The Roger’s Pass post alluded to lots of good stuff in this park but didn’t fully explore it so here is more info about what a hidden gem this park is and what we did during our brief visit. But hey only 15% of the traffic through the park stops so at least we made time for a short walk and a visit to the Interpretive Center.
It’s history is closely tied to the railway (nice pun hey says the girl who set spikes on a CPR tie gang) and the highway. It in essence tied the extreme west to the rest of Canada.
The CPR was completed in 1885 which is kind of amazing because up until 1881 the pass eluded explorers. The mountains and the winters must have been an incredible challenge. The NHS – Roger’s Pass talks about the numbers that died during construction and in the early years. You can see below how steep and long it is in the model.
The railway brought with it tourism, the establishment of Glacier National Park and the construction of a popular alpine treks. There are over 140 kilometres of established trails with back country huts and campgrounds. With so few visitors and such vistas I am sure it is breathtaking and solitary.
The park contains high peaks, large, active glaciers, and one of Canada’s largest cave systems. Its dense forests support populations of large mammals, birds, and alpine species.
The following specimens were found inside the Interpretive Center. Pretty sure I wouldn’t want to see most of them up close in the wild.
The Glacier National Park covers a range of habitats from lush temperate rainforest in the western valleys to inhospitable ice- and rock-covered alpine areas then over to drier fir and pine forests on the eastern boundary. Four biogeoclimatic zones are found within the park: Interior cedar/hemlock, Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir, Interior Douglas-fir in the eastern extremities, and alpine tundra at high elevations. What diversity and so much of it untouched by man.
We walked through a rainforest during an incredibly hot dry summer. It was lush, moist and inviting but rather dark for my liking. I wonder how things grow so well when the sunlight only ever shows up dappled through the leaves. There was a lovely little stream that we could hear from the boardwalk and it took us quite some time to find it running through the undergrowth.
The trees are so immense and old. The information plaque said some had been growing for over 350 years. I find it incredible that so much of it was preserved so early on in the history of settlement in Canada. The boardwalk was 100% barrier free with Braille signboards and mobility ramps. It was a project that Rick Hansen was involved with. It was surprising quiet considering it wasn’t that far off the road. It was also quiet in that there weren’t a lot of people around so ended up doing a selfie in the chairs. This is not a skill we excel at.
Once again our time didn’t really do the Park justice but we stopped and explored and learnt some educational tidbits while stretching our legs. The red chairs were just the icing on the cake that drew us in. Turns out the “cake” inside the forest was pretty cool and we’ve ear marked it as a spot to return for some hikes in the future.