2022 fall: Glacier & Waterton: Gunsight Pass, Akamina Ridge; Calgary skyscraper art

Returning to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in fall 2022 furthered my photographic fascination with abstract rock patterns. Shot on slide film in 2002, such an image was enlarged twice on a Calgary skyscraper in 2019, my biggest publication, now at last visited in person during this autumnal RV trip (September 16–October 8). In Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada), vast areas of burnt forest revealed fireweed groundcover blazing with red, orange, and yellow fall colors. Visiting 5 years after the devastating fire, I was cheered by the riot of pine seedlings promising forest regeneration.

Gallery highlights below are excerpted from “2022 Sep-Oct: Waterton-Glacier, Akamina, Calgary.

A rock image by Tom Dempsey is enlarged in two lightboxes at the base of a downtown skyscraper, at SODO Residences, 620 10 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The building was completed in June 2019 on the site of the historic Alberta Boot Company in the Beltline District. Tom photographed the stone pattern in 2002—“Billion-year-old rock breaks into a jagged pattern in Glacier National Park, Montana, image #02GLA-04-38.” Made of 50 glass tiles, the larger lightbox wraps the building's southeast corner, 19.6 by 8.4 meters (64 feet wide x 27.5 feet high). Made of 30 glass tiles, the smaller lightbox wraps the southwest corner, 16.3 by 3.5 meters (53.6 feet wide by 11.6 ft high). (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: A rock image from Glacier National Park by Tom Dempsey is enlarged twice at the base of a downtown skyscraper (SODO Residences, 620 10 Ave SW, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada).

Glacier National Park, Montana

From Dragon's Tail ridge, see Hidden Lake & Bearhat Mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: From Dragon’s Tail ridge, see Hidden Lake & Bearhat Mountain in Glacier National Park, in Montana.

The last two days of the Park Shuttle season in Glacier National Park (Montana) carried us to scenic hikes at Logan Pass, including the Garden Wall and Hidden Lake, where I ascended the airy Dragon’s Tail ridge. On Gunsight Pass Trail, I escaped into wilderness for a 3-day solo backpacking trip, culminating above Sperry Campground at wild Comeau Pass, a variegated vista of striated stone exposed by the rapidly-melting Sperry Glacier.

Rock pattern, seen on the hike to Dragon's Tail ridge, starting from Hidden Lake Traihead at Logan Pass, in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above and below: Rock patterns, seen along the hike to Dragon’s Tail ridge.

Sharp rock pattern, seen on the hike to Dragon's Tail ridge, starting from Hidden Lake Traihead at Logan Pass, in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Garden Wall hike at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
The Garden Wall hike traverses a sheer cliff above Going-to-the-Sun Road starting from Logan Pass, in Glacier National Park.

Gunsight Pass 3-day backpacking traverse

Back on January 10 of this year, I tried to arrange a pricy private room for two, for 2–4 nights in September in the backcountry Sperry Lodge (meals included). Sadly, 700+ people got ahead of us during the couple of minutes required to fill the online application, then weeks later came notification that we didn’t get in. This led to a second option: in a lottery on March 15 ($10 nonrefundable), Tom booked a solo backcountry trip on the 3-day traverse of Gunsight Pass. From September 19–21, I trekked for 29 miles, vertically ascending 9400 feet and descending 8000 feet.

Because RVs aren’t allowed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Avalanche Campground (on Lake McDonald) and the Rising Sun picnic area (on Saint Mary Lake, where Carol dropped me off), I hitchhiked to Jackson Glacier Overlook — the Gunsight Pass Trailhead. I backpacked to Gunsight Lake Campground and Sperry Campground, day hiked Comeau Pass, and finished at Lake McDonald Lodge, where Carol picked me up. Carol chose to stay at West Glacier RV Park (booked in advance) for sewing and walking. Carrying a 3.5-ounce Garmin InReach Mini 2 [Amazon] reassuringly tracked my progress for Carol and allowed Text communication via satellite — a great innovation!

A rainbow shines over the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park, seen from the Blackfeet Indian Memorial on Highway 89, near Saint Mary, Montana, USA. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
A rainbow shines over the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park, seen from the Blackfeet Indian Memorial on Highway 89, near Saint Mary, Montana.

Deadwood Falls on Reynolds Creek, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Deadwood Falls on Reynolds Creek, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana.
Below: Florence Falls, seen later that day.
Florence Falls, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Borer beetle tracks, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Borer beetle tracks, Gunsight Pass Trail.

Snow dusting over Gunsight Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above and below: Snow dusts the mountains surrounding Gunsight Lake, in Glacier National Park.

Snow dusting over Gunsight Lake, on Gunsight Pass Trail, in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

A stream descends strikingly striated rock layers above Gunsight Lake, in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: A stream descends strikingly striated rock layers above Gunsight Lake.

Fresh snow on Gunsight Pass Trail above Gunsight Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Fresh snow on Gunsight Pass Trail above Gunsight Lake.
Below: wind-driven rime ice accumulates on pine needles at freezing Gunsight Pass.
Rime ice on pine needles Gunsight Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Lake Ellen Wilson, seen from snowy Gunsight Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Lake Ellen Wilson, seen from snowy Gunsight Pass.
Below: Red rock pattern at Gunsight Pass.

Rock pattern, Gunsight Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Red & yellow autumn foliage color at Lake Ellen Wilson, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Gunsight Pass is the cloudy gap seen here above sunny Lake Ellen Wilson.

Comeau Pass panorama, Sperry Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: A 4-hour day hike round trip from Sperry Campground reached this panorama from Comeau Pass, along the Sperry Glacier Trail.
Below: Rock pattern vista at Comeau Pass, Sperry Glacier Trail.
Rock pattern vista at Comeau Pass, Sperry Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Ancient fossilized orange & purple seabed ripples at Comeau Pass, Sperry Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Ancient fossilized orange & purple seabed ripples at Comeau Pass, Sperry Glacier Trail.

Akaiyan Lake at sunset, Sperry Glacier Trail, a side trip from Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Akaiyan Lake seen at sunset, along Sperry Glacier Trail, a side trip from Gunsight Pass Trail.

On night 2 and day 3, a herd of mountain goats hovered around Sperry Campground waiting for people to pee — to lick their salts from the ground! National Park rangers in the Backcountry Permit Office had wisely forewarned backpackers to use the provided outhouse instead of peeing in the bushes.

The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus, or Rocky Mountain Goat) is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. This even-toed ungulate is in the family Bovidae, in subfamily Caprinae (goat-antelopes) in the Oreamnos genus (but is NOT a true "goat"–Capra genus). Sperry Campground, Gunsight Pass Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Local residents at Sperry Campground: The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus, or Rocky Mountain Goat) is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. This even-toed ungulate is in the Oreamnos genus (but is NOT a true “goat,” which would be Capra genus).

Grinnell Glacier Trail, hiked from Many Glacier Campground, Montana

Since the Park Shuttle had stopped running, and our RV exceeded the size limits for Going-to-the-Sun Road, Carol and I drove around 2 hours from West Glacier to Many Glacier, via Highways 2 and 464. We spontaneously stayed 2 nights at Many Glacier Campground (first come, first served in late September). As Carol was fighting off a head cold, I hiked Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail (11 miles, 2000 feet gain). No grizzlies this time, just 2 bighorn sheep. Still some glacier left, but melting fast.
Red, orange, & white rock pattern. Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Red, orange, & white rock pattern on Grinnell Glacier Trail, in Glacier National Park.
Below: Sunburst over Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier Trail.
Sunburst over Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Orange and blue striped rock pattern. Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Orange and blue striped rock pattern on Grinnell Glacier Trail.
Below: Another ancient rock pattern on Grinnell Glacier Trail.
Orange & blue rock pattern. Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)

Orange rock pattern with yellow lichen. Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: Orange rock pattern with yellow lichen on Grinnell Glacier Trail.

Akamina Ridge loop hike from Alberta to BC and back, in Canada

Great hikes in the spectacular Rockies continue in Canada, in Waterton Lakes National Park — just 1.4 hours by car from Many Glacier Campground or Saint Mary (Montana, USA). From Waterton Park village in Alberta, a newly paved road reaches Akamina Pass Trailhead, where I hiked the epic Akamina Ridge loop via Forum and Wall Lakes, in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia (12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent).

Red fireweed fall colors, Forum Lake Trail, Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Red fireweed fall colors, Forum Lake Trail, Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park.

From Akamina Ridge above Forum Lake (in shadow), see yellow larch needles and distant peaks of Waterton National Park in Canada (left) and Glacier National Park in the United States (right). Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.  (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
From Akamina Ridge above Forum Lake (in shadow), see yellow larch needles and distant peaks of Waterton National Park in Canada (left) and Glacier National Park in the United States (right).

Upper Kintla Lake, Agassiz Glacier, Kintla Peak, Kinnerly Peak in Glacier National Park, Montana seen from Akamina Ridge in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Upper Kintla Lake, Agassiz Glacier, Kintla Peak, Kinnerly Peak in Glacier National Park, Montana seen from Akamina Ridge in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, BC.

Upper Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park, seen from Akamina Ridge. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Upper Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park, seen from Akamina Ridge.

The white-tailed ptarmigan, Lagopus leucura, is a member of the grouse family. Akamina Ridge, Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Seen on Akamina Ridge, the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) is a member of the grouse family.

Larch trees with yellow fall colors contrast with burnt forest, on the flanks of Akamina Ridge above Wall Lake, in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Larch trees with yellow fall colors contrast with burnt forest, on the flanks of Akamina Ridge above Wall Lake.

After a forest fire comes vibrant regrowth, starting with fireweed (red fall colors) and pine seedlings, along Wall Lake Trail, in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. The loop hike to Forum and Wall Lakes via Akamina Ridge is 12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent. The trailhead is in Alberta, accessible by road from Waterton Park. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Five years after the 2017 Kenow forest fire burnt much of the area, regrowth begins with fireweed (red fall colors) and pine seedlings, along Wall Lake Trail, in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia.

A line of three Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) cruise the highway in Waterton Park townsite, Alberta, Canada. Wild sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Pleistocene (about 750,000 years ago) and spread across western North America as far south as Baja California and northwestern Mexico. Genetic divergence from their closest Asian ancestor (snow sheep) occurred about 600,000 years ago. Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
A line of three Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) cruise the highway in Waterton Park townsite, in Alberta, Canada. Wild sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Pleistocene (about 750,000 years ago) and spread across western North America as far south as Baja California and northwestern Mexico. Genetic divergence from their closest Asian ancestor (snow sheep) occurred about 600,000 years ago.

T. Rex at Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana

Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur skeleton, 60% real bone (darker color), displayed at Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana, USA. It stands 12 feet high and 38 feet long. The skull mounted on the skeleton is a full replica with lighter color indicating reconstructed elements, and brown representing the real elements of the actual skull, which is displayed in an adjacent box at eye level. (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur skeleton, 60% real bone (darker color), displayed at Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana. It stands 12 feet high and 38 feet long. The skull mounted on the skeleton is a full replica with lighter color indicating reconstructed elements, and brown representing the real elements of the actual skull, which is displayed in an adjacent box at eye level.

Tom’s jagged rock image on a skyscraper in Calgary

A rock image by Tom Dempsey is enlarged in two lightboxes at the base of a downtown skyscraper, at SODO Residences, 620 10 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The building was completed in June 2019 on the site of the historic Alberta Boot Company in the Beltline District. Tom photographed the stone pattern in 2002—“Billion-year-old rock breaks into a jagged pattern in Glacier National Park, Montana, image #02GLA-04-38.” Made of 50 glass tiles, the larger lightbox wraps the building's southeast corner, 19.6 by 8.4 meters (64 feet wide x 27.5 feet high). Made of 30 glass tiles, the smaller lightbox wraps the southwest corner, 16.3 by 3.5 meters (53.6 feet wide by 11.6 ft high). (© Tom Dempsey / PhotoSeek.com)
Above: A rock image by Tom Dempsey is enlarged in lightboxes at the base of a downtown skyscraper, at SODO Residences, 620 10 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The building was completed in June 2019 on the site of the historic Alberta Boot Company in the Beltline District. Tom originally photographed the stone pattern on color slide film in 2002 — “Billion-year-old rock breaks into a jagged pattern in Glacier National Park, Montana, image #02GLA-04-38.” Made of 50 glass tiles, the larger lightbox shown here wraps the building’s southeast corner, 19.6 by 8.4 meters (64 feet wide x 27.5 feet high). Made of 30 glass tiles, the smaller lightbox wraps the southwest corner, 16.3 by 3.5 meters (53.6 feet wide by 11.6 ft high).

USA: MONTANA: ghost towns, Nevada City, Elkhorn

In Nevada City and Elkhorn, Montana, visit ghost town frontier buildings to visualize historic lifestyles.

Nevada City historic frontier buildings, lifestyle


Click “i” to read descriptive Captions. Click the dotted square to scroll a set of thumbnail images. Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Step back through history in 1890s era frontier buildings and lifestyle restored at Nevada City, Montana. Nevada City thrived as a placer gold mining camp from 1863-1876, but quickly declined into a virtual ghost town. Renovated Nevada City now evokes the bygone time of gold discovery and mining at Alder Gulch, with the support of Chinese laundry labor. More than 90 buildings from across Montana have been gathered for preservation at Nevada City, mostly publicly owned by the State of Montana and managed by the Montana Heritage Commission. In 2001, the excellent PBS television series “Frontier House” used one of the buildings and its furnishings to train families in re-creating pioneer life. A miner’s court trial and hanging of George Ives in the main street of Nevada City was the catalyst for forming the Vigilantes, a group of citizens famous for taking justice into their own hands in 1863-1864. Directions: go 27 miles southeast of Twin Bridges, Montana on Highway 287.

Elkhorn historic frontier buildings

Two original buildings, outstanding examples of American frontier architecture, are preserved and open to the public as Elkhorn State Park, in Montana. The silver, gold and lead mines at Elkhorn began booming in 1875, then declined in 1892 as silver prices dropped. A few miners still work the Elkhorn mines and live in private homes nearby within Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Directions: Take Interstate 15 to Boulder exit, go 7 miles south on Montana 69, then 11 miles north on county graveled road.


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Recommended guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest “Montana travel books” at Amazon.com.


USA: MONTANA: Glacier + Waterton NP

Recommended hikes and campgrounds in Waterton-Glacier National Parks.

Glacier National Park is a hiking paradise, one of our favorite world natural areas. See our latest trip article, fall 2022. Since 1932, Canada and USA have shared Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which UNESCO honored as a World Heritage Site (1995) containing two Biosphere Reserves (1976).


Click “i” to read descriptive Captions. Click the dotted square to scroll a set of thumbnail images. Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site. Below, view more extensive galleries.

Waterton-Glacier campground tips (as of 2007)

  • Due to their width and length, RVs and trailers aren’t allowed to cross Logan Pass, on the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Avalanche Campground (on Lake McDonald) and the Rising Sun picnic area (on Saint Mary Lake).
  • Hot Showers are available at:   Rising Sun Campground Store;  Apgar West Entrance KOA;  St. Mary Lake KOA;  adjacent to Many Glacier Campground at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn; Rising Sun Inn (6 miles west of St. Mary Visitor’s Center, and 5 miles west of St Mary Campground); Waterton Park townsite campground; and others outside the park.
  • Per site limits are 2 vehicles, 8 people, & 2 tents (where space is available) in Glacier NP.
  • After Labor Day, all Glacier NP campgrounds are “first come first served” (non-reservable) campgrounds — arriving between 10am-1:30pm very likely gets a site. Check out time is 12:00 noon (re-register by 11:30 am).
  • Camping along Going-to-the-Sun Road:
    • Rising Sun Campground on Lake McDonald is open thru Sept 17, 2007. Adjacent to the campground is a camp store, a casual restaurant, and token operated showers (1 shower stall for men, 1 for women). Flush toilets; dump station. $20. In August 2007, it usually filled up after 6:00pm.
    • Saint Mary campground, $23. Flush toilets; dump station, open 5/25 – 9/23/07; first come first served after Sept 3 (sites are reservable June 1 through September 3).
    • Campgrounds near Lake McDonald / West Glacier:
      • Apgar Campground (rarely fills up)
      • Fish Creek campground is closed after Sept 4, 2007. Reservable in summer, but usually doesn’t fill up.
      • Sprague Creek Campground) is open thru Sept 17. $20. Flush toilets.
      • Avalanche Campground is closed after Sept 4.
  • Many Glacier Campground open thru Sept 23, then primitive (waterless) thru Sept 29. $20. Flush toilets; dump station.  Filled up most days from 2 to 7:00pm in August 2007. Public showers & laundry are located behind Swiftcurrent Motor Inn’s Registration building. 3 shower stalls for men, 4 for women.
  • Two Medicine Lake Campground:  generally shaded by trees, some privacy. Open thru Sept 23. $20. No showers.
  • Glacier NP campgrounds, current filling status & details:  home.nps.gov/applications/glac/cgstatus/cgstatus.cfm
  • Plus numerous RV parks outside the National Park, with full facilities, such as the towns of West Glacier, East Glacier, & St Mary:
    • Polson / Flathead Lake KOA (800) 562-2130
    • West Glacier KOA (800) 562-3313
    • St. Mary / East Glacier KOA  (800) 562-1504

Glacier NP animals and insects: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Waterton-Glacier weather

If Logan Pass is closed, driving around the south end of Glacier NP on Highway 2 takes only an extra 30 minutes, by way of East Glacier, to West Glacier.

Global warming melts Glacier National Park

Glaciers carved spectacular U-shaped valleys and pyramidal peaks here as recently as the Last Glacial Maximum (the last “Ice Age” 25,000 to 13,000 years ago). 150 glaciers existed in the mid 1800s, but in recent times, based on aerial imagery from 2015, only 26 named glaciers met the size criteria of 0.1 km² (nine fewer than in 1966). Of the 26 remaining in 2015, some may now already be too small to be considered glaciers. See for yourself, such as the nearly-gone Siyeh Glacier at Cracker Lake.  Read more about global warming and climate change.

Glacier NP stone patterns and natural abstracts: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Glacier NP backpacking & backcountry lodges

Check weather and reserve backcountry campsites at 8:00am, one day in advance, at the following offices: Apgar Visiter Center, Polebridge Ranger Station, St. Mary Visitor Center, Two Medicine Ranger Station, or Many Glacier RS. Be flexible and come prepared for alternative plans, as popular campsites may be hard to get. Backpacking permit fees are inexpensive.

On January 10, 2022 I tried to arrange a pricy private room for two, for 2–4 nights in September in the backcountry Sperry Chalet (meals included). Sadly, 700+ people got ahead of us during the couple of minutes required to fill the online application, and weeks later came a confirmation that summer accommodation had fully booked. This led to a second option:

In a March 15 lottery ($10 nonrefundable), Tom booked a solo backcountry trip on the 3-day traverse of Gunsight Pass (read article). From September 19–21, I trekked for 29 miles, vertically ascending 9400 feet and descending 8000 feet. Driving our RV, Carol dropped me off at Rising Sun picnic area on Saint Mary Lake, where I hitchhiked (on the third passing car) to Jackson Glacier Overlook — the Gunsight Pass Trailhead. I backpacked to Gunsight Lake Campground and Sperry Campground, day hiked Comeau Pass, and finished at Lake McDonald Lodge, where Carol picked me up. Carol chose to stay at West Glacier RV Park (booked in advance) for sewing and walking. Carrying a 3.5-ounce Garmin InReach Mini 2 [Amazon] reassuringly tracked my progress for Carol and allowed Text communication via satellite — a great innovation!

Glacier NP flowers and plants: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Waterton-Glacier hikes

Check trail status at: www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm
Rainy day activities include waterfall hikes, games, or a good book.
Tom’s PRIORITY KEY below rates hikes with asterisks:   ***Best.   **Excellent.   *Good if you have extra time.

West Glacier area hikes

  • ** Avalanche Lake hike: park early before the lot fills.
  • ** Bowman Lake, Numa Ridge Lookout (11.4 mi round trip, 2935 ft). See jade colored Bowman Lake and Valley from above.  Drive 21 miles from Apgar to Polebridge, via Camas Road, to the “Outside North Fork Road” of which 11 miles are bumpy gravel. (Don’t take the “Inside Road”, which is very slow & bumpy, almost 4wd). From Polebridge, drive 6 miles gravel road to the trailhead at Bowman Lake Campground.
  • Sperry Chalet (or Campground) hiked from Lake McDonald Lodge (13.4 miles/3300 ft round trip). Done in 2022, the hike to Sperry Chalet is just a walk through mostly-burnt forest, but the day hikes from there are well worthwhile: *** Sperry Glacier Trail (7–8 miles round trip with 1900–2200 feet gain & loss); *** Gunsight Pass (8.5-10.2 miles round trip with 1800 feet gain & loss).
Glacier NP: Lake McDonald, Avalanche Lake and Gorge: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Glacier NP: Bowman Lake and Flathead River North Fork: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Two Medicine Lake area hikes

  • ** Upper Two Medicine Lake (9.4 miles round trip, 370 feet gain)
  • * Cobalt Lake (11.4 miles round trip, 1400 feet gain) good viewpoints, attractive Rockwell Falls, colorful rocks, beautiful lake, beaver ponds, meadows. With extra energy, hike Two Medicine Pass (4.4 miles round trip, 830 feet, from Cobalt Lake) for “commanding view” of neighboring Paradise Park and Park Creek drainage.
  • Short hikes:
    • Running Eagle Falls (0.6 miles round trip)
    • Paradise Point (1.2 miles round trip) scenic peninsula that juts into Two Medicine Lake
    • Aster Falls (2.4 miles round trip)
Glacier NP: Two Medicine hikes: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Going-to-the-Sun Road area hikes

  • *** Siyeh Pass (10.3 miles traverse one way with shuttle, 2390 up, 3300 down) (or 9.4 mi round trip without shuttle, 2390 feet gain). High alpine scenery.  Open 8/9/07.   Or even better to hike the following:
  • ***  Piegan Pass (13 miles traverse one way with shuttle, 1720 feet up) via Grinnell Lake & Josephine Lake to Swiftcurrent Lake trailhead. Same trailhead as Siyeh Pass, at Siyeh Bend.
  • * Otokomi Lake (10 mi round trip, 1900 ft) Deep red rocks, green forest, colorful scenery. Start at Rising Sun Campground.  Open 8/9/07.
  • ** Gunsight Lake (12.6 miles round trip; 1700 feet gain): a popular day hike, starting at Jackson Glacier turnout, 4.9 miles east of Logan Pass.
  • *** Gunsight Pass Trail traverse: From September 19–21, 2022 I backpacked this 3-day traverse starting from Jackson Glacier Overlook (Gunsight Pass Trailhead) and hiking to Gunsight Lake Campground then Sperry Campground, where I day hiked Comeau Pass, then finished at Lake McDonald Lodge (29 miles, vertically ascending 9400 feet and descending 8000 feet).
  • *** Hidden Lake (6 mi round trip, or shorter if you don’t descend to lake, 1200 ft). We hiked this in 2002 — one of our favorite hikes in the world — well worth hiking again, this time in blue sky weather. “The parking lot at Logan Pass usually fills between the hours of 10:00am to 2:00pm, though this can vary during peak weekends.” Logan Pass (6,646 feet) is 32 miles from the west entrance and 18 miles from the east entrance.
  • *** Swiftcurrent Pass (15.2 miles one way, backpacked in two days, 1400 feet gain, car shuttle) via Garden Wall (which can also be hiked 11.8 mi, 800 ft, one way with shuttle; plus 1200-ft, 2-mile side trip to spectacular Grinnell Lake overlook) “If you just have one day in the park, hike this”. Swiftcurrent Pass can also be day hiked 1 to 15 miles round trip, from zero or 3500 feet gain. Hiking up 2300 feet gains you a sufficiently good view.
Glacier NP: Logan Pass hikes: Hidden Lake and Garden Wall: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Glacier NP: Saint Mary hikes: Baring Creek, Piegan Pass, Siyeh Pass: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Many Glacier Campground area

  • *** Iceberg Lake (9.4 miles RT, 1220 ft) (see also Ptarmigan Tunnel) Ice bergs in milky blue lake below 3000-foot cliffs. TRAIL OPEN – 8/8/07.  4.8 miles roun trip to junction above Ptarmigan Falls, plus 4.6 miles RT to Iceberg Lake.
  • ** Ptarmigan Tunnel (11.2 miles RT, 2315 ft) (see also Iceberg Lake) Fun tunnel, spectacular scenery. 4.8 miles round trip to junction above Ptarmigan Falls, plus 5.2 miles round trip to Tunnel.
  • *** Cracker Lake (11.2 mi RT, 1140 ft) Most eye-catching turquoise lake in park; 3000-foot cliffs; nice waterfalls. TRAIL OPEN from Cracker Flats to Cracker Lake 8/2/07.
  • *** Grinnell Glacier (7.6 miles with boat rt, 11 miles without, 2000 ft) Ascends spectacular ledges above Grinnell Lake to reach Upper Grinnell Lake to observe its small, rapidly-melting glaciers. Or hike Grinnell Lake, best via Piegan Pass traverse (above).
Glacier NP: Many Glacier hikes: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Waterton Lakes NP, CANADA (bring USA passport)

  • ** Carthew Traverse (12 miles one way, 2300 ft, car shuttle) Lovely high alpine lakes, red & yellow mountains, meadows, and waterfalls. (Stays within Canada; no boat required.)
  • *** Akamina Ridge loop to Forum and Wall Lakes (12 miles with 3440 feet ascent & descent) From Waterton Park village in Alberta, a paved road reaches Akamina Pass Trailhead to hike this epic loop, in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia. Optionally add a mile round trip to overlook Cameron Lake. Forum and Wall Lakes themselves make good separate day hikes, especially Wall Lake.
  • * Bertha Lake (8.6 mi rt, 1542 ft) “Beautiful subalpine lake”. Falls.
  • * Goat Lake (8 mi, 984 ft rt) “Pretty area”. This trail starts at the exceptionally colorful Red Rock Canyon (which has a nice short nature trail, seen in 2002).
  • Goat Haunt(2-12 miles round trip, 1000 ft gain). Requires boat ride on Waterton Lakefrom Canada into USA (& back). Bring USA passports. In 2002, this boat ride was not very scenic in the opinion of Carol and I — * you probably need to hike or backpack into the mountains for better views. (Must get backcountry permit in Glacier NP, not Waterton.) The commercial boat (403) 859-2362 down Waterton Lake (Canada) to Goat Haunt, USA, may be cancelled, but other boats may run. Must leave Waterton dock by 4pm sailing to enable check in to US customs at Goat Haunt between 9am-5:30pm. At Goat Haunt you can do any or all of the following:
    • Day hikes from Goat Haunt: several “excellent hikes” 2-12 miles, and/or
    • camp overnight at open-sided shelters at the Goat Haunt boat dock, without having to carry a pack, or
    • backpack from Goat Haunt: Lake Francis 12.4 miles round trip, 1000 ft, plus optional 8 mile rt day extension to Brown Pass where “views are tremendous”
Canadian Rockies: Waterton Lakes: photo gallery


Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

Recommended guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest “Montana travel books” at Amazon.com.


Search for latest “Canada Rockies travel books” at Amazon.com.

USA: MONTANA & CANADA: Abstract Nature Patterns, Waterton-Glacier Parks

Spectacular peaks may distract from the wonders at your feet — ancient rock layers form fantastic, colorful patterns in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada. These two parks comprise Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, honored by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

View stone patterns and natural abstracts of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park


Click “i” to read descriptive Captions. Click the dotted square to scroll a set of thumbnail images. Add any of the above images to your Cart for purchase using my Portfolio site.

See related travel tips article: USA: MONTANA: Glacier National Park and Waterton, CANADA

Recommended guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest “Montana travel books” at Amazon.com.


Search for latest “Canada Rockies travel books” at Amazon.com.