Known as the Crown Jewel of the Continent and Backbone of the World, Glacier National Park’s 1 million acres are best described as awe-inspiring, stunning and dramatic. But there’s more to Glacier National Park than its high alpine meadows, glacial-carved terrain, cascading waterfalls, 25 glaciers and more than 700 miles of hiking trails.
“One of the most incredible things about Glacier National Park is its history,” said Racene Friede, executive director of Glacier Country Tourism. “While the park was established in 1910, it was a gathering place, hunting grounds and getaway centuries before.”
Evidence of human use in modern-day Glacier National Park dates back 10,000 years and for a time, many of the First Nations—including the Blackfeet, Salish and Kootenai Indians—traveled in, around and through the park’s landscapes and terrain as it was part of their traditional lands. In the early 1800s, fur trappers from France, England and Spain came to the region in search of beaver, followed by miners, homesteaders and the area’s first tourists in the late 1890s.
The park is also home to historic buildings and structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with six of those—including the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Lake McDonald Lodge—being National Historic Landmarks.
Today, visitors to Glacier National Park can learn about the history of the area by taking an interpretive red bus tour with Glacier National Park Lodges, a guided tour in Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation with Sun Tours—where they learn about the park from the perspective of the Blackfeet Tribe—and jeep excursions on the Blackfeet Nation with Blackfeet Outfitters.
In addition, the park offers many ranger-led programs, as well as the Native America Speaks program that features tribal members from the Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille tribes as they share their knowledge, stories and history of Glacier National Park with visitors to the park.