The man above is sipping water from what looks like a pristine stream.Though the aqua rivers and streams look clean and inviting, the water may contain giardia. Bringing in your own bottled water for consumption is advisable. Be sure to boil all collected water or use a filter or purification tablets which can be purchased in a camping supply shop or from the Amazon web site below.
For your visit to the park fires should never become an issue of safety. If you are planning on hiking especially in the back country during a dry summer you would most likely be warned by the thick smoke or park rangers ushering people out of areas if it was really bad.
If there is a fire in the park it is important to note that fires are an important and beneficial part of any forest ecosystem. Fires help to keep natural balance in an ecosystem and also clean up areas that if not burnt would become bigger hazards in the future and help to keep down insect populations. In most parks, natural fires are allowed to burn until they extinguish themselves or endanger buildings or people’s lives.
In July of 2003 about 145,000 acres (586 sq kilometers) or 10% of the park was burnt by the worst fire season the park had ever seen. On an average year Glacier sees about 14 fires, most so small that visitors would never know.
As a visitor to Glacier National Park, take the time to learn about the wildlife and respect their need for space to live undisturbed. Enjoy viewing them from a distance because getting too close can have dire consequences in addition to affecting their feeding habits and travel routes.
A good rule of thumb is to keep at least 100 ft. (or 30 meters) away from big animals (make that three times the distance for bears). Enjoy the beauty of the wildlife from your car, don't create "animal jams." Never feed, entice or closely approach park wildlife. And finally, if you bring pets with you, keep them on a leash at all times.
It's hard to think of a deer as a danger when you are camping in the midst of hundreds of grizzlies but they can be a real problem at certain popular campgrounds. We had been warned by backcountry rangers about the ones at Fifty Mountain Campground prior to our backpacking trip in that area, but until you see it first hand, you tend to make light of it.
We arrived at the camp, hung our food, and pitched our tent. We changed into our sandals and hung our socks out to dry since they were sweaty from the long hike. We went down to cook up some food and met some fellow backpackers. After some time, someone came down and said they saw a deer running around with a pair of underwear in his mouth. I ran up immediately and was relieved to find our socks still in place but the owner of the underwear was searching for the deer and I helped him track her down. We found her, standing there, chewing on the underwear like it was tastiest thing on the planet.
It seems they go for anything with salt in it so if humans have sweated on anything, they take it to get their salt fix. They run off with socks, boots, hiking poles and even backpacks to get the mineral they crave. Eventually, the deer left the underwear out in the forest and the poor guy found them with no real damage, just a lot of deer drool making them all gooey! Even though we normally keep our packs far from our tent in bear country, we brought ours into it that night, along with our boots and poles.
Road Construction has been ongoing at Glacier NP for much of its history. The peak time for construction is just before and after the peak travel season for the park. During these times you can expect construction delays of 30 minutes to 2 hours. Use the link below to find information about road delays and closures.
Another important note is that there are No Gas Stations in the park you must fill up before you enter the park in West glacier or St Mary.
If the weather is nice you can expect the parking lot at Logan pass to be completely full between 10 AM and 2 PM. There are many hiking opportunities and a visitor’s center that keep this area of the park very busy. The lot fills mostly in part to the use by hikers as an access point.
I believe there's another warning in these pages about the park rangers in Glacier. As I was coming down a hill, I saw a ranger coming towards me, and as soon as I saw him do a U-turn, I knew something was wrong. I checked the speedometer and saw I was going 48, then saw a sign for speed limit of 45. No luck, I was pulled over and informed that I was really in a 35 MPH zone when he saw me, not the 45 MPH zone that I immediately saw when he passed me :( Fortunately, he was nice enough to give me a warning. The point is - keep an eye on your speed, because the rangers are - they don't want you running into animals, other cars, hikers, etc.!
It seems almost superfluous to point out that the animals in the park are dangerous. Having said that I remember hiking and thinking, what different actions should be taken if different animals were to attack me?
Glacier and Waterton Parks are the home to approximately 300 grizzlies and 500-700 black bears. The park also has Moose Mountain Lions and Wolves. Don’t think that only a big mammal is dangerous though. Any wild animal, if frightened, will fight for its life. So do not harass or try to feed any animals you encounter.
Best practice is always to try and avoid confronting wildlife but of course, people love to take photos and witness the biodiversity in the park. While hiking, try and make enough noise that animals will hear you coming. Bear spray is also available, if you would like some security, at most gift stores but is fairly pricey ($45).
It happens more than you would hope. Road construction projects are ongoing, and every year it seems that the road is under construction.Couple that with the already short season between deep snow pack and you have a road that is closed more than it's open.
Do yourself a favor and really check and be sure that the road will be open during your visit. To get all the way there and find it closed (even partially) would be seriously disappointing. This Site has a press release about current projects but may not be valid next season. If not, check the web link below. Info should be easy to find on that web site.
Everywhere you go in Glacier National Park, you’ll see signs warning of the dangers of bears. Take the signs seriously: every so often, some unfortunate people and/or their property are attacked, and most of the incidents are very preventable.
If you’re camping, you’ll be given a list of items that should be securely locked into your car, and never left in your tent. In other areas, when hiking, keep up a constant stream of chatter, which will warn bears of your approach and make any unpleasant encounters much less likely.
Duh! I'm amazed at how people lose their minds when they see an elk or moose or bear and try to get closer or worse, feed it. Common sense needs to prevail people. Observe wildlife from a distance and you will live to tell others about your amazing experience. Glacier is grizzly country and there was a vicious attack about two weeks before we arrived. If you keep your wits about you, you can enjoy these spectacular parks and their wildlife safely.
Glacier National Park is Black Bear & Grizzly country.All bears are dangerous but particularly mothers with young.Be alert at all times to sights and signs of bears, like.droppings, diggings, fresh tracks, etc.Do NOT stray from the established trails and be particularly careful by streams, against the wind, or in dense vegetation.Never intentionally get close to a bear and avoid surprising them.Where visibility is limited or a bear sign is present: wear bear bells and whistle, talk,sing and clap your hands loudly. Bears will usually move out of the way if they hear people approaching. Bear bells can be purchased at the General Store at Lake McDonald and several other shops in Glacier Park.
Due to its high elevation and resulting snow build-up, the date that Glacier National Park opens each year varies from mid-May to mid-June depending on which part of the park you are talking about (Lake McDonald on the Pacific side of the divide has the mildest weather so it opens earlier). Similarly, things shut down between early and mid-September. Even in the middle of summer (we were there in mid-July) it is possible that deep-packed snow can still be lingering here and there where it should not be! Following a usual winter, the road can be covered with 70-ft of snow and, even using modern equipment that can dispose of 4000 tons of snow per hour, it can take up to 10-weeks to plow the road open. One of the worst spots every year is here at what is known as the 'Big Drift', just east of Logan Pass.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road was down to one lane at this location where a large mass of almost ice-hard snow was holding on and there had also been some damage to the outer lane of the highway. Of course you could also experience a freak snowstorm or high winds whistling through at almost any stage of the year at these elevations, so make sure that you pay attention to the weather reports. In our case, I don't think I have ever seen such perfect weather for an extended trip into the Rockies!
Be advised that the weather in Glacier National Park can change suddenly and unexpectedly. Even with a clear weather forcast, you might experience thunderstorms, snow, and/or hail even in summer. These storms can come up quite quickly so be prepared by bringing cold/wet weather gear on your hiking and camping trips.
We arrived in Glacier National Park on a Friday and made our first two crossings of the Continental Divide that afternoon as we made a round trip to West Glacier for some shopping necessities. Both times we went past the Logan Pass Visitors Center, there were signs saying that the parking lot was full - same thing with a small scenic viewpoint just over the ridge for your first view toward the Pacific coast.
A couple of days later on a Sunday afternoon, we went west once more to our latest accommodations and found the same situation. It was not until we drove back late on Monday morning that we were able to just barely find spots to park in both of these places, and that was only after queuing for a while in the Visitor Center parking lot.
We were really glad that we made the effort, because the easy hike from the Logan Pass VC to Hidden Lake was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding of the whole trip!