Briefly Noted: ‘Montana’s Charlie Russell’

It’s difficult to read about Montana without coming across Charlie Russell sooner or later. He’s the state’s most celebrated and most widely known artist. This book offers a view of Russell’s work in the collection of the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Nothing is better than seeing the paintings up close. If you can’t do that, this book is a fine introduction.

CharlieRussellFrom the Publisher: Montana’s Charlie Russell brings to life the Montana Historical Society’s world-class collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, bronzes, and illustrated letters by the Treasure State’s famed “Cowboy Artist.” Using advanced digital technology, each of the 230 pieces in the Society’s permanent collection has been meticulously photographed to bring to life, in vivid color, Russell’s artistic mastery. Carefully researched scholarship illuminates the stories behind each artwork. The result is a catalog of Russell’s art as you’ve never seen it before.

From the Montana Historical Society Press Release


“In 1952 the Montana Historical Society acquired the Malcolm Mackay family collection of the artwork of Charles M. Russell that became the heart of its unmatched assemblage of the famed Montana cowboy artist’s masterpieces, paintings, illustrated letters, sketches and sculpture.

“Since then, it has been the dream of many to reproduce the entire MHS Russell art collection in a high-quality book that would celebrate the artist’s vision of Montana and the breadth of his amazing career — that took him from cowboying in the Judith Gap to one of the best loved artists of the West…

“…K. Ross Toole, MHS director in 1952, said while raising funds to acquire the Mackay collection: ‘If Montana has contributed one thing to the heritage of the whole West, it is Charles M. Russell’s paintings …. It was Montana that inspired him; it was Montana that he painted.'”

With this book on your coffee table, you can turn off the TV for the Winter.


Seeker for promo 1Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Seeker,” a book about mountains, first loves and betrayal set partly in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Glacier September 19 Update: Access to Logan Pass Changes This Weekend

from NPS Glacier National Park


Guard rail replacement in June - NPS Photo on Flickr
Guard rail replacement in June – NPS Photo on Flickr

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

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

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

Swiftcurrent Bridge, which provides access to Many Glacier Hotel, was losing its structural integrity, had a cracked deck, and could no longer handle high water.  - NPS photo from the park planning document
Swiftcurrent Bridge, which provides access to Many Glacier Hotel, was losing its structural integrity, had a cracked deck, and could no longer handle high water. – NPS photo from the park planning document

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.


Seeker for promo 1Malcolm 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).

On Location: Glacier National Park

Lobby of Many Glacier Hotel, built in 1915.
Lobby of Many Glacier Hotel, built in 1915.

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.

BoGlacier cover flat r1.inddDue 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.

TSScover2014If 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.


* Please be patient if you prefer to read e-books. While posted on bookseller sites, there are formatting issues yet to be resolved.

Glacier Conservancy’s Backpacker’s Ball Set for August 2

from the Glacier National Park Conservancy

Glacier Park…it’s why we live here…what we LOVE here…
“Celebrate it in style.”

backpackersballThe evening will be elegant…the setting – spectacular. But leave your heels at home and your hat on your head…THIS is a party for people who LOVE the outdoors! The Backpacker’s Ball is our one and only, most magnificent celebration of the year!

Join us at the historic Green Valley Ranch at the edge of Glacier National Park, where the beauty is borrowed from the land we live in – the real-life murals made by mountains in our own backyard.

Wear your dancing shoes, so you won’t be stuck in your chair when the Ashley Creek Ramblers take the stage. You’ll have to fight your feet NOT to dance to this toe-tapping, must-move music.

Come hungry…because you won’t soon find another feast like this. Locally harvested specialties are the menu’s mainstays as a nod to our nation’s heritage. Wonderful wines complement the array.

Get swept up in the excitement of our Live Auction, or quietly acquire some amazing items in our Silent Auction. You’ll find everything from one-of-a-kind artisan creations to once-in-a-lifetime adventures. This is just a small part of our evening, so the focus is on having fun!

The Backpacker’s Ball is our once-a-year rally to raise needed funds so that we can continue to share this precious place with nature lovers from around the world.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy assures the Glacier National Park experience by providing support for preservation, education, and research through philanthropy and outreach.

If I lived closer, I’d be there. Click on the graphic for the Conservancy’s page with additional information.



Briefly Noted: ‘Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park’

Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park (Images of America), by David R. Butler, Arcadia Publishing (June 9, 2014), 128pp, photographs.

I’m happy to see the release of David R. Butler’s new book about Glacier National Park’s fire lookouts. Several years ago, in Heavens Peak Fire Lookout Assessment Open For Comments, I mentioned the developing plans to refurbish the historic fire lookout on Heaven’s Peak. David told me that most of that work was completed in 2012 and that his book includes before and after pictures. This is good news.

firelookoutsFrom the Publisher: The first fire lookouts in the Glacier National Park region were simply high points atop mountain peaks with unimpeded views of the surrounding terrain. Widespread fires in the 1910s and 1920s led to the construction of more permanent lookouts, first as wooden pole structures and subsequently as a variety of one- and two-story cabin designs. Cooperating lookouts in Glacier Park, the Flathead National Forest, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation provided coverage of forests throughout Glacier National Park. Beginning in the 1950s, many of the lookouts were decommissioned and eventually destroyed. This volume tells the story of the rise and fall of the extensive fire lookout network that protected Glacier National Park during times of high fire danger, including lookouts still operating today.

From the Book: “Fire lookouts are described by many writers as magical places, and are well-known as inspirational sites for writers and poets such as Jack Kerouac, Normal Maclean, and Gary Snyder, as well as environmental writers and naturalists such as Edward Abbey and Doug Peacock. They also serve as nostalgic, historical reminders of a simpler time before the Internet, wireless communication, and the widespread use of advanced technology for spotting and monitoring fire boundaries.”

A small percentage of hikers and climbers see the nine remaining lookouts (a few of which are still in use) in Glacier, sticking to the more well-known trails, saddle trips and launch trips. For those who have never seen the lookouts, the photographs in this book open new worlds. For those who know, or who would like to more, Butler brings us another chapter in Glacier’s colorful history.

Update: Arcadia is offering the book at 20% off through Father’s Day 2014. Here’s the link.

You may also like:  Researcher documents history of Glacier’s fire lookouts in the Great Falls Tribune.


BearsWhereTheyFoughtCoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of three contemporary fantasy novels (“The Seeker,” “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande” set in Glacier National Park as well as his non-fiction “Bears; Where They Fought,” a historical look at Glacier’s Swiftcurrent Valley.

Erosion of the American Wilderness Idea

From the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center:

“Brownbag” Lecture

Thursday, May 22, 2014
12 noon-1 PM
Glacier National Park Community Building

wolkeAuthor and wilderness lover, Howie Wolke will talk about the ongoing loss of wilderness, both in the big outdoors and within the human animal. He will relate the erosion of the wilderness idea to the spreading disease of Wilderness Amnesia.

Wolke is a ‘wild preservative,’ to borrow the term from the late Edward Abbey, advocating for the designation and protection of real wilderness in the United States. He is past president and current vice president of the national conservation group Wilderness Watch. He also cofounded Big Wild Advocates, Montanans for Gallatin Wilderness, the original Wyoming Wilderness Association and the original wilderness-focused Earth First. Following his passion, Wolke has made his living as a wilderness guide and outfitter for the last 36 years.

Click on the link above for upcoming brownbags.


Three of Malcolm R. Campbell’s contemporary fantasy novels are set in Glacier National Park.


Briefly Noted: Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend

“Charles Marion Russell (1864–1926) was many things: consummate Westerner, historian, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians, cowboy, writer, outdoorsman, philosopher, environmentalist, conservationist, and not least, artist.” – Charles M. Russell Museum

Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, by Larry Len Peterson, University of Oklahoma Press (March 20, 2014), 329 pages, photographs

charlierussellFrom the Publisher: Almost as familiar as the images of the American West he painted and sculpted is the figure of Charles M. Russell himself. Standing or mounted, in boots and wide-brimmed hat, sash knotted at his waist, gaze steady under a hank of unruly hair: he is the one and only “Cowboy Artist.” What is not so well known is the story that unfolds in the myriad photographs of Russell, pictures that document a remarkable life while also reflecting the evolution of photography and the depiction of the American West at the turn of the twentieth century. This biography makes use of hundreds of images of Russell, many never before published, to explore the role of photography in shaping the artist’s public image and the making and selling of his art. More than that, the book shows how the Cowboy Artist personified what he portrayed.

About the Author: “A two-time Western Heritage Award winner for best art book of the year and recipient of the Scriver Award, Larry Len Peterson is an acknowledged expert on art and art history of the American West. His publications include Charles M. Russell, Legacy (1999); A Most Desperate Situation (2000, 2001); Philip R. Goodwin: America.” – Mountain Press Publishing

If you’re a fan of Charles M. Russell, you’ll find a large selection of his works in the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, Montana. According to the society, “This collection (numbering over 200 pieces—24 major oils, 33 major watercolors, 40 pen and inks, 15 original models, 60 bronzes, and 34 illustrated letters) is one of the most significant collections of Russell art anywhere. ” Click here for information about the collection and the society.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including three set in Montana: “The Seeker,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Sarabande.”

Briefly Noted: ‘Badluck Way’ by Bryce Andrews

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West, by  Bryce Andrews, Atria Books (January 7, 2014), 256 pages

badluckwayAn “Indies Introduce” selection on the January Indie NEXT List, Badluck Way is a memoir about a 23-year-old Seattle man’s work experiences on the Sun Ranch in southwestern Montana.

Writing in the Missoula Independent, Kate Whittle notes that a lot of “starry-eyed men and women” visit Montana, can’t fit in, and soon leave.

“Author Bryce Andrews,” she says, “is one of these adventurers who found a better fit in the West, and learned to love it for things that even native Montanans might not appreciate…

“He’s become a 21st century kind of cowboy, one who’s studied environmental science and conservation, understands the importance of riparian habitats, and he can ride an ATV, rope a heifer, fix a fence and knock back a few beers at the saloon afterward. He can read landscapes like some of us read a street map; he prefers the habitat of open spaces and jagged peaks.”

From the Publisher

Andrews - Simon & Schuster photo. Click on the photo to see the book video on Andrew's author's page.
Andrews – Simon & Schuster photo. Click on the photo to see the book video on Andrew’s author’s page.

In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly, Dead Man, and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do.

From the Book

“On my first morning in the bunkhouse, I woke up shivering and listened to the harsh squalling of magpies. Through a little window, past trim boards cracked and shrunken by age and exposure, a handful of stars still pocked the predawn sky. I lay motionless as they faded into the daylight. An insistent, hissing wind slipped through gaps in the window casing. The Madison wind is pitiless. It is a sandblasting, constant presence, meant for howling around the eaves of broken shacks and the scattered bones of winter-killed cattle. Passing cold and dry across my skin, it reminded me how far I was from Seattle.”

97% of the ranch is protected by conservation easements.
97% of the ranch is protected by conservation easements.

Author Interview

In a Bookselling This Week interview, Andrews talked about the challenge of looking after dumb, slow livestock on a vast range with quick-witted predators.  “I hope that Badluck Way conveys a deep appreciation for the work of ranching and an equally strong sympathy for wild animals, like the wolf,” he said.

This book brings readers lyrical prose, common sense, violence and a growing appreciation for the continuing need for understanding in the co-existing world of rangers and wild animals.


Malcolm R. Campbell’s contemporary fantasy novels, including “The Seeker,” “The Betrayed,” and “The Sun Singer,” are set in northwestern Montana.

January deadline for Glacier Park artist-in-residence applications

From NPS Glacier

Lake McDonald - NPS photo
Lake McDonald – NPS photo

The program offers professional artists the opportunity to pursue their artistic discipline while being surrounded by the park’s inspiring landscape. The program seeks professional artists whose work is related to the park’s interpretative themes and supports the mission of the National Park Service.

The program provides an artist with uninterrupted time to pursue their work and the opportunity to engage and inspire the public through outreach programs.   Park housing is provided for a four-week session during the summer or fall season.

The artist is required to present several public programs during their residency.  The programs must be related to their experience as the artist-in-residence and can be demonstrations, talks, exploratory walks, or performances. Digital images of selected work produced as a part of the residency may be used in park publications, websites and presentations for education and outreach.

Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Applications are available online at The deadline to apply is January 30, 2014. For more information contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Click here for a list of Glacier’s past artists in residence.


A Glacier Park novel on Kindle
A Glacier Park novel on Kindle

Moose Drool without the Moose

moosedroolThe closest my wife and I came to a moose during a ten-day trip to Glacier National Park with my brother Barry and his wife Mary was an ice cold can of Moose Drool brown ale. For the most part, the critters were absent.

We discussed photo shopping this picture and saying, “Hey, guys, we saw this moose in Lake Josephine, but frankly the scenery doesn’t look much like Lake Josephine.

We did see several grizzly bears, ground squirrels, a coyote, a flash of brown that was purportedly a wolverine, and an osprey.

We were assured by the bartender at Many Glacier Hotel that Moose Drool isn’t made with actual drool. Most of the drool during the vacation was caused by various renditions of huckleberries: huckleberry water, huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry margarita, and huckleberry pie.

Grizzly bear near Many Glacier - Photo by Barry Campbell
Grizzly bear near Many Glacier – Photo by Barry Campbell

One of the grizzly bears was on the talus high above the road between Many Glacier and Babb. We saw it several times and  began to wonder if the National Park Service was paying it in huckleberries to pose there for tourists.

Seeing the cars and buses stopped for this bear–with everyone pointing–reminded me of similar scenes with black bears in the Smoky Mountains.

In spite of the lack of wildlife, we had a good trip. Well, we could have done without the cold rain and the hail storm we got into on during a hike near Hidden Falls. So far, four of my novels are partially set in Glacier. With another novel on the drawing board, it was nice to see many of the settings I plan to use.

Ground Squirrel at Logan Pass - Photo by Lesa Campbell
Ground Squirrel at Logan Pass – Photo by Lesa Campbell

I have a lot of location choices. Plenty of places for action, battles, people sneaking up on other people, and the other kinds of things that happen in contemporary fantasy novels.

Coming soon, The Betrayed, the third novel in my “Garden of Heaven” series named after a Glacier Park Valley near Hidden Falls.

Next year, Aeon will complete the trilogy that includes The Sun Singer and Sarabande, both of which are partly set in Glacier Park’s Swiftcurrent Valley.

So far, I haven’t thought of a way to include Moose Drool in one of my books other than to suggest that an ice cold glass of it goes very well with the stories.

They’re books to drool for.