There's a new map you should toss in your bag if you're heading to Glacier National Park. It's not a traditional road map, but rather a map that helps you navigate the 16,000 square miles of the "Crown of the Continent" and all it has to offer.
Part tourism map and part ecosystem map, this Crown of the Continent map in a way thumbs its nose at political boundaries by ranging north and south along the Rocky Mountains as they stretch from the central pivot point that is Waterton Lakes and Glacier national parks. There's no need to range far to the east or west beyond this core, for this is indeed where the crown of the continent runs.
On this map you'll glean information on the native peoples -- the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Kootenai, the Salish -- who roamed this landscape long before trappers arrived. You'll learn something about the later explorers and pioneers, about the wildlife to be found here, even a snippet or two about how climate change is transforming the landscape.
Of course, you'll also learn something about the tourist attractions in the region, whether that might be the Kite Festival held near Pincher Creek, Alberta, the Somers Cajun Street Dance in Somers, Montana, or the Whitefish Winter Carnival in Whitefish, Montana. Naturally, you'll also find information on the two national parks, Glacier and Waterton Lakes, as well as on some state and provincial parks in the region.
Produced by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, National Geographic Maps and the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council with help from the National Parks Conservation Association and the Chinook Institute for Community Stewardship and funding from quite a few more groups, the idea behind the map is to get you to think local when you reach your vacation destination.
Click on the Crown of the Continent link above and you'll be able to order a map for free.