GPO Summer Travel Series: Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road, NPS.

Summer is coming to a close. But there’s still one spot left on our bucket list. It might be last, but with its majestic alpines, spiritual falls, and shaggy-coated mountain goats, it is certainly not least. Bring your bug spray and pack away your snacks in case we spot a bear. Our last stop in our 2019 summer travels, nicknamed “Crown of the Continent” for its royal grandeur, is in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. We’re heading to one of our most scenic parks yet – Glacier National Park!

Okay, Junior Rangers, open your Junior Park Ranger Glacier National Park booklet! Your first challenge is to help park visitors leave no trace at the park. Let’s keep the park in pristine condition for the animals who live here and the people who visit after us. It’s essential to be wise about wildlife. Glacier is bear country, with both black bears and grizzly bears. Flip through your booklet to learn about how to hike with bears nearby and what every one of us can do to help wild animals survive in their natural habitats!

To get into the park, we’ll take a drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the main attractions of Glacier National Park. With views of peaked mountains, purple wildflowers, lush valleys, and Aspen groves, you’ll want to get your camera out for this part! Notice how clear the water is? The lakes here keep their enviable blue-green color because of the cold temperature of the water. Since most of the lakes don’t get above 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface, very few plankton grow here.

Time for a history lesson! The Salish, Kootenai, and Blackfeet peoples have been in and around the area of Glacier National Park for thousands of years. Once the settlers arrived, places were often renamed for the newcomers. Open your booklet to guess the native names for these places. Can you figure out the names of the digestive system of the buffalo, the waterfall where warrior woman and others went for spiritual guidance, and the mountain you need to be extra respectful of when visiting? Next, complete the rhymes to learn about how people moved through the area at different times throughout history, starting with the first Americans who traveled through the mountains in tribal bands. Once Glacier National Park was established in 1910, The Great Northern Railway company began to build hotels, trails, and of course, the railroad. This railroad provided transportation for those who wanted to travel West.

In 1932, Waterton-Glacier became the very first International Peace Park in the world. The park, which merged Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park and America’s Glacier National Park, symbolized the longstanding friendship between Canada and the United States. Now, write about what peace means to you. Stop and listen — the sounds of the water crashing on the rocks or the croaky calls of a Clark’s Nutcracker here at Glacier might help you describe your definition of peace!

Did you know scientists have been studying the glaciers in this park for more than 100 years? Since then, Glacier National Park has lost many of its glaciers, and many are shrinking. In your booklet, connect the dots to see what Shepard Glacier looked like 100 years ago and what it looks like now. Let’s go on a Geology Hunt in the park. At Lake McDonald, there are rocks of all colors of the rainbow! The Kootenai Indians called Lake McDonald “Dancing Place” because they believed it to be an excellent place to sway, spin, and twirl. What geological evidence can you find here? Look out for different colored pebbles, rocks in the streams, and the peaks on top of the mountains. These mountains, along with the U-shaped valleys, were shaped by the glaciers long ago.

Not quite at reading age yet? No problem! The GPO Bookstore has still got you covered with the Pre-Reader Activity Guide for Glacier National Park’s Youngest Junior Rangers. This booklet is full of fun activities for Glacier’s littlest explorers.

Thank you for experiencing the splendor that is Glacier National Park with us. We hope you learned a lot and that Glacier rejuvenated you for the school year ahead. Stay wild, travelers!

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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