Glaciers continue to carve the Western Landscape. Visit Alaska, California, and Montana to see these geological artisans at work.
glacier bay national park Alaska
Snow that falls on Mounts Orville and Wilbur, both over 10,000 feet, feeds Johns Hopkins Glacier, one of seven tidewater glaciers in Alaska’s 3.3-million-acre park and preserve. The ice flow once melded with many others to form a massive central glacier on the site of what is now Glacier Bay. Tour boats now venture 60 miles into the inlet, offering views of forces that shaped the West’s major mountain ranges. (907) 697-2230, nps.gov/glba .
Although Ice Age glaciers in California’s Sierra Nevada carved scores of scenic canyons—Yosemite Valley among them—the place in the state where glaciers are most active today is Mount Shasta, north of Redding. Seven small glaciers scour the 14,000-foot volcano’s slopes. Unlike many of the earth’s glaciers, Shasta’s ice flows are not shrinking. (530) 926-4511, fs.usda.gov/stnf .
Glacier National Park
Yes, there are still glaciers in Montana’s spectacular Glacier National Park. Geologists count 26 active ice flows remaining among the park’s craggy peaks, but the frozen masses are all dwindling. A few are visible from main roads; more can be reached from the park’s 700 miles of trails. (406) 888-7800, nps.gov/glac .
Photography by Ewen Denney/Wikipedia
This article was first published in July 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.