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With its sheer peaks, wildflowers, alpine lakes filled with trout, grizzly bears, and, of course, glaciers, Glacier National Park is the ideal place to lose yourself for days. The glaciers are measured by a number of different ways, one of the most obvious ones is using repeat photography, where we go and occupy a site from which a photographer took a picture from say in 1910, and then we re-photograph that from exactly the same spot. Once you go every several years to five years or 10 years, that's when you see the really big changes. When we first started this project we thought every other year was gonna be too much, but recently we've seen so much glacier change that now we are increasing our frequency, repeating photographs or visiting glaciers. You can see that it's all melted away, the lake has gotten bigger, all this ice is contributed to the water and is retreating back up towards the head wall of the mountain. We also do things that are a little bit more modern such as taking global positioning systems and going along ht margins of the ice so that we can look at the changes in the area of the ice through time.
Glacier National Park is an excellent natural laboratory to examine the effects of climate change.
Some of the species that we're studying, these aquatic insects, might be the first species actually to go extinct due to the effects of global climate change. Animals that live in these upper elevations are adapted to the colder temperatures there and because we're predicting warmer temperatures, they may be particularly vulnerable to these changes.
Wide panoramas lead to the turquoise waters of Iceberg Lake, a tarn that sits in a cirque that was carved out by glacial activity eons ago. Brimming with summer snowmelt, Glacier National Park's Lake Sherburne overflows into a tangle of aspens on its shore. Hidden from most visitors' eyes, Bowman Lake—reachable only by gravel road—is tucked into the remote North Fork region of Glacier National Park. The tremendous range of topography in Glacier National Park supports more than a million acres (400,000 hectares) of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks, and glacial-carved valleys in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Lower Grinnell Lake in Glacier National Park gets its name from George Bird Grinnell, an early explorer who pushed to get the park created. The number of people who visit America's national parks is staggering—the sites hosted a record-breaking 307.2 million visits in 2015. The world's very first national park remains the showpiece of the National Park Service, visited by 4.1 million people last year. Rising in Utah’s high plateau country, the Virgin River carves its way through Zion Canyon to the desert below. More than three million people a year explore the unspoiled terrain of Olympic National Park in Washington State. The peaks of the Teton Range, regal and imposing as they stand nearly 7,000 feet above the Wyoming valley floor, make one of the boldest geological statements in the Rockies.
Rounding out the top ten most popular parks is Glacier National Park, which covers over a million acres in Montana and attracted 2.4 million people in 2015.


Water originating in Glacier National Park—much of it from snowmelt—can be considered the headwater of the continent. If you have limited time, drive the spectacularly scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crests the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot Logan Pass. During the busy summer season, head to a less visited part of the park like Two Medicine, where you can join a guided hike or boat tour. Yellowstone covers 3,472 square miles, so there’s plenty of space to explore and animals to see; the park has the largest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48. The herd of approximately 350 wild buffalo here roams free—and protected—thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt.
Wild Horse Island is a 2,160-acre hunk of land breaking through the waters of Flathead Lake, the biggest freshwater body of water west of the Mississippi—at 28 miles long, up to 15 miles wide, and with 185 miles of shoreline. Located four miles southwest of Kalispell, Lone Pine is one of the gems of Montana's rich state park system. The park typifies the Rocky Mountain experience and yet has cathedrals of loose-rock mountains and yearlong snowfields that make it unlike anywhere else on the planet.
This area is actually warming at two to three times the rate of the global average rise in air temperatures.
They also have very specific food needs and the food changes for them could also influence their ability to thrive. Kootenai Indians, who performed lakeshore ceremonies here, called the waters Sacred Dancing Lake. Mary Lake slosh in a glacier-carved basin 10 miles (1.6 kilometers) long, shuffling cobbles that line the bottom like decks of playing cards. The goats and other animals come to Goat Lick Overlook and four other spots in the park to lick the mineral-laden cliffs. His efforts were rewarded in 1910, when President Taft signed the bill that established Glacier as a U.S. A mile deep and up to 18 miles wide at spots, the Grand Canyon is so vast that even from the best vantage point only a fraction of its 277 miles can be seen.
The park contains 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams, plus ecosystems ranging from wetlands to pine forests to montane areas to alpine tundra. Over four million visitors come to this temple annually, most of them spending time in the Yosemite Valley.
The vast reserve—covering 2.2 million acres in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana—has craggy peaks, explosive geysers, alpine lakes, deep forests, and a wealth of wild animals. The park’s striking vertical topography—rock towers, sandstone canyons, and sharp cliffs—attracted 3.6 million visitors in 2014. No roads cross through the park, which contains three distinct ecosystems: temperate rain forest (seen here), subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, and rugged Pacific shore. The park's jewel-like lakes, blue and white glaciers, and naked granite pinnacles enticed 3.1 million visitors last year. Most of the park is on Mount Desert Island, a patchwork of parkland, private property, and seaside villages.


The park's Going-to-the-Sun Road is considered by many to be one of the world's most spectacular drives. The 50-mile route provides access year-round (some sections are closed late September to late June) to recreational opportunities and breathtaking vistas. Winter at Glacier brings fewer visitors and miles of deep powder for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ranger-led nature walks, and quiet contemplation. Rent a boat from town, pack a picnic, and spend the day hiking and looking for resident wildlife, including a thriving population of bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons, and the island’s namesake wild horses. Covering 270 acres and ranging between 2,959 and 3,709 feet in elevation, the Flathead River Valley park offers 7.5 miles of trails for, depending on the season, hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and horseback riding. In the mid-1800s, this Montana landscape was covered by 150 glaciersa€”today only 25 remain.
So these increased air temperatures are decreasing the snow pack and the glaciers in the high country. Here are the top ten.Ensconced at number one is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which draws more than ten million visitors annually—about twice the number of the second most popular park. This mile-wide, 7-mile-long canyon was cut by a river and then widened and deepened by glacial action.
In spring, hike or bike Going-to-the-Sun before the entire road reopens to vehicular traffic.
Congress established this National Bison Range on 18,500 acres of prairie near Flathead Lake to save the American bison from extinction. Simple trips, like an overnighter to Akokala Lake, deliver a real wilderness experience, while a ten-day traverse of the Continental Divide across the backbone of the park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.Then there are the grizzlies. Most visitors see the park from a mountain-skimming scenic highway; many take to the more than 800 miles of hiking trails across North Carolina and Tennessee. In fall, chart your own autumn foliage tour on some of the park’s more than 700 miles of maintained hiking trails. But 95 percent of those visitors stay on the Grand Loop Road, getting out of their cars only long enough to watch Old Faithful erupt.
For an inside view of the mighty bison, drive the preserve’s steep Red Sleep Mountain Drive. Glacier is home to an estimated 300 of the big beasts, and chances are good that you will at least get a glimpse of them if you spend time in the backcountry.
Be one of the few who get off the main roads and boardwalks, and consider a spring or fall visit when the park still is easily accessible yet less visited. The 19-mile gravel road—open only during the summer—gains 2,000 feet in elevation and has 10 percent grades. Grizzlies are not the only wildlife you may bump into here: Wolves, moose, mountain lions, black bears, mountain goats, and over 260 species of birds call Glacier home.



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