Wild creatures and smoke-shrouded surroundings at Glacier Nationwide Park


August 31, 2023

We arrived at Glacier Nationwide Park in northwestern Montana in mid-Might. It was our northernmost vacation spot on our 5-week RV street journey throughout the West. As we drove north from Yellowstone, the sky grew bleary with haze after which grey with smoke from Canadian wildfires. Highway indicators flashed warnings about unhealthy air high quality. It was not the Glacier expertise we wished for, however we cast on.

Glacier is known for its mountain-and-lake vistas, however these had been veiled throughout our keep by thick smoke. It’s additionally well-known for its namesake glaciers. However as a result of the local weather is quickly warming, the glaciers are melting. Many have already disappeared. In response to the Nationwide Park Service:

“On the finish of the Little Ice Age round 1850, there have been about 80 glaciers in what would finally turn out to be Glacier Nationwide Park. Primarily based on aerial imagery from 2015 there have been 26 named glaciers that met the dimensions standards of 0.1 km², 9 fewer than in 1966. Of the 26 remaining in 2015, some might now already be too small to be thought-about glaciers.”

This data is unhappy to ponder, however it’s the park’s actuality. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to take pleasure in in Glacier, not least its considerable wildlife, as we might quickly see.

Glacier is grizzly nation, and we had been excited to see a younger bear in a stand of aspens alongside the roadside. At the least I believe it’s a grizzly. It’s onerous to inform if the distinctive hump is there. Both method, what a thrill to see one other bear!

I exclaimed over lots of yellow avalanche lilies too.

So stunning

Working Eagle Falls

Sooner or later we made a brief hike to see Working Eagle Falls, which flowed in a gushing torrent because of springtime snowmelt.

A number of crested Steller’s jays saved us firm, chattering all of the whereas.

Moose

As we crossed a bridge in the future, we noticed a moose within the river under. We parked at an overlook and stood on the embankment to observe it.

It moseyed up into the bushes…

…ambling on stilt-like legs to browse on new leaves.

Going-to-the-Solar Highway

Glacier’s famously scenic Going-to-the-Solar Highway isn’t absolutely open in mid-Might, after we had been there. Relying on snowfall, its alpine Logan Go doesn’t reliably open till early July. However we had been capable of drive the lower-elevation parts and marveled on the attractive surroundings, regardless that smoke nonetheless hazed the views.

On the Sunrift Gorge pullout, we did a brief hike downhill, after which got here again up the Baring Creek path. I noticed a Compton tortoiseshell butterfly on a handrail, simply chilling.

Or maybe warming itself within the sunshine

Baring Creek spilling by means of a gorge the place the Reynold’s Creek fireplace swept by means of in 2015.

The bushes burned down, however now I can see the mountains. (Hat tip to Mizuta Masahide and to Loree Bohl, who just lately jogged my memory of his quote.)

Sunrift Gorge

Round a bend, I got here out of the blue to this gorgeous sight: Sunrift Gorge, carved by glacier runoff.

Turbulent water behind the slot pushes by means of, persevering with to chip away on the black rock.

Someway discovering buy on the cliff faces, grasses and ferns make a dangling backyard above the creek.

Spring wildflowers had been brightening the undergrowth alongside the path.

Wild strawberries, I believe

Bighorn sheep

Alongside the street, we had been stopped by a number of majestic bighorn rams, who posed amid a confetti of wildflowers…

…after which strolled down the center of the street, passing our truck with whole nonchalance.

Noshing alongside the roadside

It was so cool to have the ability to observe them intently from our truck, with out disturbing them.

Someplace alongside the best way we noticed an osprey hunkered down on a platform nest.

And one other bear, this one with a mouthful of grass.

And one other smoke-shrouded lake and mountain vista

Mountain goats

I saved hoping to see mountain goats in Glacier, and in the future I obtained my want. We whipped into Goat Lick Overlook once I noticed the signal after an extended day of driving. We walked all the way down to the overlook, gazed throughout the Center Fork of the Flathead River at a sheer cliff of grey and tan rock…

…and noticed a goat wanting proper again at us!

It was improbably perched on a slender shelf in the midst of the cliff wall.

Uncovered minerals on the cliff entice the goats, which bounce balletically up and down the sheer rock to lick on the wall.

It’s wonderful to witness their sure-footedness on such treacherous terrain.

Considering a visit all the way down to the salt lick

No worries about slipping

The one under effortlessly charged up the cliff through a vertical recreation path.

And it’s simply that straightforward.

Serviceberry flowering at our campsite

Path of the Cedars

One other day we hiked the favored Path of the Cedars, proper off the Going-to-the-Solar Highway. The turquoise, glacier-fed waters of Avalanche Creek carve by means of pink rock softened with moss.

Alongside the boardwalk path, we loved indicators with haikus and watercolors. The haikus impressed us to make just a few of our personal about our household adventures.

Towering jap hemlocks and purple cedars discover a dwelling on this moist woodland.

The roots of a fallen big

Lovely mild filtering by means of the bushes and ferns

Polebridge Mercantile

Being in Glacier, you’re already in a fairly distant location. However Polebridge, Montana, is extra distant nonetheless, accessed by a 27-mile drive from West Glacier alongside a rugged dust street. Only a couple dozen miles shy of the Canadian border, you land at off-the-grid Polebridge Mercantile, a pleasant basic retailer with a bakery, sandwiches, and to-go meals. We picked up a few huckleberry bear claws and hot-pocket sandwiches and took them outdoors for a picnic desk lunch.

Yum!

A number of cabins, the Northern Lights Saloon, and a meals truck referred to as the Sasquatch Grill spherical out the place. We posed with our doppelgangers, a household of metallic sasquatches, for our family selfie.

And that wraps up my recap of our nationwide parks street journey from Texas to Montana! For a glance again at our exploration of Grand Teton Nationwide Park, click on right here. You’ll discover hyperlinks to the opposite parks we visited on the finish of every put up within the sequence. Additionally, take a look at my Nationwide Parks web page for my images and tales from different parks I’ve visited. Blissful adventuring, y’all!

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