Not the Rocky Mountains
Glacier National Park is not actually in the Rocky
Mountains but in the Columbia Mountains which are
comprised of the Purcell, Selkirk, Cariboo and Monashee
ranges. The Columbia Mountains are geologically and
climatically distinct from the Rockies. The region has
three different life zones determined by elevation.
lowest zone, Rainforest, is a unique interior rainforest
characterized by dense vegetation and large trees such
as Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock, as well as
ferns and mosses. The middle zone, Snowforest, is
characterized by Subalpine Fir, Mountain Hemlock and
Spruce. The highest zone, No Forest, is above the
treeline and provides habitat for much of the area’s
Glacier National Park is home to grizzly and black
bears, mountain goats, white-tailed ptarmigans, hoary
marmots, golden-mantled ground squirrel, pika and
mountain caribou. The mountain caribou is a unique
ecotype related to the woodland caribou found throughout
boreal Canada. Unfortunately, the mountain caribou is
considered to be endangered.
Trails in the park include the Abandoned Rails Trail
with hiking along an abandoned rail grade, Loop Brook
Trail with stone pillar ruins that once carried railway
track across the valley, Hemlock Grove Boardwalk Trail
through an old growth stand of Hemlock, and Rockgarden
Trail through grizzly and black bear habitat with
viewpoints overlooking the glaciers and mountain barrier
of Rogers Pass.
backcountry hikers there are campsites available and
four huts which can be reserved. There are also 80
rustic campsites accessible by car.
Where It’s At
Glacier National Park is approximately 80 km/60 miles
east of Three Valley Gap.