Get Up Close and Personal with Glaciers

Ice and snow cluster around exposed striated rock.

Time is running out to view the park’s namesake glacial formations. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Sadly, the park’s namesake glaciers are expected to melt away completely within the next 8-18 years. See them up close while you still can. Trails lead to the edge of several glaciers, but without proper gear and safety training, stay off the ice. Crevasses, ice bridges, and underground streams make them deadly.

Sperry Glacier

Hike or ride horseback six miles from Lake Mc- Donald to Sperry Chalet. Spend two nights among mountain goats at the backcountry campsite or the chalet and climb four miles up through the rock-hewn stairway at Comeau Pass into the scoured basin that houses Sperry Glacier. Follow rock cairns to the overlook of the ice—now reduced to about 200 acres.

Piegan and Sexton Glaciers

Catch a morning shuttle to Siyeh Bend to hike the 10.3-mile Siyeh Pass Trail. The route offers views of the 62-acre Piegan Glacier while climbing to the pass and Sexton Glacier while descending to Sunrift Gorge. A spur trail leads closer to the 68-acre glacier hugging Going-tothe- Sun Mountain.

Grinnell Glacier

From Many Glacier Hotel, hop the early hiker shuttle across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes; then climb four miles to Grinnell Glacier. Sit on the shore of the 152-acre glacier that is melting into a frigid iceberg-filled lake. The 42-acre Salamander Glacier clings in the cliffs above the lake while Gem Glacier, a mound perched on Mount Gould, no longer has the required size to qualify as a glacier.

Blackfoot and Jackson Glaciers

You can see these glaciers from Going-to-the-Sun Road at Jackson Overlook and the next two pullouts east. Use binoculars to scope out the 688 acres of Blackfoot and Jackson Glaciers. An eight-mile hike leads to Jackson Glacier, but it still requires an off-trail scramble to get to the ice.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.

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