Summer seemed like a good season to plan a visit to Glacier National Park. We could combine it with stops to see family in Idaho and Montana, giving us a two-week escape from the summer heat of Albuquerque.
What we didn’t know about our planned travel time is that there are actually 6 seasons in that part of the country. We learned the 6 seasons from an old-timer in Salmon, Idaho–Winter, Mud, Spring, Summer, Smoke and Fall. The time we had picked was in the middle of Smoke season.
When we drove towards Glacier through the mountain pass east of Provo, Utah, and for the first time viewed the smokey haze that hung over the valley, I thought that there must be a forest fire somewhere in the area. But when I asked the clerk who checked us into our motel room, I was told that it was smoke drifting in from forest fires as far away as British Columbia, Canada. Throughout the week we learned of other fires in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. We never figured out the specifics of where the fires were and if/when they were brought under control. But every day for the next 11 days we were surrounded by the lingering effects of thousands of acres of forest land reduced to smoke and ash.
Smoke season may not have been the best time to visit Glacier, but the park scenery is so stunning that every hike we did was a new thrill, leaving us with no regrets about our week there. If I were to make a visit there again I think that I would do it in the fall. Smoke season, as well as the tourist season, should be over by then. The season for wildflowers would be over, too, so I’d have to convince Lee that it would be possible to enjoy the visit even without being able to collect hundreds of wildflower photos. And, speaking of photos, here is a link some of the Glacier photos that I collected.