Every picture of Glacier National Park in Montana evokes a flood of superlatives. The mountains are majestic, the views are epic and the valleys are picturesque. However, no words can ever really convey the feeling of looking out over this incredible landscape as sunlight shimmers off fresh snow and the cool, fresh wind blows by you. Just the thought makes us want to climb into this photo and explore. Photo by Kate McFadzen (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The rolling plains and scattered wetlands of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Montana were created by receding glaciers more than 12,000 years ago. Today, these lands and waters serve as habitat for a great variety of wildlife, especially migrating waterfowl. Depending on the season, the sky can hold a lone eagle, fill with waves of tundra swans or show dramatic sunset colors. Photo by Christal Steele (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Let’s keep the fun of National Wildlife Refuge Week going with this awesome elk at Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. During the fall rut, bull elk bellow out a series of grunts and whistles called a bugle. It’s a call to combat. In the mating season, challengers bugle to dominant elks, announcing a duel for the right to mate. This is just one of the many terrific sight and sounds you’ll find when you explore the outdoors. Photo by Somesh Nagthan (www.sharetheexperience.org).
We’re ending our week-long celebration of rivers and trails with this beautiful shot of Cow Island – where the Missouri Wild and Scenic River crosses the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Canoeists can follow in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country on Montana’s Upper Missouri River. Anglers can cast a line for one of the many fish species found here, or #FindYourWay to adventure along the river’s banks. This spot doesn’t just protect an outstanding landscape and the story of its legendary exploration. It also tells the story of a brutal, sorrowful moment in our history – the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe from their homelands while being pursued by the U.S. Army. After the Nez Perce were ordered to relocate to a reservation, violence erupted and the Nez Perce fled towards Canada. Nearly 750 Nez Perce men, women and children travelled over 1,170 miles through the mountains before they surrendered just shy of the Canadian border. Their desperate and circuitous escape route, along with their story of pursuit and persecution, is now called the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. As you walk in the same path as the Nez Perce, learn about this part of our country’s heritage and see some of the sacred land that the Nez Perce still use today. Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
On October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act into law – creating a system of rivers and one of trails for current and future generations to enjoy.
We’re celebrating these landmark acts all week with photos from some of the amazing rivers and trails that have been protected over the years. First up is the Flathead Wild and Scenic River in Montana – where the philosophy of river protection was born. In response to a proposed dam on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the late 1950s, naturalists and researchers John and Frank Craighead asserted the idea that some rivers should always remain free-flowing. Their thinking, activism and writing eventually resulted in passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, all three forks of the Flathead River are protected. Flowing along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork serves up Class II-III whitewater. #FindYourWay to solitude and sweeping views on its North Fork, which intersects the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail – one of the most recent scenic trails designated in 2009. Experience true wilderness water adventure on its South Fork, which flows out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. What is your favorite river adventure? Photos by Daniel Lombardi, National Park Service.
President Theodore Roosevelt established the National Bison Range on May 23, 1908, when he signed legislation authorizing funds to purchase suitable land for the conservation of bison – making it the first time that Congress appropriated tax dollars to buy land specifically to conserve wildlife. Since then, the National Bison Range in Montana has played an important role in the successful recovery of these magnificent animals. Today, 350-500 bison call this refuge home. Photo courtesy of Bob Wick.
The baby bison at the National Bison Range Refuge Complex in Montana – often called “red dogs” because of their size and color – are growing quickly. Still not drifting too far from their mothers, they’re eating lots of spring greens and starting to form their distinctive shoulder humps. The refuge’s bison herd numbers over 300 and draws visitors year round to see these majestic animals and the beautiful landscape. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.
Happy National Trails Day – a perfect day to hit a trail on public lands! There are nearly 60,000 miles of trails that honor our country’s diverse landscape and history, and these provide the public with vital access to the outdoors. Whether you like to walk, hike, ride horseback, or bicycle, there is a trail for you! Check out some awesome trails to #FindYourWay: https://on.doi.gov/2sinOTe.
Photo of the popular Highline Trail at Glacier National Park by Tim Rains, National Park Service.
It’s Great Outdoors Month – a time to connect with nature whether it’s in your backyards, along trails or on the water. At Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River in Montana (pictured here), canoeists can float from several days to weeks, following in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country. The roadless canyon boasts broad vistas where fishermen are likely to catch goldeye, drum, sauger, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, carp, smallmouth buffalo and paddlefish. Floaters might even spot some of the many elk and mule deer that inhabit the area, or they can scan the cliffs to get a glimpse of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Photo by Roland Taylor (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Happy birthday, Glacier National Park! On this day in 1910, President William Taft signed a bill into law establishing this Montana park – making it our nation’s 10th national park. 108 years later, Glacier remains the Crown of the Continent with glacier-carved peaks and valleys, pristine turquoise lakes and streams, and dense ancient forests for all to enjoy: https://on.doi.gov/glacier. What is your favorite memory at Glacier?
Photo of Wild Goose Island by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.