Wildlife Hotspot: Logan Pass
Once a month, we’ll feature a wildlife hotspot. We want to aid you with getting ‘the shot’ in order to help rekindle your love for nature, to enable you to become inspired by wildlife and to equip you to become an advocate for a wilder world at home.
This month’s focus:
Glacier National Park’s Logan Pass
Mountain goats, in my opinion, are the unsung heroes of North American wildlife.
In the shadow of the public’s obsession with bighorn sheep (I base this fact on the number of hits we’ve received for this post), goats have far more character and are one of the best animals to feature in a ‘wildlife landscape’ shot.
If you agree, you must visit Glacier’s Logan Pass.
Located on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway – one of the most spectacular drives on the planet – the pass at the road’s midway point is the best place for summer goat photography in the world.
If you give it a day, you will leave with hundreds of photos. Guaranteed.
Sadly the animals have become increasingly habituated to salt on the road and, no doubt, some tourists have crossed the line in allowing the animals to get too close. That being said, Glacier rangers – for the most part – have increased their oversight of the area and do a great job striking the right balance for photographers and animals.
As usual, mornings and evenings are best for finding the goats and it does seem that they make an appearance, for about an hour or two, twice a day.
The best place to position yourself is about hundred yards to the west of Logan Pass itself, in a pull-off right after a hairpin turn.
Between glacier lily’s and other colourful wildflowers in the early summer, the backdrop is jaw dropping.
And if you’re patient, you can even place a goat in the foreground of a landscape image looking down the valley or set against Mt. Logan.
Be sure to stroll around the short metal walkway that starts and ends at the road turnoff, as goats are often out of sight from the highway, but extremely accessible from the boardwalk.
From the Logan Pass Visitor Centre, you can also take the three mile, moderate hike to Hidden Lake Overlook in order to find goats.
This isn’t a slam dunk for finding the animals, but when you do stumble across a herd of goats, you usually have unique backdrops and fewer people.
Though bugs are bad, tourists, like most places, aren’t as bad so long as you get up early.
And goats aren’t the only reason for an early morning visit to Glacier’s Logan Pass.
Bighorn sheep are increasingly common – especially on the east side of the pass.
We’ve found rams in the Logan Pass parking lot, on the Hidden Lake hike and on the various streams cascading off the nearby mountains.
Hoary marmots and columbian ground squirrels are entertaining time-killers while you wait for sheep and goats – and grizzlies are occasionally seen around Hidden Lake.
And, if you’re very likely, you might even see a wolverine.
As I’ve written before, this might be the best place to find this ferocious member of the weasel family – and by best, I mean your odds are one in a million.
But even though the odds of finding a wolverine are long, your odds of excellent goat, sheep and marmot shots are all but assured. And with views like this…
…you can see why Logan Pass is not only a must-visit while in Glacier, but a must-visit if you’re within 500km in the Rockies.
Accessibility: Going-to-the-Sun Highway, about halfway between St. Mary’s and West Glacier
Photographic Focus: Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep
Best Time: 5-8am; 6-10pm
Season: Summer (July-August)
– Goats can be ornery, so keep your distance and if they get too close: move back.
– When the sun hits the “goat” pull-off it is usually too bright for decent images, so be sure to arrive before 8am and after 5pm.
– Long lenses are great for unique interactions on the facing mountain side, but for most of the shots you’ll need a 70-200 or even a wide angle lens.
– Bugs are often horrible, but they don’t bite – though Jill disagrees.
– Even in summer, the pass is freezing, so be sure to bundle up.
– Make sure if you strike out at first, you stop and wait at the “goat pull-off” for at least two hours: the goats will, eventually arrive.
Tags: bighorn sheep, glacier, logan pass, montana, mountain goats, national parks, nature, photography, simon jackson, waterton, wilderness, wildlife hotspots