Spring in Glacier: Wildflowers
June 1 at 7 a.m. – June 2 at 4 p.m.
Meadows, prairies and mountaintops filled with brilliant color, alive with new growth. Come observe what makes June in Glacier National Park a must-see display. We will explore the many different plant communities found within the park, ranging from the gentle and rolling grasslands to the quiet and tucked away meadows. We will delve into what drives this diversity among plant communities by examining factors such as elevation, climate, and terrain. Join us as we discover the beauty and uniqueness of spring plants in the Crown of the Continent.
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 also observe specimens brought in by Jen and discuss key vocabulary. After this orientation, we will head out into the field, traveling in our Glacier Institute vehicles. We will drive to Many Glacier, making pit stops along the way at various meadows to stretch our legs and observe plant species. Upon reaching the Grinnell Glacier trailhead, we will discuss wildlife safety and trail etiquette. As we slowly hike along, we will begin to dive into plant anatomy and the identification process. We will have lunch in the field and then continue along the trail to further hone in our plant identification skills. We will return to Field Camp around 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. After dinner, the group will go over the main plant species identified that day.
Day 2: Breakfast will be served at Field Camp at 6 a.m. Next, we will depart for the Firebrand Pass trail at 7 a.m. Upon arriving at the trailhead, we will begin our hike and start diving into more plant identification. While using plant manuals, keys, and hand lenses, we will continue classifying species in the area. Next, we will drive to the Scenic Point trailhead where we will hike along the lower section of the trail to observe more diverse plant species. On Day 2, we will primarily focus on comparing and contrasting the types of plant species found within the different areas of the park. We will discuss the underlying reasons for the variety of plants found within Glacier National Park. We will enjoy a trail lunch before returning to the trailhead and then Field Camp. The course will end by 4 p.m.
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 7 miles, with up to 1,000 ft in elevation gain. Day 2 we will be covering a maximum of 7 miles, with up to 1,000 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.