A few years ago, before we left our home state of Montana to move to the sunny South, we decided to make one last visit to Glacier National Park.
“Glacier” as Big Sky natives lovingly call it, is the best Montana has to offer. Yellowstone is nice, but touristy and crowded – I look for Yogi and Boo Boo behind every tree, and it seems the feds have something annoyingly “governmental” pounded into every rock. While Glacier has become more commercialized and politically correct than it was in the good old days, it still is somewhat pristine and remains one of the most beautiful spots in the Rocky Mountains.
We visited Glacier in late June, before all the snow was gone for the summer, but after the Going to the Sun Road was opened up, which was early that year (as of today, 6/20/19, half of the road is still not plowed out). We did not want to miss that spectacular drive from West Glacier to St. Mary on what might be our last visit to Glacier.
We arrived at the St. Mary Lodge and did the tour through the grand old main lodge building, enjoying the history of the place and the high mountain ambience.
George Bird Grinnell, a New Yorker, naturalist and western conservationist, pushed for a national park designation which was signed by President Taft in 1910. Glacier National Park was first “civilized” as part of the westward push of the Great Northern Railway across the northern United States and much of the infrastructure was funded, engineered and built by the railroad under James Hill, who saw a tourism profit opportunity . Most of that privately built infrastructure, including hotels and lodges, trails, tracks, tunnels and roads remains in use today and has held up remarkably well.
And this is key. It was not government influence and “protection” of natural resources that made Glacier National Park and other treasures of the American West great; rather, it was private entrepreneurial drive and inspiration.
After hanging out at the lodge for a while, we decided to hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail that goes past Swiftcurrent Lake and provides a good view of Salamander Glacier. We could not help but notice the grizzly bear warning signs, and having grown up in bear country south of Glacier, I took them seriously. With so many tourists around it was more likely we would see black bear rather than big grizzers. And we actually did see several black bear.
At the trailhead near the lodge there was a big sign explaining how, because of man-caused Global Warming, the glaciers, including Grinnell, were melting fast and would likely be gone by the year 2020. I admit, as native Montanans, we were temporarily taken aback by this “official” government proclamation, until my conservative skepticism kicked back in. This same propaganda was all over the lodge in brochure racks and informational displays. In 2012 National Geographic produced this work of fiction, (note the obligatory slow, sad PBS victim-style piano music):
Last week it was revealed that the National Park Service was quietly removing all the Global Warming propaganda at Glacier National Park because it has become evident that the glaciers have been growing for some time. Oops. Another embarrassing example of leftists abusing science for political leverage.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
See people rocking — Hear people chanting — Feeling hot hot hot
Keep up this spirit — Come on let’s do it
— Feeling hot hot hot
Hot Hot Hot – Buster Poindexter