Happy Birthday Glacier National Park

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Looking back, there is really only one reason that I ended up in the state of Montana: the awesome beauty of Glacier National Park. After finishing school on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, I deemed it only appropriate that I continue to surround myself with that kind of majestic beauty. A previous road trip through the park made for an easy decision: Glacier is beautiful. I like beautiful. Live near beautiful.

I’m typing this a few hours south of the main gates of the park, six years after I arrived. This last Tuesday, May 11, 2010, marked the centennial anniversary the peaks, lakes, and glaciers of northern Montana were deemed a National Park. Although not the first, or the largest, it has been my favorite since I first unzipped my tent door and took in my first sunrise above the rugged cliffs and wide-open, glacially-carved, u-shaped valleys.

The birthday celebrations led me over to Lonely Planet and their top ten Glacier Park treasures. My picks from the list:

  • Going-to-the-Sun-Road: It’s the only ribbon of concrete passing through the heart of the park. It’s a classic ride, but pay attention, it clings to the sides of cliffs, and buried under snow most of the year.
  • Grinnell Glacier: The new rumor is the year 2020, when the last glacier disappears from the park. All the more reason for the 11-mile hike there and back: he view may soon be gone forever.
  • Highline Trail: The best hike in the park, period.
  • St. Mary Lake & Wild Goose Island: “It might just be a tiny stub of land with a handful of lopsided trees, but Wild Goose Island in the middle of St Mary Lake makes a popular photo-op.” Glacier. Park. Icon.

Bad news: nearly two million annual visitors means I’m not the only one who knows about this place. Good news: the park’s 1.4 million acres, one road, and 700 miles of hiking trails means that there is still room to ramble. Better news: I’m offering myself as company on any of your trips there. For free . . . and I’m accepting birthday cake.

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