click to enlarge Mt. Gould rises behind Swiftcurrent Lake, one of Glacier National Park's iconic sights.

Matt Gibson

Mt. Gould rises behind Swiftcurrent Lake, one of Glacier National Park's iconic sights.

The Blackfeet call it the backbone of the world. White explorers dubbed it the crown of the continent. Now named for the spectacular, glacially carved topography and remnant ice clinging to the high-elevations, Glacier National Park encompasses over 1 million acres of rugged alpine terrain.

The park is widely regarded as one of the best hiking and backpacking destinations in the United States, but most people stick closely to the 50-mile long Going-to-the-Sun road, which transects the park from West Glacier to St. Mary, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Popular day hiking destinations for first-time visitors include Avalanche Lake, Haystack Butte, Hidden Pass, and Grinnell Lake. But you don't have to look very hard to find countless possibilities for adventure. Be advised that Glacier National Park is grizzly bear country, and all the familiar cautionary notes apply.

In 1932 Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park, across the border in Canada, were designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, celebrating the longstanding peace and friendship between the two neighboring countries. Both parks have since been designated as an International Biosphere Reserves and together were recognized in 1995 as a World Heritage Site.

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