June Montana Master Naturalist | 5-Day Educational Program

One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on earth

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Distance

5 Miles

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Elevation Gain

500 Feet

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Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$1,000

Hike Overview

During this week-long course, we will learn basic and advanced skills to identify plants and animals found in Glacier National Park. We will use those skills to understand what nature can teach us about the past, present, and even the future of the park. Throughout this five-day course, participants will develop the ability to use these lessons in natural history to interpret the story of one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on earth.

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June Montana Master Naturalist | 5-Day Educational Program

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor: Josh Arrants

During this course, we will teach basic and advanced skills to identify plants and animals found in Glacier National Park. We will use those skills to understand what nature can teach us about the past, present, and even the future of the Park. Throughout this five-day course, participants will develop the ability to use these lessons in natural history to interpret the story of one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on earth.

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: (subject to change based on road/trail closures, blooming cycles, and animal activity)

Day 1: Glacier National Park: How water impacts the landscape and tree identification. The group will meet at Glacier Institute Field Camp at 7 a.m. for coffee, introductions, and a course overview. Participants will discuss Glacier National Park and many of the habitats found inside the park. The group will leave for John’s Lake Trail, aboard a Glacier Institute vehicle. Here, we will begin our lesson on trees, visiting some of the largest conifers found in the park. The focus will be on identification techniques and the connection the Park’s trees have with their ecosystems and the other flora and fauna found here. The group will proceed down the trail to McDonald Creek to see how water, in all its phases, shapes the park. You will spend time looking at a Montana rainforest and the flora and fauna found in it. Lunch will be served in the field before returning to Glacier Institute Field Camp for the afternoon. Dinner will be at 6 p.m., followed by a short evening discussion about plant identification techniques.

Day 2: Firebrand Pass Flower Excursion: Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. Afterwards, we will head out for Firebrand Pass, where we will take a closer look at the wildflowers of Glacier National Park’s eastern prairies. The class will build plant identification skills (advancing skills learned on Day 1) to look at how plants fit into the story of the park. Lunch will be enjoyed out in the field. We will continue flower exploration throughout the afternoon, then return to Glacier Institute Field Camp for dinner at 6 p.m. After dinner, there will be an evening lecture covering the native birds of Glacier. A guest speaker from Glacier National Park, Jami Belt, Citizen Science Program Director, will discuss some of the research being conducted in the park.

Day 3: Inside North Fork Road Birding Exploration: Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. The class will then load up and leave for the Inside North Fork Road and the Camas Creek Trailhead to search for birds. You will learn to identify birds of this part of the park by sight and sound. While we will be focusing on bird habitats, diet, and field identification techniques, the bird’s larger relationship with the park will be an ongoing theme. We will have lunch on the trail, before continuing onward to Christenson Meadow. Here, the group will continue their bird search. We will return to Field Camp in the afternoon. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. After dinner, there will be a guest speaker from the Glacier Institute. Garrett Tovey, Director of Education, will join us to discuss his work with bears, wolves and other mammals found in Glacier National Park. Garrett will bring skulls and other items to give participants an up-close look at the physiology of some of the most iconic animals in North America.

Day 4: Naturalist Exploration and Final Exam: Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. The group will then depart for Rockwell Falls, in Two Medicine Valley. Along the trail, we will have a naturalist exploration in which we will review what we’ve discussed throughout the week. The lessons on how all phases of water have shaped the park, with majestic results, will be revisited. We will have lunch in the field before returning to Glacier Institute Field Camp for the final review and the final exam. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. followed by a celebratory campfire.

Day 5: Course Wrap-up and Citizen Science: Breakfast will be served at 6 a.m. followed by a discussion on “Citizen Science” opportunities. We will have lunch at Glacier Institute Field Camp and then take an afternoon stroll around camp and Lake McDonald. We will discuss highlights from the week and talk about how participants can incorporate Master Naturalist techniques to projects beyond the classroom.

Food: Meals are provided: Monday lunch through Friday lunch.

Accommodations: Four nights of lodging are included with the Glacier Institute course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people. Cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillowcase, but please bring a warm sleeping bag/linens. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.

Equipment: You will receive a Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once you register. The most important items are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1–2-liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat and sunscreen. Weather in Glacier National Park is notorious for changing, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing to create appropriate warm layers. Feel free to bring a magnifying glass or small field lens. Binoculars are recommended for spotting wildlife, as well as wildflower field guides, and birding guides. (See below for suggested guides. They are recommended for the class but are NOT required.) A suitable field notebook will be required for taking notes and field sketches in the field.

Physical Requirements: Moderate. Hiking distance covers less than five miles per day, with less than 500 feet of elevation change.

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What to Expect On Your June Montana Master Naturalist | 5-Day Course

We will be hiking on various trails at an easy pace, there will be frequent stops to identify plants and animals of Glacier National Park. Hiking distance covers less than five miles per day, with less than 500 feet of elevation change.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier.
  • Instructor: Josh Arrants.
  • The program will begin 7 a.m. on day 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 5 miles with less than 500 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is requred, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here