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Entries in Glacier National Park (79)


Fire-damaged Sperry Chalet weathering winter

Photo courtesy Gravity Shots and Glacier National Park Conservancy (GLACIER NATIONAL PARK)-There are still several weeks of winter left. But there's good news to report about the resiliency of the historic Sperry Chalet in the Glacier National Park backcountry, which burned last summer.

The historic chalet was nearly destroyed during when the Sprauge Fire burned into the high mountain area late last summer. The interior of the old dormitory building was destroyed, but the walls were still standing. The Glacier National Park Conservancy raised local funds and paid for contractors to shore up the stone walls so they could withstand the winter snows. 

Now, an overflight funded by the Conservancy shows the Chalet standing strong against winter's assault. The walls show no signs of damage. More importantly, there's been no avalanches near the damaged dormitory. That's a major concern given the chalet's location in a cirque where slides are common. 

The Conservancy has raised over $127,000 so far to help fund the chalet's eventual rebuilding. 


Glacier National Park sets new yearly visitor record

Dennis Bragg photo (WEST GLACIER)-  Glacier National Park visitation not only breaks the 3-million mark for visitors, but easily crushes that mark. The final report on park visitation from the National Park Service shows over 3.3-million people went through the park gates in 2017, a solid 10% increase over the previous year. The park passed 3-million visitors this year in September, even with the fire season cutting access on the west side of the park. 

The new record wasn't unexpected.  For the first time in Glacier's history, more than 1-million people had come through the gates in the month of July alone. That was a jump of more than 23%. And park visitation was already up 11% through the first half of the year. 

St. Mary was by far the most active entrance to the park, largely driven by the fire closures of Going-to-the-Sun on the west side of the park in August and September. 


Glacier still on pace for record year, even with fires 

(WEST GLACIER)- Even though much of the west side of Glacier National Park is closed right now because of the Sprague Fire, the park appears it could still set a record for visitation in 2017.

The park had been running well ahead of last year's record pace, which had seen 2.9-million people come through the gates last year. In fact, the park set an all-time monthly visitor record in July, when more than a million people toured the park. That was a 23% jump over last year.  

New statistics just released for August show 908,000 visitors came to the park, pushing the year-to-date total to 2.8-million.

The west side of the park's popular Going-to-the-Sun Road, and the McDonald Valley have been closed since the start of September. But the east side of the park remains open, so it seems likely the park will match last year's visitor mark, and could even break 3-million people for the first time ever by the end of this year. 


Sprague Fire nearly doubles, crews worry about Monday's weather

Crews set up structure protection at Lake McDonald Lodge- USFS photo(WEST GLACIER)- With winds having already gusted over 40-miles per hour, fire crews are bracing for the worst as winds shift over the Sprague Fire, burning in the heart of Glacier National Park. 

The lighting-caused fire grew to over 9,400 acres on Sunday afternoon, as a passing cold front switched the winds from the southwest back over to the north and east. That pushed the fire burning south of Lake McDonald to the west and south. 

Forecasts are for cooler temperatures and somewhat higher relative humidity today. But with the geographic orientation of the McDonald Valley, east winds could present some challenging conditions through tonight. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 9 p.m. 

The Fort Apache Hot Shots have been staged at Lake McDonald Lodge to protect the historic structure if necessary. Evacuations of all tourists and residents remain in place from Apgar up to Logan Pass. 

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed to through traffic, but Logan Pass is accessible from the east. 


Sprague Fire closes west side of Glacier's McDonald corridor

Sprague Fire- USFS photo (WEST GLACIER)- Worried about critical fire weather and the continued growth of the Sprague Fire, Glacier National Park authorities are closing the Lake McDonald-McDonald Creek corridor and order park visitors to evacuate. 

The fire, which started with passing lightning on August 10th has continued to spread in the hot, dry weather of the past week, and has now consumed over 5100-acres in the Gunsight Pass area immediately west of Lake McDonald. 

Saturday, park officials had said they would be closing all the trails and campgrounds from the south end of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. This morning, that evacuation order was expanded to include closure of the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road, with all residents of the valley and concession housing told to leave. 

Logan Pass is only accessible from the east side of the park.

The fire destroyed the historic Sperry Chalet late last week.