Facts About Glacier National Park

Facts About Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a 1 million acre park located in the northwestern portion of the state of Montana on the Canadian border of British Columbia and Alberta. Established in 1910, the park is home to many species of animals and plants and was carved out by the receding glaciers from the Ice Age, which left behind spectacular scenery including lakes and valleys among the mountains. The recreational activities enjoyed by the more than 2 million people that visit the park each year include fishing and hiking.


Glacier National Park has over 700 lakes within its boundaries, but only 130 or so even have names. The Going-to-the Sun Road goes through the heart of the park and crosses the Continental Divide at an elevation over 6,600 feet at Logan Pass. The winter recreational options in the park include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but snowmobiling is not allowed in the park. Hiking dominates the warmer month's activities since there are more than 700 full miles of trails available. The Continental Divide Scenic Trail runs north and south for 110 miles and is a popular choice of backpackers and hikers, but dogs are not allowed on these trails due to the potential danger of the area's animals. Camping is also a favorite activity at Glacier National Park, and those who decide to backpack into the interior need a permit to camp at the sites that are provided. Fishing in the park is allowed as well, with the streams full of species such as trout that give the park a reputation as one of the best fly fishing opportunities in the U.S.


According to the National Park Service, Glacier National Park has 62 different kinds of mammals living in it. Among these are the grizzly bear and the black bear, and there have been 10 documented deaths due to bear attacks since 1910. The presence of these bears requires visitors to be keenly aware of how dangerous they are and hikers and campers are encouraged to carry bear pepper spray and know what to do to minimize chances of an encounter. The wolverine, which is rare elsewhere in the U.S., calls the park its home, as does the mountain goat and the bighorn sheep in its higher elevations. The gray wolf, mountain lion, bobcat and Canadian lynx are predators located in the park's forests and woodlands. Mule deer and elk also live here, as do smaller animals such as porcupines, skunks, otters, weasels, fishers, woodchucks, shrews, mice and pine martens.


Birdwatchers that come to Glacier National Park rarely leave the place with even a hint of disappointment. The Park Service lists over 260 species of birds that can be seen during different parts of the year in the region. Birds of prey such as bald and golden eagles are commonly spotted, as are sharp-shinned hawks, great horned owls, northern harriers, ospreys, American kestrels and red-tailed hawks. Game birds such as the ptarmigan and grouse live here along with water birds like coots, scaub, a multitude of duck species, geese, cranes, herons, loons and grebes. Humming birds, magpies, crows, ravens, jays, wrens, chickadees, woodpeckers, flycatchers, thrushes, vireos, warblers, sparrows, finches and blackbirds are some of the other bird species found in this park.

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