Glacier's Purpose, Significance and Designations

West side tunnel on Going to the Sun Road with two hikers walking towards it going east
West side tunnel on Going to the Sun Road with two hikers walking towards it going east

Glacier's Purpose

The purpose of Glacier National Park, part of the world's first international peace park, is to preserve the scenic glacially carved landscape, wildlife, natural processes, and cultural heritage at the heart of the Crown of the Continent for the benefit, enjoyment, and understanding of the public.

Glacier's Significance

Glacier's scenery dramatically illustrates an exceptionally long geologic history and the many physical processes associated with mountain building and glaciation.
-Glacier has the finest assemblage of ice age alpine glacial features in the contiguous 48 states, and it has relatively accessible, small-scale active glaciers.
-Glacier provides an opportunity to see evidence of one of the largest and most visible overthrust faults in North America, exposing well-preserved Precambrian sedimentary rock formations.
-Glacier is at an apex of the continent and one of the few places in the world that has a triple divide. Water flows to the Atlantic, Pacific and Hudson Bay.

Glacier offers relatively accessible spectacular scenery and increasingly rare primitive wilderness experiences.
-The Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most scenic roads in North America, is a National Historic Landmark.
-Glacier's backcountry offers a challenging, primitive wilderness experience.

Glacier is at the core of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, one of the most ecologically intact areas remaining in the temperate regions of the world.
-Due to wide variations in elevation, climate, and soil, five distinct vegetation zones overlap in Glacier and have produced strikingly diverse habitats that sustain plant and animal populations, including threatened and endangered, rare, and sensitive species.
-Glacier is one of the few places in the contiguous 48 states that continue to support natural populations of all indigenous carnivores and most of their prey species.
-Glacier provides an outstanding opportunity for ecological management and research in one of the largest areas where natural processes predominate. As a result, the park has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve and Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park has been designated as a World Heritage Site.

Glacier's cultural resources chronicle the human activities (prehistoric people, American Indians, early explorers, railroad development, and modern use) that show that people have long placed high value on the area.
Native American tribes had a strong spiritual connection with the area long before its designation as a national park. From prehistoric times to the present, American Indians have identified places in the area as important to their heritage.
-The park's roads, chalets, and hotels symbolize early 20th century Western park experiences. These historic structures are still in use today.
-The majestic landscape has a spiritual value for all human beings – a place to nurture, replenish and restore themselves.

Waterton-Glacier is the world's first international peace park.
-People of the world can be inspired by the cooperative management of natural and cultural resources that is shared by Canada and the United States.
-Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park offer an opportunity for both countries to cooperate peacefully to resolve controversial natural resource issues that transcend international boundaries.

Park Designations

-Designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace park in 1932, joining Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park in the United States.
-Designated a Biosphere Reserve under United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) The Man and the Biosphere Program in 1976.
-Named a World Heritage Site, along with Waterton ----Lakes National Park, in 1995.
-Achieved provisional Gold Tier designation as Waterton-Glacier International Dark -Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association.

Last updated: June 21, 2018

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



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