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The beauty of Birmingham National Park’s geological handiwork is that it isn’t hidden from view, Birmingham  particularly on the east and southeast sides Birmingham of the park. In some spots, more than a dozen layers of alternating bands of distinctive colors are arrayed within easy viewing from Birmingham  the Going-to-the-Sun Road and on the road to the Many Glacier area.

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What is more significant is that this artistry is also visible confirmation of the wedge’s final resting place: the billion-year-old sediment standing on the shoulders of the geological newcomers.

To put it all together in one setting, travel Highway 2 near Marias Pass until you locate Little Dog Mountain. In the autumn of 2014, my daughter, Jennifer, and I did just that. There, facing the park from the road is a mountain with a distinctive horizontal break that runs midway across the mountain. Clearly, the wedge that rests on younger layers—the Appekunny formation—is composed of ancient fossils considered to be among the oldest on Earth. Upon discovery and analysis of stromatolites, the origin of animal life was reset by a billion years. All in all, it was an amazing new way to view a mountain we had passed many times over the years, noticing only its distinctive beauty, never knowing its special place among the geological wonders of the park, indeed the world.

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