You've heard the grim timelines: if warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by 2030; glaciers in the Swiss Alps, on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in Glacier National Park will disappear in under 40 years; and Arctic ice melt will leave the North Pole bare and polar bears extinct.
"Give a month at least to this precious reserve," said John Muir when he was trying to tell America how essential Glacier was. A month? Who has a month anymore? Our holidays are speed dates, quick hook-ups with the 1,000 places you need to see before you die.
By national park standards, Isle Royale's tourist tally of 23,000 is small. In June, July or August, you'll likely find manageable "crowds," as well as great weather. North of Michigan's Upper Peninsula lies this lesser-known getaway -- a favorite of backpackers, kayakers and world-weary jet-setters who seek unspoiled splendor.
Under blue skies in mild summer temperatures you reap the benefits of months of rain and dampness -- lush moss gardens, towering cedar groves, warm beaches crazy wildflowers. Olympic National Park also offers the variety-pack of life zones: wilderness beaches wild with salt spray, rocky headlands and scattered sea stacks; temperate rain forests with more shades of green than a Crayola factory; high mountain spines at Hurricane Ridge; and even glaciers in the high alpine zone.
This remote, relatively unknown region hides a fascinating, unique landscape. In "Travels with Charley," novelist John Steinbeck says of the area: "It was so beautiful that I stopped near a thicket of dwarfed and wind-warped cedars and junipers, and once stopped I was caught, trapped in color and dazzled by the clarity of the light."
Yellowstone got the hot springs, geysers, bison, more central location and crowds. That left Glacier -- tucked into Montana's temperate, remote northwest corner and spilling into Canada -- with majestic mountains, sapphire rivers and long, valley-filling lakes. In early summer, the vivid green bases of the mountains erupt in flowers every color of the rainbow.
Some say you're more likely to see mountain goats than cars on the roads around Whitefish, Mont. This gateway town to magnificent Glacier National Park also abuts the longest designated wild river system in the U.S.