Celebrate the National Park Service Centennial in Glacier National Park.
A century ago President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill creating the National Park Service, inspired by the efforts and leadership of great conservationists John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt and others. Often considered “America’s best idea,” the National Park Service was created to conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects and wildlife “unimpaired” for the enjoyment of future generations.
At that time 35 national parks and monuments had already been formed, including Glacier National Park in 1910. The new National Park Service would forge ahead preserving and honoring the 410 sites, including the national and historical parks and monuments, that exist under NPS management today. As NPS celebrates its 100th anniversary and launches its #FindYourPark campaign, it’s introducing new generations to the national parks and sites that are uniquely American and each uniquely splendid.
In Northwest Montana Glacier National Park sits as one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, if not the world. Glacier’s roughly 1 million preserved acres are part of the Crown of the Continent, one of the largest protected ecosystems in North America. And Glacier’s snow-capped peaks, high alpine valleys and pure scenic beauty are considered the “crown” of the ecosystem.
This year Glacier National Park and its surrounding communities welcome visitors with renewed enthusiasm as they celebrate the NPS milestone. From August 25 – 28, 2016, the park will be open for free for to all enjoy while the NPS celebrates its official birthday on August 25.
Families with fourth graders are invited to visit the park at no cost as well. In a new White House program, for the entire 2015–16 school year and 2016 summer every U.S. fourth grader is invited to explore our national parks and monuments at no cost. If you haven’t already, simply sign up to get your pass at everykidinapark.gov, and every accompanying family member will be able to enter the park for free as well. The Every Kid in a Park pass is good through August 31, 2016.
But you don’t need to wait until August to celebrate the NPS anniversary; Glacier National Park is open year-round. From late spring to early summer, witness the changing of the seasons as the snow melts and uncovers green meadows lush with wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, wildlife returning to their summer grounds and unique opportunities to explore the park by foot and by bike before the epic Going-to-the-Sun Road opens to vehicles. Approaching July when the Going-to-the-Sun Road is typically cleared of snow and opens the 50-mile route over Logan Pass, the park’s 700 miles of trails are fully accessible as well. From beginner hikes to intermediate day hikes, each trail unveils a piece of the park’s breathtaking natural beauty. As the seasons change again in September, the park turns the colors of autumn and the warm hues are perfect for capturing some of the best photography and wildlife sightings. And again on September 24, honoring National Public Lands Day, the park will offer free entrance to all visitors.
Visitors are advised to anticipate delays on the GTTS Road during peak times in July and August and are encouraged to travel the road in early morning or later in the day to experience unencumbered views of the scenery and wildlife. With 1 million acres to explore in the park there are lots of areas beyond the GTTS Road that are equally impressive, from the North Fork of the Flathead River and Polebridge on the west side and Two Medicine and Many Glacier on the east.
Outside the park celebrations are happening as well. The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell has long honored the legacy of Glacier National Park through its permanent Crown of the Continent exhibition displaying works by Charles M. Russell, O.C. Seltzer and other prominent artists. In addition, this year the museum will host several events devoted to art in the park. On June 27 and 28, the public is invited on a special Plein Art Tour of Glacier National Park. Transported on the park’s historic Red Bus fleet, art patrons will get the unique chance to witness artists creating new paintings outside in the majestic backdrop of the park. The works will be displayed and sold at the Plein Air Glacier Party & Sale on June 30. On August 13, the museum will kick off its “A Timeless Legacy – Women Artists of Glacier National Park” exhibit with a reception and sale honoring renowned female artists of the West who have featured western subjects in their paintings or sculptures, including Glacier. The exhibit will be on display through September 10.
Make the vibrant small city of Kalispell your basecamp as you discover all the majesty and history of Glacier National Park. The east-west route of U.S. Highway 2 takes visitors directly from Kalispell “just down the road” to the west and east entrances of the park. Access to the area is easy with direct flights to Kalispell’s Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) from most major airline hubs. And just as the Great Northern Railway did at the park’s inception more than a century ago, Amtrak’s Empire Builder line is an easy trip to Kalispell from the Whitefish station and the stops along Glacier’s southern border.
Find your park.