Exploring Montana: Glacier National Park
by empowernet | on August 30, 2012
Glacier National Park, Montana
Where Is Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park is located in the U.S. state of Montana, bordering the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles (41,000 km2).
The region that became Glacier National Park was first inhabited by Native Americans and upon the arrival of European explorers, was dominated by the Blackfeet in the east and the Flathead in the western regions. Soon after the establishment of the park on May 11, 1910, a number of hotels and chalets were constructed by the Great Northern Railway. These historic hotels and chalets are listed as National Historic Landmarks, and a total of 350 locations are on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1932, work was completed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, later designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, which provided greater accessibility for automobiles into the heart of the park.
The mountains of Glacier National Park began forming 170 million years ago.
When ancient rocks were forced eastward up and over much younger rock strata. Known as the Lewis Overthrust, these sedimentary rocks are considered to have some of the finest fossilized examples of extremely early life found anywhere on Earth. The current shapes of the Lewis and Livingston mountain ranges and positioning and size of the lakes show the telltale evidence of massive glacial action, which carved U-shaped valleys and left behind moraines which impounded water creating lakes. Of the estimated 150 glaciers which existed in the park in the mid-19th century, only 25 active glaciers remained by 2010. Scientists studying the glaciers in the park have estimated that all the glaciers may disappear by 2020 if the current climate patterns persist.