Glacier NP fall foliage timing question

Craig Zerbe

Well-Known Member
If all goes according to plan we will be in Glacier for our first time. We will be there for a couple weeks in late August to check it out and then head up the Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper for September and then coming back south the Glacier NP - hopefully to catch some fall foliage. I am not finding many resources for the timing of fall foliage (looks like Aspens are early and Larch are later in the season). Obviously fall is always a bit of guess work, but would appreciate advice on best timing. Is early October too late ??
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
@Kyle Jones will be our best resource for that as he lives next to Glacier.

@Jameel Hyder has been up to Banff in the fall I think? He might have some info too.

It's been a while since I have thought about fall in Glacier, I will have to see if anything comes to mind.

But what a great trip that would be!
 

AlanLichty

Moderator
You might be a bit late by early October. I have had pretty good luck around the third week of September on several occasions. @Kyle Jones should have a better feel for the colors these days as he has a house in Kalispell.
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
You might be a bit late by early October. I have had pretty good luck around the third week of September on several occasions. @Kyle Jones should have a better feel for the colors these days as he has a house in Kalispell.
Whoops! Sorry Alan, your name came to mind too as I thought you used to go through there, but wasn't positive.
 

AlanLichty

Moderator
Whoops! Sorry Alan, your name came to mind too as I thought you used to go through there, but wasn't positive.
My visits always carried the caveat that I was always planning trips around the third week of September which was a week before they closed off a lot of the park in years gone by. Kyle has the advantage of being up there with a big wide calendar window to observe and shoot instead of my more narrow views of fall up there.
 

Kyle Jones

Moderator
If I was hunting fall color around Glacier, I would go in early October. But there is a risk... Weather can change at any time, either wiping out the color or just closing the roads and various areas of the park. Being local I can deal with that, because I didn't invest in a trip for a specific scene that I suddenly can't reach. That said, outside of the Sun Road, nothing is likely to close for the year before mid-October. If you have several days you can likely wait out a storm and go back out exploring.

From what I have seen, aspens are generally unimpressive around most of Glacier. On the east side there are groves, but they tend to be stunted and small. I have found some decent groves around the Flathead valley on the west side. The area I plan to explore this year is the North Fork area along the road to Polebridge and Bowman Lake. I was impressed with the color on the one day I visited in the autumn, but it was late in the season. I wished I had checked it out sooner. Work permitting, I'll spend time there this year.

The larches are truly impressive in mid-October. Whole hillsides turn yellow around Kalispell and the North Fork area of Glacier. Here are a couple of examples of fall in the area...

1) Some aspens along Highway 93 south of Kalispell on 10/15. A little passed peak.
2007 Kalispell Autumn_850.jpg


2) More aspens right next to the highway on the same day
2011 Aspen Trunks_850.jpg


3) Bowman Lake in the North Fork area of Glacier On 10/17. The larches turned the whole hillside yellow
2040 Bowman Lake Glowing Trees_850.jpg


For the record, the time I went to Banff in the fall was last week of September/first week in October. Aspens were a little burnt but the larches looked good.

4) Larches at Lake Louise 10/2
0664 Lake Louise Reflections_850.jpg


5) Color at Grassi Lakes 10/2
0705 Grassi Lakes Reflections_850.jpg


6) Aspens after the first snow of the year (clearly passed peak) 10/3
0767 Autumn and Winter_850.jpg
 

Craig Zerbe

Well-Known Member
If I was hunting fall color around Glacier, I would go in early October. But there is a risk... Weather can change at any time, either wiping out the color or just closing the roads and various areas of the park. Being local I can deal with that, because I didn't invest in a trip for a specific scene that I suddenly can't reach. That said, outside of the Sun Road, nothing is likely to close for the year before mid-October. If you have several days you can likely wait out a storm and go back out exploring.

From what I have seen, aspens are generally unimpressive around most of Glacier. On the east side there are groves, but they tend to be stunted and small. I have found some decent groves around the Flathead valley on the west side. The area I plan to explore this year is the North Fork area along the road to Polebridge and Bowman Lake. I was impressed with the color on the one day I visited in the autumn, but it was late in the season. I wished I had checked it out sooner. Work permitting, I'll spend time there this year.

The larches are truly impressive in mid-October. Whole hillsides turn yellow around Kalispell and the North Fork area of Glacier. Here are a couple of examples of fall in the area...

1) Some aspens along Highway 93 south of Kalispell on 10/15. A little passed peak.
View attachment 57117

2) More aspens right next to the highway on the same day
View attachment 57118

3) Bowman Lake in the North Fork area of Glacier On 10/17. The larches turned the whole hillside yellow
View attachment 57119

For the record, the time I went to Banff in the fall was last week of September/first week in October. Aspens were a little burnt but the larches looked good.

4) Larches at Lake Louise 10/2
View attachment 57120

5) Color at Grassi Lakes 10/2
View attachment 57121

6) Aspens after the first snow of the year (clearly passed peak) 10/3
View attachment 57122
Thanks for the great info
 

Craig Zerbe

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the great info
When we went to Banff area a few years ago, the Larch were great around Lake Louise, Lake Moraine and Icefields the last 7-10 days of September. By the time we left, at the end of September, Banff (which is further south) was getting color too, but I did not see larger swaths of color like we did farther north. We did not get up to Jasper last time. Looks like the Larch come later to Glacier than in Canada. Good to know Aspens are not such a much in Glacier (and I think come more in mid/late September).
 

pepper

Well-Known Member
from 9/26/2018 on the west side of going to the sun rd.

50822355087_55f6907aa6_o.jpg


and 9/25/18 on top of the mountain. the change in elevation is pretty drastic, so you should see some fall foliage somewhere.
50822259416_a5a0e20c0b_o.jpg
 

Ben Egbert

Forum Helper
Staff member
Great set Kyle, those larches cover hillsides like no other tree in the north west . They don’t reach into Utah much to my disappointment.
 
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