Natural Disasters of Glacier National Park | Guided Educational Hike

View and experience the evidence of recent natural disasters

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

800 Feet

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Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$100

Hike Overview

Whether it’s flood, fire, avalanches, infestations, and more, natural disasters play an active role in shaping the landscape of Glacier National Park. “Disaster” is a socially constructed concept that can refer to any natural disturbance, which happens to disrupt human use of the landscape. Natural disasters pose a constant challenge for the National Park Service, as managers seek solutions that balance human safety against the integrity of environmental processes. We will spend the day learning about the many natural disaster processes that are an integral part of Glacier, and we will view and experience the evidence that recent natural disasters have left behind.

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Natural Disasters of Glacier National Park | Guided Educational Hike

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor: Carol Medlicott

Whether it’s flood, fire, avalanches, infestations, and more, natural disasters play an active role in shaping the landscape of Glacier National Park. “Disaster” is a socially constructed concept that can refer to any natural disturbance, which happens to disrupt human use of the landscape. Natural disasters pose a constant challenge for the National Park Service, as managers seek solutions that balance human safety against the integrity of environmental processes. We will spend the day learning about the many natural disaster processes that are an integral part of Glacier, and we will view and experience the evidence that recent natural disasters have left behind.

Meeting place: Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: Meet us at the Glacier Institute Field Camp at 7 a.m. After brief introductions, we will have a classroom session on how natural disasters shape the landscape, the strategies for adapting disaster-prone areas, and a review of some major disaster incidents at and around Glacier. We will then load up in a Glacier Institute vehicle and depart. We will travel over the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, discussing the various fires that have shaped the McDonald Creek Valley. We will make our way to Two Medicine, discussing the natural disasters that have shaped the eastern ranges of the park. While out in the field, we will be offered firsthand viewing of both disaster aftermath and adaptation to disaster potential, focusing in particular on fire, avalanche and flood over the past several decades. We will enjoy sack lunches on the trail, and will return to Glacier Institute Field Camp by 4 p.m.

Food:</> Please bring a trail lunch, plenty of water, and snacks for the day.

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280

Equipment: You will receive a Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly, bring comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2-liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Binoculars and spotting scopes are not required but may be beneficial in spotting wildlife.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty; on-trail or off-trail hikes up to 3 miles and/or 800 feet of elevation change during the hike.

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What to Expect On Your Natural Disasters of Glacier National Park | Day Hike

We will spend the day learning about Glacier’s natural disasters. The hiking distance is up to 3 miles, on-trail or off-trail, with 800 feet of elevation change.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier
  • Instructor: Carol Medlicott
  • The program will begin 7 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers up to 3 miles with 800 feet elevation change.
  • On-site parking 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