Smoke in the Mountains – Wildfires in Montana and Canada 2017

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2017 News Headlines on the Wildfires…

Glacier National Park:

August 31: Sperry Chalet, a National Historic Landmark built in 1913, burned to the ground in the raging Sprague wildfire.

September 3: Going to the Sun Road closed on the west side, from Logan Pass down to Lake MacDonald, with evacuation orders in place.

September 7th: A unique area of rainforest and Old Cedar & Hemlock trees thought to be from the 1500’s are in danger of also being destroyed if the fires continue on…

Waterton Lakes:

September 5: Park closed and voluntary evacuations of the townsite issued due to the spreading Kenow Fire coming from nearby British Columbia.


Other fires are still burning throughout Glacier National Park, many western states, and Canada. The drought and exceptionally high temperatures in the area are perfect conditions for fires to start, of which most are caused by lightning strikes.


Wow, we were just there 2 weeks ago!


Before leaving on our 2 week trip to Montana & the Canadian Rockies to visit the National Parks in the area, I had heard a little bit about wildfires burning in Glacier National Park. It was nothing major at the time, although I was slightly worried about what we might run into.

On the plane ride, a man from Calgary who was traveling back home there told us that usually you can see the mountains way off in the distance, but now the visibility wasn’t that great because of all the smoke.

After we landed and drove towards the mountains, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada being our first stop, it smelled like campfires in the air. Getting out of the car, small bits of ash blew around us, and the visibility, although not that bad at the time, was smoky in the distance.

Waterton Lake
Beautiful Waterton Lake. Was pretty clear visibility except in the distance, the south side where the US meets Canada. August 20th.


Waterton Lake smoke from wildfires
The smoke from the fire, although far away at this point, was carried on the wind. You were able to smell it in the air.


Saint Mary Lake
The East end of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, NP. It was smoky on the south end of St. Mary Lake when we arrived on August 22nd.


Saint Mary's Lake, Glacier National Park.
A little island in Saint Mary Lake. Smoke coming over the mountains in the distance.

Driving through the various parks, we saw a lot of dead, burned trees along the mountainsides from previous wildfires. It’s actually a normal part of the ecosystem of these forests to have fire to clear away the dead fallen trees, branches, and underbrush that piles up. It also causes certain seed pods to open so that new trees can grow.


Glacier National Park dead trees from forest fires, wildfires.
Dead trees from previous forest fires in Glacier National Park.


The Eastern Valley of Glacier National Park, driving along Going to the Sun Road.
The Eastern Valley of Glacier National Park, driving along Going to the Sun Road. August 23rd.


Glacier National Park wildfires
The valley filled with smoke.


Lake MacDonald Wildfires
Standing on the southern end of Lake MacDonald, smoke visible inbetween the mountains in the distance.

The problem of fire isn’t necessarily a bad thing for nature, but mostly for humans that inhabit these areas. Hopefully rain will come soon to western North America and give relief.


Kootenay National Park, Canada wildfires
There were areas where you would see whole mountainsides covered in dead trees from wildfires years ago. This was taken along the road in Kootenay National Park, Canada.


Probably the worse bit of smoke we drove through was on our way from the town of Golden to Mount Revelstoke in British Columbia. We were driving on Trans-Canada Route 1, and it was so thick with white smoke all around you could barely see the mountainsides that were close by. It cleared up after we got to Roger’s Pass in Glacier National Park of Canada.

thick smoke on Trans Canada Hwy 1
Trans Canada Hwy 1 around Glacier National Park in British Columbia, Canada. August 26th.


Heading back towards Golden in the late afternoon. A lot had cleared up, however plumes of smoke on the mountainsides were very visible, and not far from the road.


As we made our way towards Banff, smoke from the Verdant Creek wildfire was still pretty strong, having been burning since July 15th. The mountains in these areas are beyond beautiful, even with the smoke from the wildfires hiding some of them.


Smoke around Banff
Smoke around Banff as the sun was setting. August 30th.


Smoke from wildfires in Canmore, Alberta
Canmore, Alberta. August 31st.


There are so many natural disasters going on in the world today. As of September 8th, these wildfires in western North America are still going on, terrible hurricanes and floods in the south east, an earthquake that just hit Mexico! And all this just in the western hemisphere!  The only way we can get through rough times is to band together and help each other. We can’t always rely on our governments for aid either, so if any of these tragedies touch your heart, try to help in some way if you can. Those in need will be grateful for any support!



These wildfires aren’t getting enough coverage throughout the country. Let people know about them!

Wildfires 2017 burned in Montana and Canada, Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes, Banff, Kooteny, Canmore, Sprague Wildfire, Kenow Wildfire, Verdant Creek Wildfire, thick smoke seen from the roads.

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7 thoughts on “Smoke in the Mountains – Wildfires in Montana and Canada 2017”

  1. Wow, so much smoke, I can imagine the smell in the air! On the other hand, the smoke added a unique touch to your mountain photos! It must have been quite the experience driving through!

    • Indeed it was, especially the thick fog we saw in the last few pictures. It was exciting, worrisome, and amazing experiencing a little bit of what wildfires are all about. I feel for the people that live out there and are scared to loose their homes, etc!

    • Thanks! The fires are both good and bad. Good to have some for the natural environment, for new growth and clearing out the old, but bad if they get too large. And obviously they threaten structures man has built-however that is a risk that’s taken anytime we build something anywhere there’s a danger!

  2. What amazing views you had in Glacier NP! Unfortunate that the smoke was there but kinda gave it a mystic vibe. I just left BC actually. I was living in Vancouver. So much beautiful scenery, I didn’t get to see half of it.


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