Glacier-Waterton National Park
|Glacier National Park (Heath Korvola/Photodisc/Getty)|
More and more people are discovering the attractions of Glacier/Waterton in the winter. While the high country is virtually inaccessible and Going-to-the-Sun road is closed, the low country valleys are reachable. With less people and less shrub cover, your chance for seeing wildlife is increased. Cross-country skiing and snowshoe trekking are the most popular sports for the active set. But you can also just check into the lodge for some cozy, snowbound solitude. While all lodging within Glacier is closed, Izaak Walton Inn, right on the park's edge, remains open. In Waterton, Kilmorey Lodge remains open for winter sport trippers.
What are some good cross-country ski routes? Beginners might want to take up McDonald Creek, which follows the closed-in-wintertime Going-To-The-Sun-Road. Those a little more advanced can consider Autumn Creek, where you'll be able to see the crest of the Continental Divide and (probably) lots of wildlife. Snyder Lake is a good one for those up to the challenge. It offers a steady climb up to a small alpine lake.
Snowmobiles are not allowed in either Glacier or Waterton National Parks.
Wintertime offers great rewards but the potential for disaster is also great. Weather conditions make mountain climbing especially challenging. Along with the inherent dangers of snow and ice-covered slopes, avalanche danger increases. In general, rely on skis or snowshoes for getting around, as few roads in the park are cleared. Register all climbs with a ranger and ask for the latest information pertinent to your trip. Also check the latest avalanche hazard and weather advisory before entering Glacier's backcountry.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication