Glacier National Park Facts: Exploring Montana’s Wilderness Wonders

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: January 26th, 2024

Glacier National Park is an absolutely stunning area of wilderness nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. 

With tall peaks and low valleys, this gorgeous park has become a hot tourist attraction and is a beloved part of the landscape of Montana! 

If you are wanting to know a bit more about the wonders of Glacier Mountain Park, then stick around. I’ve got the inside scoop on all the information regarding this park and its surrounding landscape and wildlife. 

From the park’s history to its ecosystem, I’ll be going over the top wilderness wonders of Glacier National Park

By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on Glacier National Park, how it came to be, and the natural wildlife that can be found within it. 

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it! 

1. Glacier National Park is known as the “Crown of the Continent.”

Glacier National Park

Conservationist and renowned explorer George Bird Grinnell was heavily involved in the creation and preservation of Glacier National Park as we know it today. 

Grinnell, after learning of the existence of the area, made his first visit there in 1885. 

Upon witnessing the shining glaciers, towering mountains, and stunning wildlife, Grinnell dubbed the area the ‘Crown of the Continent’.

He believed that the area was a ‘geological wonder’ and was particularly in awe of the glaciers in the area, saying that they were the ‘jewels in the crown’. 

The nickname ‘Crown of the Continent’ has stuck around to this day, with many tourists and area locals alike referring to the park by this name. 

The park itself truly lives up to its nickname, with the shining glaciers, geological wonders, and stunning wildlife making it a breathtaking attraction! 


2. The park is part of the world’s first International Peace Park, established in 1932 in collaboration with Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada

In 1932, Glacier National Park was combined with Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada to create the world’s first ever International Peace Park. 

Known as the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, the area is located on the border between the United States and Canada. This Peace Park boasts gorgeous scenery, native wildlife, and unique geological attractions.

The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park not only has absolutely stunning views and rich histories, but the park also represents goodwill and peace between the United States and Canada. 

The Water Glacier International Peace Park set a precedent for all other parks, and as of today, there are 147 Peace Parks all over the world. 

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the best drives in North America.

glacier national park

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a scenic mountain road located at Glacier National Park and is one of the main attractions of the park!

This road is the only one that traverses the entire park, allowing passengers to see all of the stunning scenery and wildlife. 

The road is a beloved part of the park, and many people will travel to Glacier National Park just to drive along this road. 

The road is approximately 50 miles and spans the whole length of Glacier National Park, from the east to the west entrances. 

You can either drive your own vehicle along this road or partake in one of the park’s famous Red Bus Tours. 

This road is considered by many to be one of the best drives in North America due to the stunning views and the complex construction of the road. 

4. Grinnell Glacier is named after George Bird Grinnell

The creation and preservation of the Glacier National Park that we know and love today is largely attributed to conservationist George Bird Grinnell.

Grinnell saw immense beauty and potential in the area that is now known as Glacier National Park and was passionate about its preservation. For this reason, the iconic Grinnell Glacier is in fact named after George Bird Grinnell himself! 

Grinnell Glacier is located in the heart of Glacier National Park and is one of the most heavily photographed glaciers in the entire park, with photos of this iconic glacier dating all the way back to the mid-19th century. 

While this glacier has unfortunately shrunk in size and eroded over time, it can still be seen clearly in the park. 

Many consider this glacier to be one of the highlights of Glacier National Park and a great example of the natural beauty that can be observed in the area. 

5. The park is a designated International Dark Sky Park, making it a great location for stargazing

Dark sky areas are locations that are not disturbed by light and air pollution, making them excellent places to enjoy some stargazing. 

Glacier National Park is one of several designated International Dark Sky Parks, meaning it is a hot spot for stargazers!

The dark surrounding area is lit up at night by the stars, the lack of pollution meaning they can be viewed with ease. 

The preservation of Dark Sky Parks is vital – at this point, over 80% of Americans can not see the Milky Way from their backyards. 

Not only are the stars a stunning view, but they are also extremely important and sacred in many cultures. At night in Glacier National Park, you can witness breathtaking views of stars dotting the night sky. 

6. It has more than 260 species of birds

With so many varied habitats present in Glacier National Park, the area is home to a high number of bird species – over 260 at the last count!

From American Dippers to Northern Hawk Owls, you can witness all types of birds soaring over the park. This makes the park a great spot for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. 

The park has an unusually high number of bird species present in it for an area that is located so far north. 

This is because there are so many different climatic conditions within the park, such as aquatic and land-based habitats that are ideal for birds. This allows several different species of birds to thrive within the park. 

7. Native American tribes, including the Blackfeet, have historical connections to the region

gateway west glacier national park

A large number of Native American tribes utilized the land in the area within and around Glacier National Park for hunting, fishing, ceremonies, and many other uses. 

In the 1700’s, trading between European settlers and tribal communities started and the preservation of the land for its geological beauty and complexities began. 

These days, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation shares the eastern border of Glacier National Park. This 1.5 million acre reservation is home to around 8,600 members of the Blackfeet Nation, making it the largest tribe in Montana. 

8. Many of the park’s historic chalets and lodges were built in the early 20th century and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Glacier National Park was established in 1910, accommodation for visitors immediately began popping up all over the park. 

To this day, there are a range of lodges and chalets in the park remaining from this era, several of which are still in use as guest accommodation! 

These chalets and lodges were built in a Swiss style with features such as gabled roofs and exposed beams. 

Due to the age and history of these buildings, they are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Not only do these lodges and chalets have a rich history, but they are also gorgeous pieces of architecture and are a key part of Glacier National Park. 

9. Glacier National Park was carved by glaciers during the last ice age, shaping its distinctive landscapes.

glacier national park

The shaping and geological history of Glacier National Park dates all the way back to nearly two billion years ago. Several geological processes contributed to the park possessing the unique shapes and landscapes that it has today. 

This is one of the many reasons why Glacier National Park is so revered and admired by tourists, locals, and geological experts alike. 

Erosion, deposition, and faulting all have parts to play in shaping the landscape, but by far the most impactful geological process that has affected the park is glaciation. 

The erosion and impact of the glaciers have had a notable part to play in shaping the park, creating U-shaped and hanging valleys, lakes, and many other natural features. 

10. The park’s ecosystem includes a wide range of plant species.

Due to the extremely varied habitats that are present in Glacier National Park, a wide range of plant species can be found growing in the area. 

At least 1,150 distinct vascular plants have been identified in the park – and this doesn’t even include mosses and lichens. 

These plants vary widely in terms of species, meaning you will be able to see an array of gorgeous plants in the area, ranging from tall leafy shrubs to small, blooming water flowers. 

Many of the plants that can be found in Glacier National Park are exclusive to the area. 

The unique and flourishing plants within the park draw in nature enthusiasts every spring and summer as the plants start to emerge from the snow and begin blooming, growing, and changing color.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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