graphic artwork showing otter swimming in foreground and a glacier mountain in background
Glacier artwork produced by D. Caldwell for the National Park Service

Glaciers form where winter snows are too deep to fully melt during the warmth of summer. Under these conditions the snowpack grows deeper and more compressed each winter, eventually transforming into clear blue ice. As glacier ice flows slowly downhill, it carries along rocks and debris excavated from the mountains above. In this way, glaciers are not just a part of our nation's most spectacular alpine landscapes; they help to shape them.

Glaciers provide meltwater for mountain rivers, habitat for specialized creatures, travel corridors for brush-weary visitors, and a playground for alpine climbers. Their persistence connects us with a time when ice age mammals roamed the continent, and reminds us of the value of those increasingly rare places where winter still reigns supreme.

From Alaska's highly visited Worthington Glacier to glacially carved Glacial Grooves State Memorial, Ohio, National Natural Landmarks illustrate the beauty and power of glaciers and the diverse landscapes they create.

Some of these include:

Lake George, AK
Malaspina Glacier, AK
Walker Lake, AK
Worthington Glacier, AK
Mount Katahdin, ME
Muskeget Island, MA
Franconia Notch, NH
Madison Boulder, NH
Mendon Ponds Park, NY
Moss Island, NY
Clear Fork Gorge, OH
Clifton Gorge, OH
Glacial Grooves State Memorial, OH
Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon Haystack Rocks, WA
Sims Corner Eskers and Kame Complex, WA
Withrow Moraine and Jameson Lake Drumlin Field, WA

Learn more about glaciers here.


Last updated: January 28, 2022


  • Site Index