Sunday, August 21, 2011

The "Zoo" at Glacier National Park -Part II

At the very capable hands and eyes of our Red Bus (a.k.a. a "jammer" by the locals) driver, Norm, we set out to find wildlife on the Red Bus Tour we took the day on Friday. For the first hour or so, we were enthralled by the views, information and the stories all about the park on our way up the Going to the Sun Road. Did you know Glacier National Park is located on the Continental Divide? It's one of the few places where water flows downward in three different directions! Towards the Pacific Ocean, towards the Atlantic Ocean, and north towards Canada and Hudson Bay. As we got closer and closer to the visitor's center at Logan Pass, things started!  First, mountain goats! This is where you normally see them.....

On the ledges....then we saw them on the boardwalk around the visitor's center....

This guy came out of the bushes, walked along the boardwalk a bit, then back into the grass for a bite.....

Here comes the exciting part....big horned sheep! First we saw them where you would normally see them, on the side of the mountain.

Then we saw them up close and personal! Like in the parking lot! They were licking the antifreeze/oil spills up in the parking lot--Eww-w-w-w-w! Our guide said that it doesn't seem to hurt them at all, they keep coming back for more! They must have cast iron stomachs. That's a sad commentary on the parking lot, but unavoidable I guess. Seems like they could fence off the parking lot and make it more difficult for them to enter, but the whole philosphy of the park is to blend the human population as much as possible and as minimally as possible into the environment of Glacier National Park, so they allow the animals complete freedom to move around. It's THEIR park, really, not ours.....We're just blessed to be able to come into the park, and that's one of the reasons there is only one road through the entire park and it's been designed to minimally impact the park.
The big horned sheep have very yellow eyes, they look creepy when you look at them!

We saw two of them in the parking lot and then several of them across from the parking lot. They were awesome creatures.
The bachelors hanging out but not for long, they'll be competing for a mate soon
It's possible to see a lot of other wildlife at the park as well, such as the bears, pikas, wolves, mountain lions, wolverines, moose, ptarmigans (like pigeons) and the most beautiful wildflowers along with songbirds at the many different lakes and trails.

I think we are going on a drive later today looking again for moose, bear, and eagles when the crowds thin out from the weekend. There are two distinct sides to Glacier National Park--the western side which gets ample rain, and the eastern side which doesn't. It's more like a high desert area on the eastern side. Since we've made it to Logan's Pass and a little down the other side, we'll probably head out for the eastern side today....We might ride the shuttle buses which help cut down on park pollution. They run from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM on the western side and make 16 stops along Going to the Sun Road, so that's a great way to avoid additional clogging of the roadway-park your car in the transit center parking lot at the park and ride the shuttle all day FREE! I believe the east side has a slightly different shuttle system and a fee might be involved.

There are a wide variety of things to do in the park besides hike and drive the main road. You can take a guided boat tour, you can fish for trout, whitefish, Kokanee salmon and Artic grayling.  You can bike in Glacier, but it's restricted during busy summer months and from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM in certain areas. You can rent bikes if you don't have your own or you can go horseback riding. Wait, there's more! How about river rafting? That's on our bucket list, but not right now....(Sparky is holding out for Colorado)

Hope you have enjoyed the "zoo" tour today.....That Red Bus Tour really takes the cake!


  1. When I make my big horn sheep sculptures I give them big brown eyes. I know it's not "right" but sheep eyes with the sideways pupil have always given me the creeps. I do art, not taxidermy!

  2. Hope you get to see the moose, bears, and eagles.

  3. WOW! I was convinced to take the red bus with the first post and now I can hardly wait to sign up.

    Those are FABULOUS pictures. You lucky ducks!!!!