Otatso Valley

Yellow Mountain and Slide Lake are the entrance to the Otatso Valley

Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain on Northern side of Otatso Valley, Yellow Mountain on the Southern side

The Otatso Valley is a hidden gem, relatively unknown in comparison to other valleys in the northeastern portion of Glacier National Park, such as the Many Glacier, Saint Mary and Belly River valleys. Nonetheless, the Otatso Valley is probably the most vividly colored valley in the entire park, if not the entire United States, with red, yellow and orange rock layers throughout the valley. Only two seldom-travelled trails exist in this valley, the Gable Pass trail and the Otatso Creek trail which comes in east from the prairie. These two trails intersect at Slide Lake, one of two lakes where Otatso Creek was dammed up by a slide off of the northern face of Yellow Mountain in 1914. West of Slide Lake there are no trails in this large valley, but for the hardy off-trail adventurer, there are many waterfalls, an old mining cabin, a few mines, as well as three lakes in the upper cirque at the head of the valley, the largest being Otatso Lake. Otatso, translated as “Walking Stooped”, was actually the Blackfeet-given name of John Kennedy, an early fur and whiskey trader in the area.

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