Going-to-the-Sun Road - Scenic Route

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Scenic Route

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Scenic Route
  • Distant views of Glacier National Park
    / Distant views of Glacier National Park
    Photo: Jean Beaufort, CC0, www.publicdomainpictures.net
  • Stunning view from Going-to-the-Sun Road
    / Stunning view from Going-to-the-Sun Road
    Photo: Mcrawfish, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Mountaintops galore on Going-to-the-Sun Road
    / Mountaintops galore on Going-to-the-Sun Road
    Photo: Ken Thomas, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
  • On tour with a classic Red Jammer
    / On tour with a classic Red Jammer
    Photo: Adam Engelhart, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • View of Jackson Glacier
    / View of Jackson Glacier
    Photo: GlacierNPS_ , CC0, flickr.com
  • View of Saint Mary River
    / View of Saint Mary River
    Photo: Ken Lund, CC BY-SA, flickr.com
  • Logan Pass seen from Bearhat Mountain
    / Logan Pass seen from Bearhat Mountain
    Photo: Ron Clausen, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Information panel at Logan Pass
    / Information panel at Logan Pass
    Photo: Ken Thomas_, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
  • Haystack Creek seen from afar
    / Haystack Creek seen from afar
    Photo: GlacierNPS, CC0, flickr.com
  • Lake McDonald in winter time
    / Lake McDonald in winter time
    Photo: David Restivo, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Map / Going-to-the-Sun Road
600 900 1200 1500 1800 2100 m km 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Saint Mary River Jackson Glacier Logan-Pass East Side Tunnel Haystack Creek
Weather

A stunning scenery with rocky mountaintops makes for an interesting ride: Going-to-the-Sun Road in the midst of Glacier National Park takes you along winding roads into Montana’s stunning hinterland

96.6 km
1:37 h
1070 m
1481 m

Going-to-the-Sun Road is located in the Rocky Mountains and named after the eponymous mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana. There are several legends surrounding its early days. One of them has it that the author James Willard Schultz gave the mountain this name to express its stunning beauty and grace. Nowadays, this scenic route is known as National Historic Place, National Historic Landmark and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It has been immortalized in blockbusters such as “The Shining“or „Forrest Gump“ where it reflects the unique scenery in all its beauty and greatness. And it’s even as impressive in real life as it is in the movies, actually.

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t underrate this road: Due to its numerous hairpin turns you should only go there if you’re an experienced driver. That’s why the route is closed in winter time which usually comes across with lots of snow.

Author’s recommendation

Don’t miss the chance to hop on one of the so-called Red Jammers, the national park’s classic tour buses.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Wolfgang Paulus
Updated: 2018-01-18

Experience
Landscape
Altitude
2027 m
964 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Rest Stop

Lake McDonald

Safety information

For safety reasons, there is a speed limit of 45 miles on several sections of the road, the steeper sections are even limited to 25 mph. Please be careful when entering the curves and hairpin turns.

Equipment

You need solid footwear, weatherproof clothing and enough to drink (preferably water). As there are no gas stations or restaurants along the way, you need to refuel beforehand and take a petrol can with you.

Tips, hints and links

Due to weather conditions, a few sections oft he road are closed from September/October to June. Generally. there is no set date for the road to open, so please inform beforehand about the weather conditions.

To drive along this route, your vehicle must be 21 feet or shorter, 8 feet (or less) wide and less than 10 feet high, otherwise you won’t make it through the tunnels. Check your vehicle before setting out on the drive.

Start

St. Mary, Montana (1386 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
48.743570 N -113.429210 E
UTM
12U 321417 5401797

Destination

West Glacier, Montana

Turn-by-turn directions

The tour starts at St. Mary from highway 89. We head north-west and after only 1 km (0,6 miles) we arrive at Saint Mary River. On its north-eastern limit we turn left in order to drive along its northern shore for about 16 km (10 miles) (passing by the small town of Rising Sun after 8 km). Leaving behind the river, after further 6 km (4 miles) we get to a hairpin turn called “Siyeh Bend“. The following road section towards Logan Pass is framed by several parking areas. After approximately 4,5 km (3 miles) we reach Logan Pass and drive through the tunnel. After that, we continue in northern direction and get to another hairpin turn called Crystal Point after further 12 km (7,5 miles). At this point we can make out McDonald Creek on the right side. It winds along the scenic road in south-western direction, leads past Haystack Creek after about 5 km (3 miles) and leads into Lake McDonald after further 30 km (19 miles). We follow the river to the lake, with marvelling views of the remote Jackson Glacier on the left. Driving along the lake’s southern shore for approximately 16 km (10 miles) we pass by a camping site and after further 2 km (1,3 miles) we reach West Glacier.

Public transport

You can’t get from Kalispell City Airport to St Mary by public transport. An alternative would be to hire a car.

Getting there

From Kalispell City Airport to Browning via U.S. 93 and US-2, then via US-89 N onto Glacier Rte 1 Rd at St Mary (total length: 130 miles).

Parking

There are parking areas in the small towns alongside the route.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Distance
96.6 km
Duration
1:37 h
Ascent
1070 m
Descent
1481 m
Tour route Nice views Geological highlights Faunistic highlights

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Highest point
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