Natural Features & Ecosystems
J. Mohlenrich photo
Glacier Park has glaciers, of course. A few can be seen from roads, tucked into cirque amphitheaters. Their blue ice and crevasses distinguish them from the hundreds of snowfields above timberline. They, and the colored bands of rock striping the mountains, remind us of the park's antiquity, and perhaps our own origins.
Getting behind the scenery requires hiking some of the 747 miles of trails in Glacier. The deeper we walk into Glacier, both literally and figuratively, the more interesting and fascinating it becomes. From putting our noses close to tiny insect-eating sundews in the wetland fens, to beaver-watching at dusk in the east-side aspenlands, to startling as a ptarmigan explodes from an alpine willow thicket, to watching groups of black swifts emerge from their nests at dusk from behind raging waterfalls, the word is still "wow".
Add to that the probability that wolves, cougars, lynx, wolverines, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose and grizzly bears watch us from their hidden places most of the time -- sometimes we get to watch them back -- and hair refuses to lie down on our necks.
Glacier's permanent inhabitants probably don't take the park for granted either. Occasionally a Clark's nutcracker, moving from whitebark pine seed-gathering at timberline to one of its thousands of burying spots, goes into a dive down a narrow canyon. It loops at the bottom of the dive and its wings roar. It sounds much like "wow".
In Glacier, that's a sentiment we all share.
Did You Know?
If current trends continue, some scientists predict that by the year 2030, Glacier National Park will not contain any glaciers and many of the park's smaller glaciers will melt even sooner.