Happy Birthday, Glacier!

Alison Brick gets the scoop on Glacier National Park’s centennial celebration.

One hundred years isn’t long in the life of a mountain range, but it’s something to recognize in the life of a national park. Glacier National Park will be celebrating its centennial throughout 2010 with a series of special events that are just getting under way.

Glacier was established as the tenth national park in the U.S. when President Taft signed a bill into legislation on May 11, 1910. And over the last century, the park’s grand collection of rugged peaks, glacier-carved valleys, lakes, and alpine meadows have helped it become recognized as one of the country’s greatest outdoor assets: It is the only place in the U.S. to be known simultaneously as a national park (1910), International Peace Park (1932), International Biosphere Reserve (1974), and UNESCO World Heritage site (1995). Visitors can enjoy the park in many ways, with 13 campgrounds with almost 1,000 campsites, 700 miles of hiking trails, and the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The Centennial schedule–which starts getting busier in April with the arrival of spring–includes a rededication ceremony on May 11, a summer-long film festival that showcases flicks shot in the park; a Plein Air Paint Out where you can watch talented nature artists at work in various locations throughout the park; a Centennial Poetry Contest reading, a Birthday Dinner at the Belton Chalet, a Hootenanny with folk musicians from the park’s past, and a Grand Heritage Tour in August that allows visitors to explore the park the way its first visitors did: by train, jammer bus, horseback, boat and by foot. The park will also be offering behind-the-scene tours of the headquarters and reunions that will gather anyone who has worked in the park, the hotels or concessionaires during Glacier’s history.

Looking ahead to the park’s second century, the Glacier National Park Fund has organized seven Legacy Projects that offer long-term improvements–adding more wheelchair-accessible trails, building a Watchable Wildlife viewing platform, preserving the historic Heavens Peak Fire Lookout, and restoring the Dark Skies Initiative.

Want to be a part of Glacier’s historic celebration? Come experience the park and offer your anniversary wishes in person. Check out links below to help plan your trip. And don’t forget to stop by the Park Cafe in St. Mary for some strawberry-rhubarb pie. 

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Photo: Lowell Georgia

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