Field Trips

Forest Processes Field Trip

Third graders on a field trip in Glacier
Third graders on a field trip to Glacier

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Students hike a 1-2 mile long (round-trip) trail with a ranger. There will be stops at various points along the trail to do activities or discuss Glacier's forests. View our Forest Processes Field Trip Schedule to see a basic outline for the day.

One of the reasons Glacier National Park was established was to preserve the natural processes and the biological diversity (variety of plants and animals) that live here.

Grade Levels:  3rd-4th 
Skills: Communicate, Observe, Identify, Model
Duration: 4.5 hours
Group Size: 60 students total, 2 groups of 30 students
Locations: Trail of the Cedars, St. Mary, and Two Medicine
Available Dates: Spring and Fall
Vocabulary: See the bolded words in the objectives below.

Objectives: (These are examples of some of the objectives that can be achieved on a forest walk. Many others are possible depending on the teacher's focus and the ranger.
Students will be able to:

  • Tell what national parks protect and one reason Glacier National Park was established.
  • Identify coniferous trees with a dichotomous key.
  • Give 3 examples of interrelationships in the forest.
  • Point to a place in the forest that would have a different micro-climate than on the trail.
  • Define producers, consumers, decomposers and point to an example of each in the forest.
  • Model how trees transfer food and water throughout their structures, and how they are adapted for protection from insects, cold weather, and drought.
  • Name one symbiotic relationship in the forest.
  • Write a recipe for soil.
  • List the raw materials needed for photosynthesis as well as the products.
  • Explain how trees play a role in the carbon cycle.
  • Find an example along the trail of a living organisms depending on something non-living.
  • Give an example of a forest community food chain.
  • Give one way that non-native plants can cause problems for native plants and wildlife.
  • List 2 ways that humans impact native plants in the forest.
  • Describe one benefit of planting native plants over non-native plants.
  • Identify at least one plant and tell how Native Americans used it.

Field Trip Logistics: Teachers wishing to have their students participate in the forest processes field trip should plan to arrive in the park by 9:30 - 10 a.m. and stay until 1:30 - 2 p.m. Everyone must be prepared to be outside all day and ready to hike 2 miles on fairly level terrain.

Reserve a Field Trip now and check out the Chaperone Guidelines and our Tips for a Successful Day in Glacier!

These pre- and post-visit activities provide lessons and materials to prepare students for their Glacier field trip!


Glacier's Education Specialist


Biodiversity, Biology: Plants, Botany, Ecology
National/State Standards:
MT Content and Performance Standards:
Science Standard 1: …design scientific investigations…
Science Standard 3: …demonstrate knowledge of how organisms interact with each other…
Science Standard 4: …demonstrate knowledge of earth’s systems...
Field Trips