Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park: Crown of the Continent

July 13, 2009, 1:33 pm

Perched high in the Rockies in northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park truly is a jewel in the region known by many as the “Crown of the Continent.”

The Crown of the Continent area includes 10 million acres in southern Canada and northern Montana and is one of the most diverse and intact ecosystems in the world.

As home to a stunning glacier-carved landscape, dapper white mountain goats that thrive on the steep slopes of the Continental Divide, and one of the largest remaining grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states, Glacier is a park-lover’s paradise.

The sweeping views and hairpin turns of its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, its fields of puffy bear grass overlooking emerald green and turquois  lakes, and its majestic peaks and glaciers all contribute to its consistent ranking as one of our country’s most beautiful national parks. Despite the high praise it receives, Glacier somehow manages to stay under the radar of many Americans, who often focus on better known parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

Glacier’s “best-kept secret” status may soon change, though, as NPS officials and nearby community groups gear up for the park’s 100th anniversary in 2010. The Glacier Centennial program will focus on getting the word out about the park and engaging not only local community members, but also as many people as possible across the country.

The year-long centennial program will focus on the park’s history, as well as ways to continue the park’s legacy beyond the hundred-year mark. Leading up to the centennial, a traveling exhibit titled “The Art of Preservation”  will be touring gateway communities and nearby cities to help raise awareness about the program.

The Centennial program officially kicks off on August 23 with a “Picnic in the Park” event that harkens back to the way visitors have historically enjoyed Glacier. The park will open its gates for free as visitors enjoy lawn parties featuring light music and birthday cake at Lake McDonald Lodge and Glacier Park Lodge. Boxed picnic lunches available for sale from Glacier Park Inc., an official park concessioner. The official Centennial schedule of events will also be unveiled.

In the coming year, visitors can expect a range of unique ways to celebrate 100 years of Glacier National Park. Activiites and programs ranging from a film festival featuring movies filmed in the park to alumni reunions, to events in local communities and the revival of old traditions, like songfests and special hikes to glaciers, 2010 will be an especially memorable time to visit Glacier.

In addition, The Glacier Institute, a nonprofit park partner that provides hands-on educational adventures in Glacier, hopes to provide a series of once-in-a-lifetime classes and backcountry adventures with topics ranging from park wildlife and infrastructure to astronomy and geology.

If Glacier isn’t already on your national park hit list, now may be the perfect time to add it! Most in-park accommodations can be booked up to a year in advance, and the Centennial program will provide great opportunities to appreciate the history and the future of the Crown of the Continent.

To learn more about the Glacier Centennial program and what you can do to become involved, visit www.glaciercentennial.org.