Glacier National Park is a place where nature is king, and nature operates and plays by its own rules, not the niceties and within boundaries understood and set by man. Since 1910, when Glacier National Park was established, 260 people have suffered death at the hands of nature and from other causes in Glacier. Many more experienced dangerous situations and lived to tell about it.
The National Park Service does all it can do within its power to make the park safe for visitors. But when nature and people come together, bad things can sometimes happen.
For those who want to learn more about tragedy from Glacier’s history, the book Death & Survival in Glacier National Park: True Tales of Tragedy, Courage, and Misadventure by C. W. Guthrie (Farcountry Press, 2017) tells the story. Still another book, “Death in Glacier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness in the Crown of the Continent by Randi Minetor (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) recounts much of the same.
Perhaps the most shocking and tragic event in Glacier’s history occurred in August,1967. Within the space of a few short hours, at separate locations in the park, two teenage girls, Julie Helgeson from Minnesota and Michele Koons from California, met death at the hands of marauding grizzly bears. This story is told in a book entitled Night of the Grizzlies, by Jack Olsen (Homestead, 1995).
Visitors to Glacier should learn lessons from the past and be careful; further, religiously heed and follow the rules and guidelines for visitor activities and behavior set forth by the National Park Service. Every visit to Glacier should and can be a wonderful and safe experience. This post is not of the cheery sort, but of important things to know about nevertheless.