Ranger-led programs offered during the school year are conducted in a variety of locations on both the west and east sides of the Continental Divide and must be scheduled in advance.
To allow more children to participate, schools are now restricted to one ranger-led program per class per year.
Descriptions of each field trip can be found below with links to more information and the reservation form. If you already know what field trip you are interested in, visit the Scheduling & Guidelines page.
Note: There will be construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this fall with no access to the Avalanche Picnic Area/Trailhead after October 6, 2017.
2017-18 Ranger-Guided Field Trips
These programs use the forest, aquatic, grassland, and prairie/aspen parklands habitats found in Glacier National Park to help young students learn about habitat requirements, wildlife signs, plant and animal changes as they grow and age, and the national park mission of protecting habitat. Hikes are less than one mile and are combined with other hands-on learning activities. Note: Kindergarten programs are half-day with a ranger and the rest of the day with teacher-led activities.
One to two-mile hikes with a ranger into the old growth coniferous forest or aspen parkland provide opportunities for students to learn about photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, succession, disturbance, forest ecology, wild flowers, and American Indian uses of both plants and animals.
Rangers guide students through activities such as scavenger hunts, using dichotomous keys to identify fuel types, examining tree rings for fire scars, and/or watching demonstrations of fire behavior. Groups consider the history of fire in Glacier and its role as a natural process on these 2-3 mile hikes.
One of the reasons Glacier National Park was established was to preserve biodiversity and natural processes. Fire is a natural disturbance that plays an important role in natural communities. Students will learn about fire effects while gathering and analyzing data in a recent burn area.
The Avalanche and Lake McDonald Valleys (west side of park) and the Grinnell Glacier Valley (east side of park) provide evidence of a range of geologic processes that have shaped the landscape. Rangers lead students on a 4+ mile hike and explore sedimentation, mountain building, glaciation, rocks and minerals, erosion, weathering, and soil formation. The length of these hikes and level of information is geared toward secondary age students and is a challenge to fit into a regular school day schedule. The ability to have an extended field day is recommended for this program.
Students will become "Citizen Scientists" and hike less than 2 miles to permanently established research plots to collect data on the percent cover of native and non-native, invasive plants. Students will return to school and enter their information into a Google Document to add their data to the information from previous visits of other schools. They will analyze and look for patterns as the database builds each year.
Service Learning Field Trips
Native Plant and Citizen Science Field Trips (Grades 6-12)
All winter ecology programs on both west and east sides of the park include snowshoe hikes. The park provides all the snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge. Depending on the age of the group and the area visited, students may also explore the physical properties of snow, animal tracks, winter adaptations, snow caves, snow metamorphism, variations in snow density, and the importance of snow surveys.
Ready to Reserve Your Field Trip?
Find the reservation form and important information on the Scheduling and Guidelines page.
Be sure to check out our basic guidelines and suggestions. Regardless of the season, students and chaperones will have a more enjoyable experience if they are well-equipped for the day.
Travel grants available for schools with restricted transportation budgets thanks to donations to the Glacier National Park Conservancy. There is also a Montana public lands grant for fourth grade classes.
Last updated: September 6, 2017