During the Spring and Summer, hikers throughout Glacier National Park report being enchanted by the colorful profusion of wildflowers from McDonald Valley to Granite Park to the Belly River Valley. For years, I counted on Guide to Glacier National Park by George C. Ruhle and Plants of Waterton-Glacier National Parks by Richard J. Shaw and Danny On for identifying just what I was seeing along the trail.
Sad to say, both of these books are out of print and relatively hard to find. The pages of my old wildflower book are now a loose-leaf collection of sheets; the same would also be true of Ruhle’s book if it were not spiral bound.
Last year, Mountain Press Publishing came out with a wonderful replacement for the book by Shaw and On: Wildflowers of Glacier National Park and Surrounding Areas. Written by botanists Shannon Fitzpatrick Kimball and Peter Lesica, the book features beautiful photographs and layperson friendly details.
A botanist for 15 years, Kimball has served as a consultant for the park. Lesica is also the co-author (with Debbie McNeil) of A Flora of Glacier National Park, Montana and other books based on his 25 years as a Montana botanist.
Published in April 2010, this 260-page guide is an easy-to-use wonder for Glacier’s visitors from Red Bus tourists to casual hikers to ardent backpackers and climbers. The book is available from Amazon and through the Glacier Association. Like my earlier book, this one also groups flowers by color—a very handy technique.
Readers of Glacier Park Magazine will also enjoy Kimball’s article “The Healthy Rose” in the magazine’s Spring 2011 issue.
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3 thoughts on “Handy Guidebook for Glacier Park’s Wildflowers”
I will have to check that one out. I use a book that was written in British Columbia, but it fits very well for this area as well, at least for the most part.
That BC book probably works pretty well. I find that if I need depth information on a plant, I must turn to the Internet. The guidebooks work great for a quick ID and basic facts, but don’t have the scope one needs for a real study of a particular wildflower.
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