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Nature's Beauty

Glacier National Park: The Crown of the Continent, Part 1 of 2

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Often referred to as the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park, one of America’s original 10 national parks, is located in the northern Rocky Mountains in northwestern Montana, on the Canadian-United States border. This scenic paradise holds tremendous significance in symbolizing the unity and deep-rooted friendship between the two countries. In 1976, Glacier National Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The International Peace Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Covering approximately 1,583 square miles (4,101 square kilometers) and one million acres of land, Glacier National Park extends across two mountain ranges and includes gushing waterfalls, more than 700 lakes, extensive hiking trails, and pristine ecosystems with various prairies, forests, and alpine features. Unfortunately, like so many miracles of great Mother Nature, this beloved park has not been immune to the devastating consequences of climate change.

Archeological evidence indicates that indigenous First Nations were the first inhabitants in this glacial area and arrived about 10,000 years ago. The First Nation people hold a deep spiritual respect for nature and the life-sustaining natural environment they live in. Multiple explorations after 1850 created a better understanding of the area that would become Glacier National Park. In 1885, naturalist and conservationist Dr. George Bird Grinnell went on an expedition to the region with noted explorer, James Willard Schultz. Dr. Grinnell dedicated the next 20 years of his life to protecting the land and having it recognized as a national park. He played an instrumental role in its establishment.

The distinctive geological features at Glacier National Park add to its character and splendor. Most of the rocks in the park are mainly sedimentary rocks from the Precambrian age, the earliest portion of Earth’s history with recorded geological records. The majestic mountain scenery serves as a recognizable landmark for the reserve and has been greatly shaped by the overthrust. Perhaps the most distinguishable and iconic feature at Glacier National Park are the glaciers themselves and the formations they have left behind.

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