Natural Features & Ecosystems

Glacier's vertical, glacier-scoured banded mountains, pristine turquoise lakes and streams, and dense ancient forests are a relatively-undisturbed example of what the Rocky Mountain region has been like over thousands of years. Located at approximately 49° north latitude with an elevation gradient extending from 1000 m to over 3000 m, (3,000 to 10,000 ft MSL), park habitats encompass several ecotones and exhibit a wide variety of macro and micro habitats. Glacier National Park has glaciers, of course. A few can be seen from roads, tucked into cirque amphitheaters. Their blue ice and crevasses distinguish them from the hundreds of snowfields above timberline.

Getting behind the scenery requires hiking some of the 734 miles (1,181 km) of park trails (or exploring these pages). The deeper we walk into Glacier, both literally and figuratively, the more interesting and fascinating it becomes.

path into aspen grove in fall colors

There are different types of forest in different parts of the park.

overlapping round impressions on tan rock

Learn what Glacier and the Bahamas have in common.

sloping mountain with dark rock band
Geologic Formations

Glacier's sedimentary rock banding represents many ages.

looking down on snow covered glacier, terraces, and icy teal lake
Glaciers / Glacial Features

The park's namesake feature tells us about the past and helps us predict the future.

snowy mountain reflected in still lake
Lakes and Ponds

There are over 700 bodies of water scattered throughout the park.

snow-covered peak

Glacier's impressive mountains are a story of pressure, folding, uplift, and erosion

River with rocky banks snakes through a sunset-lit forest
Rivers and Streams

Meltwater feeds Glacier's 1,557 miles of streams

close-up of soils and roots in forest understory

Though often stepped on, soils cannot be overlooked as a basic component of life on earth

vegetation surrounds and floats on small, dark pond below mountain
Wetlands, Marshes, and Swamps

Wetlands are a small portion of the park, but harbor a large number of rare plants and animals

Last updated: April 1, 2020

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



Contact Us