In 1910, Congress established Glacier National Park in Montana. Conservationist George Bird Grinnell played a key role in the creation of this park in order to preserve the land’s natural beauty. Indians have always revered this region. The Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Indians, who have lived in the area for hundreds of years, consider it a sacred place.
Glacier National Park is named for the glaciers that produced its landscape. A glacier is a moving mass of snow and ice. It forms when more snow falls each winter than melts in the summer. The snow accumulates and presses the layers below it into ice. The bottom layer of ice becomes flexible and therefore allows the glacier to move. As it moves, a glacier picks up rock and gravel. With this mixture of debris, it scours and sculptures the land it moves across. This is how, over thousands of years, Glacier National Park got all its valleys, sharp mountain peaks, and lakes. There are more than 50 glaciers in the park today, though they are smaller than the huge ones that existed 20,000 years ago.
In addition to its glaciers, mountains, and valleys, Glacier National Park covers approximately 1.4 million acres and includes 200 lakes and streams. The park is also home to many different types of wildlife, including black and grizzly bear, moose, golden and bald eagle, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and whitetail and mule deer.
Glacier National Park is a stunningly beautiful ice-carved terrain of serrated ridges, jutting peaks, dramatic hanging valleys, 50 glaciers, more than 200 lakes, waterfalls and thick forests covering some 1.2-million acres. Deer are among the most commonly spotted wildlife but elk, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzly and black bears roam its wild vastness and are often seen by visitors.
Goat Lick overlook, for example, is a natural salt lick on cliffs overlooking the southern border of the park. From a viewing platform just off US Highway 2 east of Essex you are sure to see mountain goats or other animals at any time of day enjoying the lick.
Wild flowers, too, are abundant and put on a lengthy show of color as they follow spring up the mountains all summer long.
The park is unique among US parks in its relationship with the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. The two parks meet at the border shared by the two countries. Though administered by separate countries, the parks are cooperatively managed in recognition that wild plants and animals ignore political boundaries and claim the natural and cultural resources on both sides of the border. In 1932, the parks were designated the first International Peace Park in recognition of the bonds of peace and friendship between the two nations. The two parks jointly share the name The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Then, in 1995, The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was designated for inclusion as a World Heritage Site.