Backcountry campsite, NPS photo, D. RestivoBackcountry campfire, NPS photo, D. RestivoBackcountry views, NPS photo, D. Restivo

The Crown of the Continent Ecosystem encompasses approximately 28,000 square miles, of which approximately 60% is public land. Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, are just some of the lands that are designated or managed as wilderness within the Crown of the Continent.

An increasing number of people are exploring the backcountry of these areas by way of hiking, backpacking, camping, skiing, and horseback. Use of the backcountry has grown in popularity over the years, resulting in cumulative impacts upon the sensitive natural resources found in these lands. Designated trails and camping sites have been established in some areas to help reduce impacts. Overnight stays in Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks require permits, which are available at visitor centers and ranger stations. Implementing “Leave No Trace” practices can help keep backcountry areas in their natural conditions.

Backcountry travel carries inherent risks that need to be considered when venturing along trails. Sufficient planning and preparation, anticipating changes in weather, and leaving an itinerary with friends or family, can help reduce some of the hazards associated with backcountry travel.