Fire History

Historic image of huge smoke plum over tiny trees and buildings
Burning over 39,000 acres, the Half Moon Fire of 1929 was one of the park's largest

NPS/R.E. Marble

There has been a fire in Glacier National Park almost every year of its existence. The year with the most was 1936 (64 fires!) and 1964 was the only year with no fire on record. The summer of 2003 was the most significant fire season in the history of Glacier National Park. Approximately 136,000 acres burned within the park boundary.

Fires are a naturally recurring part of the forest lifecycle, but for us (park employees and visitors alike) fires are often an exciting, sometimes scary, experience. Below are images, stories, and information from past fire incidents to help create a bigger picture of what fire means to Glacier.

 
 
map of Glacier with many zones highlighted in different colors

NPS Map/Dave Hammond

What parts of the park have burned?

Glacier is a patchwork of recent and historic burns, which contribute to its rich biodiversity. You may be surprised to see how much of Glacier's over 1 million acres has experienced fire.

View Glacier Fire Map 1910-2015

 
side by side landscape comparison

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Repeat Photography from Fire Lookouts

Check out these incredible photograph pairings from Fire & Aviation Management. Compare 1930s photographs with the same view in the late 2000s. Look for changes in the landscape. Note the patterns of live and dead trees, and patches of trees of different heights, types, or ages.

 
Historic image of burn area near mountain pass
Swiftcurrent Valley after Heavens Peak Fire

NPS/Dodd

Firestorm!

Read the dramatic story of the Heaven's Peak Fire of 1936.

 
man with binoculars on stone steps of lookout building
Swiftcurrent Lookout

NPS

Viewshed

Watch a short documentary looking at the people that work as Glacier National Park fire lookouts.

 
rangers and Smokey Bear cutout by fire sign

NPS

NPS Fire History Timeline

Explore a timeline of past events that have shaped fire policy in the United States today.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936

Phone:

(406) 888-7800
Phones are generally staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm.

Contact Us