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Glacier National Park in Montana protects some of the most visually stunning mountain terrain anywhere, with giant mountain peaks, above tree-line alpine terrain and alpine to valley length waterfalls.
This amazing road was designed purely for sightseeing, crossing from one side to the other, and over the Continental Divide. The story about construction is a tale of stubborn engineers, hard working labourers and many skeptics.
Though the drive is only 50 miles, expect to spend most of a full day taking in the mountain views, alpine flower filled meadows and waterfalls. While the views are numerous, the pullouts aren’t. We’ll give you plenty of notice so both the driver and passengers can relax and feel comfortable about what’s ahead.
As we climb, in many places the road is carved right out of the mountain side. But there is only one switchback located at “The Loop“. You’ll find out why. The engineering marvels along the drive like Triple Arches and the Tunnels are visually impressive. So are the stories of the “powder monkeys” tasked with hanging off the cliffs by rope, drilling holes and stuffing them with dynamite.
If you are touring early in the season, you might get a free car wash at the Weeping Wall, as the snow melt showers over the road. You can’t fully credit the outstanding scenery at Big Bend with views to Mt Oberlin in words.
The highest point along the route is celebrates at the Logan Pass Visitor Centre and a high alpine hike on a warm sunny day. Here, we’ll explore the different versions around the unusual “Going to the Sun Road” name.
The valleys and alpine terrain are also ideal environments for a variety of wildlife and animals sightings are common.
The tour can be driven in either direction, between West Glacier and St Mary. And it’s just so good, you may want to turn around and do it again in the other direction.
West Glacier or St Mary
Allow a half day to travel one way or a full day to return and enjoy the views in the opposite direction
One way, West Glacier – St Mary is 50 miles
The Going to the Sun Road twists and winds its way for 50 miles through the mountains and spans the width of Glacier National Park. Along the drive, you’ll find plenty of pull-outs, scenic viewpoints, and hikes. It’s the most scenic drive in the park and is often considered one of the most beautiful drives in the entire United States.
Typically the Going to the Sun Road has been fully open from late June or early July until well into October. Opening is dependent on seasonal snow plowing, spring and fall snow storms and other weather related events.
The Going to the Sun Road is typically fully open from late June or early July until well into October. July and August are the best times to visit Glacier National Park but they’re also the busiest. Autumn colors can be spectacular but you can also experience winter weather as early as September.
The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful drives in the entire United States. It’s not for the faint of heart though, the road is narrow in spots and sections of the road skirt along the edge of a cliff with dramatic drop-offs to the valley below.
Expect at least two hours to drive the full 50 miles of Going to the Sun Road with the slower speed limit between 25-45 miles per hour. This road is popular and quite narrow, with only one lane each way through all the best parts. It’s best to allow a full day for the drive (and ideally two days to enjoy the hikes and attraction) and set out early if you plan the return trip, or half day to travel one way.
A Going to the Sun Road Entry Ticket is now required for all private vehicles traveling the Going to the Sun Road. Glacier National Park instituted a ticketed entry system to reduce congestion in the park and to ensure visitors have ample access to park attractions. Reservations are available in advance, online at recreation.gov and tickets are valid for a 7 day window.