In simple terms, elevation in Glacier National Park varies from a low of 3,150 feet where the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River join together near Lake McDonald to 10,466 feet at the highest point of Mt. Cleveland. But that only begins to tell the story. Within the park you will find 6 peaks above 10,000 feet and some 32 mountains cresting above 9,100 feet. Some of the most ancient sedimentary stone in North American can be found in Glacier National Park. All told, 1.6 billion years of history can be read in the stone. The story is one of sediment deposited by an ancient sea, sudden tectonic upheavals, and centuries of Ice Age glaciers carving deep valleys through the stone.
Today, the park is a place of sensory overload. Masses of upheaved blocks of stone and sharp mountain peaks shred passing clouds or push them into high storms that stall and remain grappling with the stony formations. Rivers and creeks roar as water somersaults down from the snowfields yet held at elevation. Clear lakes reflect with mirror perfection. This time of year, the air is perfumed by vast washes of ivory beargrass plumes.
I have never been able to “drive through” Glacier Park or the area surrounding. My expeditions are, instead, comprised of a series of stops and brief wanderings from my car. I try the impossible task of taking it all in. To view. To hear. The feel. To capture my experience within photographic images.
There exists, in my view, a level of scenic and spiritual beauty that cannot be exceeded. Glacier Park is at that level. Other places may reach that level (for example the redwood forests of California), but the level cannot be surpassed.
In a word: breathtaking.
Yesterday, that girl and I drove home by way of Marias Pass. We stopped for lunch at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier and then diverted to Two Medicine before driving home under the big sky along the east side of the Rocky Mountain Front. Posted are a few photographs from the day.
--Mitchell HegmanGeologic information thanks to: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/education/geology.htm