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Advice please-fires

Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
51 posts
3 reviews
Advice please-fires

Hi all,

We are planning a trip for June 2018 and have just found out about the massive fire damaged. Do we skip WAterton and stay in GNP the extra day instead? We were planning a one day excursion to WAterton.

Thanks!

Joe

26 replies to this topic
Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Regina
Level Contributor
5,621 posts
94 reviews
119 helpful votes
1. Re: Advice please-fires

Uh did you miss the news about the fires in Glacier... Both national parks. Doubt it matters much though as for one day you'll be fine.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
51 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Advice please-fires

Yes but the WAterton scared me more.. so a one day excursion. Will be fine?

There is supposed to be a boat ride in WAterton that they say is good?

Also what weather do we expect in mid June?

Thx

Joe

Oshawa, Canada
Level Contributor
7,771 posts
34 reviews
86 helpful votes
3. Re: Advice please-fires

The fires are not currently burning, and they are a part of the nature of the area. A natural piece of the lifecycle ofvthe forests.

Lodgepole pines need their seeds exposed to fire to germinate. No forest fire no new trees.

There is a fire every year in some part of the Rockies, they even do controlled burns. It’s just the past couple of years they have been closer to human habitation.

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
27,268 posts
94 reviews
209 helpful votes
4. Re: Advice please-fires

For someone interested in the life cycle of forests, the first few years after a fire can be quite exciting, as the understory comes back fairly quickly, with a lot of fresh green vegetation. Also, trees no longer block some views.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Level Contributor
22,489 posts
132 reviews
191 helpful votes
5. Re: Advice please-fires

The new lush growth that happens after a fire also attracts wildlife - deer, elk and other animals. Forest fire is indeed an integral part of the ecology of the Rocky Mountains, and the negative effects of a century of fire suppression are now becoming apparent - declining habitat for wildlife, increased danger of large-scale fires, and here in Jasper, a massive mountain pine-beetle infestation. The beetle is indigenous to the area and a part of the natural ecology, but was naturally kept under control in historic times by breaks in suitable habitat and forest fires. Now, much of the park is covered in a swath of over-mature pine forest, creating a veritable buffet for the little critters.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Waterton Lakes National Park
Level Contributor
2,705 posts
106 reviews
219 helpful votes
6. Re: Advice please-fires

To answer your question, the boat excursion is very worthwhile.

As for weather in June, expect snow - a lot snow - at higher elevations in June. We are having unusually high levels of snowfall this year. You should also know that the Going to the Sun Road in GNP will not be open yet at that time of year, due to snow at higher elevations. You will be able to drive parts of it from both ends of the road but it is very unlikely given our snowfall this year that it will be fully cleared by mid June.

Spring is still a nice time to visit the parks, the flowers will be in full bloom in the lower-elevation meadow areas and animals will be out and about by then. Weather "at ground level" will likely be in the mid teens to mid 20's, weather dependant , of course.

Red Deer, Canada
Level Contributor
1,132 posts
644 reviews
263 helpful votes
7. Re: Advice please-fires

The good news is the mountains didn't burn. Nor the lakes, streams, views or wildlife. You are in for an incredible trip. You will see areas that are burned and is a neat experience. You will see wildlife because they are using the burnt areas as well. You will also see areas that didn't burn.

in reality, there are forest fires every year in the two adjoining parks. Some years worse than others. Last year happened to be a bad year but life in the park will go on.

Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Regina
Level Contributor
5,621 posts
94 reviews
119 helpful votes
8. Re: Advice please-fires

Plenty of good info given above. To address the query to my original reply 38.6% of Waterton was burned in the Kenow Fire last September. A sizable portion of west Glacier National Park in Montana was also burned and while there were multiple fires there the main one was the Sprague fire. Glacier being much larger still has a sizable chunk of land that didn't burn last year. I don't have the numbers in percentage terms, but the burned would be rather low. However the loss of the Sperry Chalet and a couple of campgrounds likely trumps the loss of a visitor centre in Waterton.

In short with such a short visit there will be both burnt and not recently burned landscape to gawk at... quite an interesting contrast in reality. Perfect time to visit IMO, though I am a fan of wide open desert type landscapes.

Level Contributor
1 post
7 reviews
4 helpful votes
9. Re: Advice please-fires

Your biggest problem will be the closed "Going to the sun" road, it didn't open until June 28th this year. Spend more time up near Swiftcurrent and Many Glacier on the eastern side of GNP, it's closer to Waterton and in my opinion the best part to hike.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
51 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Advice please-fires

Thanks!

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