The northwestern border of Glacier National Park  is formed by the North Fork of the Flathead River. Dirt roads inside and outside the park run up the valley to the small settlement of Polebridge; the inside road, open only in summer, is especially spectacular in a scary way.
Since early in the park’s history, the hamlet of Polebridge has been a quiet neighbor just outside Glacier’s boundary. Many residents of Polebridge have fought development that would bring them fully into the tourist hubbub. There’s no electricity running up the North Fork, and Polebridge has some of Montana’s finest outhouses.
Don’t look for naturalist-led day hikes or bus tours of this northwest corner of Glacier; it’s the park’s least developed valley, although perhaps also its most threatened. Curiously, the Inside North Fork Road is the park’s oldest, built in 1901 when oil was struck near Kintla Lake.
Threats of road building, logging, dams, mineral exploration, and general development continue in the non–national park areas of the North Fork. In early 2008, oil giant BP dropped a controversial plan by to extract coal-bed methane from a site just over the border in Canada after lots of activism by North Forkers and politicking by Montana’s senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.