As a proud World Heritage Site, Glacier National Park shares the title of the first international peace park in the world with the Waterton Lakes National Park. Its classifications as both a biosphere reserve and a national park put it in a class of its own. No other place in the world has all four of the designations that Glacier National Park does.
Glacier National Park is located in West Glacier, Montana, which is the northwestern part of the state. The park is close to the border that separates the United States from Canada. At more than one million acres, the park encompasses two Rocky Mountain sub-ranges.
There are many distinct features that Glacier National Park is known for.
Glacier National Park Facts for Kids
- Glacier National Park is called the “crown of the continent.”
- It is the spiritual homeland of Huna Tlingit clans
- It is a sanctuary of terrestrial wilderness and marine life
- It is considered a natural living laboratory
- Glacier National Park has 700 miles of trails suitable for hiking
- The Glacier’s emit shades of green and blue
It is safe to say that global warming has affected the status of the park’s many glaciers. Experts believe that during the 50 years between 2030 and 2080 that many of these glaciers will melt away like Frosty the Snowman at the end of every winter. By photographing the park’s glaciers, scientists found out that every one of them has grown smaller over the last 40 years. Glaciers are now 39% smaller than they were even 50 years ago.
As it stands now, 26 of the glaciers in the park have measured larger than 25 acres, which is 19 times larger than a football field.
Glacier National Park’s Waterfalls
There are over 200 waterfalls in Glacier National Park, though not all of them are even well known enough to have a name. The waterfalls may be active during the rainy season, but the rest of the year, many of them amount to no more than a trickle of water. Some of the waterfalls popular enough to be named include:
In the southwest area of the park, you’ll find McDonald Falls. This one got its name because its water source is McDonald Creek. The water that falls from it lands in Lake McDonald, which is the biggest lake the park has. You can get to McDonald Falls by taking a uniquely named road called Going-To-The-Sun. At the end of the road is the lake.
Bird Woman Falls
Towards the west end of the park is Bird Woman Falls. These are only two miles away from the Going-To-The-Sun Road and can easily be seen from it. An interesting fact about Bird Woman is that there is an ongoing debate about its height. Though its height is officially recorded at 960 feet (the equivalent of 10.5 times the length of the space between two bases on a baseball field), it looks much shorter from Going-To-The-Sun Road.
Bird Woman Falls gets its water from the glaciers of Mount Oberlin. Its water lands at the bases of several mountains in the park’s forest. This waterfall flows the fastest towards the end of spring and into the beginning of the summer. This continues until autumn, when the flow of the water becomes nothing more than a slight trickle.
Virginia Falls is 50 feet tall and is one of the few falls anywhere in the park that has an uninterrupted flow of water. This means when the water lands in Virginia Creek, it makes a distinct crashing noise. Considered a multi-tiered waterfall, Virginia Falls is one of the most often viewed falls in the park.
The collection of Apikuni Falls is among the park’s most distinct. At 700 feet tall (the equivalent of the distance between eight bases in a game of baseball,) it’s a sight that visitors to the park usually find breathtaking. A unique aspect of these falls is that they’re made up of two parts. It starts with a free fall of water until it turns into a thick cascade that has been captured by countless photographers.
Though Baring Falls is only 40 feet tall, they are considered among the park’s most interesting. This is mostly because water ouzels use the falls as a source of food. Water Ouzels are one name for the bird that’s also called the American Dipper. They have distinct grey feathers and may have white or brown eyelids. When a water ouzel blinks, its eyes can temporarily look white.
Running Eagle Falls
Running Eagle Falls is also sometimes referred to as Trick Falls. Of the hundreds of waterfalls in the park, these are always the easiest ones to see. At a glance, the falls look like they are caving into themselves. This is only because, during the spring, the falls are 40 feet tall, but the rest of the year, they are only 32 feet tall. The cascading water from these falls comes out of a cave, making it a memorable sight.
Ideal Ways To See Glacier National Park
There are a few ways that you can see and experience everything about Glacier National Park. The park’s bus tours, which are called Red Jammer, are usually the best choice. If you’re curious about Going-To-The-Sun Road, the Red Jammer will help satisfy your curiosity about it. The coach vehicles used to give the tours date back to the 1930s. Each one holds as many as 25 passengers.
But Red Jammer gets you more than just a ride around the park. During the ride, tour guides direct your attention to the park’s various landmarks and even give you history lessons that aren’t boring at all. The tour of the park includes its glaciers and mountains.
If you want to do more than just ride around the park, you can take advantage of all those rivers. You can go kayaking, whitewater rafting, or canoeing on the banks of the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River. Guided to boat and hiking tours are also fun ways to experience the park.
It can also be fun to see the park on horseback. The rides are scenic, and even if you’ve never been horseback riding before, you won’t have any problems with this ride. You can explore the park’s mountains or horseback or just take the group tour that shows you all the trails Flathead Forest has.
Seeing the park through the eyes of the people that work there will be more interesting than any class you have ever had in school. You can take hiking tours guided by employees of the National Park Service. This is the coolest and safest way to see the wilderness that makes Glacier National Park such a fun place to explore.
The Wildlife Of Glacier National Park
No matter how many times you’ve visited a zoo, nothing compares to the wildlife that lives in Glacier National Park. You may not spot them all on a visit because some of them are known to be shy. But with so many that call the park home, you’re sure to spot at least some of them. Overall, there are more than 70 species living in the park. Hundreds of different types of birds can be spotted if you know when and where to look.
Most of the park’s wildlife populates not only the Flathead National Forest but are also generally spotted in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for its meadows, rivers, and lakes. If you like brown bears, Glacier National Park is the place to see them. Roughly 350 Grizzly Bears have long considered the park to be where they live.
Like anyone else, they can get cranky if they aren’t in the mood for visitors. By hibernating through the winter months and roaming the park the rest of the year, most of these Grizzly Bears live to the ripe old age of 30.
But of all the wildlife you are likely to spot, the park is well known for its population of Big Horn Sheep. Most of them spend the majority of their time in the area called Logan Pass. This may make you want to go there or may make you want to avoid the place entirely. Big Horn Sheep have extremely hard hooves that allow them to climb steep rocks and even jump off of them.
Glacier National Park has long been associated with Mountain Goats, which serves as a symbol of the park that is recognized all over the world. Of all the wildlife that populate the park, as a visitor, you are almost guaranteed to see them. Like the Grizzly Bears, they tend to hang out in Logan Pass, but they can also be spotted on The Highline Trail.
Because of their size, they are the easiest to see from a high altitude. They are also the animals you’re most likely to be able to get a picture of. But do yourself a favor and take a picture from a distance. Don’t try to take a selfie with a wild animal. You might not like how they react.
If the only time you’ve ever seen a wolverine was in X-men, you’d be happy to hear that they are life and in-the-flesh at Glacier National Park. Be prepared because real life is much different from the movies. Any wolverine you’ll encounter has a dark coat of fur and are about the same size as a medium dog. Be prepared for them to look like a smaller bear or even a weasel.
One of the shyest animals in the park is grey wolves, which you may be more familiar with as timber wolves. They tend to stay in the mountains at a high enough elevation that you aren’t likely to encounter them. You’ll much more likely to hear them than to see them. Even then, the part of the park where you’re the most likely to hear them is Bowman Lake.
The Age Of Glacier National Park
It wasn’t until 1910 that Glacier was named a National Park by then-President Taft. As a result, Glacier was the country’s 10 national park. The influential leaders at the time had been fighting for Glacier to be classified as a National Park since the last few years of the 1800s.
By then, the Great Northern Railway was built, and this brought more people into the part of Montana that would later become the park. This led to the creation of numerous small towns where miners came to live and work. Over the years, it grew from just a place to work as a miner or farmer to a place that was blessed with many scenic views.
They now make up the majority of Glacier National Park’s most visited areas.