This National Park is Part of the First International Peace Park

The United States and Canada work together to ensure good management and research in their neighboring parks.

Lake McDonald

The largest lake in the park, Lake McDonald was carved out by a glacier. Kootenai Indians, who performed lakeshore ceremonies here, called the waters Sacred Dancing Lake.

Horseback Riding

Exploring the park on horseback offers views only hinted at from the roads. Guided trail rides are popular from Many Glacier Lodge to Cracker Flats.

Iceberg Lake

Wide panoramas lead to the turquoise waters of Iceberg Lake, a tarn that sits in a cirque that was carved out by glacial activity eons ago. Even in the middle of summer, chunks of ice can bob in the Glacier National Park lake.

Aspen Trunks

Brimming with summer snowmelt, Glacier National Park's Lake Sherburne overflows into a tangle of aspens on its shore. Glacier is home to more than 20 different tree species.

Yellow Bear Grass

Local Native American tribes call Glacier National Park in Montana the “Backbone of the World.” Logan Pass, the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road, is known for its wildflowers, including the bear grass shown here, which is able to thrive in scorched earth after wildfires.

Multicolored Cobbles

The glass-clear waters of St. Mary Lake slosh in a glacier-carved basin 10 miles (1.6 kilometers) long, shuffling cobbles that line the bottom like decks of playing cards.

Kayaker at Bowman Lake

Hidden from most visitors' eyes, Bowman Lake—reachable only by gravel road—is tucked into the remote North Fork region of Glacier National Park. A small campground, usually uncrowded, is a local favorite.

Northern Rocky Mountains

The tremendous range of topography in Glacier National Park supports more than a million acres (400,000 hectares) of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks, and glacial-carved valleys in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Mountain Goats

Shaggy mountain goats have spectacular views high in Glacier National Park. The goats and other animals come to Goat Lick Overlook and four other spots in the park to lick the mineral-laden cliffs.

Lower Grinnell Lake

Lower Grinnell Lake in Glacier National Park gets its name from George Bird Grinnell, an early explorer who pushed to get the park created. His efforts were rewarded in 1910, when President Taft signed the bill that established Glacier as a U.S. national park.

Tap images for captions

Location: Montana
Established: May 11, 1910
Size: 1,013,572 acres

Did You Know?

Water originating in Glacier National Park—much of it from snowmelt—can be considered the headwater of the continent. Water that runs down Triple Divide Peak flows in three directions, eventually winding up in the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay.

Glacier National Park is where everything bright and strong and never tamed comes together on high: wolves, white-tailed ptarmigan, storms that hit the Great Divide like tsunamis with golden eagles surfing the wind waves, twisted trees 200 years old but scarcely tall enough to hide a bighorn sheep, impatient wildflowers shoving through snow to unfurl their colors, alpenglow on ancient ice, and great silver-tipped bears.

The Montana refuge is part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park—1,800 square miles of what naturalist John Muir called “the best care-killing scenery on the continent." Multihued summits—whittled by ancient glaciers into walls and horns—rise abruptly from gently rolling plains. Some 762 lakes, dozens of glaciers, and innumerable waterfalls glisten in forested valleys. A scenic highway crosses the park, making much of its beauty accessible to the casual visitor. More than 700 miles of trails await hikers and horseback riders.

In 1932 Canada and the United States declared Waterton Lakes National Park (founded in 1895) and neighboring Glacier National Park (founded in 1910) the world’s first International Peace Park. While administered separately, the park’s two sections cooperate in wildlife management, scientific research, and some visitor services.

The tremendous range of topography in Waterton-Glacier supports a rich variety of plants and wildlife. Almost 2,000 plant species provide food and haven for more than 60 native species of mammals and 260 species of birds. In the 1980s the gray wolf settled into Glacier for the first time since the 1950s.

But now strip-mining and oil, gas, housing, and logging projects proposed or under way near the park’s respective borders endanger the habitats of both water and land animals, including elk, bighorn sheep, and the threatened grizzly. Park officials and conservation groups are working with the U.S. Forest Service, the Canadian government, the Blackfeet Tribe, and private companies to try to protect critical habitats.

Sheltered valleys and bountiful food have lured people here for nearly 10,000 years. Ancient cultures tracked bison across the plains, fished the lakes, and traversed the mountain passes. The Blackfeet controlled this land during the 18th and much of the 19th centuries.

Copy for this series includes excerpts from the National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, Seventh Edition, 2012, and our National Parks series featured in National Geographic Traveler.
Climate 101: Glaciers

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