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A Look Back at Glacier National Park Over the Last 5 Months

I love spectacular views, particularly those of Glacier National Park in Montana. To get a great perspective, however, I enjoy looking at the same view over time, just to see how it changes. Thankfully, I’m able to do that with the view from Mount Apgar and other places in Glacier National Park over the past five months, since I’ve shared that view more than any other.

Although Apgar overlooks Lake McDonald about 2,000 feet below, the amount of change over time is surprising. The view is exactly the same because this is taken from a public webcam operated by the park, but I believe that comparing it over time gives a new appreciation for the scenery.

This series captures those views from late January to late May. I hope that people enjoy it.

Apgar Mountain view on January 20

This is the Apgar view in late January. It is important to note that this was just after a storm and before another, but it was before the major storms hit the area. 

The small, lone fir tree to the right of center on the hilltop is laden with snow, but it is still recognizable. The snow level in the valley below is low in altitude and patches of snow can be seen through the trees there. However, the trees in the valley are free of snow. At least, there isn't enough to be apparent. 

Apgar view change from January to February

The image on the left is the same as the previous image. The picture on the right is the view a month later, after a series of big storms swept through the area. In fact, a storm is currently bringing snow to the valley in this image.

The trees of the valley are covered with snow, noticeably, and the little fir tree is no more than a bump in the snowbank that is hard to even make out. All the bushes are totally covered in snow.

Apgar in early March

Here is the view only about a week after the February picture. The sunshine makes a great deal of difference and although more storms are yet to occur, the snow on the trees of the valley has been reduced to just a small amount. The 'bump' that covers the little fir tree in the foreground is much more noticeable, thanks to the shadowing caused by the sunlight and a small amount of snowmelt.

Apgar in mid-April

In April. air temperatures had increased, though there were still storms. That can clearly be seen in the roiling clouds over the mountains in the distance. A lot of the precipitation was also falling as rain. 

As a result, although there is still snow on the ground in the valley, the dusting of snow on the trees is gone and the snow level is noticeably higher. On Apgar, the top of the little fir tree is peeking through the snow blanket.

The view in late May

Here is the most recent picture, taken on May 29. Spring has sprung in the Rockies. The snow is gone in the valley and on Apgar. The little fir tree is totally uncovered and looking quite bushy and healthy. The bushes are also leafing out. Just look at the mirror surface of Lake McDonald from this vantage point!

From Apgar over the middle fork of Flathead River in March

This view is overlooking the middle fork of the Flathead River valley in March. Quite a bit of snow is still visible even in the lower reaches of the river valley. Some of the mountains in the background were shown in the video I shared a couple of days ago.

Middle Fork of the Flathead River Valley in late May

Here is the same view of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River Valley about a month and a half after the last image. The air is a little hazy, but most of the snow is gone, except for on the mountain tops. 

Lake McDonald in late May

In case you wondered, this is what Lake McDonald looks like from the shoreline. I shared a picture months ago of this scene with the lake frozen over and the shoreline was nearly where the channel buoy to the left of center is. The snowmelt has filled in the lake, so the buoy marks the transition from deeper water to shallower water. The boat in the lower right corner is a flat-bottomed aluminum boat that can navigate the shallow water.

Middle Fork of the Flathead River in February

This is what the middle fork of the Flathead River looked like in February. It is still flowing, but most of the flow is under snow and ice, with very little open water, despite a persistent water current. This image was taken after about a week of sub-zero temperatures (F) and a few snow flurries 

Middle Fork of the Flathead River in late May

Here is the same image of the middle fork of the Flathead River in late May. It is within a couple of feet from flood stage, due to melting snow. This is also after almost a week of temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s (F). 

Most of the snow that remains in the higher elevations is icy and slow melting, but there is a lot of it and when the temperatures get this hot, the ice recedes rather rapidly, flowing down to rivers and creating numerous waterfalls in the mountains. Later in the year, the waterfalls will be dried up, for the most part, until next year.

All of the images in this set is quite a transition over just five months, wouldn't you say? Needless-to-say, this is the beginning of the tourist season for Glacier National Park.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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