Finally, Canada is open to vaccinated Americans and it's time to head north before the winter sets in (or West for those on the other side of Canada). Located in the picturesque and dramatic province of British Columbia just next to the province of Alberta, the Glacier National Park is one of the most stunning national parks on offer north of the border, and it's not to be confused with America's Glacier National Park in Montana. It was established at the same time as the also dramatic Yoho National Park and so became Canada's second/third national park (the first was the stunning Banff National Park).

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About Glacier National Park of Canada

  • Size: 521 Square Miles Or 1,349 Km
  • Number of Glaciers: At Least 131 Glaciers
  • Established: 1886

Here visitors will be dumb-struck by its massive mountain, huge grinding glaciers, lush rainforests (not tropical rainforests), and Canada's largest cave system. One will be left shellshocked by the rugged summits of which Mount Dawson rises the highest - although Mount Sir Donald is perhaps better known.

The park is filled with many kinds of wildlife native to Canada. Among the animals that call this wilderness home are cougars, lynxes, timber wolves, wolverines, brown bears, black bears, elk, moose, caribou, mountain goats, white-tailed deer, and even golden eagles (there are over 230 species of birds found in this park).

Related: These Are The Best National Parks To Visit During The Summer Months

Glacier National Park contains the Rogers Pass National Historic Site - a pass that wasn't even explored until 1881. Tourism began to grow with the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Extensive engineering was required to construct this railway owing to the heavy winter snows, steep valleys, and avalanches. The Trans-Canada Highway also runs through it so it is easy to access. It is also one of Canada's premier mountaineering locations.

Some of The Highlights of The Park Include

  • Mount Dawson: Height 11,076 Feet or 3,377 Meters. It Is The Massif In The Selkirk Mountains
  • Mount Sir Donald: The Daunting Peak And More Impressive Than Mount Dawson. Height 10,774 Feet Or 3,284 Meters. Famous For Being Photogenic
  • Nakimu Caves: Extend Around 3.7 Miles or 6 Kilometers Underground. Currently Closed As The Effects On The Bats Are Being Researched

The Glaciers

The park is named for its 131 glaciers and they are the remnants of the last glacier period that covered so much of North America. The last glacial period ended around 12,000 years ago. During that time, basically, only the highest peaks of the park would have been poking out of the ice. The valleys today are all the characteristic U-shaped valleys having been carved by these grinding rivers of ice.

Today the glaciers are mostly retreating. In fact, during the 20th and 21st centuries, they have dramatically shrunk. They have been shown to have lost 7.5 square miles or 19.4 kilometers of glacial surface area between 2000 and 2011

The most popular glacier in the park is the Illecillewaet Glacier. This is mostly due to being easily accessed and seen by the railway and highway. Around the turn of the century, there was a popular Glacier House that was built near the glacier's terminus. Today it has melted and retreated far up the mountainside.

  • Fun Fact: Due To A Type Of Snow Algae, Some Of The Glaciers Have A Red Tint In Summer. This Is Called Watermelon Snow

The park is in a high precipitation belt known as the Interior Wetbelt. This is because the park straddles a zone where the wetter air from the Pacific meets the colder, drier air of the continent. The result is lots and lots of rain and snowstorms and this contributes to its many large glaciers. Rogers Pass can get a whopping 56 feet or 17 meters of snow over the winter.

Cross to the other side of the park and one is in the rain shadow. Here it is comparatively dry.

Related: 20 Beautiful Places In Canada That Look Like They're From A Postcard

Visiting The Glacier National Park

  • Open: Year-round
  • Opening Of Valley Trails: May
  • Opening Of Upper Trails: Early July
  • Opening Of Campgrounds: Late June
  • Ski Season: November To April
  • Admission Fee: $10.00 Canadian Per Adult ($8.00 USD)
  • Youth Fee: Free to Youth Under 17 Years Of Age

Activities in the park include skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, cycling, and watching the wildlife.

Accommodation inside the park is mostly camping and modest shelters and cabins. Outside the park, there are many accommodation options for the traveler. For accommodation options outside of the park, check out Tourism Golden and Tourism Revelstoke.

Glacier National Park of Canada is a great place to see some of Canada's most renowned landscapes that give it such a reputation for being so beautiful around the world. It is also right next to some of Canada's other great national parks located in Canada's mountainous west.

Next: 10 Reasons Canada Is America's Best Neighbor For Travel (10 Reasons Mexico is Supreme)