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St Mary’s Glacier

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St. Mary’s Backcountry Overcrowding Trail
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A Forest Service sign laying down rules for backcountry use is covered by stickers and graffiti on Sunday, July 19, 2020, at what used to be called St. Mary’s Glacier but is now simply known as St. Mary’s, near Idaho Springs north of Interstate 70.
St Mary’s Glacier

During the Ice Age, Colorado was covered by a massive, frozen sheet. That ice, slowly moving, then carved much of the state's landscape. There are still a few remnants of that ice left in Colorado as glaciers. And near the continental divide in Clear Creek County, St Mary's Glacier seems to be one of them. 

It is one of Colorado top hiking destinations, offering a stunning view and a year-round sledding opportunity. But a glacier is a flowing river of ice, and St Mary's in its solid form is immobile, making it a 'semi-permanent snowfield' instead.

Still, in another way, St Mary's is moving downhill – as meltwater. In recent decades, there has been more melting and less new snowfall on Colorado’s ancient ice–a phenomenon that photographs and satellites confirm across the globe, putting in doubt future generations’ summer sledding on St Mary's Glacier.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.