Grasshopper Glacier

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Clinging to the northeastern side of Iceberg Peak and the northwestern side of Mount Wilse, Grasshopper Glacier is a highlight of the area. There are several glaciers, small and getting smaller, in the Beartooths, but Grasshopper Glacier is one of three (the other two are Hopper Glacier and another Grasshopper Glacier) that stand out due to a special feature: millions of grasshoppers encased in the ice. Some of the grasshoppers (technically locusts) are hundreds of years old, and some of the species have been extinct for over 200 years. No one is certain of how the grasshoppers wound up trapped there, but scientists who have studied the glacier believe the insects were caught in a storm while migrating over the mountains, and then years of accumulating ice and snow encased and preserved them. As the glacier has receded, the grasshoppers have come into view and people sometimes dig out ice-bound specimens. Now, though, the glacier is receding so much that bodies are being exposed and thus subject to decomposition. No one knows how many grasshoppers are left or how long it will take for all of them to be "freed" and then decompose, but if you want to see the grasshoppers yourself, it is advisable to go sooner rather than later with the way the glaciers of the Northern Rockies are melting out these days (this glacier, once over five miles long, is now no more than a mile long and half a mile wide). There is a trail to a saddle overlooking the glacier, and from there you can head down according to your interest and ability. Don't venture far onto the glacier unless you know what you are doing; late summer will feature a surface that is more ice than snow, and there are crevasses on the glacier, small but still enough to injure or kill you if you fall into one.

Here is some more information about the glacier.

View from the north ridge of Iceberg Peak

Beartooth Mountains, MT-- July 2010


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BobSmith - Aug 5, 2010 11:27 am - Voted 10/10


I'd never heard of this. I was familiar with the species of locust that suddenly vanished one year in recorded USA history, but I didn't know that frozen specimen existed.

I'm reminded of the morons who still insist there is no global warming going on.

Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Aug 5, 2010 8:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Wow.

Yeah, you'd better see what's left of the glaciers in the Rockies over the next few decades before all that's left are snowfields or moraines.

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