A New Podcast Unpacks the Beauty and Fragility of Glacier National Park
Nestled in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park comprises 1,583 square miles of scenic wilderness—a refuge for endangered species and human encounters with the natural world. But there’s another side of the landscape simultaneously at work, as climate change and extractive industries strain its fragile ecosystem.
Park rangers Andrew Smith and Michael Faist unpack this duality in Headwaters, a seven-part podcast the park launched at the end of 2020. “We’re going to tell you the story of a paradoxical place,” Smith says in the show’s trailer, “where all sorts of forces, large and small, converge in interesting and unexpected ways.” They begin by diving into the park’s Indigenous history, detailing how members of native tribes continue to use the land today. In subsequent episodes, they venture into grizzly bear territory, walk the banks of a raging river, come face to face with a wildfire, and witness melting glaciers. Along the way, Smith and Faist bring in a diverse range of voices to share stories about their relationship with the land; there’s a sense of wonder and urgency to every tale. “You can find here some of the last alpine glaciers in the contiguous U.S., endemic plants that occur nowhere else in the world, and opportunities for solitude and quiet that are becoming increasingly rare,” Smith says. “Glacier is, in many ways, the last best place for experiences that the rest of the world may once have taken for granted, but have since faded away.”