Campground Road is closed due to mud as of June 13, 2011. As of June 10, 2011 biking is open in Glacier Park on the west side of Going To The Sun Road to Logan Creek, but is 'discouraged' by the NPS due to avalanche dangers. Snowfall reports from January 1, 2011 mountain snowfall was reported to be 64% greater then then same date last year. . . Snowfall did not let up during January of 2011, snowfall picked up again in April of this year.
Spring biking season on Going To The Sun Road at this time is weather dependant. The western part of Going To The Sun Road, as of April 12, 2011, is clear of snow and ice to Lake McDonald Lodge. GTSR is now gated to vehicle traffic at Avalanche on the west side and Rising Sun on the East Side. In the Two Medicine Valley the road is open to Running Eagle Falls for cars and hiking/biking the road is plowed to the foot of Two Medicine Lake. As of 5-22-11 Two Medicine Lake is still frozen. Many Glacier Valley road opened for vehicle traffic on 5-16-11. (Looking Glass Road open as of 6-15-11) Looking Glass Road is still closed at the turn off for Two Medicine Lake as of 5-22-11. Glacier Lilies are starting to bloom along the roadside in the Two Medicine Valley as of 5-22-11. Rt 2 from Marias Pass to Bear Creak is being resurfaced as of June 15, 2011. Potholes between the park boundary on rt 2 east of the Goat Lick and Marias Pass are treacherous.
WEST GLACIER, MONT – Glacier National Park road crews have begun spring snow plowing on the park's roads and are finding substantial amounts of snow. Flattop and Many Glacier Snotel sites, snow measuring stations, are showing between 20 and 40 percent above normal snow water equivalent. Last week, USGS snow survey crews recorded 100 inches of snow on the ground at Siyeh Bend, two miles east of Logan Pass, and 140 inches of snow at the 7,500 foot elevation nearby. NPS 4-5-11 Park snotel sites that collect data on the snowpack usually would be leveling off or showing a decrease in snow water equivalent (SWE) at this time of year. However, the Many Glacier snotel site accelerated to 206 percent of normal SWE in the last couple of weeks. Avalanche Specialists for the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) recorded 16 feet of snow at the 6000 foot level along the Garden Wall above the Sun Road. West Glacier weather records which date back to 1958, show March 2011 as the wettest month on record and April 2011 so far is just shy of the record. Temperatures remained unseasonably cool in the park as well. nps 4-23-11
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – The road into the Many Glacier Valley was opened on Monday, May 16. There are no facilities open in the valley therefore visitors should be prepared to bring in their own food and water. The Bowman Lake road and the campground (no potable water available) will open Friday morning as well as the Inside North Fork road from Polebridge Ranger Station to Logging Creek (eight miles). The Lake McDonald Lodge will open on Saturday May 21. Glacier Park Boat Company and the Red Buses will begin operating tours on the same day. NPS 5-19-11
Photo above of one of the model T's participating in the "Montana Majestic Mountain T Tour". Michael Jamison in his on going series on Glacier Park at One Hundred years writes about this 'Tour' in the Missoulian.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 was a cloudy, misty day, Logan Pass was in the clouds, the drivers and passengers in their model 'T' were not phased by the inclement weather. I will be adding more photo's of Model 'T' in Glacier Park later this week. Including a nicely restored Depot Hack which was not part of the tour. The model 'T' shown above is a fairly recent purchase for it's current owner. Will also be adding pics of this model 'T' coils, and engine. One of the obvious things watching these old cars climb up towards Logan Pass is that the Going To The Sun Road was designed with these cars climbing ability and width.
The Going To The Sun Road has new night time travel restrictions. Monday night through Thursday, on the west side of Logan Pass, motor vehicle travel will be restricted between
9 p.m. and 7 a.m. between Big Bend and Logan Pass. The same restrictions will apply on the east side except for a 15 minute 'window' at 2 AM. The 'window only allows travel between Logan Pass and the east side. There will be NO CROSS traffic between the east side and the west side after 9 PM Monday through Thursday. If your planning on hiking across the divide MAKE contingency plans.
Glacier Park has clarified the closing times in the latest news release, the current rules will make hiking across the divide easier as there is now a Three Night window to cross over Logan Pass. Under the currently posted restrictions the Going To The Sun Road will be open at night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from West Glacier to St. Mary. There will still be delays as the road is one lane in two places between Big Bend and Logan Pass, but these delays are usually minor. Update 6-26-10 traffic delays on weekends in the park are minimal. East side is two way from Logan Pass. West side has two short one lane sections.
Stories about Glacier National Park at 100 years.
Went hiking in the park on Saturday afternoon, 6-26-10 and as I was approaching the Big Drift a Big Horn Ram appeared along the side of The Going To The Sun Road. This time he was on the east side, on 6-24-10 he was on the west side.
If your going to spend an hour and a half to get from Big Bend to Logan Pass then at least be lucky enough to be stuck behind a 1927 Chevy. I've seen many a new car that had problems getting up this road, this '27 Chevy took the road without any trouble.
The 1928 Chevrolet Convertible Sport Cabriolet is painted the same red as the Jammers and was a few cars behind me on opening day 2010 for The Going To The Sun Road on Glacier National Park's 100th Anniversary.
Bighorn Ram © Shawn Coggins
The Highline Trail and the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail start at 6,600 feet. Many of these day hikes traverse mountains essentially untouched by man, bring the proper rain gear. Plan your Glacier National Park lodging well in advance. on some of the trails in Glacier Park the trail itself is the only sign of civilization, other more popular trails are often crowded with a wide variety of 'hikers'. I hiked the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail on Sunday 8/10/08, lots of people, lots of wildlife, a few wildflowers were left. Mountain goats at the Overlook but the real treat was two bands of Big Horn Rams near the visitor center. The younger band were running around in circles, across a snow field, then pairing off to butt heads.
Hidden Lake Trail is 100% snow covered, (June 24, 2010) the deck at Hidden Lake Overlook has been cleared of snow. For the first time in 20 years I didn't see any mountain goats at the overlook. On my return from St.. Mary I did see and photograph Big Horn Rams on the west side of Going To The Sun Road.
Day Hikes in Glacier, available at the entrance stations to Glacier National Park, and the Visitor Centers in West Glacier and Saint Mary, lists sixty-one hikes that you can take without a passport. The 2010 version includes information on the free Glacier Park Shuttle, get a copy of the latest Glacier Shuttle Guide as the Glacier Shuttle has changed routes and hours of operation since it's opening. As long as the hike starts on the Going to the Sun Road and ends somewhere else on the Going to the Sun Road the Park Shuttle works great. It is truly a pleasure to use, but if your hike starts on the Going to the Sun Road and then ends in Many Glacier your options are much more limited. At this point June 26, 2010 it is unclear what the status is of the Shuttle Stop at Siyeh Bend as that parking area is under construction. There is no question that parking will be VERY limited at Siyeh Bend for the 2010 hiking season. Siyeh Bend has a temp shuttle bust stop sign next to the portable toilet. Will check this stop out soon after the shuttle starts service for 2010.
Updated the site June 6, 2010 with photographs from the Inner North Fork Road and the John's Lake Trail. Updated the site, June 15, 2010, with photos and description of the South Boundary Trail from West Glacier to Lincoln Creek. Updated the site with photos from the Red Eagle Trail June 16, 2010. Added link to Missoulian article on The Wolverine Way, June 17, 2010. Beaver Pond Trail added June 21, 2010, is a nice, easy, early season wildflower trail. Updated the site June 25, 2010 with photos from opening day of antique cars on The Going To The Sun Road, plus photo of Big Horn Ram on Going To The Sun Road just below Logan Pass. Updated the site July 6, 2010 with Baring Falls Trail, a short steep, eastside hike. Added Apikuni Falls Trail which is located in Many Glacier.
Visited Big Bend shortly after The Going To The Sun Road opened to that point Friday afternoon. Access beyond Big Bend is prohibited at this time. Marmot was the only wildlife I saw up there. The normal avalanche accumulation appeared to be less then in other years. The light was great, will add pics on Sunday, today I'm off to Red Eagle Trail to get some more wildflower pics while the sun is shinning. 2010 has been a very wet spring, with above average rain fall and lots of high winds. June is the wettest month in northwest Montana, June of 2010 is going down in the record books, since the month is not yet over and the forecast is for still more rain, suffice it to say that two on separate days the rainfall has almost reached the monthly average. Snow levels in the mountains are currently at 110 percent of average, during April they were at 75 percent of average. The lower elevation trails are opening up quickly but the higher elevation trails remain snow covered. At this point, July 6, 2010, all the trails will be wet on the westside of the park. I've read trail reports of 500 hundred plus trees down on some trails. (largely blow downs resulting from the Roberts Fire) Once again the unsung heroes of Glacier Park are the trail crews. July 21, 2010 added a web page for the aptly named Scenic Point, Mount Henry Trail this week. The entire Inside North Fork Road opened on Monday, May 17, 2010. Then in mid June it closed due to flooding, in early July 2010 it reopened again. Realistically you need to go to Fish Creek and see if the road is open. Howe Lake Trail sign is easy to miss, Logging Lake Trail is hard to miss.
Glacier Park is a great place to learn how to use a compass, the trails are generally well marked, topo maps are readily available. The book Wilderness Navigation covers the things you need to know to find your way around using a compass.
Unique view of the Going To The Sun Road from the top of Mount Oberlin USGS 1953
Located in Northwest Montana, Glacier National Park is truly a magical and breathtaking jewel. Glacier National Park is a hikers park, a wildflower park. 2009 was a great wildflower year, bear grass experienced one of its major bloom cycles. On July 17, 2009 the glacier lilies were once again blanketing the alpine meadows at Logan Pass. If you want to see wildlife in Glacier National Park follow the glacier lilies. Glacier lilies are a major food source for grizzly bears, big horn sheep, squirrels and other assorted wildlife. Glacier National Park extensive hiking trails provide easy access to wilderness areas. After only a few minutes on the Loop Trail to Granite Park Chalet civilization is out of sight and out of hearing, since the Trapper Peak Fire of 2003 it provides an up close view of the effects of forest fires.
Snowfall during the winter of 2009/2010 was below average, particularly in the lower elevations. Snowfall during the spring of 2010 was well above average. Except for the Hidden Lake Trail most high altitude trails will be closed most likely till the second week in July. 2010 hiking season is off to a good start between frequent snow and rainfall during June of this year. Snowshoed into Hidden Lake Overlook on opening day of Logan Pass this year. My hiking season during 2009 was very limited. The most memorable thing about hiking during the very short season due to heavy snowfall of 2008, was the abundance of bighorn sheep. During 2008 bighorn sheep were plentiful in Many Glacier and along the Going to the Sun Road. During the 2007 hiking season I saw more than a hundred bighorn sheep in multiple locations throughout Glacier National Park. This bighorn ram posed for me at the parking area for Hay Stack Peak on the west side of Going to the Sun Road in 2005. Even though the bighorn ram was nearly surrounded by people and I was on the other side of Going to the Sun Road, he kept his eye on my telephoto lens. On a trip to Many Glacier in mid June of 2008 there were numerous big horn sheep near the Many Glacier Hotel enjoying the green grass around the hotel.
The thing I find most striking about the big horn sheep, aside from the horns on the rams
is their eyes. According to the Montana Field Guide ~ Big Horn Sheep are the 'Most sociable of Montana's big game species; herds segregate according to age and sex; ewes, lambs and yearling males band together; adult males band in herds spanning 2 or 3 year classes. . .' Note 01
USGS Photo 1911 Glacier National Park, Montana. U.S. Geological Survey party in camp at Jefferson ranch, probably Sullivan Meadow. Left to right: J.Elmer Thomas, J.R. Hoats, dog "Bumsky", Charlie McCarthy, W.C. Alden, Thomas Jefferson (the prospector), his dog, and Archie Hurtebese. 1911
When I first started hiking in Glacier National Park in 1990 I huffed and puffed my way up the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. Twenty years later the altitude still gets to me but it usually only takes the first hike of the season from Logan Pass to Hidden Lake Overlook to get readjusted to the altitude. I was able to hike over one hundred fifty miles in 2007 in Glacier National Park. That includes the Loop - Swiftcurrent Pass Trail that I told my youngest daughter 10 years ago that I would never be able to hike. In 2008 I hiked Cracker Lake Trail, and the Mount Brown Lookout Trail among others not quite so daunting.
Bears both black and grizzly are a fact of life in Northwest Montana. I've encountered black bears on my front porch. I've even had Fish and Wildlife bang on my front door to tell me there was a grizzly bear in my yard. Until I started hiking in the Two Medicine and Many Glacier areas of Glacier National Park I had more bear encounters while hiking the Danny On Trail on Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. Always hike with bear spray! I always hike with bear spray in my hand it doesn't do you any good in your backpack. A few years ago a study by Katherine Kendall of the Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project was done in Northwest Montana and included Glacier National Park, this DNA study of grizzly bears counted some 563 unique grizzlies.
A hiking vacation in Glacier National Park is something you should prepare for, as the lowest starting point for any hike is 3,000 feet. Extra care should be taken when hiking on snow covered trails. The winter of 2009/2010 was a low snow winter, the spring of 2010 is famous for heavy snow accumulation and lots of rain. The winter of 2008/2009 was a heavy snow year. According to Montana Fish and Wildlife the low level snow accumulation exceeds that of the heaviest snow year on record during the winter of 1996/1997.
This wildflower pic was taken on the Apikuni Falls Trail, if you know what the name of this wildflower is please send an email to Shawn Coggins . Even with four wildflower reference books I still occasionally come across a wildflower that I am unable to identify. July 5, 2010 added information on the Apikuni Falls Trail.
Stories about Glacier National Park at 100 years.
The Missoulian is presenting a monthly series on Glacier Park by Michael Jamison. Glacier National Park at One hundred years . . . " They used to dance here. Back before the tourists and the motor inns, before roadways and boat ramps, before blacktop and gift shops and bus stops."
MICHAEL JAMISON brings a different perspective to One hundred years in Glacier National Park The Backbone of the World
MICHAEL JAMISON tells of Chris Peterson saga of photographing Glacier Park for "100 Days in the Park"
You can experience these photos by Chris Peterson at "Glacier Park Magazine".
In the ongoing series published in the Missoulian, Michael Jamison writes about the influence of Great Northern Railway on the formation of Glacier National Park One hundred years ago. "In fact, the train runs here in part because of the views; and the views remain, in part, because of the train. The great irony of Glacier National Park is that its wild nature was saved from the clutches of eager industrialists by that most eager industrialist of them all, the railroad baron." Parallel Tracks: Glacier National Park born from Great Northern Railway
April's addition to Michael Jamison series on One Hundred Years of Glacier National Park is "Wildlife greetings".
The Missoulian on A national park the locals learned to love.
Michael Jamison of the Missoulian continues his series on Glacier National Park at One Hundred Years with . . . The Wolverine Way "WHITEFISH - Author Doug Chadwick's main characters are inevitably long in tooth and claw, with great, hairy, formidable reputations, wild and woolly and fiercely independent."
Michael Jamison of the Missoulian July addition to his series on One Hundred Years in Glacier Park focuses on Park Rangers then and now.
Mountain goat on the Hidden Lake Trail Glacier National Park. Mountain goats 'Breed in November and December; usually one kid, but sometimes two on good range; billies fight head to tail, sometimes inflicting serious wounds to hindquarters and flanks' . . . Note 02
The Logan Pass area of Glacier National Park is a great location to observe mountain goats.
Lunar Eclipse Glacier National Park © Shawn Coggins. There was a total lunar eclipse visible in Montana on February 20th of 2008. The start of the lunar eclipse was silhouetted against Huckleberry Mountain. The trees on this ridge burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003. After the sun set over Demer's Ridge the wind started to race up the North Fork River. This photograph was taken a few feet from the edge of the snow-covered Camas Road Bridge. Luckily I live near an area that truly still has nights with dark sky. The only light in the valley was from starlight and the moon over the mountains. The moon first appeared at the ridge edge at 6:44 PM MST and was back to full moon at 10:15 PM MST. In Kalispell, Montana the moonrise was at 5:30 PM. It was later for me because I was twenty miles closer to the mountains. I added a Google Map with terrain to show the location where this lunar eclipse was photographed. It was a very cold night at the river's edge. Even by starlight it was easy to see why Montana is called Big Sky Country. At this point I'm in the process of putting together a slide show of the total eclipse. The last total eclipse that I photographed was in October of 2004. It was a lot warmer then! That year I shot the start of that eclipse on the shore of Flathead Lake near Somers, Montana and the finish from near Whitefish, Montana. Photographing the total lunar eclipse in 2004 helped me prepare for capturing the lunar eclipse during the winter 2008. One of the simple but important lessons was to have a led headlamp so that I could make adjustments to my camera settings and locate my outdoor gear.
View of the entire length of Lake McDonald taken from the Mount Brown Fire Lookout Tower. © Shawn Coggins
Lake McDonald is the deepest lake in Glacier National Park. Tally Lake which is about thirty miles west of Lake McDonald is the deepest lake in Montana.
Bighorn Sheep — Ovis canadensis. Montana Field Guide.
Mountain Goat — Oreamnos americanus. Montana Field Guide.
Early Summer 2010 is offering up a diverse offering of wildflowers particularly on the east side of Glacier National Park. The mariposa lily was photographed along The Going To The Sun Road on the east side of Glacier National Park. On the east side there are numerous small paved turnouts enabling the visitor to get a closer look at the wildflowers.