The Glacier National Park Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to tour
Glacier National Park and/or Canada's adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer a variety of experiences. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
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The highlight of Glacier National Park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the world's finest scenic drives. The fifty mile road connects the east and west sides of Glacier National Park, climbing spectacularly over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, elevation 6,680 feet.
The road was constructed between 1921 and 1932 and was considered a major engineering feat at that time. Much of the west-facing side of the Rocky Mountains within the park, comprised of the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, features a vertical rock face known as the Garden Wall. The road was literally carved into this cliff. The result is a thrilling and hair-raising ride with unbelievable views of both mountains and valleys. The outer edge of the road drops off thousands of feet into the valley below.
Driving can be intimidating on a busy summer day because there is very little clearance with oncoming traffic. Vehicles, and trailers, longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors), are prohibited between Avalanche Campground and the Sun Point parking area. Vehicles over 10 feet in height may have difficulty driving west from Logan Pass to the Loop, due to rock overhangs. (See chart below for landmark mileages.)
The lower portions of the road are open year-round while the higher portions are open when clear of winter snow, generally early June to October. Also, due to the age of the road, some maintenance and rebuilding work is performed almost every year. Use the links below to get the road's status from the National Park Service.
Starting in 2007, the park service is offering a free shuttle bus service along the entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, from Apgar Village to St. Mary. The buses will run frequently from early in the morning until late evening and stop at all important destinations. The shuttle system should tremendously improve visitors' experience by reducing mid-summer traffic and congestion. The Logan Pass Visitor Center's parking lot is often jammed full during mid-summer. Also, many of the roads best scenic pulloffs west of the Divide have room for only a few cars causing major disappointment to those who can't stop at the best places. We strongly urge park visitors to use the shuttle bus system!
The following chart lists points of interest along Going-to-the-Sun Road. It includes a number of the popular trails which are accessible from the road. The mileages, show the distance of each point from West Glacier and St. Mary. Some of the mileages are estimates. See the KEY MAP below.
Going-to-the-Sun Road - Points of Interest
| ||Mileage from:|| |
| ||Place||West Glacier||St. Mary||Description|
|0||West Glacier town||0||50.1||All services available in town outside of park.|
|1||Apgar Village||2.6||47.5||Food, lodging, stores, gift shops, and visitor center.|
|2||Apgar Transit Center||2.6||47.5||West side hub for the park's new free shuttle bus system. See links below for schedule and stops.|
|3||Apgar Campground||2.6||47.5||Largest campground in the park. Popular base camp for exploring the west side of Glacier National Park.|
|4||Sprague Creek Campground||9||41.1||Popular campground for tenters. Adjacent to Lake McDonald - lakeside sites fill up early in the day.|
|5||Lake McDonald Lodge||10.8||39.3||On the shores of Lake McDonald, the classic lodge is reminiscent of a Swiss chalet with a hunting lodge atmosphere. Boat tours, horseback rides, and all services available here. The strenuous 6.4 mile trail to Sperry Chalet starts across the road from the lodge.|
|6||McDonald Creek Overlook / Johns Lake||12.8||37.3||Early season visitors may see a thundering torrent on McDonald Creek, carrying trees and boulders. A half mile trail leads to boggy Johns Lake, with the possibility of seeing moose or waterfowl.|
|7||Avalanche Creek / Trail of the Cedars||16.2||33.9||The ADA accessible Trail of the Cedars Nature loop trail winds 0.7 mile through a dense, old growth cedar-hemlock forest on a boardwalk. The Avalanche Lake trail, two miles each way with a 500' elevation gain is one of the park's most popular. The campground and picnic area is adjacent. Very popular area, parking can be difficult - use the shuttle!|
|8||West Tunnel||24||26.1||The 126 foot tunnel was bored through the mountain in 1926.|
|9||The Loop||24.6||25.5||The only switchback on the Going-to-the-Sun Road affords a scenic view of Heaven's Peak and an closeup view of the 2003 Trapper Fire. A short but strenuous, 4-mile hike to Granite Park Chalet begins here.|
|10||Bird Woman Falls Overlook||26.8||23.3||Across the valley, Bird Woman Falls cascades 492 feet down the slopes of Mt. Oberlin.|
|11||Weeping Wall||28.7||21.4||The long length of wall features a gushing waterfall in the spring, which reduces to a mere trickle in late summer and fall.|
|12||Big Bend||29||21.1||One of road's most spectacular vista points with ample parking space. Views of Mt. Canon, Mt. Oberlin, Heaven's Peak, and the Weeping Wall.|
|13||Triple Arches||30.5||19.6||Architectural and engineering marvels best seen by eastbound travelers.|
|14||Oberlin Bend||31.7||18.4||Just west of Logan Pass below cascading waterfalls of Mt. Oberlin. A short boardwalk offers astounding views of hanging valleys and the road as it winds across the landscape below the Garden Wall. Good place to see Mountain goats.|
|15||Logan Pass||32||18.1||The Logan Pass Visitor Center sits on the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet. The area may still be snow-covered in June. The popular Hidden Lake and Highline trails begin here.|
|16||Lunch Creek||32.6||17.5||Surrounded by carpets of wildflowers in the summer, Lunch Creek flows down a natural rock staircase from the striking backdrop of Pollack Mountain.|
|17||East Tunnel||33||17.1||The East Side Tunnel was one of the road's most difficult challenges. The 408-foot tunnel comes directly out of Piegan Mountain, with waterfalls cascading down the portal.|
|18||Siyeh Bend||34.2||15.9||Located at a prominent road bend, the Siyeh Bend Shuttle Stop marks the transition between the higher elevation sub-alpine vegetation and the forests of the east side. Good day hikes in this area.|
|19||Jackson Glacier Overlook||36.1||14||The best view of a glacier from anywhere on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.|
|20||Gunsight Pass Trailhead||36.3||13.8||Trail offers backpackers or physically-fit day hikers access to the Continental Divide, glaciers, subalpine lakes, the historic Sperry Chalet, and outstanding mountain vistas.|
|21||St. Mary Falls Shuttle Stop||38.6||11.5||Trailhead to St. Mary Falls, one of the most popular hikes in the park. Trail is a 2.4 mile round trip which can be extended to 3.6 miles by continuing to Virginia Falls. Easy walking on the valley floor.|
|22||Sunrift Gorge||39.4||10.7||A short 75 foot walk to a spectacular view of a water-carved gorge.|
|23||Sun Point||40||10.1||The Sun Point Nature Trail (1.2 miles one way) offers spectacular views of St. Mary Lake and cascading Baring Falls. For a longer hike, continue on to St. Mary and Virginia Falls.|
|24||Wild Goose Island||42.5||7.6||One of the most frequently photographed spots in the park. Tiny Wild Goose Island offers a striking counter-point to the majestic peaks in the background.|
|25||Golden Staircase||42.8||7.3||Large pullout offers views of Saint Mary Lake as well as an opportunity to marvel at the skill of the builders of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.|
|26||Rising Sun||43.8||6.3||The prairies meet the mountains at Rising Sun. Spectacular sunrises sparkle across St. Mary Lake. Guided boat tours provide a perspective not available from the road. Also, campground, lodging, and services available.|
|27||Two Dog Flats||48||2.1||Native grassland community provides habitat for a number of species. Two Dog Flats supplies winter range for a large elk population.|
|28||St. Mary Campground||48.8||1.3||Largest campground on the east side of Glacier National Park, located approximately one half mile from the St. Mary visitor center.|
|29||St. Mary Visitor Center||49.3||0.8||Exhibits, publications, and park information.|
|30||St. Mary town||50.1||0||All services available in town outside of park.|
This symbol indicates links into the American West Travelogue.
The famed Going-to-the-Sun Road.
NPS Going-to-the-Sun Road Guide.
Free Park Shuttle System.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Construction Info.
Trails in Logan Pass Area. (Interactive Flash Map - Place mouse on numbered black dots for more info.)
Current Road Status.
Services in area
Food and Lodging Along Going-to-the-Sun Road
Lake McDonald Lodge. Late May to late September. Classic lodge contructed in 1913 originally as a hunting lodge. On the shores of Lake McDonald (ten miles from west entrance), the lodge offers rooms in rustic cabins, lodge rooms, and motel-style rooms. All have phones and private bathrooms. Beautiful lobby with fireplace and huge veranda overlooking lake. Lounge, restaurant, and store. Horseback rides, boat tours, ranger programs, etc. Moderately priced. 406-892-2525
Rising Sun Motor Inn. Mid-June to mid-September. Modest lodging across from St. Mary Lake, on Going-to-the-Sun Road, six miles west of St. Mary town. Offers rustic cottages, rustic motel rooms, and more modern motel rooms. All rooms include private bathroms. Casual Tex-mex restaurant, campstore, and gift shop. Boat cruises, ranger programs, and fishing. All rooms, moderately inexpensive. 406-892-2525
Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet.
The chalets are located high in the Glacier National Park backcountry and are accessible by hiking trail only. Sperry Chalet: Early July to early September. Features guest rooms and a separate dining area. No heat, electricity, or running water in rooms. Toilets and sinks in separate building (no showers). Breakfast and dinners must be pre-ordered. Lunch available for purchase to guests and visitors. Towels and linens provided. Moderately expensive. Granite Park Chalet: Late June to early September. Chalet is basically a shelter for hikers. Hostel-style rooms assigned by size of your party, some bunk bed rooms. Kitchen available to cook your own food. Food and linens may be pre-ordered at an extra charge. No heat, electricity, or running water. Bottled water may be purchased. Inexpensive.
St. Mary. Late May to late September. Centrally located near eastern end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, 1/2 mile from visitor center. Largest campground on east side with 148 sites (25 sites can accomodate up to 35' RVs). Water and flush toilets. Scenic views. In aspen grove, limited shade. Access to free park shuttle bus. Services at St. Mary town, two miles away. Reservations available.
Rising Sun. Late May to mid-September. Located adjacent to St. Mary Lake off of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Large campground on east side with 83 sites (10 sites can accomodate up to 25' vehicles). Water and flush toilets. Scenic views. Some wooded sites offer privacy. Open sites get lake breezes. Access to free park shuttle bus. Camp store (with showers) and restaurant nearby. Also, convenient to St. Mary boat tour. Evening programs.
Avalanche. Early June to early September. Popular campground in a beautiful and lush scenic area with lake and mountain views. Large campground on west side of divide with 87 sites (50 sites can accomodate up to 26' RVs). On Going-to-the-Sun Road, east of Lake McDonald. Water and flush toilets. Heavily wooded sites offering privacy and cool summer days. Ranger programs. Boat tours. Area has good day hiking and excellent chances to see wildlife. Trailheads nearby for popular Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake trail. Access to free park shuttle bus.
Sprague Creek. Mid- May to mid-September. Small but popular campground on northeast shore of Lake Mc Donald. Has 25 sites (no towed RVs). Adjacent to Going-to-the-Sun Road. Water and flush toilets. Mostly wooded sites with some unobstructed views of the lake. Camp store, ranger programs, tours, and other services at Lake McDonald Lodge, one mile away. Access to free park shuttle bus.
Nearest Visitor Center
Visitor centers are located at Apgar Village, St. Mary just inside the park, and Logan Pass which doesn't open until the Going-to-the-Sun Road is fully open. The visitor centers have exhibits, brochures, bookstores/gift shops, and other programs. Rangers are present to answer questions, issue backpacking permits, provide emergency assistance, etc.
Other services in area
Food services, general stores, gift shops, guided activities at Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Rising Sun.
Glacier National Park Guide Index
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