Spending time in outdoor spaces is very popular around here, and we sure are grateful for the quality and quantity of outdoor space we have in Western Montana. It's paramount, however, that we all do our part to recreate responsibly when playing in local parks, on public lands and trails, in Montana’s two national parks, and everywhere in between, including our small towns.
Glacier Country Tourism is a partner in the national Recreate Responsibly initiative to provide all outdoor lovers the outlook to experience safe, responsible and successful outdoor adventures, and to preserve the places we all love.
We are also proud to partner with Tread Lightly!, in the initiative to protect and enhance access to recreation and opportunities for the motorized recreationalist, and with Leave No Trace, to minimize human impacts on the outdoors.
Spend time learning about our local gems and find off-the-beaten-path spots to explore. Use state and federal land websites like TrailLink, AllTrails, FarOut, and local meetup/Facebook/stewardship groups, or check out library books on local outdoor resources to find them.
As we embrace new places and new ways to get outside, we have a responsibility to think about our impact on the outdoors and to be a part of sustaining them for the future. This means:
It takes all of us working together to be good stewards to this great state. Here are some helpful resources to learn more about what Recreate Responsibly, Leave No Trace, and Tread Lightly! mean, and how to practice them while enjoying our great outdoors and fresh mountain air.
Adequate trip planning and preparation helps travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing negative impacts to the land. Poor planning often results in a miserable experience and unintended damage to a special place.
Once you know where and when you’ll be going, plan ahead to stay safe and keep others safe. Adequate research and planning ensure safer, more enjoyable travels—especially in the wild and unpredictable outdoors—and minimize your impact on Montana’s resources and lands.
Now is especially the time to stick to activities that fit your skill level. First responders, search and rescue teams, and medical personnel are all at mass capacity right now, so reducing your risk of injury is of utmost importance.
Be part of an inclusive outdoors. We all play a role in helping to make sure our great outdoors are safe and welcoming for all abilities and identities by being kind, respectful and patient.
Please be mindful of our communities and small businesses, which have had to adapt and may face limitations in hours and staffing—always call ahead.
Respect others. Keep in mind that others might have different—but valid and safe—ways of enjoying the outdoors.
Be good stewards of our public lands and never recreate on private land without permission.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are plants, animals or pathogens that are not native to Montana and can cause harm to our environment and economy.
AIS are introduced accidentally or intentionally outside of their native range. AIS populations can reproduce quickly and spread rapidly because there are no natural predators or competitors to keep them in check. AIS can displace native species, clog waterways, impact irrigation and power systems, degrade ecosystems, threaten recreational fishing opportunities and can cause wildlife and public health problems.
If you plan to recreate on Montana’s waterways, know:
VIDEO: Montana Invasive Species
Glacier Country Tourism believes in being good stewards of our destination, balancing our culture, natural environment, and quality of life and experience—protecting the very qualities that make Western Montana first and foremost a wonderful place to live, with the added benefit of being a wonderful place to visit.
Glacier Country Tourism is a proud partner of Leave No Trace, the most widely used stewardship education program on public lands across Montana. The program has been shown to reduce recreation related impacts and continues to inspire millions of visitors each year through the easy to practice Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. Think you know Leave No Trace? Take the free online course Leave No Trace: Take Action to Protect the Outdoors and find out!Leave No Trace Take the Course
Please respect all public lands, waterways, tribal lands and local communities by:
©Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Glacier Country Tourism is proud to partner with Tread Lightly! in the initiative to protect and enhance access to recreation and opportunities for the motorized recreationalist. The program teaches outdoor ethics and best practices through recreate responsibly messaging for specific motorized sports along with the T.R.E.A.D Principles. Being responsible doesn’t mean being boring. Educate yourself now with the free Tread Lightly! 101 Online Awareness Course.TREAD LIGHTLY Take the Course
By working together as one motorized community, we can keep our trails open, healthy and beautiful for generations to come. Do your part by keeping trails clean and trash free, and educating yourself on ways to ride responsibly specific to your motorized activity below:
I Ride, I Drive, I Off-Road, I Tread Lightly!
Western Montana is susceptible to wildland fire, especially during the dry summer months. Following campfire safety is crucial. Preventable wildland fires threaten lives, wild animals and their habitat, property, and our precious natural resources. Whether it is properly extinguishing a campfire or keeping your vehicle maintained to prevent sparks, following just a few simple steps can help prevent wildland fires. Learn how to properly use outdoor equipment; burn debris safely; maintain, and extinguish a campfire; maintain a vehicle and tow safely; and practice fire-safe target shooting, to name a handful. If you are traveling in the summer, know what fire restrictions are in place at your destination and check if campfires, barbeques and flammables are allowed.
Under Stage 1 Restrictions, the following acts are prohibited:
Under Stage 2 Restrictions, the following acts are prohibited:
For more information on fire restrictions in the state of Montana, please refer to mtfireinfo.org.
Did you know that many wildland fires start from vehicle use? Remembering these hot tips will help you #RecreateResponsibly this summer:
If you’re traveling with your dog in Western Montana, it’s important to be a responsible pet owner, plan ahead and know before you go. First and foremost, dogs are not allowed on most trails in Glacier National Park. If you are planning on traveling in other parts of the region with your dog, it should be properly licensed and up-to-date on vaccines. Aggressive pets should be left at home. Bring dog waste bags and pick up dog waste promptly. Always dispose of waste in proper receptacles, which you’ll often find near trails. If you don’t find a proper receptacle, you’ll need to carry the waste out with you. Make sure your dog doesn’t chase wildlife; this could harm wildlife, your dog or even you—or your dog could get lost. Make sure you carry enough food and water for you and your dog while you’re out exploring, and note that pets are not allowed on some public lands and waterways, and in other areas they must be leashed.
Wildlife is just that—wild. It's important to act responsibly around wildlife, and it's also vital that, while recreating in the area, we help preserve and enhance wildlife habitat by practicing Leave No Trace principles.
Many grizzly and black bears travel the forests, trails and terrain of Glacier Country. The grizzly bear is identified by a distinctive hump on its shoulders. Typically, its coat is dark brown, but can vary from very light cream to black. Grizzlies weigh between 400 and 1,500 pounds and can stand up to 8 feet tall on their hind legs. They also move very quickly and can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. When recreating in bear country, it's important to follow and practice certain rules and guidelines.
Read more about bear safety from Be Bear Aware.
Read more about wildlife safety from Be Bear Aware.
We’re very serious about our backcountry terrain around here. We’re also very serious about backcountry safety. The wild and rugged nature of Montana’s high country should never be an afterthought, especially when it’s covered in snow. Avalanche safety should always be top of mind when you’re headed back into the deep stuff, whether via ski, snowboard, snowshoe or snowmobile. Proper gear and know-how are everything.
Here are some recommendations for avalanche safety:
When recreating at ski resorts, don't ski or sled the backcountry on your own unless it is permitted AND you are up-to-date on the avalanche forecast, own and know how to use the right avalanche safety gear, and have adequate training.
Know before you go. Take a course in avalanche safety, which will teach you the basics of avalanche safety gear, snow testing, avalanche awareness and avalanche rescue. Avalanche safety education includes courses for motorized and non-motorized snowsports. Courses in avalanche safety are offered online and in the field.
To find courses and education resources, visit:
Always check the local avalanche forecast before you recreate in the backcountry, and understand what it means. The U.S. and Canada use a five-category avalanche danger estimation system. This North American Avalanche Danger Scale allows avalanche forecasters to communicate avalanche threat—low, moderate, considerable, high, extreme.
Learn what gear you need for the backcountry, get the right gear, and know how to use it. This is critical. Find the beacon, shovel, probe and airbag pack that are right for you.
Avalanche beacons (or transceivers) transmit your location so others can find you or you can find them in the aftermath of an avalanche.
Avalanche shovels are essential for backcountry recreation. They can be used to dig out persons buried by snow, but they are also necessary for studying snowpack and digging emergency shelters.
Probes are also essential pieces of backcountry gear. These lightweight, folding poles help you determine how deep the snow is and, in the case of an avalanche rescue, where to begin digging.
Airbag packs feature a bladder that, when pulled, inflates to keep you closer to the surface during an avalanche.
Please note that having avalanche safety gear does not mean you should be reckless and recreate in areas where the avalanche threat is anything but low.
Avoid avalanches by learning where and why they occur. Learn to recognize the red flags of an unstable snowpack, which indicate avalanche danger. These include signs of a recent avalanche, or signs of unstable snow. Recent heavy snowfall or rain, or a rapid increase in above freezing temperatures, also creates unstable snow and increases the likelihood of avalanches.
Among other avalanche safety gear, snow study tools and kits are essential pieces of backcountry equipment to determine the safety of the snowpack, but are not an alternative to checking the avalanche forecast before you head out, which is vital.
Learn more about recreating responsibly while playing in the deep stuff, including backcountry skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and camping. Read more tips about responsible backcountry snowsports from our friends at Tread Lightly!
It’s important to know when you are on tribal lands, and to be respectful while you’re there. Tribal communities welcome visitors, but keep in mind that this is not public land and there are sacred places we must not disturb. It’s also important to be mindful and respectful of a tribe’s unique culture, history and traditions. Make sure you “know before you go” in terms of permits and policies that may be different from Montana law. Here’s how to recreate responsibly while visiting an American Indian reservation in Western Montana.
The Blackfeet Reservation, home to the Blackfeet Nation, sits along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park encompassing nearly 1.5 million acres of rolling plains and Rocky Mountain Front. Located within reservation boundaries are the communities of Babb, Browning, East Glacier Park, Heart Butte and St. Mary, as well as Chief Mountain.
The Flathead Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, encompasses 1.317 million acres in northwest Montana. Parts of Flathead Lake and the Bison Range are located within the reservation's boundaries, as are the communities of Arlee, Big Arm, Camas, Charlo, Dayton, Dixon, Elmo, Evaro, Hot Springs, Polson, Ravalli, Ronan and St. Ignatius.
Tribal Permits: If you plan to recreate (camp, fish, hunt, hike, boat) on tribal land, you will need a tribal permit. Visit Blackfeet Reservation and Flathead Reservation for more information. Please note, access to some areas on reservations may be prohibited to non-tribal members. Please respect and obey these areas, which should be marked with signage.
Pow wows: If you plan to attend a pow wow, please be aware of pow wow etiquette as not to disrespect the tribe. Taking photos is okay during most (but not all) events, though please try not to use flashes. Show respect by standing and removing your hat during songs or prayers conducted in honor of elders and veterans. If you are offered food and drink or even a small gift, it is considered polite to accept. Do not bring drugs or alcohol to a pow wow, and know that smoking tobacco at a pow wow may be considered disrespectful. Read more on page 19 of this guide.
Recreational Marijuana: Possessing and consuming marijuana on Indian Reservations in Montana is complicated and contingent on how federal marijuana laws may be enforced in Indian Country, as well as how each tribe approaches the question of marijuana legalization. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance under FEDERAL law, even though recreational marijuana has been legalized in Montana.
Covid-19 Policies: Tribes may have different COVID-19 policies than the state of Montana. Please know before you go.
Native American Made in Montana: When looking to buy products made by American Indians, purchase items marked with the Native American Made in Montana symbol so you know you are getting authentic American Indian goods and supporting the tribes.
Here’s a welcome message from Miss Blackfeet, Alia Heavy Runner.
About: For thousands of years, the Blackfeet have occupied the Rocky Mountain region. Originally nomads following the buffalo migration, the Blackfeet are made up of four bands—North Piegan, South Piegan, Blood and Siksika, though members of the Blackfeet Nation in the United States primarily descend from the South Piegan. The Blackfeet people honor the land and utilize it for cultural and spiritual purposes.
Blackfeet Campgrounds: There are four campgrounds on the Blackfeet Reservation. Learn more and make reservations here. Be sure to secure a permit for camping on tribal land.
Follow the Blackfeet Nation: @visitblackfeet
About: The Flathead Indian Reservation is home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, comprised of the Bitterroot Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai tribes. A rich oral history and a spiritual tradition of respect for the natural environment sustains the way of life for the tribes today.
Tribal Permits: When camping, fishing, hunting, hiking and boating on tribal land, you will need a tribal permit. You can find more information here; first-time permit buyers must purchase permits in person from a retail outlet listed on that page.
CSKT Campgrounds: There is one campground on the Flathead Reservation. Learn more here. Be sure to secure a permit for camping on tribal land.
For more information, go to csktribes.org.
Play it Safe in Western Montana’s Waterways
It’s important to play it safe in our waters. In additional to knowing how to swim, please wear a personal floatation device (PFD) while boating, floating and paddling. Ensure your chosen activity matches your skill level and water comfort level. Always bring the appropriate gear you need for your specific water activity. Please note that Montana waters can be cold year-round thanks to snowmelt; keep this in mind. Don't drink alcohol while recreating in and on the water. We highly recommend recreating with a friend or group. As always, check the weather before you head out.
Our rivers and lakes make the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, but please make sure you know how to swim, and take the following precautions:
Learn more about these important 10 open water safety tips.
There are multiple ways to boat and float Montana’s waterways. That means many different types of recreators may be sharing a boating area. Please recreate responsibly by operating your boat at safe speeds and keeping an adequate distance from others. Give sailboats and other non-motorized craft a wide berth. Read more about boating safety here.
River and Stream Safety
Montana is known for world-class river recreation, drawing anglers, rafters and floaters from far and wide. To ensure a memorable experience, play it safe by being prepared with the right gear, understanding river flows and currents and being prepared for water hazards. Read more about river and stream safety here.
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It’s #NationalParkWeek and we want to hear your park story about our fave place, @GlacierNPS. Tweet a fun GNP memor… https://t.co/weKGsEahil