Displaying items by tag: Glacier National Park

Heading into the back country, to your favorite national park or recreation area?  Before you go, give your skills, gear and local intel a tune up.  You’ll want to play it safe when heading into the great outdoors with your family.  

Here are six ideas to consider: 

mountain lions

Learn about Mountain Lions

Mountain lion attacks on people are rare. Yet, recently, interactions have increased. Experts believe the shift is due, in part, to humans moving closer to lion habitat, an increase in deer populations (their prey), and more hikers, bikers and runners sharing trails with lions. 

If you venture into lion country,  experts recommend exploring in groups and making plenty of noise to avoid a surprise. Carry a walking stick and keep children close at all times.  Should an encounter occur, do not run.  Stay calm. Pick up any children and talk firmly as you slowly back away. Do everything you can to loom large, raising your arms,  opening a coat while not blocking a lion’s escape route. If the lion acts aggressively, fight back with rocks, sticks or what ever you can find without getting low or turning your back.  

http://www.mountainlion.org/

Snake smarts

Hiking, climbing and camping in many parts of the country mean a snake encounter is possible. Make sure kids know to steer clear of anything that resembles a snake. According to the University of Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, more than half of those bitten intentionally provoked the snake in some way. Stay on hiking trails and keep hands and feet away from wood and rock piles, deep grass or crevices. Carry a flashlight and wear shoes after dark. "Time is tissue," experts say. So if a bite does occur, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.

 Contact: azpoison.com.

 

Be bear aware

Your goal during a hiking, fishing or camping experience is to avoid getting up close and personal with a bear. So while making plans, inquire about recent bear activity at your intended destination. Research shows that bear spray is effective, so have yours at the ready and know how to use it. Travel in groups of three or more and sing, tell stories, or take turns shouting “Hey, bear!” to let wild creature know you are in the area. Hike during daylight hours, stay on trails and avoid berry patches and animal carcasses. Look for signs of bear activity including scat, tracks or overturned rocks. When camping, keep your tent and spaces clean and free of odors. (Remind the kids that stashing candy bars in  sleeping bags is not a good idea.) Don't sleep in clothes you cooked in. Be sure to hang food and trash away from sleeping areas or in bear-proof containers. 

Contact: NPS.gov/Yellgrizzlydiscoveryctr.org/education/bear-awareness-hiking-camping/

  

Don't let lightning strike

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 400 people are struck by lightning each year in the U.S. Teach the kids that "when thunder roars, go indoors." When planning an activity, have a safety plan and know where you will meet should a storm develop. Watch for darkening skies, flashes of lightning and shifting and strengthening wind patterns. If you hear thunder, even at a distance, it is time to move to a sturdy building or hard-topped metal vehicle with windows closed, advises NOAA. Stay away from tall, isolated trees, utility polls or open areas. Avoid wires and metal fencing. Wait for 30 minutes after the last thunderclap to move outside. If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 and get immediate medical attention. 

Contact: nws.noaa.gov/os/lightning/resources/lightning-safety.pdfweather.gov/nwr

Do the Stingray Shuffle

If you are headed to the beach, be sure the whole family practices the Stingray Shuffle before plunging into the sea. Stingrays bury themselves under a thin blanket of sand for protection. By shuffling into the water, you'll create a vibration and the creature will be alerted and will move off in a different direction. Stingrays are also most active at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., prime beach time, so ask the lifeguard or your resort's front desk about stingray activity before splashing into the surf. Should a sting occur, use hot water to clean the wound and seek medical attention. The Stingray City sandbar, home to the Southern Stingray, is a popular attraction in the Cayman Islands. 

Contact: caymanislands.ky/activities/attractions/stingraycity.aspx

Stay warm and dry

Whether you get caught in a downpour, lost on the trail, or stay in the boat too long, getting too cold and too wet is something to avoid. It is helpful to remember the acronym COLD to avoid hypothermia: Cover, Overexertion, Layers and Dry. It's especially important to keep heads, hands and feet covered. Avoid overexertion that will cause sweating. The combination of wet clothes and cold temperatures will cause the loss of body heat. Dressing in loose fitting layers, with silk, wool or polypropylene closest to the body, is best for retaining body heat. And of course, stay dry whenever possible and remove wet clothing at the earliest opportunity. Know that children (and older adults) chill more quickly and need one more layer in the same conditions. Shivering, the body's natural attempt to warm itself, is a first sign of hypothermia. Bright red, cold skin and a weak cry are the first signs of hypothermia in an infant. 

Published in Adventure

It’s easy to play favorites when it comes to Glacier National Park. 

Massive peaks form the backbone of this vast pristine ecosystem, in Northern Montana.  Along with her sister park across the border in Waterton Lakes, Canada, the two gems form the first international Peace Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1932.  

The glacial carved terrain reveals a many-layered story of ancient seas, geologic faults and continuous uplifting. Today, receding glaciers, rivers, meadows and coniferous forests provide cover and sustenance for the wide variety of wildlife that give life to the park. Shimmering lakes and more than 700 miles of trails beckon visitors from around the world. 

She’s compelling. 

So, if you want a little extra quiet time with this favored child, make your way to Glacier country in the Spring or Fall. While you may have to appreciate some of her best attributes from afar, the peaceful nature of your visit will make it worth your while. 

Spring biking on the Going to the Sun Road

Spring   

Hike and Bike The Going To The Sun Road

Most of Glacier National Park’s two million-plus annual visitors are eager to wind their way along the impressive, 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road. An engineering masterpiece, the rugged road, blasted from the steep mountainside in1933, is car-free for a short, but spectacular season. (Check the Glacier National Park site for exact dates) 

For several glorious weeks, as the winter snows give way to the spring/summer melt, visitors can appreciate the iconic stretch of roadway on foot or from the seat of a bike. 

Roll or stroll along the lower flats near Lake McDonald, appreciating the subalpine forest that rises near the water’s edge.  As the season progresses, cyclists can ride the upper stretches, climbing all the way to Logan Pass at 6,683 feet without sharing the narrow roadway, or the views, with oncoming traffic.

Surrounded by snowcapped peaks against a bright blue sky, melting snowfields, and waterfalls tumbling into turquoise pools, you’ll experience Glacier’s wild interior in a way summer visitors cannot even imagine. 

Bikers can also pedal a 14-mile (one way) stretch that begins at Apgar Village. Pedal out and back while enjoying views from the southern shore of Lake McDonald. This road is open to cars but traffic is minimal. 

Strap on your hiking boots and check out one of many low elevation hikes in the Lake McDonald area as the Park transitions from a winter wonderland to the glories of Spring. Expect trickling streams giving way to flowing creeks and rivers and the slow reappearance of flowers, birds and baby animals.

Stop in to the Apgar Visitor Center to ask about day hikes, current trail conditions, and maps. 

Note that the park’s resident wildlife are waking from a long winter’s nap, so it is important to be alert, aware and carry bear spray during your outing. 

Glacier in the Fall

Fall  

Bright colors provide a glorious contrast to Montana’s Big Sky as a busy summer gives way to the quieter days of Fall. 

Hikers, bikers and road trippers can look for the colors to begin changing in mid-September on the west side of the park. On the east side, expect Mother Nature to begin the show toward the end of September and in to early October. 

The grand finale happens as the larch trees, a deciduous conifer, transform the area into a golden paradise in the middle of October.  

A road trip up the North Fork Road to the small town of Polebridge, (be sure to stop into the Polebridge Mercantile for baked goods and sandwiches). along the West side of the park, provides stunning views of the winding North Fork of the Flathead River and often snow-dusted peaks in the distance. From Polebridge, head into the Park for jaw-dropping views at Bowman Lake.  The experience of standing within this remote area of the Park, surrounded by masses of vibrant color, towering peaks and waves lapping at your feet, will stay with you forever.

Fall is also a great time for wildlife watching. The eastern side of the Park offers some of the best opportunities to glimpse both grizzly and black bear as they prepare for the long winter. Mountain goats and big horn sheep are often present and migrating birds call from overhead.

A shoulder season visit to Glacier Country isn’t for everyone.  The weather can turn on a dime. Restaurants are not bustling with vibrant activity and some services may not be available.

But for those eager to experience the spare, wild beauty of this extraordinary place on the planet, well, this is your time.

Published in National Parks

If you are looking for a great summer road trip, consider this iconic drive inside one of America's most stunning National Parks. 

Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed in 1932 and is a spectacular 50 mile, paved two-lane highway that bisects this magnificent Montana park east and west.

Published in Family Travel Blog

Glacier National Park.

It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.

Among my favorite visits was a multi-generational outing - my Dad, my son and my niece and it was a great destination for all of us.  

Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. (And rooms book well in advance.)

Here are a few suggestions to jump start your visit: 

Ride the Red Bus.

The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price.

Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525. 

Family Vacation Family Travel Glacier National Park

Explore on foot.

With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge. 

Scenic Boat Tours.

Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price.

Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.

Float the River.

Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or up the adventure quotient in an inflatable kayak.

Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com

Don't Miss Many Glacier

Many Glacier - a national treasure

 

Considered by many as the heart of the park, the Many Glacier region is stunningly beautiful. Expect sparkling lakes, abundant wildlife, great hiking and a bounty of nature-based options. For great views (like the one above) stay at the historic Many Glacier Lodge. 

Base Camp.

Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. One and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site.

Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781.

For reservations inside the park contact: www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525 and Xanterra www.Xanterra.com.   

For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800. 

Hitting the trails is a great way to get some exercise and explore an area up close. Strike out with friends, join a group, or sign up for a guided outing.

Find a trail close to home or make a great hike the centerpiece of a family adventure. Consider these places that blend history, great views and a good time.

1. The Grand Canyon.

Why not think big? I’ve hiked within this national treasure with two of my sons when they were ten years old. I observed that kids often scamper up and down the trails with more ease than their parents. Offering some shade and water along the way, the Bright Angel Trail is the best place to start for great views of the inner canyon. Choose day hikes to the Three-Mile Resthouse ( 3 miles one way ) or to Indian Garden ( 4.6 miles one way ). Better yet, reserve a camp site at the Bright Angel campground ( 9.3 miles one-way) or bunks at Phantom Ranch ( 9.8 miles one way) for a fuller experience. Plan well in advance. Reservations for Phantom Ranch can only be made by mail, phone or fax. 888.29.PARKS; www.grandcanyonlodges.com/phantom-ranch. For camping visit www.recreation.gov.

2. Yellowstone National Park.

Within this wonderland’s 2.2 million acres, hiking options are plentiful. The Beaver Pond hike near the Mammoth Hot Springs is a great spot to see wildlife. During a recent visit there were several elk in the parking lot! This gentle, 5 mile loop trail passes through Douglas fir, aspens and fields of grass and sage. Expect spectacular views of surrounding mountains.

Explore the scenic trails near Cooke City and explore fabulous high mountain lakes. Spend the night at the Skyline Guest Ranch for enjoy warm hospitality and a hearty breakfast.  Contact:  www.YellowstonePark.net/hiking or www.TravelMT.com.

3. Southern California’s Backbone Trail.

Not far from the Hollywood action you’ll find the 68 mile Backbone Trail. Choose from a handful of day hike options. Try the Ray Miller Trail, accessed through the Pt. Mugu State Park. One mile in you’ll encounter a seasonal waterfall. You’ll be worlds away from the urban hustle. (805) 370-2301 www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/backbonetrailsegments.htm

4. Washington DC/Virginia - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal –

Take a break from museum hopping and stretch your legs on this scenic path that passes by several old locks and a lock house. Just 20 minutes from Washington, DC, this hike begins at the Angler’s Inn and follows the canal towpath for 2.3 miles to the Great Falls Tavern. Spectacular in the fall, the trip provides an opportunity to discuss the way locks once lifted boats 600 feet during the years – from the 1830s until 1924 – it was in use. In the same area, consider The Billy Goat trail , a four mile loop hike. www.trailink.com 

5. San Diego – The Silver Strand (also known as the Bayshore Bikeway).

Enjoy the sweet smell and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean on this 11-mile route that follows the path of an old railroad grade. Flat and paved, it’s stroller (and bike) friendly. Check out the Navy ships floating in the harbor. The path connects Coronado with Imperial Beach. Later take in the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. www.Railsandtrails.org

Published in Adventure

It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.

Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance. Here are a few suggestions to help plan your visit:

Explore on foot.

With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Ride the Red Bus.

The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price. Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525.

Scenic Boat Tours.

Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price. Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.

Float the River.

Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or an inflatable kayak. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1 (800) 235-6781. 

Base Camp.

Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. A great option for family reunions, one and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781. For reservations inside the park contact: www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525.

For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800.

Published in Hike

ft yell grizz

A Yellowstone Grizz ambles near Lake Yellowstone. ( Photo (C) Lynn O'Rourke Hayes )

Unspoiled natural places, authentic cultural experiences and distinctive communities draw travelers from around the world to America’s “last best place”; Montana. 

Jump start your plan to visit Big Sky country here:  

Visit your National Parks.

With Yellowstone to the south and Glacier National Park on the northern border, this Big Sky state offers the perfect launching point to explore two of our national treasures. Visit stops along the Lewis and Clark trail while you’re at it. 

Colorful history.

Take a stroll back in time as you observe remarkable living history demonstrations, dine in century-old structures, enjoy ice cream in an old-fashioned parlor, and ponder tales of ghosts said to drift along the boarded sidewalks in Virginia City and Nevada City. City tours via fire engine trolley, carriage rides and a follies stage show make for a vintage flavored getaway. 

Arts abound.

Helena, the state’s capital city with a rich mining history, is designated one of the country’s best small arts towns. The Montana Historical Society, founded in 1865, houses one of the country's most important collections of Charles M. Russell art as well as the work of noted frontier photographer F. Jay Haynes. Don’t miss the Archie Bray Foundation, established in 1951 on the site of a brick factory. Tour the studios and grounds of this unique endeavor in the ceramic arts that attracts artists from around the world. Ask about summer programs for adults and children.

Big Sky bonanza

 Nestled in meadows and surrounded by forestland, Big Sky is an outdoor lover’s paradise. A year round playground, this mountain town is home to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin ski resorts as well as fishing, mountain biking, golf, and rafting just to get the list started. Hiking is popular in the nearby Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness. 

ft cattle drive montana 7-7-2010 9-45-51 am

Cowboy Up.

Attend a rodeo, stay at a guest ranch, participate in a round up. Ride horses into the hills, visit a stock yards. Throughout Montana, you’ll enjoy the chance to see real cowboys at work and learn about the rich culture that provides a time tested and colorful strand in our national tapestry.

Find out more: www.VisitMT.com.

Published in National Parks