Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fire and Ice....Continuing to Shape Glacier Park

After visiting some thrift stores in Great Falls, and the Charles Russel museum we get a rather late start to Glacier.  Of course I haven't done any planning as to where we are staying so anxiety is building a bit as we head to East Glacier, by way of Browning.

Traveling through the plains area, there is agriculture, and plenty of plains.

Wild globe thistle

Fields of blooming Canola


The original 1855 Blackfeet Indian Reservation encompassed most of the northern half of the state of Montana.  The present reservation is located in northwest Montana, bordered by Glacier National Park to the west and Canada to the north.   Spanning 1.5 million acres, the Blackfeet reservation is one of the largest in the United States.

Driving through Browning, I kept an eye out for camping opportunities but decided to go on to East Glacier which sits outside of the National Park and check it out.  Finding a place to stay was a first priority.  It is a small community and by driving around we found a small little private park with dry camping for $20.  More than I prefer to pay, but it will put us in a good jumping off point to get into the park early in the morning to find a camping spot at one of the nearby campgrounds.

Before settling in for the night we head over to the East Glacier Lodge and walk along the main street in East Glacier, enjoying the sights.

Just a glimpse of mountains, a tease of what is to come.....
  after sunset we return to our camp for a quiet night of rest.

First priority in the morning is to find a campsite, which will free us to begin exploring the Park.  We are at Rising Sun Campground by 10:00 an hour before the checkout deadline.   After driving around the campground we grab the last spot and it works out perfectly.  Set up for the Roadtrek amounts to putting out a tablecloth and filling out our payment envelope and then we are off to explore.  We will have everything we need with us for the day and a home to return to in the evening.

We are on the East side of Glacier and head up the highway that leads to Logan Pass.  There are many pull outs along the east side to stop and drink in the views and take many, many pictures.

There is a shuttle bus that transports tourists and hikers from one side of Glacier Park to the other side for FREE.   Or their are touring cars that transport visitors throughout the park combining witty commentary and park facts. 

By early afternoon, the pull overs are crowded making stops difficult.  We circled around the parking lot at Logan Pass like vultures waiting for a parking spot.... Alas a spot was not to be had while we were there so we elected to head back down towards our campsite and stop to do a hike at St Marys Falls.   

Ice carved out of the Rockies, mountain valleys and pristine lakes making Glacier one of the most spectacular National Parks in the Western United States.

We stop at the pull-outs where we can find a parking spot.  Each one is a postcard waiting for me to snap a picture.

With elevations that reach for the sky, melting snow flow downward creating strings of waterfalls tumbling and cascading with gravity leading the way.   After hours hopping in and out of the van I am ready for a walk in nature and am wanting to visit the sight of the 2015 Glacier Fire.  Since we arrived later in the afternoon we were able to get a parking spot so we were off to become a part of the landscape, if only for a while.

In the last 100 years, increasingly warming climate has melted all but 25 of the 150 glaciers that existed in 1850.   Long, hot summers causes bark beetle and spruce bud worm populations explosions that destroy the forest leaving them vulnerable to meg fires.    

On July 21,2015 yet, another fire believed to be human-caused erupted on the Eastern slopes of Glacier  Before it was contained the Reynolds fire burned 4000 acres and altered the landscape on the northern shores of St Mary's Lake. 

We hiked through part of the area burned less than a year before.  I was unsure of what to expect.

I have seen fire areas in the past that bore the scars of devastation for many, many years before renewal blooms again.  Yet this area burst forth in welcoming blooms less than one year after the scorching flames passed through. 

Evidence of fire lays everywhere....but so is the evidence of renewal.

The snows came in the winter leading to melting snows that continue to spill over the falls.

 St Mary's Falls

Around each bend another layers of Virginia Falls

The air smells of a musty campfire with the faint fragrances of the sweet wildflowers.

  Looking across the scenic, glacier-carved lake of St Mary's Lake, is a forest of dead-standing trees from the 2006 Red Eagle Fire that charred 34,000 acres.

 Nature may repair itself, but at its own time.

The beauty of Glacier Park deserves our best effort to preserve and protect it's magnificent beauty.


  1. A very nice post ... loved your photos and commentary about the area.

  2. Great post the pictures are just beautiful. These fires are so sad. I have seen to a few here in the White Mountains of AZ. some burned so hot that all it left behind was powder and it has been years and things still won't grow in some of the areas. Of course the falls are just to beautiful and I love the color of the snow melt water.