Questions on Glacier National Park

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by waynecrider, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I'm doing a little pre-scouting for a visit to Glacier National Pk. I'm unfortunately limited to a visit between October and Early April so I'm questioning timing as well as lodging and perhaps camping or a short organized trip. I would also appreciate any info on side trips outside the park as well. My available time is unfortunately only a week and I'll probably rent a car after flying up from Fla so that cuts into the time as well unless I cash in some sick days. Thoughts?
     
  2. randyB

    randyB Member

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    You are aware that the Park is usually closed during this time. Some of it might be open in Oct. just check the web site for closing/opening times. There should be some motels open all year but campgrounds might all be closed. I checked several webcameras just the other day and saw much snow on the peaks. Other APUGers in the area should chime in with more detailed info. Good luck, RandyB
     
  3. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Always a good place to start: http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

    Most of the campgrounds are closed during the winter, except for a couple around Apgar/Lake McDonald Valley, as is the famous Going–to–the–Sun Road, and Many Glacier Hotel on the east side. Likewise, North Fork destinations will all be inaccessible by vehicle. But there's always skis! You can get good trip and backcountry information at the "local" Missoula REI, for whom GNP and its environs are their backyard.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The snow can be pretty bad during those times.

    On one of our visits, they had 3 ft of snow on Memorial day. Dont underestimate the weather - and the bears. On our first visit, a ranger was attacked and eater by a bear.

    PE
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    There was nearly as serious an incident when BradleyK was taking pictures somewhere in Canada - see his thread :D

    pentaxuser
     
  6. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    If that is the only time of year you can get away I would probably consider going to a different location as parts oft he park are already closed now.
    http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hours.htm

    The Going to the Sun Road was by far my favorite part of visiting the park and your going at a time when part or all of the he road will be closed.
     
  7. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Ok; thanks for the info and I guess it's another location I'll have to choose. Too bad since it may be years before I get there. Guess it's a summer type of place.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  9. KennyMark

    KennyMark Member

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    FWIW, let me chime in with a bit more information.
    1) Glacier N.P. is open year round. Snowshoeing is very popular in the winter.
    2) The campgrounds switch to primitive camping only, on Sept. 22. In practical terms, this means that they shut the water off. Pit toilets are available after that date however. I presume that you have to pack your water in, although it is conceivable that you could get water from the ranger station, but I don't know.
    3) the hotels and motor inns within the park close around the same time for the season.
    4) Going-to-the-sun road will close based on snowfall, but will typically be open from each side up to a point which varies depending on weather conditions. I don't think it usually closes completely. It will open to through traffic in June most years, again depending on conditions.
    5) My family visited earlier this month and I learned that there are about a dozen fewer glaciers in the park than when I was last there in my teens. They expect that all of them will be gone sometime between 2020 and 2030.
    6) it is a fantastic place to view wildlife. We saw mt. goats, deer, squirrels, a marmot, ptarmigan, a fox, and when I'm done printing it, I will share a photo or 28 that I shot of a bull moose in the gallery. Yeah, I went a little crazy shooting for nearly an hour while he drank and cooled his hooves in Lake Josephine.
    7) there are motels within driving distance of the park where you can find lodging and drive in for the day. Very worthwhile. Check out the webcams.
    8) bring a lot of film Wayne, a lot of film
     
  10. Light Guru

    Light Guru Member

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    If this government shutdown happens then you will have an even bigger problem. All the national parks would be closed.
     
  11. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Yeah, but then weigh that up against the fact that the glaciers might not be there in 10-20 years, gotta see it while you can...
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The average tourist isn't going to be able to access glaciers off-season, and in some respects they're hard to appreciate when everything else
    is covered with snow too. Even road travel deserves some premeditation as things cool down. I wouldn't travel anywhere in that part of the
    world even in summer without a good sleeping bag and extra food and water in the car. I've been in blizzards in summer numerous times. We've
    already had temps fall into the teens even here in our Calif Mtns.
     
  13. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    We were there last winter for New Year's. We stayed just outside the part at Hungry Horse and went in for the day snowshoeing at Lake MacDonald. I believe the highway was used as a snowshowing cross country skiing as far as Avalanche Creek but as my wife and I had not been on snowshoes for decades we were conservative on where we went.

    There were lots of people around Lake MacDonald, almost as many people as ravens :smile: We may do it again this year, depending more on if our friends wish to do it again
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I'd imagine the remaining glaciers are pretty small. It's a beautiful park by any standard, but once the glaciers die, the turquoise color of the
    adjacent lakes will also be gone, because it is the runoff of glacial rock flour which lends that effect. We've lost a lot of our smaller glaciers in
    the Sierras too, but because of the greater altitude and higher moisture content of the snowstorms, there are a few places they're still relatively healthy. But these are all cirque glaciers, up in shaded pockets under high peaks, and take some serious effort to get to. Some of the glaciers in the Cascades have taken even a harder hit. I can remember glissading almost two miles on one twenty years ago, that is now completely gone.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

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    I have been told that the best access to Glacier Park is via Canada where they have winter tours by "Ice Buggy" across the glaciers. They also offer transportation to the US. In the winter there are Amtrak stops and in the summer there are 3. Also, Amtrak will make a special stop at any time at the Walton Inn. This is a flag stop for pickup and a prior notification for anyone with reservations at the inn.

    PE
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    An excellent recent documentary was made about the grizzly attacks back in the 60's, with interviews of surviving victims as well as rescue
    crew. It was inevitable due to the artificial feeding of bears as entertainment common in the Natl Parks during that era. But by far the most
    dangerous animal in Yellowstone are bison bulls, not grizzlies; and statistically, by far the most fatalities in Glacier NP are due to drowning.
    Those glacial streams are pretty vigorous, and careless snowmobiling is infamous for drowning incidents too, when those things cave into
    frozen-over creeks and ditches.
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Elk and Moose attacks are also quite common I have been told.

    PE
     
  19. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I'm just waiting for a nosey photographer to get gored by a bull elk out here at Pt Reyes. They are not aggressive animals, but unlike deer,
    the bulls form a perimeter watch around the herd and calves in particular. I've seen a lot of wannabee wildlife photographers try to wiggle their
    way inside that zone. ... maybe not the brightest idea. Bison bulls on the other hand are just like barnyard bulls, only more unpredictable. I
    wouldn't want to be behind a red darkcloth with one of them in the foreground! I've already been treed by enough ordinary bulls in my lifetime.
     
  20. jscott

    jscott Member

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    As a student in Missoula we went to Glacier a lot, and some of the best trips were in the Fall because of the beautiful colors, sparse visitors, and often a photogenic snowfall on the high peaks. October can have a long stretch of beautiful dry clear weather. We used to go climbing as late as Thanksgiving, and snowshoeing after that. It can be really good as long as you are self-contained.

    There is an interesting photog link here: One year we climbed Heaven's Peak Ridge and while I climbed the actual peak my buddy took a 35 mm slide of lenticular clouds that fed him for many years. It was a bright orange sunset above jagged peaks. They captioned it "Montana, Land of Beginnings", and he sold thousands of prints throughout the 1980's and 1990's.

    So this time of year can be favorable for photos; the best ones tend to be weather related: right as a front is moving in, or as the front is clearing off. Clear blue skies require a bit more creativity...

    Fall always was my favorite time to go to Glacier!

    Did you hear that the sea ice grew by 29% in 2013? Probably not. Big time denial going on amongst the warming crowd.
     
  21. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I'm not going to go into a detailed debate with the Flat Earth Society about this, but I was doing research papers on this kind of thing way back in the 1960's, and lo and behold, the oil companies themselves were doing most of the funding for the hard data way back then, and still do, concerning what they themselves consider the inevitable. They were already planning how to engineer for arctic thaw as a FACT, because they had the most to gain or lose from it monetarily, despite the payoffs they make to politicians in the lower forty-eight to deny it, simply because they don't want to clean up the refineries here. Better do some actual homework into real science instead of the Faux News Network before you tangle with a subject like this. Glaciers are shrinking all over the world at an accelerated rate, with just a few exceptions. Maybe 2/3 of them that I've set foot on in my lifetime are now gone.
     
  22. Kilgallb

    Kilgallb Subscriber

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    The highway to the sky is closed, too much SNOW!
     
  23. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    As gently and non-controversially as I can make this crucial point to a well-meaning fellow APUGger...

    Just this afternoon while sitting out on my backyard deck I mentioned to the wife that we had never once seen an elephant in our yard. Well then, she replied, I guess they must be extinct. Thinking about this for a moment I realized I couldn't disagree, as that's exactly what my eyes were telling me...

    :sad:

    And yes, I did hear that. Did you also hear that the long-term trend line for that particular metric has been moving in the other direction for over a quarter-of-a-century now? You see, it's really not about the individual data point. It's about the total of all of the data points taken together and properly interpreted. Science is not politics.

    [​IMG]

    Reference: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Forces of Change, Arctic, Shrinking Sea Ice

    [​IMG]

    Reference: National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis, Sept 20, 2013

    "On September 13, Arctic sea ice reached its likely minimum extent for 2013. The minimum ice extent was the sixth lowest in the satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent."

    Ken
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Read the current issue of National Geographic!
     
  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I have one family member who is the nation's leading appellate lawyer on coastal law, and recently headed a big conference revolving around
    all the legal issues which are beginning to transpire when the definition of "mean high tide" in relation to title is steadily changing. ... and lest
    just say his personal political views do not coincide with the stereotypes. It just a fact that has to be contended with now, whether shoreline realtors like it or not. Another family member has inherited the mantle from me, and runs a geophysics company, but also has a very extensive pro climbing and arctic exploration background, and does a fair amt of glaciology studies, and is certainly not a part of some political conspiracy to invent something like this. My own field of study involved the nature of the close of the ice age, and that is still the closest parallel to certain modeling studies about what might or might not happen due to the current roll of the dice. But at this stage of the
    game, fluctuations are being studied over hundreds of thousands of years, involving ice cores, lakebed cores, foram (microfossil) coastal
    deposits, relict glacial and periglacial deposits, etc etc etc. It's interdisciplinary and worldwide, and a line of research that was well underway
    before anybody ever heard of Al Gore, and before even he ever heard of global warming. Certain things, like the link to CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, are a relatively new tweak, but by that, we're still going back about forty years. Otherwise, it has long been recognized
    that things started getting out of whack at the start of the industrial revolution and its burning of coal. So photographically... if you want to
    see those turquoise waters of true glacial lakes in the lower 48, that might be a much scarcer opportunity to the next generation. For all
    I know, our midwestern breadbasket could resemble the Sahel or even Sahara in another hundred years. When the ice age "ended" roughly
    12,000 years, it was not a gentle transition at all, but involved wild catastrophic fluctuations once things got out of equilibrium. Maybe nobody knows exactly what will happen this next time around, but let's just say I wouldn't personally invest in any Miami real estate!
     
  26. jcc

    jcc Member

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    The Earth is warming. That's observable data and is not up for discussion or denial (which differentiates it from an opinion or belief).

    Politically, you can argue who is to blame and start pointing fingers, but there's really no "warming crowd". There's just going to be a lot of "dead" when the ecosystem changes due to climate (this one is my opinion, but we can wait till it becomes an observation).

    But back to the OP: Glacier is open year round, as someone already stated. I'd buy/rent a -40º sleeping bag if you're visiting during the winter months, and keep it in the car with you while you drive.
     
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