Glacier National Park offers breath-taking mountain scenery. The Going-to-the-Sun Road winds its way through its center, leading you to iconic locations such as Logan Pass, Oberlin Bend and Lake McDonald Valley.
This park lies astride the Continental Divide and features extreme weather. Additionally, there are 700 miles of hiking trails as well as diverse wildlife to discover here.
1. it’s a 50-mile drive
Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road offers stunning scenery and exciting hiking opportunities along its entire 50 mile distance, making it a must-do on any vacation to Glacier National Park! Expect at least 2 hours driving the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road; allow extra time if stopping for photos and hiking adventures along its length.
The road itself is two-laned and narrow, reaching an elevation of 6,646 feet at its highest point. Not suitable for the fainthearted as there are steep drop-offs with drop-off walls between each lane – not recommended.
Avalanche Lake is one of the most breath-taking stops on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Nestled into the mountains, Avalanche Lake features a short trail that leads directly to its stunning glacier view.
Bears inhabit this area, so always carry bear spray and be wary when hiking in it. Furthermore, be mindful that grizzly bears may come close to cars – in order to stay safe it’s wiser to hike on established trails or with a ranger.
2. it’s a spectacular drive
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a remarkable engineering achievement, winding its way around Glacier National Park’s mountainous interior and offering spectacular views. While driving this road requires patience, as portions hug mountain sides, thousands of vehicles make the trek each year from end to end.
Big Bend is one of the must-see stops on the Going-to-the-Sun trail, featuring a U-shape road that curves back on itself and offers panoramic views of Glacier National Park’s mountains and sunrise.
When you need a break, visit Lunch Creek for a relaxing picnic spot with mountain views and the soothing sounds of a flowing creek.
If you need an escape, take a short hike on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. Be prepared for some challenging walking as this trail follows cliff edges. Check park conditions prior to planning your hike.
3. it’s a popular drive
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50 mile paved two-lane highway that cuts through Glacier National Park. Completed in 1932, this gem of mountain roads is considered one of the loveliest mountain routes in North America, crossing Logan Pass at 6,646 feet over Continental Divide to pass through many types of terrain from large glacial lakes, cedar forests and windswept alpine tundra en route. We highly recommend driving both directions for an enhanced experience as well as taking time to stop at scenic viewpoints along your route!
Glacier National Park should not be visited without experiencing the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of its most visited destinations and an absolute must for visitors.
Opening times of the road depend on snowfall levels and how fast they can clear it away, however generally speaking they typically open during summer months from Apgar to Avalanche Creek on the west and St Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east sides.
4. it’s a historic drive
Going-to-the-Sun Road has delighted millions of visitors since it opened 83 years ago, as its otherworldly landscapes continue to draw crowds of admirers from all around the world. One of the world’s most dramatic roadways, it attracts millions of motorists annually as they queue at its entrance before driving through its gated portal into its wild interior.
At Glacier National Park West Entrance, when entering the park you’ll pay your entry fee and show proof of vehicle reservation to gain access to Going-to-the-Sun Road (for more info on fees see here). In addition, you’ll be given a paper map of the park.
From here, your journey can begin along the Going-to-the-Sun Road that spans 50 miles from West Glacier to St Mary. For optimal experience and maximum opportunity, plan to drive all 50 miles in order to experience every point of interest along its route – keeping in mind wildlife is abundant; please keep a safe distance when approaching animals – you can find more tips here about viewing wildlife safely.
5. it’s a scenic drive
Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road offers one of Montana’s most spectacular road trip experiences, crossing over Logan Pass to traverse 50 miles of two-lane pavement and providing spectacular mountain scenery in every turn.
No matter if you are driving alone or with others, this legendary drive offers plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs or take short hikes along its length, such as Trail of Cedars and Avalanche Creek. There are also campsites and hotels like Lake McDonald Lodge Rising Sun St Mary as well as restaurants at Many Glacier Two Medicine to make the journey comfortable.
While the Going-to-the-Sun Road may become congested at peak periods, it remains an excellent place for seeing wildlife such as bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzly bears. Bring along your camera and binoculars – the views can be incredible; and don’t forget layers as temperatures at altitude can change rapidly.