Annual Noxious Weed Blitz at Glacier National Park

Date: June 25, 2018
Contact: Lauren Alley, 406-888-5838

West Glacier, MT – Join the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center and Glacier National Park’s restoration and integrated pest management biologist, Dawn LaFleur, for the park’s annual Noxious Weed Blitz. The Weed Blitz is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17, 2018 from 10 am – 4 pm. Participants will meet at the Glacier National Park Community Building in West Glacier.

Participants will learn about the ecological impacts of noxious weeds and how to identify and remove five targeted invasive plant species. Bring your muscles, gloves, appropriate footwear, and drinking water.

Lunch will be provided by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Please RSVP by July 12, 2018 by emailing or calling (406) 888-7986.

If I lived near the park, I’d do this every year to help get rid of weeds, get some exercise, and meet other people who care about the park.


Glacier Park Modifies Transportation Contract to Retain Red Bus Fleet

from NPS Glacier National Park

Buses at Glacier Park Lodge
Buses at Glacier Park Lodge

WEST GLACIER, MT. – The National Park Service announced today that it was modifying the terms of a prospectus for the concessions operations at Glacier National Park to reinforce the park’s intention to retain the operation of the entire fleet of red buses while providing safe, informative and memorable experiences for Glacier National Park visitors.

These modifications supersede original plans to retire half of the red bus fleet, replacing them with modern equipment.

Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, “We love the red buses and our intent has been to retain this iconic symbol of the park.”

Changes to the prospectus clarify how maintenance and rehabilitation of the bus fleet will occur.  The newly selected concessioner will be responsible for the management and upkeep of the red buses. The National Park Service owns all

NPS Photo
NPS Photo

the existing 33 historic red buses in the fleet.  Through the terms of the pending concessions contract, the National Park Service intends to monitor the condition of the red buses and rehabilitate the buses as needed over the course of the 16-year contract.  Hall said that modifications of the prospectus for the new concessions contract are being developed to clarify those requirements. The modifications to the prospectus will be posted on the agency’s commercial services website at in mid-February.

Hall said, “We appreciate the advocacy for the red buses by the Glacier Park Foundation and others, and their dedication to preserving the fleet of 33 iconic and historic buses.”

As the historic buses age, rehabilitation work is required to keep the fleet safe and operational.  The buses have 1930s–era bodies adapted to modern chassis.  It is recognized that the required custom rehabilitation work on the buses will be very expensive.

A complete and custom restoration of the buses was last completed in 2002 with the generous assistance of the Ford Motor Company through the National Park Foundation.   At that time the cost for the rehabilitation of the buses was more than $6 million dollars.

Hall said, “We want to maintain and continue the tradition of the iconic red buses on the road in Glacier National Park.”


TSScover2014Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy adventure novels, including “The Seeker” and “The Sun Singer,” both of which are set in Glacier National Park.

Hotels in the National Parks – a sternly worded memo

Why we’re out there – NPS Photo

When many of today’s historic hotels in the National Parks first opened, America was a different kind of place, so people appreciated “rustic” and didn’t expect to have all the comforts of the city out in the woods because, well, if they preferred the comforts of the city they would stay in the city.

From time to time, I complain about the inconsiderate people who ruin camping experiences for everyone else by “serenading” the woods with loud music, loud TV sets, video game racket, and various other hobbies that have no place in a wilderness setting. Frankly, I’m there to get away from all that. Those who are addicted to racket can (a) wear earphones or (b) go away.

The same Internet that makes it possible for me to say a few kind words about old hotels gives others an opportunity to say nasty things about those hotels even though old buildings in a restricted environment can’t (and shouldn’t) compete with one’s favorite, modern resort. But, I can’t help but wonder why people complain about the very things they should have expected to find.

People, The Hotels are Really Old

I wonder why we can’t tolerate “rustic” these days as good sports rather than griping on line about things that are, quite frankly, to be expected in a hotel built 100 years ago in an environment that isn’t kind to structures and in a place that cannot be disturbed by the kinds of “improvements” we take for granted in big city hotels that operate year-around with full access to the best transportation, water, power, DSL and everything else anyone could possibly ask for in a hotel.

Old hotels are likely to have smaller rooms, older-style bathrooms, thinner walls, floors/ceilings that creak and groan, balcony doors and windows that might rattle in the wind, no television or hotel-wide WiFi or DSL. We used to call this kind of thing charming because going to a National Park was traditionally considered “roughing it” even if you didn’t sleep in a tent. Light sleepers can take white noise machines. WiFi addicts can: (a) find the designated WiFI areas (if any), (b) consider entering a 12-step program before staying in a historic hotel so that the lack of instant access to the world outside the park won’t be more important than enjoying what is there, (c) Go away.

When staying in a National Register listed hotel, it’s good to remember that preservation of historic structures always trumps restoration, much less renovation.  Buildings are updated to comply with codes. But updating them because people want modern bathrooms, TV sets in rooms with less insulation between rooms, and a five-star, New York City experience in a wilderness setting is not only destructive to the historic building, but down right lousy management. In the preservation business, we often talk about Paul Bunyan’s axe. If you keep using it, you have to tolerate its fragility and construction and chop accordingly; otherwise, when you replace the handle one year and replace the axe head another year, it might look like Paul Bunyan’s axe. But it isn’t. It’s now a replica and no longer a historical treasure.

You Don’t Expect Granny to Dance Like a Teenager

I don’t know, maybe fewer people are tolerating granny these days because she’s old and acts her age and cannot do this or that with the same efficiency and style as a much younger person. Yes, I know, science will probably figure out how to keep replacing granny’s parts so that one day granny will be a teenager again. Of course, she won’t be granny any more either.

Old buildings also act their age, especially when their age=history. We cannot have it both ways. If we want to stay in a historic hotel, then we need to love it for what it is rather than taking away all of its history by modernizing the original building away over time with “improvements.”

In many ways, the National Park Service is the ultimate steward of these properties, because NPS  controls what can be changed and what cannot, how the hotel must function within a pristine environment, and even how much you pay for a room. Suffice it to say, the hotels are old, expensive to maintain and difficult to operate.

We’re there for nature, not pampering; so it would be nice, I think, for some constructive reviews on sites like TripAdvisor rather than listing “faults” that really are the realities of rustic accommodations in century-old hotels.


For More Information

Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began

In June, the management of Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park figures out a way to pose the entire staff in front of a photographer for the summer picture. I no longer remember how many takes it took to make the photographer happy. And, though I thought I would always remember the names, home towns, and colleges of all the students in this picture, the details have long since become hazy.

We came from all around the country during the last week in May and spent the summer in the fantasy land of  the Swiftcurrent Valley working as cooks, waiters, desk clerks and bellmen until mid-September. A lot of us came back the following summer, and some the summer after that, as has been the custom with the concessionaire’s summer help since the days when the Great Northern Railway (now, BNSF) owned and managed the facility.

For a Florida boy who had always wanted to see the mountains, Glacier Park’s horn-shaped mountains, stair-step valleys, cool summer nights, and old Swiss-style hotels were a fantasy land in spite of the hard work. We carried luggage, cleared dining room tables, mopped the floors, made the beds, and told guests yarns about the mountains.

Our summer included bridge games, long hikes, fresh fish, romances, twisted ankles, mountain climbing, boating, broken hearts and a lot of pictures more personal than this old black and white that doesn’t quite fit on my scanner.

I studied writing in high school and college and the craft I learned there was well worth the time. While I spent less time in the park, my total of  seven months there over the span of several summers shaped my life and work more than any college course. Perhaps I was more impressionable than most or perhaps it is a writer’s natural focus on experience that has made this place loom larger than life.

For a writer, time neither steals away old joys nor heals old wounds, and I came away from the park with my fair share of both. For better or worse, they have sustained me and defined my outlook, while becoming the setting for my magical realism (Mountain Song) novel and two contemporary fantasies (The Sun Singer and Sarabande).

Virginia Woolf once wrote that all of a writer’s secrets loom large in his work. I think that might be true because this setting impacted me just as much as Hogwarts impacted Harry Potter and “The Land” impacted Thomas Covenant. So it is that this faraway place flows out onto the page in my storytelling as a true love of mountains, wildflowers, bears and all the events that did happen or might have happened in the shining mountains.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of paranormal short stories and contemporary fantasy adventure novels, including “The Sun Singer,” and “Sarabande,” both of which are set in Glacier National Park.


Snow Pack to Delay Some Glacier Openings

I couldn’t resist posting this great NPS Glacier photograph of the deep snow along the road to Swiftcurrent on Glacier’s east side. You can see part of Mt. Wilbur on the right side of the picture.

NPS Photo

from NPS Glacier:

Due to an unusually large,  lingering snowpack and cool temperatures, Glacier National Park officials announced delays in opening some east side campgrounds and the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The opening date of the Many Glacier, Cutbank and Two Medicine Campgrounds will be June 10th, instead of the usual Memorial Day Weekend opening date. The Swiftcurrent Motor Inn opening will also be delayed until June 10th rather than the previously anticipated June 3rd. Visitors with reservations at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn will be accommodated at other Glacier Park, Inc. properties. Park crews are working diligently to get facilities uncovered, water and wastewater services turned on, utilities repaired and roads dug out.  

A Glacier Park Novel

Handy Guidebook for Glacier Park’s Wildflowers

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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The first time I drove to the lake it was a lakemy Earth Day post about a lake that now exists more in my memory than in fact


A Glacier Park Novel

The Call of the Mountains: The Artists of Glacier National Park

Larry Len Peterson brings together in one book a representative selection of the artists who have been inspired by Glacier National Park along with commentary that places the work into a historical perspective.

The Call of the Mountains: The Artists of Glacier National Park (Mountain Press Publishing, 2002), is organized into four sections: “Sign Talkers: The Authors,” “Empire Builders: The Hills and Their Artists” “Shadow Catchers: The Photographers” and “Word Painters: Charles M. Russell and Friends.”

Author of over forty publications, Peterson is a collector of western art and the former chairman of the Charles M. Russell Museum’s advisory board.

Jerry Fetz, of Crown of the Continent E-Magazine writes, “The Call of the Mountains is an exceptional book, one that every admirer of Western art and Glacier National Park, separately but especially together, should own, look at again and again, and give to likeminded or even potentially like-minded friends and family members on special occasions. We owe Larry Len Peterson much gratitude for gathering these artists and works together, and for supplying extremely important textual background and information about the artists, their artistic works, and the amazing Glacier National Park that inspired them.”

A magical novel set in Glacier National Park

Crown of the Continent Resources

The ‘Crown of the Continent’ ecosystem is one of North America’s most ecologically diverse and jurisdictionally fragmented ecosystems. Encompassing the shared Rocky Mountain region of Montana, British Columbia and Alberta, this 28,000 square mile / 72,000 square kilometre ecological complex spreads across two nations; across one state and two provinces; and across numerous aboriginal lands, municipal authorities, public land blocks, private properties, working and protected landscapes. — Crown Managers Partnership

As national headlines focus on whether a potential lack of funding at the federal level will jeopardize national parks and water quality standards, I thought I would focus on the positive work being one throughout the Alberta/Montana/British Columbia Crown of the Continent Ecosystem by listing a few of the organizations you can turn to for information, programs and advocacy.

Alberta Wilderness AssociationAlberta Wilderness Association (AWA) is the oldest wilderness conservation group in Alberta dedicated to the completion of a protected areas network and the conservation of wilderness throughout the province.

Bob Marshall Wilderness ComplexTogether, the Great Bear Wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Scapegoat Wilderness form the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, an area of more than 1.5 million acres.

Crown of the Continent EcosystemEncourage and support coordination and cooperation among individuals, organizations, and agencies whose purpose is to educate and inform people of all ages and backgrounds about the human and natural resources of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.

Citizens for a Better FlatheadTo inform and empower citizens in cooperative community development that respects and encourages stewardship of the Flathead Valley’s natural beauty and resources.

Flathead National ForestStretching along the west side of the continental divide from the US Canadian border south approximately 120 miles lies the 2.3 million acre Flathead National Forest. The landscape is built from block fault mountain ranges sculpted by glaciers, and covered with a rich thick forest.

Headwaters MontanaWe are working to secure the highest level of protection possible for pristine public lands, such as watersheds in the Swan, Mission, Whitefish and Yaak ranges and untouched Crown lands across our border with Canada.

National Park Service, Glacier National ParkCome and experience Glacier’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude.

Nature Conservancy – MontanaOur mountains, rivers, grasslands and forests make Montana a natural paradise.

Waterton Lakes National ParkRugged, windswept mountains rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland in spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park.

While there’s much to be done on behalf of our environment, we can, I think, make better progress by making commitments to positive change as individuals and groups rather than standing on the sidelines and preaching to the choir about what we don’t like. We know what we need to do–or, we can learn.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two novels set partially within the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, “The Sun Singer” and “Garden of Heaven.” The e-book edition of his comedy/satire, “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” is currently on sale for only 99 cents at Smashwords and on Kindle.

‘The Wolverine Way’

“These animals’ off-the-charts strength and survival skills had become a source of inspiration for me by now. Even so, I was never going to get used to dealing with the intensity of a wolverine when it’s up close and cornered.” — Douglas Chadwick, National Parks Magazine, Winter 2011

Seven years ago, author and biologist Douglas Chadwick volunteered for The Wolverine project, a five-year study conducted in Glacier National Park by The Wolverine Foundation. Chadwick has compiled his experiences into The Wolverine Way, a 250-page book released in May by Pantagonia. (There’s a detailed story in the June18th issue of The Missoulian.)

Chadwick’s book and the related article in the current issue of National Parks may help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about this seldom-seen animal that is, as Chadwick says, “more complex than the legends that surround it.

As the non-profit Wolverine Foundation notes on its website, it is focusing on the wolverine not “because we feel the wolverine is in danger of extinction, but because it is in need of attention.” The site includes links to the growing database of wolverine information that will suit the needs of wildlife biologists and the general public.

The Wolverine Way is a nice addition to the library of those with a passion for Glacier National Park.

One can only stand in awe of an animal with a strategy that Chadwick suggests might sound like this:  “Go hard, and high, and steep, and never back down, not even from the biggest grizzly, and least of all from a mountain.”

Set partly in Glacier Park, the e-book edition of this novel is only $5.99

Glacier: One Hundred Beautiful Views

Regular readers of this blog know that my favorite place on the planet is Glacier National Park. I not only like visiting the “Crown of the Continent” in Montana, I like sharing the history, geology, flora and fauna with others. As Christmas approaches, I think of the books that will make great gifts.

Artist Roy E. Hughes’ 100 Beautiful Views of Glacier National Park, published last year, is high my list.

Hughes, who served as Glacier National Park’s artist in residence during July and August of 2005, uses Adobe Photoshop to create prints that look like they were produced by silkscreen or wood blocks. These, he calls digital block prints.

The results are stunning. For anyone passionate about Glacier National Park, the views in this 144-page book will bring back wonderful memories.


Set in Glacier - Only $4.79 on Kindle