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“Fireweed” by Robin Conover
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16-35 mm, 2.8 L IS USM lens at 16 mm
ISO 1000, f14 at 1/40 second, Gitzo tripod

Driving up Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park for the first time is an awe-inspiring, white-knuckled, 50-mile adventure. The narrow two-lane is considered an engineering marvel as it snakes along the contour of the landscape, sometimes hundreds of feet above the canyon floor. It traverses east and west across the park from West Glacier to St. Mary’s, giving visitors incredible views and countless opportunities for exploration. The road’s elevation peaks at 6,646 feet along the Continental Divide at Logan Pass.

Located in northwestern Montana and stretching north into Canada, the landscape is wild, unforgiving and beautiful. It is a living, breathing, constantly evolving environment with visible scars from recent forest fires and mountain peaks carved by the movement of ancient glaciers and rushing rivers.

For me, this particular iconic view encapsulates my brief experience in Glacier. The overlook is from one of the pull-offs along Going-to-the-Sun Road just west of Logan Pass. The thick patch of purple fireweed flourishes now where a wildfire destroyed the stands of subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce several years ago. The peaks of Mount Oberlin, left, and Mount Cannon, center, show patches of receding glaciers on their slopes. Water flowing from these glaciers and melting snowpack forms Bird Woman Falls at the center. The ribbon of white cascades down some 560 feet.

To the right, Going-to-the-Sun Road is barely visible on the landscape. President William Howard Taft established Glacier as the 10th national park in 1910, but it would take until 1932 to complete the entire length of the road.

I returned to this spot three times, hoping the smoky haze from ongoing wildfires to the north would clear for at least one visit. It never did, but the overcast haze adds a quality of light that’s a natural part of the environment and enhances the story of the image.

For most visitors passing through Glacier this particular day, this was a perfect spot to shoot pretty purple flowers. For me, it told so many stories.

More images of Glacier National Park

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About Author

Robin Conover

Robin Conover has spent the last 23 years documenting the people and places of Tennessee with The Tennessee Magazine. After graduating from Murray State University, Robin began working for magazine in October 1988 as a communications specialist and photojournalist. She now serves as TECA vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. Her interest in preserving the environment and Tennessee’s beautiful natural areas has led her down many miles of trails to capture thousands of images. Robin is currently a board member of the Friends of Radnor Lake, a nonprofit in Nashville. Robin’s images can be seen in greeting cards, calendars, books and at a few fine-art shows she participates in each year.

2 Comments

  1. Gwen Willis on

    Kudos to Robin Conover–a great photographer who brings the outdoors that I too love into my living room. The Tennessee Magazine is top notch and I always take in the last page first.

  2. Brian Hendrix on

    Incredible shots! It’s been awhile since our visit to this area but these make me want to leave now to see the sites again!

    Great job!

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