Driving the Going-To-The-Sun road is one of the most popular things to do at Glacier National Park. The whole road is 50 miles long that connects West Glacier and East Glacier and driving through you get views of scenic and stunning landscapes. The views are amazingly beautiful, and you can take all day pulling off at the pullouts points to stop, enjoy and capture lovely pictures.
The Going-To-The-Sun road was first opened in 1933 and is one of the engineering masterpieces that vows visitors. The Going-To-The-Sun road got its name from a mountain with same name nearby in Glacier National Park, Montana.
There are many outdoor activities that can be done at Glacier National Park. May it be Hiking, Camping, Biking, Kayaking, Horse Riding. There are tons of trails to hike that takes you to mesmerizing viewpoints to admire. But If you are interested to sit and enjoy the enchanting views of mountains, valleys, waterfalls, wildlife, glacier views and stunning landscapes then this is for you. The drive through the park on Going-To-The-Sun road is an unforgettable experience.
Here ‘s a list of the viewpoints that are worth stopping along the route. These are listed as per driving from West Glacier Entrance. If you are starting from St. Mary Entrance in East, then you will find all these viewpoints in reverse.
Driving this road is not for faint heart people as this road is 2 lanes only with edge of road right next to you. For those scare of heights would like to just sit and relax in back seat instead of driving.
Highlights of Driving to Going-To-The-Sun Road
On entering the National Park from West Glacier, you first reach to Apgar Village. There are many accommodations, food, gift shops facilities. Apgar Visitor Center is near to Village. A quick glance to Visitor center is must to learn about latest news of the park, know about the road status, hiking trail conditions and weather forecast if you are planning for hiking or next day planning.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge is one of the Historic Hotels of America. The Lodge is located on the shores of Lake McDonald and is famous for Swiss Chalet style. You can stop for a quick glance in to the historic hotel or stop by to have a bite of snacks at restaurant or lounge.
There is a gift shop in the hotel along with restrooms, water refill station and a huge parking lot. From the Lodge, you can take a boating trip around Lake McDonald. The tour provides amazing views of Lake McDonald and surrounding mountains.
Lake McDonald is the largest Lake in Glacier National Park that remains in view for nearly 8 miles while driving in park. There are many pullout points that lets you climb down to shore of Lake McDonald. A stop at Lake McDonald is must to relax and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the lake.
West Tunnel is the iconic spot that was constructed in 1926-1927 and is 192 feet long. The Tunnel has windows ports that gives spectacular views of Heaven’s Peak and Upper McDonald Creek Valley. There are sidewalks that lets you walk towards the two window ports. Be careful and walk only on the side walks as vehicles passing by in the tunnel have less light.
This is the only Switchback on Going-To-The-Sun Road. You get to see Great views of Heaven’s Peak. There is a trail head for Granite Park with few parking lot and restrooms.
Haystack Creek Falls
Haystack Creek Falls cascades down the mountain in steps like fashion that almost looks like man made steps and flows under the bridge, down in to the valley. Visitors generally slow down their vehicles to capture pictures of Haystack Creek Falls.
The section of Going-To-The-Sun road passes through waterfalls pouring right on the vehicle while driving towards west direction. Earlier in the season the waterfalls are gushing, and you might need to roll up your windows. Some drivers like to get free Car wash under the waterfalls.
This pull out along the Going-To-The-Sun road has spectacular views of Mt Oberlin, Mt Cannon, Heavens Peak and the Weeping wall. There is ample parking space at this pull out. We got see lovely wildflowers bloomed and a waterfall across the road at Big Bend Pull out.
Triple Arches is the unique and iconic bridge designed in 1927 with reinforced concrete in to the deep rifts of the mountain. This section ahead of Big Bend was a very steep mountain with no flat road. The workers constructed stone bridge to fill in the gap. Triple Arches is known as engineering marvel of the old construction.
This pull-out point offers a short board walk to raised wooden platform that gives stunning view of Going-To-The-Sun road and Mt Oberlin. You could get lucky to spot mountain goats and marmots on the mountain next to the boardwalk
Logan Pass is the highest point in the park that can be reached by driving a vehicle. It sits at 6646 ft (2025m) along the Continental Divide. It is main attraction of driving the Going-To-The-Sun road. Logan Pass Visitor Center has huge parking lot, restrooms, exhibits and gift store.
Behind Logan Pass Visitor Center, there is paved trail also known as Hanging Garden trail or Hidden Lake trail. The starting section of trail is stroller and wheel chair friendly but later part is raised wooden board walk trail. You get amazing views of alpine meadows bloomed with colorful wildflowers with huge mountains in background.
The most popular trail heads of Glacier National Park are located at Logan Pass – Highline trail and the Hidden Lake trails
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
Hidden Lake Overlook trail is popular among visitors and families with children. Hidden Lake Overlook gives immense view of alpine meadows, ponds and the Hidden Lake. You are guaranteed to get the views of wildlife (Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, Marmots and sometime Bears) on this trail to Hidden Lake Overlook. The trail is easy with 3 miles round trip back to Logan Pass Visitor Center.
Hidden Lake trail
Continuing past Hidden Lake Overlook Point for 1.2miles, you reach the shore of Hidden Lake. For families looking for adventures the Hidden Lake trail is moderate with many switch backs losing elevation to reach the lake.
If you are looking for adrenaline pumping experience, then Hike to Highline trail is a must. The starting section of this trail is full of thrill and excitement.
East Tunnel is 408 feet long and is considered one of the greatest engineering features on Going-To-The-Sun road.
Siyeh Bend is a spot where the road loops down in to a valley with scenic views of surrounding mountains and Siyeh Creek. Visitors can park their vehicle and take a short walk on Siyeh Creek trail that runs parallel next to Siyeh Creek gushing with waters and beautiful meadows of wildflowers.
Jackson Glacier Overlook
Visitors gets a chance to see the Overlook from pull out point without doing any hiking. The Jackson Glacier is fifth largest glacier in the park. When Glacier National Park first opened there were total 150 glaciers, now only 25 glaciers are left. It is estimated that by 2030 all glaciers will melt out.
Saint Mary Falls
Saint Mary Falls are the most visited waterfalls in Glacier National Park. The waterfall is famous for its crystal-clear waters that looks turquoise in color with shades of blue due to presence of glacier sediments. Hike to Saint Mary Falls is an easy hike with round trip of 1.6 miles.
From Pullout point, you need to climb few stairs to reach the overlook for Sunrift Gorge. The beautiful gorge was carved by glacier waters.
Sun Point/ Baring Falls
From Sunrift Gorge pullout point, following steps under the bridge you get to Baring Falls Trail head. Hike to Baring Falls is super family friendly and easy one with 0.6 miles round trip.
At Rising Sun you can find Motor Inn, Cabins, picnic area, Campground, restaurant, restrooms and boat tours of Saint Mary Lake. Even if you don’t do a boat trip, you get to see beautiful views from the shore of the lake.
Wild Goose Island Lookout
This pullout offers chance to capture most iconic images of Wild Goose Island- the famous view point of Glacier National Park. There are two viewing area of Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary’s Lake surrounded by mountain peaks.
Saint Mary Visitor Center
Saint Mary Visitor Center is in the East Glacier next to Saint Mary Entrance. The Visitor Center has exhibit, gift store, restrooms, water refilling station and huge parking lot. The visitor center auditorium features one and half hour free movie on national park.
Glacier National Park has plenty of wild life and it is recommended to follow safety rules by staying away 100 yards from Bear and 25 yards away from other wild life.
The large meadow fields just ahead of Rising Sun along the route to Saint Mary Entrance is famous for wild life sightings. We got to see Black bears and Grizzly bears twice during late evening around 7 to 8 pm on our drive through that part.
If you like to continue out to St Mary Entrance station, then you can check these out Things to do in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park.
While driving back in either direction you get to see the places and views with different perspectives and at different time. If you are like me who would stop at every single pull out to capture beautiful pictures, then expect to spend a whole day for driving Going-To-The-Sun road. And if not then minimum time to drive the entire Going-To-The-Sun road is 2 hours.
Free Shuttles at Glacier National Park
Visitors can park their vehicles either at Apgar Visitor Center in West, St Mary Visitor Center in East or at Logan Pass Visitor Center and can take free shuttle service.
Where is Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park is in northern region of Montana. The Closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell that is 30 miles away from West Glacier entrance.
Things to Know
Road Opening/Closure: The Going-To-The-Sun road is seasonal and is not opened all year around. The road at higher elevation and Logan Pass gets buried under deep layers of snow in winter. The road generally opens in Late June or Early July depending on snow levels. Snow Removal Crew begins to clear the road in April, and it takes months to complete. Going-To-The-Sun road is one of most difficult roads to plow in North America during Spring
Vehicle Restrictions: Vehicles longer than 21 feet, wider than 8 feet and taller than 10 feet are prohibited entrance in to the park due to the rock overhangs at various places. Speed limit is 25 mph in most parts of the Park.
Entrance fee: Entrance fee per vehicle is $35 which is valid for 7 days. If you have the Interagency pass “America the Beautiful”, the entry is free. (must present valid ID card)
Weather: Weather changes abruptly in mountains. While driving from West to Logan Pass or from east to Logan Pass, expect a huge difference in climate. Even if you start on warm sunny day, it gets cooler with sudden weather change in mountains especially at Logan Pass. It is always recommended to carry waterproof jackets and dress in layers.
Where to Stay
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