WEST GLACIER, MT. – The 2017 Glacier National Park annual entrance pass is now available at park entrance stations and the park headquarters building in West Glacier.
The pass depicts the image of Francis X. Guardipee, the first Blackfeet Native American to serve as a ranger in Glacier National Park. Guardipee became a ranger in 1930. His duties took him throughout the park, including Two Medicine, Nyack, and winters in East Glacier. He retired in 1948 and spent his retirement in Browning with his wife, Alma. He was a dedicated Boy Scout troop leader, and when he died in 1970, had spent more than half a century leading Boy Scout Troop 100. Chief Lodgepole Peak was named in honor of Guardipee in 1973. The peak is located in the Two Medicine area of the park.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation that allows the park to collect entrance and camping fees, and retain 80 percent of the collected revenue. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress.
The entrance pass in 2017 will be $50. The $5 fee increase over the $45 2016 annual pass reflects input from the civic engagement process Glacier National Park implemented in November 2014 following a nationwide National Park Service review of fees. No other entrance or campground fees will change this year.
The funds generated by fees are used for projects that enhance visitor services and facilities, including interpretive programs at campgrounds, the backcountry campsite reservation program, repair and restoration of trails, restoration of wildlife habitat, improvement and replacement of restroom facilities, preservation and maintenance of roads, and shuttle bus operation and maintenance. To learn more about the types of projects funded with user fees, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/management/yourdollarsatwork.htm.
After working as a student at Glacier Park’s Many Glacier Hotel in the 1960s, I hoped I would end up living in the area and possibly being part of the workforce there over time. While that didn’t pan out, I thought, well, I’ll sell 100000000000000 copies of my novels including the two partly set in the hotel and will be able to fly out to Montana for a visit area year. While that didn’t pan out, I thought I’d go there occasionally and have my memories.
Now, as the National Park Service continues to refurbish the hotel, it has accomplished much in terms of infrastructure that will keep the 1915 hotel alive and well for many years to come. But, I’m not going back again and will let the Many Glacier Hotel of my memories suffice. Why?
I’m not going to rehash the issues here; I covered some of them in NPS to proceed with ill-advised restoration of Many Glacier Hotel Staircase. I believe this action and several less obvious changes are better classified as vandalism rather than preservation–or even restoration. I did not like the changes I saw the last time I was at the hotel. While many upgrades were necessary, changing the look and feel was not. Once the lobby and lake level spaces are gutted by the unfortunate rebuilding of a staircase (that has been gone longer than it was there), I don’t want to see the hotel again.
I have said my piece on this from the perspective of a person who wrote preservation grants and who worked in preservation at the municipal level. Nobody was listening to those of us who felt the changes violated the Interior Department’s own standards. Sentimentality won the day, and those of you who visit Many Glacier Hotel beginning in 2017 will see a new lobby/cafe/giftshop configuration. You might actually like it, and that’s fine because you didn’t grow up seeing it the way it’s been for over 50 years.
I applaud the NPS’ work–and those of many fundraisers–in support of stabilizing the hotel and in dealing with building code issues that are always problematic in older structures. But when the look and feel is altered, the historic nature of the structure is compromised. The hotel stands in (to my biased view) the most beautiful valley in a park that’s my favorite place on the planet. I hope many people will enjoy the Swiftcurrent Valley for years to come. I’ll enjoy it as I remember it as this blog discontinues any future mention of Glacier National Park.
As my father grew older, he stayed away from some places he recalled as childhood favorites because he liked them better as they were than as they became. Perhaps a lot of this are this way. The tide of change and so-called promise is as hard to stop as the incoming tide on a beach. So, sometimes it’s better not to go back to the old familiar places because nobody there knows your name any more and too much of what was familiar has been altered, sometimes in unforgivable ways.
I’m happy I saw the hotel several years ago before the worst of the changes arrived. Do you feel this way about some of the places in your past? Do you worry what you’ll find if you go back for a visit? Do you wonder if it’s best to stay away after friends who still live there tell you about the old buildings that were torn town for parking lots and the parks that were paved over for housing developments or the historic structures that were ruined by misguided efforts?
Or, perhaps these feelings only come to those who are starting to grow old.
Today’s news release from NPS Glacier National Park notes that restoration work on Many Glacier Hotel is continuing, especially in the annex (officially annex 2) where many rooms will be refurbished; the kind of structural, safety and stabilization that were done in the main annex of the hotel will also be carried out in annex 2. This coming summer, half of the hotel’s rooms will be closed during the project’s completion.
In a separately funded project, the long-removed spiral staircase will be returned (rebuilt) in the hotel’s lobby connecting the main floor with the lake level rooms below.
As I’ve written in my blogs previously, I would have opposed the removal of the staircase in 1957 had I been working there at the time. While many old timers have (rightfully) mourned the loss of that staircase which had been in place in 1915, I firmly believe restoring the staircase now is not only a huge mistake by violates one of the preservation standards of the NPS’ parent Department of Interior.
Why This is a Mistake
The Department of Interior’s preservation standards state that “Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.” This means that you cannot, within preservation best practices, convert a structure to the way it was in an earlier time since it’s ambiance, usage and looks have evolved over time. Buildings evolve, and the lobby without the staircase has more years of history than the lobby with the staircase.
The rebuilt staircase will alter the rooms below. The St. Moritz room stage will be removed, making it impossible to set up musical groups, much less return to the historic summer musical productions that were a long-time and historically significant offering by hotel employees. Ranger Naturalist talks will also be removed from the hotel, because the lake level renovations will remove their Lucerne Room venue when the gift shop is moved from the lobby downstairs.
The gift shop will probably not fare as well in the lake level where it will be out of sight and out of mind.
Others have complained that the staircase will be an open vertical “corridor” that will carry noise and cooking odors from the lake level up into the lobby.
To be consistent with the logic replacing the “historic” staircase, the NPS would also have to replace the former Many Glacier swimming bool and remove the added-on porte cochère at the main lobby entrance that protects car and bus passengers from rain upon arrival. Other smaller-order changes have been made to the hotel since I worked there: I note that the NPS isn’t advocating returning those areas to their original as-built configurations. While I understand the urgent need several years ago to stabilize the hotel’s foundation, taking the historic “kinks” out of the lake-level “stagger alley” hallway was a very non-preservationist in approach. Does NPS plan to restore these kinks?
My comments to the Department of Interior and NPS-Glacier National Park about the park service’s justification for the violation of the standard prohibiting the return of buildings to earlier configurations have received no response. It appears that the NPS has overlooked its own standards in favor of sentimentality.
As a former Many Glacier Hotel employee, I’m done with the hotel because the new eyesore in the lobby will be nothing I want to see. As a former Historic Preservation Commission chairperson and preservation grant writer, I dislike the precedent of this violation of standards. Once the staircase is returned, anything can be returned and that’s a mess I don’t want to contemplate at Glacier National Park or any other unit in the system.
People Before The Park, by Sally Thompson, Kootenai Culture Committee & Pikunni Traditional Association (MHS Press, July 2015), 256 pages with photographs.
The Great Northern Railway, one of the predecessor roads of today’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe, developed Glacier National Park’s roads, telephone system, power lines and famous hotels as a tourist destination for passengers on its Empire Builder and Western Star trains. The railroad’s influence on the park was immense.
The railroad called the Blackfeet, the Glacier Park Tribe, and often took representatives to faraway cities to advertise the park. The project was much more of an expedient promotion than a true cultural exchange. The soul of the park, however, will always be Kootenai and Blackfeet (Pikunni/Piegan).
When I worked as a bellman at Many Glacier Hotel in 1963 and 1964, I was fascinated by the Blackfeet and Kootenai names for many of the mountains, rivers and creeks. Some years later, while working as an editorial assistant for the first edition of Jack Holterman’s now-classic Place Names of Glacier and Waterton National Parks, I learned that these landmarks were given Indian names by early explorers such as James Willard Schultz and George Bird Grinnell. We’ve long needed the park’s story from its original people.
Slowly, some of the official place names are being changed. Some years ago, Trick Falls (named for its odd water flow) was changed to its Blackfeet name, Running Eagle (Pitawmáhkan) Falls. Mt. Wilbur, the distinctive peak across the lake from Many Glacier Hotel, is also hearing its Blackfeet used by bellmen, tour bus drivers, boat crew personnel and others. Now people are beginning to know it as Heavy Shield. One day, perhaps the mountain will hear its name in Blackfeet: Isokwi-awótan
Montana Historical Society
Now, with the publication by the Montana Historical Society Press of People Before The Park, information that has up to now been mostly confined to books intended for scholars and students of history is now accessible to a wider audience. I hope that the park’s concessionaires are selling this book in the hotel gift shops at Many Glacier Hotel, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Glacier Park Lodge.
From the Publisher
Step out of a world governed by clocks and calendars and into the world of the Kootenai and Blackfeet peoples, whose traditional territories included the area that is now Glacier National Park. In this book, the Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes share their traditions—stories and legends, foodways and hunting techniques, games and spiritual beliefs. Readers will discover a new respect for the people who were at home in the Crown of the Continent, all around the seasons. Sally Thompson has spent over thirty years working with the tribes of the Rocky Mountain West to tell history from their points of view. Her most recent work focused on repatriating human remains and sacred objects to tribes.
A Reviewer’s Perspective
“Thompson decided to take a different approach to the book. Rather than write it all herself, she asked the Kootenai Cultural Committee and the Blackfeet’s Pikunni Traditional Association to each author their own chapter.
“The result is a book that tells a descriptive story that comes alive for the reader. Historical photos are featured throughout the book. Thompson provides introductory geographical and cultural information and provides evidence of early trails through the park.” – Erin Madison in the Great Falls Tribune
Every hiker needs several things in his/her backpack: map, matches, flashlight, water, food, bear spray and a copy of this book. As always, the place tells us about the people who live there and the people who live there enhance our knowledge of the place.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two novels set partially in Glacier National Park, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande.”
The 4,000-acre (as of 7/23/2015) Reynold’s Creek Wildland Fire in Glacier National Park’s St. Mary Valley has destroyed the historic Baring Cabin. Also called the Sun Camp Fireguard Cabin, this National Register listed property was built in 1935 as part of a compound of buildings used by the park service.
It was the last remaining structure before being destroyed by the fire on 7/22 that–according to latest reports–has come within 200 feet of Rising Sun Motel and is being moved by high winds toward the now-evacuated village of St. Mary at the junction of Going-to-the-Sun Road and highway 89 on the eastern side of Glacier Park. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
The cabin was built by Harry E. Doverspike at the mouth of Baring Creek, according to NPS Division of Landscape Architecture specifications, a mile east of the Going-to-the-Sun Chalet. The chalet as removed in 1948. The cabin, which has housed park personnel on an as-needed basis, was fully staffed into the early 1960s.
The 20×25-foot cabin (including a covered porch) was built in the rustic architecture style and featured a stone foundation and chimney, log walls and a singled roof.
It was listed on the National Register in 1999 based on its history and architecture.
While the Blackfeet name for the creek is ápa-oápspi (weasel eyes), the name “Baring” was applied to the creek and the falls in honor of the old-line banking family who visited the area frequently during the 1920s. Author and explorer James Willard Schultz (Apikuni) named the creek, falls and nearby glacier (since changed to Sexton).
You can track the fire on this frequently refreshed map.
The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park will continue its Citizen Science Program this summer, offering free research and learning opportunities for the public.
The program trains individuals to identify, observe, and record information on mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pikas, aquatic insects, loons, and invasive plants in Glacier National Park. These species have been targeted because of their sensitivity to changes in habitat, human disturbances and, in the case of invasive plants, their threat to native biodiversity. Participants are asked to attend a one-day training session before collecting data for a project.
Common Loon Citizen Science
Gather information on the distribution and reproduction of common loons to understand more about population trends and nesting success. Glacier National Park is home to about 20% of Montana’s breeding Common Loons. Monitoring takes place May through September. Training Date: May 22, June 18, June 26, or July 9
High Country Citizen Science
Observe mountain goats, bighorn sheep, pikas, and aquatic insects at selected sites to assist with population and distribution estimates. These species are habitat and temperature sensitive and may be affected by climate change. Monitoring takes place June through October. Training Dates: June 12, June 19, or July 2
Invasive Plant Citizen Science
Learn to identify five targeted invasive plants and use GPS units to map their locations while hiking along trails in Glacier National Park. Monitoring takes place June through September. Interested invasive plant citizen science participants can be trained in one of two ways:
1. Complete online training session at http://www.crownscience.org/getinvolved/citizen-science/noxious-weeds.
2. Attend annual weed blitz on Tuesday, July 21. Participants will assist Glacier National Park by pulling targeted weeds.
Additional training sessions for any of the programs may be scheduled based on interest.
Since 2005, the Glacier National Park Citizen Science Program has utilized trained citizen scientists to collect baseline population data on species of interest within the park. Training is provided to participants to inform them of threats to native plants and wildlife that may result from human disturbance, climate change, and invasive species. Perhaps most importantly, the Citizen Science Program helps create an informed group of visitors involved in active stewardship of Glacier National Park.
This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the park while providing a valued service. Since our parks our underfunded, help is always needed, and this program gives people a chance to get involved, get hands-on experience and get the summer of a lifetime.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of The Sun Singer, a contemporary fantasy adventure novel set in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park recently received a generous donation of 21 historic paintings from Glacier Park, Inc. The paintings, originally created for the hotels, motels and lodges in the park, include pieces by John Fery, Frank Stick, R.H. Palenske, Charles Defeo and Richmond.
The pieces were originally owned and/or commissioned by the Great Northern Railway, many depicting iconic scenes from in and around Glacier National Park. All of the paintings are estimated to have originated between 1909 and 1915, and have been on display at Lake McDonald Lodge, Many Glacier Hotel, Rising Sun Motor Inn and the Two Medicine Campstore in the park.
The majority of the pieces are oil on canvas paintings. They range in size from 2.5 feet x 1.5 feet, to almost 6 feet x 12 feet. Some are by unknown artists. A plaque commemorating the donation will be placed by each painting.
A condition of the donation was that the paintings remain in the hotels, motels and lodges for which they were created. “We greatly appreciate the willingness of the National Park Service to ensure that the original paintings be displayed in the lodges and properties within Glacier National Park, as they were intended when the Hill Family of the Great Northern Railway commissioned the paintings in the early 1900s. We are pleased that these beautiful images of the park’s history will continue to be enjoyed by many more generations,” said Glacier Park, Inc. Vice President and General Manager Ron Cadrette.
“We are thrilled to receive this wonderful gift from Glacier Park, Inc.,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “These paintings help tell the story of the early tourist accommodations in the park and the connection the railroad had in promoting this area to the nation.”
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc.- Glacier National Park Lodges, will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the paintings through their concessions contract with the park.
Glacier Park, Inc., also known as GPI and a subsidiary of Viad Corp, is currently the owner and operator of two properties within the park: Motel Lake McDonald and Apgar Village Lodge. They also own and operate five other lodging properties in the local vicinity of Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. Glacier Park, Inc. operated many of the park lodges and hotels as the primary concessioner in the park until 2014.
A year ago, I walked into the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel and bought an ice cold mug of Moose Drool. With a name like that, I figured what could possibly go wrong.
It was darned good.
When people asked me what I was drinking, naturally I said “Moose Drool.”
Since most visitors to Glacier Park look for moose but never find them, folks wondered how I got close enough to get the drool into a mug.
“If you ring a bear bell by the light of the moon, a moose will appear,” I said. “Hand it some grass (not pot) to start the drooling process.”
Those who took a sip immediately left the bar and headed out into Swiftcurrent Valley to find their own moose. I left the hotel the next morning before any incident reports were filed with the park rangers.
You brew Moose Drool in Montana but don’t distribute it in faraway Georgia. I see by your business plan, you’re concentrating on your neck of the woods and that makes sense. Meanwhile, I’m stuck sitting here drinking Schlitz. (Not really.)
So, here’s an opportunity for the Big Sky Brewing Company to set up a wonderful promotion. Get a tractor trailer, put your logo all over it, and send it down into Georgia with some guy called Bandit serving as your escort.
Film the whole thing and put it on YouTube. It will go viral. Big Sky will haul in big bucks.
While it may not get me a continuous supply of beer here in northeast Georgia, I’m hoping for a couple of free bottles. Then, next time I’m in the Interlaken Lounge at Many Glacier Hotel, I’ll buy a round of Moose Drool for everyone.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories including “Dream of Crows” which appears in the Lascaux Prize 2014 anthology.
The last day to access Logan Pass by vehicle from the east side of Glacier National Park will be Sunday, September 21, allowing accelerated fall season rehabilitation on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Vehicle traffic will be restricted on the east side near the St. Mary Campground beginning Monday, September 22. Vehicle access to Logan Pass will be available from the west side of the park through Sunday, October 19, weather permitting.
Fall access to east-side hiking trails between the St. Mary Campground and Logan Pass will be limited during road rehabilitation activity beginning Monday, September 22. Hikers wanting to hike any of the trails that are accessed, or may be an exit point, along the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, are highly encouraged to contact the park at 406-888-7800 before departing. The trails that are affected include Siyeh Pass, Baring Basin, Piegan Pass, Otokomi, St. Mary Falls/Baring Falls/Virginia Falls, Gunsight and Sperry Trails. For more information on status of trails and access, please contact the park or visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm.
Access to some backcountry campsites on the east side of the park will also be affected. All backcountry campers are required to have a permit from the park’s backcountry office for overnight stays. All backcountry permits must be obtained from the Apgar Permit Center at this time of the year. For more information on backcountry camping and trail access, please contact the park at 888-7800 or visit http://www.nps.gov/glac.
Times and locations for boat inspections for boats launching in Glacier National Park are changing. Inspections for the west side of the park will be conducted at the Apgar Backcountry Office, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through the end of October. Boat inspections for the east side of the park, Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas, are by appointment only. Appointments are available by contacting the park at 406-888-7800.
The Logan Pass Visitor Center will be open through this Sunday, September 21, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Apgar Visitor Center and the St. Mary Visitor Center are open through October 5, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.
Many Glacier Bridge Replacement
Visitors to the Many Glacier area of the park should be aware that the replacement of the Swiftcurrent Bridge will begin shortly after the Many Glacier Hotel closes for the season on Sunday, September 21. Visitors can expect short delays beginning September 26. As of September 29 there will be no vehicle or pedestrian traffic as the bridge is replaced. It is anticipated that the work to replace the bridge will continue through mid-November.
Access to Cracker Lake and the Piegan Trail will be through the Grinnell Picnic Area, at the Grinnell Trailhead. The Swiftcurrent Bridge is located at the foot of Swiftcurrent Lake and provides vehicle and pedestrian access to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District, and the Many Glacier Hotel.
Autumn visitors to Glacier National Park will find less crowds, cooler temperatures, and changing vegetation colors. Area residents and visitors are reminded that the park is open year-round and park recreational opportunities can be found during all seasons.
Nice to see infrastructure work going forward.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three novels partially set in Glacier National Park, “The Sun Singer” (paperback) “Sarabande” (out of print) and “The Seeker” (on Amazon and Smashwords in paperback and e-book).
Those who have followed this blog for years know that I worked as a hotel bellman at Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Hotel while in college and that I’ve returned to the park when finances permit.
I suppose many people have a favorite beach, romantic city, mountain range or scenic highway they call my favorite place, and that for reasons they may not be able to explain, are drawn to it time and again.
Glacier is my favorite place, though it hasn’t been easy falling in love with it inasmuch as I live in the Southeast and travel to and from the park in northwestern Montana takes time and/or money. The historic hotels, many of which were constructed by the Great Northern Railway many years ago, are only open between June and September. This means the primary park season is short and room rates are high.
Most people reach the park by car via U. S. Highway 2 or by air via Kalispell which is near the west entrance to the park. Some people fly in via Calgary, Alberta and then visit Jasper, Banff, and Waterton parks in Alberta before driving south past Chief Mountain into Montana to tour Glacier. Glacier is named for its glacier-carved mountains with a geography featuring horn-shaped peaks, narrow aretes, cirque lakes and stair-step valleys. Existing glaciers add glacial flour (finely ground rock) to the water and that makes for turquoise colored lakes.
Due to an ancient thrust-fault, there are places where you’ll see older rock on top of younger rock. Many rock strata are visible throughout the park. If you take a launch trip on Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, St. Mary Lake, Lake McDonald or Two Medicine lake, the guides will point out the rock strata along with glaciers (slowly melting away), waterfalls (a lot, especially early in the summer), primary peaks, wildlife (including grizzly bears), and other points of interest.
If you like hiking, there are 700 miles of trails for you to choose from. My favorite is the Highline Trail which you can use to go from Logan pass on Sun Road to Granite Park Chalet to Many Glacier Hotel on the east side. Many trails remain closed due to snow throughout June, so check with the park service about trail closures if you go early in the summer.
If you have time, take a red bus trip on Sun Road or up to Waterton. These 1936 restored tour buses are fun to ride in and, when the convertible tops are rolled back, give you a great view of the mountains. If your time in the park is short, consider including one bus tour, a launch trip, and scheduling in some time for short hikes around the hotel where you’re staying. Alan Leftridge’s book (shown here) lists the best places to see, grouped by category. It’s a valuable guide for people who only have a day or so for a quick trip.
If you have problems with stairs, you should know that while Many Glacier Hotel has an elevator in the main section, the four floors of rooms in the annex are accessible only by steep stairs. Glacier Park Lodge has no elevators, so try to get a room at ground level. I found the foods served in the main dining rooms of the hotels to be tasty, but overly rich. (Be sure to try at least one of the deserts, drinks or ice creams made with Huckleberries.) If you’re there for a few days, you can venture out to Swiftcurrent if you’re staying at Many Glacier, multiple private restaurants at East Glacier if you’re staying at Glacier Park Lodge, several restaurants at St. Mary if you’re staying at Rising Sun, and a variety of restaurants at Apgar and Kalispell if you’re staying at McDonald Lodge. Bison Creek Ranch a few miles for East Glacier is a favorite of mine for steaks and chicken.
If you’re a light sleeper, take a white noise machine. The walls of these old hotels are thin and the doorways are not tight fitting–you won’t want to hear people talking or snoring in adjoining rooms. WiFi in the hotels is only available in a few areas and is overloaded by multiple guests trying to log on. Cell phone reception is spotty or not available. Take multiple layers of clothes. You may need a jacket at night in August and the wind in the higher elevations can be chilly all through the summer. If you have a small umbrella or a fold-up poncho, take it: rain comes out of nowhere.
Yes, the 2014 season only has about a half a month left to go. Had you been at the park a few days ago, you would have seen a great display of the northern lights. The wind at Logan Pass and elsewhere will be getting noticeably colder. You may see some snow in the higher elevations. If you like to ski or hike with snow shoes, the park is open throughout the Winter.
Glacier is on my mind this month with the release of the new paperback* edition my contemporary fantasy adventure novel which is set in and around Many Glacier Hotel. The reality comes from faithfully including what I remember about the Swiftcurrent Valley, Lake Josephine and the Ptarmigan Tunnel. The fantasy comes from a look-alike universe reached via a portal (which you won’t see from the Lake Josephine Launch) hidden near a shelter lean-to used by hikers. If they only knew how close they were to a very dangerous world–as my young protagonist discovers. He’ll have to learn how to use magic if he wants to make it back to the world of Glacier National Park.