Sunday, March 25, 2012

Glacier National Park - By Road and By Air

In August of 2011 we rode our bikes to Glacier National Park.  I had never been to this park, but I have always heard of its grandeur. Glacier National Park is a stunning example of the earth forces that changed North America over the last billion years.  The rock formations in the park are sedimentary and were laid down between 1600 to 800 million years ago when this area was an inland sea – as was so much of what is the western US today.

The mountains here were uplifted during the formation of the Rocky Mountain Range beginning around 170 million years ago.  They hold some of the best Proterozoic fossils in the world. The mountains were carved into their present form by the advance and retreat of glaciers during the last ice age, and the park still contains many glacial features like lakes, valleys and even remnant glaciers although these have diminished significantly in the last century as photographs show.  It is all part of the normal cooling and warming cycle our earth goes through.  

Glacier is a one road national part, just like Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef and others.  But this road is one that challenges all others for the top position.  It’s called Going to the Sun Highway and the most spectacular viewpoints in the entire park are along this road.   The road is named for Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, which dominates the eastbound view beyond Logan Pass.  Before this road was completed in 1932, it took visitors four days to see the park.  

It is closed to traffic in winter because it is the hardest of all the park roads to keep clear during the heavy snows in that area. It takes more than 10 weeks to clear the road of over 80 to 100 feet of snow near Logan Pass.  Road construction is likely each summer often with just one lane open to traffic .  This can cause serious delays and even road closure.  

This is what happened to us the day we decided to ride “Sun Road”.  So we turned around (not an easy feat on a narrow road, a wing, an incline and gravel) and headed to one of the companies that offer helicopter tours of the park.  So while I have some views from Sun Road for you here, the rest of this video blog will be our outstanding view from above, all the way north to the 49th parallel.

On Sun Road
On Sun Road

Parked the Bikes for a Photo
Beautiful Shot
There are many lakes, lodges, hiking trails, camping sites and almost every kind of recreation you can imagine at Glacier.  The beauty also comes with Grizzly Bears and severe weather anytime of the year but if you are lucky to see this jewel on a pretty day, it will be an image that will stay with you forever.  
One of the Glacier Lakes
The 49th Parallel


Ready to Fly
Two Wings and Two Jet Rangers

I hope this music video of our helicopter tour of Glacier will either make you want to visit the beauty, or perhaps bring back some great memories.  

So from the Sun Road, to 12,000 feet above, here is Glacier National Park. 

 Enjoy!  "Road Dog"

Shiny Side Up; 

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