Spring in Glacier

Spring in Glacier: Wetlands and Meadows


Program Start Date:


2 DAY COURSE – Come and  learn about what the animals and plants are doing during this time to emerge from winter and prepare for summer. The beauty is unparalleled, you won’t want to miss this.

(Summer Activity Level)

Spring in Glacier: Wetlands and Meadows

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Spring in Glacier: Wetlands and Meadows
Instructor: Rachel Hopkins
June 7 at 7 a.m. – June 8 at 4 p.m.

Spring – a time of new growth, fresh buds emerging from damp soils, and meadows coming alive with blue, red, and brilliant yellows. June in Glacier National Park is an exhibition, a refreshing awakening from the quiet of winter. Join us on this two-day adventure, walking among the prairies and blooms while discovering what makes spring in Glacier a must-see display. We will waltz through the lower elevation western prairies and compare flora communities to the higher elevation eastern foothills of the park. We will “stop and smell the roses”, while learning the value of a hand lens, the effects of terrain and climate on flora, and the ability to identify key plant species up-close.

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.

Itinerary: (subject to change due to weather, trail closures, and blooming season)

Day 1: We will begin at Field Camp at 7 a.m. with a presentation to demonstrate the basics of flower identification. We will go over how to use Lesica’s Manual of Montana’s Vascular Plants, and other plant identification books. We will also discuss how to use the Montana Wildflower app to identify plant species while in the field. After the introduction, we will head out into the field, traveling in our Glacier Institute vehicles. We will drive up the Inside North Fork road to the Howe Ridge trailhead. Here we will discuss wildlife safety and trail etiquette before hitting the trail. Along the trail we will begin to dive into plant anatomy and the identification process. We will further key-out plant species and hone in on our plant identification skills. The group will learn how to identify down to the species level using our plant manuals and hand lenses. We will have lunch in the field before returning to the trailhead. On our drive back to Field Camp the group may stop at a few of the meadows just off the road to observe more plant species. Dinner will be served at Field Camp at 6 p.m. and followed by an evening presentation covering plant family characteristics and plant taxonomy.

Day 2: We will have breakfast at 6 a.m. and depart Field Camp by 7 a.m. for Firebrand Pass trail, traveling in Glacier Institute vehicles. Upon arriving at the trailhead, we will begin our hike and begin diving into more plant identification skills. While using plant manuals, keys, and hand lenses, we will continue classifying species in the area. We will work our way up the trail while continuing to search for unique species, comparing and contrasting the flora of the west and east sides of the Continental Divide. We will have lunch in the field before returning to the trailhead. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.

Food: The following meals are included: lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 2.

Accommodations: One night of lodging is included into the 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 pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag.  Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.

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 Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, snacks, water bottle at least 1-2 liters, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Bring a magnifying glass if you have one, or we will provide small field lenses. Wildflower field guides, and general plant guides such as Lessica’s Manual of Montana’s Vascular Plants, Flora of Glacier National Park, and any other plant identification book are not required but highly recommended. A field notebook will also be required for notes out in the field. Binoculars are not required but may be beneficial on hikes.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. Day 1 we will be covering a maximum of 6.4 miles, with up to 300 ft in elevation gain. Day 2 we will be covering a maximum of 6 miles, with up to 700 ft of elevation gain. Frequent breaks will be taken along the trail.

Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credits for our courses.


Additional information

Refund Policy

The Glacier Institute has a 24 hour cancellation policy for a full refund with all of our courses.

Did you know Glacier Institute members receive a 10% discount?