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glacier national park in mid-may? (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
United States
much appreciate advice -- would there be a lot to see in the way of birds in glacier national park early to middle may? my thought is to bicycle from west glacier on the going to the sun road as far as conditions permit, and also on the other roads in the west glacier area also as conditions permit. ebike, so distance/grade not an issue. would spend most of the time off the bike walking the paths along the way, and wonder if in early-mid may those paths would be snowed under or very muddy? the point of the trip is to see scenery, wildlife and birds, using bike as transportation. i'd carry binoculars and scope on the bicycle. many thanks for the help, jeff
If you haven't already visit the National Park website for current info. It seems to be broken at the moment as I get error messages when clicking links. You'll find most pertinent info there, if they get it fixed and updated. It's been a few years since I visited, lived nearby for many yrs, and it sounds like things were quite different last year due to Covid. No surprise. Access and road openings will depend on the year's snowpack. Typically the road is open to the Loop until full opening, usually in June. Depending on plowing progress and work being done hikers/bikers may be able to proceed past the gate at The Loop. You'll just have to monitor current conditions which can change rapidly in Spring in the Rockies. The road to the loop is largely forrested with occasional views up to glaciers at the creek crossings, Avalanche creek comes to mind. Grizzley & Black Bears will be active and may be seen if you're fortunate. The really spectacular views begin past The Loop. I've never come in form the East Side before full opening but the views tend to be better up there. You might look into that and see how far it is accessible. I wasn't birding back then and honestly don't recall what's available. I remember seeing my first ever Harlequin Duck in McDonald Creek. I was always more interested in Bears, Moose, etc. This link has some relevant info from last year and projections for 2022. Be sure to post a trip report. Hoping it's a goo one!
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This is the kind of question eBird was designed to answer. Here is a link to a bar chart for all the Glacier National Park hotspots in the United States limited to the month of May and sightings since 2011. Click on the map icon next to the individual species name, and the pins on the map that appear, to find more specific locations and info:

Glacier NP-US Bar Chart for May

The list has 155 species, which isn't a high number for May. (Cf. Montg. Co. MD--an inland county near your DC residence--which has 247 species for the same period). I see a lot of the typical species of the mountain west. Certainly Harlequin Ducks and Barrows Goldeneyes on breeding territory would be a highlight for US east coast birders. Whether the species available constitute "a lot" for you will depend of course on what you have seen before and what your interests are.
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I can comment that the birding from Waterton to Jasper is excellent in May, I don't see why it wouldn't be in Glacier.

Your trip sounds like fun. Conditions would depend on snowpack, but yes you are likely to run in to snow and mud; however I have done lots of scrambling and climbing in Waterton in May without too many issues.
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