Last updated: August 10, 2015
Due to low levels of snowfall in the park this past winter, things dried out extra fast this year. If you’ve been staying tuned to Glacier’s backcountry blogging, you’ve noticed heat was already an issue by July. Water availability at high elevation backcountry campgrounds is diminishing. Brown Pass, Fifty Mountain, and Granite Park all have snowmelt fed streams that usually supply backpackers with water to filter. These three campgrounds are nearly dry right now, you may have to hike a quarter or third a mile to find water to filter at these sites. More campgrounds will likely follow this pattern.
We’ve also been experiencing frequent red flag warnings. This means that conditions are perfect for fires. The humidity is low; wind is high, temperatures high – excellent conditions for wildfires. Although as this blog is being written (August 10, 2015) we are still in Stage One fire restrictions, it is not very hard for a small campfire left unattended or not put completely out to spark a large fire. (Stage One fire restrictions prohibit smoking in areas that have flammable materials, but do not prohibit fires in established campfire rings at backcountry sites that allow fires.)
Fire investigators have found evidence that the Reynold’s Creek Fire was human caused. This fire has closed three of Glacier’s backcountry campgrounds: Otokomi Lake, Reynold’s Creek, and Gunsight Lake.
Now a new fire has started, the Thompson Creek Fire, affecting even more of our backcountry campgrounds. The Nyack/Coal Creek Camping Zone is now closed to hiking and camping until further notice. This includes four additional campgrounds: Lower Nyack Creek, Upper Nyack Creek, Beaver Woman Lake, and Coal Creek. As conditions shift and more information is gathered, closures may change. You can check out the current trail statuses to see what closures are in effect.
If you have an advanced reservation in an area now closed because of fire, stop into a backcountry permit office. There are offices at the St. Mary Visitor Center, Many Glacier Ranger Station, Two Medicine Ranger Station and at the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office. We’ll pull up what’s available and see what walk-in sites you’ll be able to use. The best availability is often found when the permit offices open the day before your desired trip. Permit offices are open from 7 AM to 4:30 PM daily. There are still options out there; just be flexible and open to areas of the park you may not even know about…You’ll still get a Glacier Adventure.
See you in a permit office soon!