Glacier National Park
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
Welcome to Glacier
Come and experience Glacier's
pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular
lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker's paradise
for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the
days of old through historic chalets, lodges, transportation, and
stories of Native Americans. Explore Glacier National Park and
discover what awaits you.
Where is the Information that I
Rooms in Glacier's historic hotels book up fast. Two companies
provide lodging in the park and visitors should contact them
directly for reservations.
Glacier's 13 campgrounds provide almost 1000 campsites. Most are
available on a first-come, first serve basis, although two may be
reserved in advance.
Over 700 miles of trails lead to some of the most spectacular
scenery on the planet. Plan ahead and have a great and safe hike.
Biking, boating, horseback rides...it's all here. Check out all the
great outdoor activities Glacier has to offer.
Before the Park
Recent archaeological surveys have found evidence of human use
dating back over 10,000 years. These people may have been the
ancestors of tribes that live in the area today. By the time the
first European explorers came to this region, several different
tribes inhabited the area.
The Blackfeet Indians controlled the vast
prairies east of the mountains. The Salish and Kootenai Indians
lived and hunted in the western valleys. They also traveled east of
the mountains to hunt buffalo.
In the early 1800�s, French,
English, and Spanish trappers came in search of beaver. In 1806, the
Lewis and Clark Expedition came within 50 miles of the area that is
now the park.
As the number of people moving west
steadily increased, the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai were forced
onto reservations. The Blackfeet Reservation adjoins the east side
of the park. The Salish and Kootenai reservation is southwest of
Glacier. This entire area holds great spiritual importance to the
Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai people.
The railroad over Marias Pass was
completed in 1891. The completion of the Great Northern Railway
allowed more people to enter the area. Homesteaders settled in the
valleys west of Marias Pass and soon small towns developed.
Under pressure from miners, the
mountains east of the Continental Divide were acquired in 1895 from
the Blackfeet. Miners came searching for copper and gold. They hoped
to strike it rich, but no large copper or gold deposits were ever
located. Although the mining boom lasted only a few years, abandoned
mine shafts are still found in several places in the park.
Establishing the Park
Around the turn of the
century, people started to look at the land differently. Rather than
just seeing the minerals they could mine or land to settle on, they
started to recognize the value of its spectacular scenic beauty.
Facilities for tourists started to spring up.
In the late 1890's, visitors arriving
at Belton (now called West Glacier) could get off the train, take a
stagecoach ride a few miles to Lake McDonald, and then board a boat
for an eight mile trip to the Snyder Hotel. No roads existed in the
mountains, but the lakes allowed boat travel into the wilderness.
Soon people, like George Bird
Grinnell, pushed for the creation of a national park. Grinnell was
an early explorer to this part of Montana and spent many years
working to get the park established.
The area was made a Forest Preserve
in 1900, but was open to mining and homesteading. Grinnell and
others sought the added protection a national park would provide.
Grinnell saw his efforts rewarded in 1910 when President Taft signed
the bill establishing Glacier as the country's 10th national park.
After the creation of the park, the
growing staff of park rangers needed housing and offices to help
protect the new park. The increasing number of park visitors made
the need for roads, trails, and hotels urgent. The Great Northern
Railway built a series of hotels and small backcountry lodges,
called chalets, throughout the park.
A typical visit to Glacier involved a
train ride to the park, followed by a multi-day journey on
horseback. Each day after a long ride in the mountains, guests would
stay at a different hotel or chalet. The lack of roads meant that,
to see the interior of the park, visitors had to hike or ride a
horse. Eventually, the demand for a road across the mountains led to
the building of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
A Heritage for the Future
The construction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road was a huge
undertaking. Even today, visitors to the park marvel at how such a
road could have been built. The final section of the
Going-to-the-Sun Road, over Logan Pass, was completed in 1932 after
11 years of work. The road is considered an engineering feat and is
a National Historic Landmark.
It is one of the most scenic roads in
North America. The construction of the road forever changed the way
visitors would experience Glacier National Park. Future visitors
would drive over sections of the park that previously had taken days
of horseback riding to see.
Just across the border, in Canada, is
Waterton Lakes National Park. In 1931, members of the Rotary Clubs
of Alberta and Montana suggested joining the two parks as a symbol
of the peace and friendship between our two countries. In 1932, the
United States and Canadian governments voted to designate the parks
as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the world's first.
More recently the parks have received two other international
The parks are both Biosphere
Reserves, and were named as a World Heritage Site in 1995. This
international recognition highlights the importance of this area,
not just to the United States and Canada, but to the entire world.
While much has changed since the
first visitors came to Glacier, it is possible to relive some of
Glacier�s early history. You can take a horseback ride like an
early visitor. Miles of hiking trails follow routes first used by
trappers in the early 1800's. Several hotels and chalets, built by
the Great Northern Railway in the early 1900's, house summer guests
to the park. A visit to Glacier National Park is still a great
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