Glacier National Park 2022 Trip Report

By Eric Rock on Aug 12, 2022

Glacier National Park, known also as the Crown of the Continent, contains just the right mix of mountains, forests, lakes and waterfalls to keep even the most avid landscape photographer engrossed in their craft. Time this to coincide with peak wildflower season in the Rocky Mountains and add to that mix the dynamic experience of photographing a Native American powwow, then all the elements of an epic photo tour fall into place.

Even the most stunning landscapes are enhanced by good skies, and good skies mean great clouds. On some photo tours you just might have to work around beautiful blue cloudless skies—fine for enjoying the sun but blah for creating dramatic landscape images. It is when billowy clouds intermingle with jagged peaks to soften the skyline that the magic of great landscape photography takes place. Well, this was the year! We had the most stunning mix of diverse and dramatic clouds one could ask for nearly every day.

It was a snowy wet spring in the Northern Rocky Mountains and that slowed the opening of the scenic Going to the Sun Road until well after our tour. With the extra moisture holding back the access to the high country, the snowmelt provided plenty of water to flow over Glacier’s contours in the form of roaring waterfalls and cascading streams while filling mountain lakes to the brim. With all the water making its way downstream it was difficult to pull ourselves away from the turbulent creeks and reflective shorelines.

When you have a national park with over 150 mountains over 8000ft in elevation, finding compositions is relatively easy especially when you add abundant wildflowers into the mix. Our photo group took advantage of every opportunity to photograph landscapes with colorful foreground flowers like lupines, wild geraniums, and bear grass. We made it a priority to work-in portraits of the diverse flowers we discovered along our travels.

Powwow photography is always a colorful and lively cultural experience. Our photo tour of Glacier, while centered on the grand mountain landscapes, was also timed for a visit to photograph at the Blackfeet Nation’s Celebration of Recovery. With Covid remaining a concern among many, including Native American Nations, large powwow celebrations have been dialed down. Recognizing, however, the importance of traditional customs regarding the drum and dance to the Blackfeet, this year the tribe was able to organize a smaller powwow with invitations for outsiders to attend. Our time here photographing among these Montana locals was met with friendly faces, colorful regalia, and plenty of great drum music.

While the great lodges of Glacier National Park are a bit dated when held up against more modern lodging, Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier Park Lodge and especially the very scenic Many Glacier Hotel provide exceptional access to dramatic scenery. Being surrounded by some of Montana’s most iconic mountain landscapes, most of our time was spent photographing with little time taken by travel, thus making the tradeoff of modern lodging well worth the proximity.

Without a doubt, Glacier National Park is one of the rare places one can still visit and photograph where each day brings new experiences and dynamic light to a stunning landscape.

Related Tags:  glacier, "Glacier National Park", landscape, Montana, mountains, powwow, wildflowers, wildlife