Glacier National Park Information

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Glaciers in Glacier National Park

St Marys Lake view from Sun Point

We talk about Glacier National Park, but we don't very often stop to
think about the glaciers that actually created those beautiful sharp peaks and carved out those lovely valleys and lakes.

What makes a Glacier?

It's a natural happening when more snow falls in
the winter, than melts in the summer. Each layer puts more weight on the ice
already there. The top layer will be hard brittle ice but, as it constantly
becomes heavier and thicker, the lower layer will become flexible. This
allows the ice to move. If the ice has been forming for a long time and
gets very thick and the mountain is steep enough, it will start to slide.
It is now called a glacier.

It may take thousands of years for a huge glacier to form. Most of the
glaciers in Glacier National Park are considered geologically new. Most were
formed in the last few thousand years.
As these glaciers slowly slid down the mountain side they took with them
rocks and soil and therefore changed the landscape. They actually carved out
the side of mountains and created valleys and lakes as they melted.
But now the sad part is that, because of warmer winters, we now have
less snow and more melting. Our Glaciers are shrinking as they melt. All of
this is because of climate changes.
Many Glaciers have formed and melted over the last few thousand years.
Geologists have made studies of the glaciers, rocks and soil they
took down, as they moved.

As of a study made in 2005, Glacier National Park has 27 slowly moving
glaciers. This forms the beautiful valleys and lakes throughout the park.
Glaciers on each side of mountains can wear the mountain into sharp peaks
called Horns. One such Mountain is Mt. Reynolds at Logan Pass.
Sometimes a large bowl is formed at the head of the glacier and will become
a lake such as Avalanche Lake , these are called Cirques. At times two
glaciers will work on the same mountain from each side, and it becomes like
a wall. These are called Aretes. The Garden Wall can be seen from
Lake McDonald Valley. The changes made by glaciers take thousands of years.


Glaciers in Glacier National Park written by Verna Parks.