Post Summary: Things To See On Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Updated June 1st, 2022
Labeled as one of the most amazing drives to take in the world, Glacier National Park’s Going-To-The-Sun Road boasts towering peaks, stunning valleys, and epic views at every turn.
(Seriously, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road – but please do!)
In this blog post, we’re sharing the best stops on Going-To-The-Sun Road and its 51 miles of epic scenery.
We’ll tell you where to find the best views on the Going-To-The-Sun Highway, how to plan your time wisely, and tips on getting the most out of this scenic Montana drive.
*New* We’ll also be talking about reservations for Going-To-The-Sun Road, tips for driving, how to get your reservations, and alternative adventures if you luck out.
Let’s hop in the car and get going!
- What is Going-To-The-Sun Road?
- Where To Stay Along Going-To-The-Sun Road
- Going-To-The-Sun Reservations Details
- General Information About Driving Going-To-The-Sun Road
- Tips On Driving The Going-To-The-Sun Road
- Going-To-The-Sun Road Stops in Glacier National Park (Mile-by-mile Guide)
- Biking Going-To-The-Sun Road in Spring
- FAQs about Going-To-The-Sun Road
- Do you need a reservation to enter Glacier National Park?
- Conclusion for Going-To-The-Sun Road
What is Going-To-The-Sun Road?
You’re probably wondering why the Going-To-The-Sun Road is such a big deal. I mean, it’s just another scenic drive through the Rockies, right?
It’s SO much more than that, and even though it’s only 51 miles from end to end, we suggest allowing at least 4-5 hours to soak it all in (or come back multiple times in one trip like us.)
It’s one of the most iconic west coast road trip routes, so you’ll want to stop at every turn!
From crossing the Continental Divide, experiencing waterfalls right from the road, and seeing goats and bears directly off the highway, it will be the most exciting 50 miles of your life.
History of the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
Going-To-The-Sun Road is often called the “Crown Jewel” of the continent. Sitting at the top of the contiguous United States, sitting on the Continental Divide from east to west coast, it’s a fitting place for the actual jewel of a crown!
On July 15th, 1933, the Going-To-The-Sun road was open to the public for the very first time.
The New Deal public work funding provided the money to reconstruct some dangerous areas, complete the road, and make it a scenic drive for the whole family to enjoy.
It first had the name “Transmountain Highway” in the 1920s, when only a few rough wagons were able to traverse the landscape. It was completely paved in 1952 and is maintained by the park service still today. You can find more Going-To-The-Sun road facts here.
The Going-To-The-Sun Road is considered an engineering masterpiece. It traverses a dangerous mountain pass, gets huge amounts of snow every year, and continually sees record visitors year after year during the summer.
Where To Stay Along Going-To-The-Sun Road
One of the most important aspects of planning a Glacier National Park trip is to find the right accommodations! Here are our recommended places to stay in Glacier National Park for convenience and ease of access:
Glacier National Park Lodges + Hotels
- Lake McDonald Lodge – Swiss-style chalet in-park with great views and food available
- Cedar Creek Lodge – New accommodations in Columbia Falls
- Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins – Cozy accommodations in Many Glacier Area, close to lots of hiking trailheads.
- Rising Sun Motor Inn & Cabins – In-parp accommodations on the east side of Going-To-The-Sun Road
- Village Inn at Apgar – Rustic inn with standard and full-kitchen rooms in Apgar Village
- Many Glacier Hotel – Historic hotel located in “The Switzerland of North America”
- Apgar Village Lodge – Cozy cabins in Apgar Village near the west entrance
- Motel Lake McDonald – No-frills motel on the shores of Lake McDonald near the lodge
- Country Inn & Suites (Kalispell) – Highly rated hotel with an option to use hotel rewards cards
Backcountry Lodging in Glacier: (requires wilderness reservation)
- Granite Park Chalet – Rustic backcountry lodge located along the Highline Trail
- Sperry Chalet – Rustic backcountry lodge with included meals in historic cabins
- Glacier Bear Retreat – Historic private home for rent on the west side of the park
Campgrounds in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park campgrounds are a great way to see the park on a budget. Most campgrounds in Glacier are open from mid-June to September.
It’s important to note that Glacier campsites are extremely popular, often booking out the same day the dates become available. It’s very important to plan ahead, and even book 6 months in advance if you have specific sites you want to reserve.
Here are the Glacier campgrounds that will allow access to Going-To-The-Sun Road during your trip:
- Apgar Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Avalanche Campground – First-come, first-served
- Fish Creek Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Rising Sun Campground – First-come, first-served
- Sprague Creek Campground Reservable
- St. Mary Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
Going-To-The-Sun Reservations Details
Alright, you’ve planned your 1-week Glacier National Park itinerary for the summer.
Now, it’s time to get the reservation details sorted out. What reservations do you need and for what areas? How do you get them?
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about reserving an entry ticket for Going-To-The-Sun Road. Keep reading!
Will Glacier National Park Require Reservations?
Yes. In addition to the park entrance fees ($35 for the week, or show your Annual National Park Pass) the Going-To-The-Sun Road and the North Fork area will both require date reservations.
Why Does Glacier National Park Have a Reservation System?
In recent years, Glacier National Park has been seeing a record number of visitors, and that number increases every year.
They implemented a reservation system for Going-To-The-Sun Road to manage traffic, decrease congestion, and improve the visitor experience.
It was becoming impossible to find parking, and overwhelming to sit in a huge line of traffic. Going-To-The-Sun Road reservations are the park’s solution to these issues.
Reservations and limited entry also allow emergency vehicles to respond quickly to calls and keep people safer.
It’s a little different for the North Fork Area. This area of Glacier National Park is underdeveloped and sensitive to crowding. To protect the resources of the North Fork, reservations are required for entry.
Details on Going-To-The-Sun Vehicle Reservation System
Ticketed entry to access Going-To-The-Sun Road is required between May 27th and September 11th. You will need to show your reservation when entering the park between 6 am and 4 pm every day.
Tickets can be found and purchased on Recreation.gov starting on March 2nd, 2022.
Going-To-The-Sun Map and Reservation Area
So, where exactly do you need a reservation ticket? Not all areas of Glacier National Park require a ticketed entry. Here is a map of Glacier National Park that requires ticketed entry:
Details About Going-To-The-Sun Reservations
So what, are the details about Going-To-The-Sun reservations? How can you use your ticket correctly? Here are some things to know:
- Only 1 ticket is required per vehicle. It is not required for each person in your car.
- Ticketed reservation entry costs $2 and is bought on Recreation.gov
- Tickets are valid for 3 days. It is highly recommended to enter the park on the first day of your reservation, but not required.
- Ticketed entry does not cover park fees. In addition to your reservation, you will also need to park the park entrance fee of $35/week or show your Annual National Park pass.
Going-To-The-Sun Reservation Exemptions
Does EVERYONE need a reservation to access the Going-To-The-Sun Road? Not exactly. Here are some visitors who are exempt from needing a ticket for entry.
You don’t need a Going-To-The-Sun Reservation IF:
- You are only visiting West Glacier, Two Medicine, or Many Glacier areas. There are no reservations required for these areas.
- You are visiting Glacier National Park after September 11th. This is when the reservation time ends for the summer.
- You are staying in a Glacier National Park official campground or lodge.
- You are arriving before 6 am or after 4 pm. However, in 2022, nightly Going To The Sun Road construction is happening in the West Glacier area, so it might be difficult to access at night.
- You have a commercial license for work inside the park. This supersedes the need to purchase a ticketed entry.
- You are driving from St Mary to Rising Sun. Going-To-The-Sun Road ticketed entry isn’t actually required until the Rising Sun area on the east side.
- You have booked an official tour in areas located inside the West Entrance, Camas, and St Mary entrances.
- You have Wilderness camping permits.
How To Make Going-To-The-Sun Vehicle Reservations
You might be wondering how to make Going-To-The-Sun vehicle reservations. Here are the things you should know to be prepared:
Your Going-To-The-Sun reservation can be obtained in two ways.
- Book 120 days in advance.
- Book the day before you visit. They reserve limited amounts of tickets to be available the day before. (Keep reading for tips on how to snag these)
Tips For Reserving Your Going-To-The-Sun Road Ticketed Entry
How do you increase your chances of getting your desired dates for your Going-To-The-Sun Road ticketed entry?
Here are some things you can do to prepare and increase your chances.
- Create a Recreation.gov account ahead of time. You will need one to secure your ticket, so get this part out of the way early.
- Get your reservation at 8 am the day they are released. Remember, they are released at 8 am MOUNTAIN time, so plan accordingly.
- If you are booking 120 days out, double-check what 120 days actually mean (it’s not always exactly 4 months out) Sometimes it lines up weird on the calendar.
- You don’t have to enter the park on the first day of your reservation. Sometimes if your desired day isn’t free, you can fiddle around with the reservation dates to align within the 3-day window.
- Once you get your reservations ticket, download it and screenshot it for offline use. Service in the park can be unreliable, so make sure you can pull up your ticket easily.
- This applies to exemptions too. Screenshot your reservation and/or proof of purchase for in-park lodging so you can easily pull it up offline.
What To Do If You Can’t Get a Going-To-The-Sun Road Reservation
Didn’t get a ticket? There are still ways to visit Going-To-The-Sun Road!
It may require a little extra work, but here are alternatives ways to drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road:
- Enter the park before 6 am. It may be early, but you won’t have to show an entry ticket.
- Book with a tour company. Try and book a last-minute tour for a scenic drive through Going-To-The-Sun road. You can find these places in West Glacier or Apgar Village.
- Take the Going-To-The-Sun Road shuttle. You don’t need reservations to take the shuttle, but it’s first-come-first-serve. (Keep scrolling for more shuttle information)
- Visit Two Medicine or Many Glacier Area. These areas of Glacier National Park don’t require a ticketed entry.
Tours Along The Going-To-The-Sun Road
Don’t want to drive but still want to visit Going-To-The-Sun Road? You can book a tour!
Here are some Going-To-The-Sun-Road tours we recommend checking out:
- Glacier Park Boat Company – Tours of Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier
- Red Bus Tours – Tours that take you along Going-To-The-Sun Road, with history and fun facts told by the guides
- Glacier Sun Tours (30 years in business, highly rater)
General Information About Driving Going-To-The-Sun Road
Which way do you drive Going To The Sun Road?
You can drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road in either direction, starting from West Glacier, or St Mary.
Do you need a pass to drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road?
Yes, along with your ticketed reservations, you will also need to pay the Glacier National Park entrance fee. Entrance fees are $35 for 7 days, of you can use your annual American the Beautiful Pass ($80). If you know you’ll be visiting more than 3 national parks this year, it’s worth it to buy the Annual Pass.
Can you take the shuttle on Going-To-The-Sun Road?
If you didn’t get a ticketed reservation or simply aren’t interested in driving your own car, you can take the Going-To-The-Sun Road shuttle into the park.
It’s an extremely easy way to get around the park, especially if you are staying in Apgar Village, Lake McDonald, or nearby in-park campgrounds.
If you are scared of heights or driving your own car, it’s also a great way to access the park without doing ant of that. Riding the shuttle also helps with congestion and keeps excess cars off the road.
You can find more details on Glacier National Park’s Shuttle System here. (This includes dates, times, and maps)
Remember: Reservations are NOT required to ride on the shuttle, but seats are first come first serve.
Planning to visit multiple national parks this year? It’s worth your money to get an American The Beautiful Pass. It gives you access to over 400 sites around the United States!
Tips On Driving The Going-To-The-Sun Road
Driving on Going To The Sun Road can be a challenging and rewarding journey. Here are some tips to make your trip successful and ease any worries you may have:
- Go Slow. People are distracted in many ways – small roads, amazing views, and crowds are all reasons to not speed!
- Use Pullouts! Traffic can slow significantly when visitors decide to take pictures on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. Help keep a steady flow going by using a pullout if you want to snap a quick photo.
- Have a Designated Picture-Taker. Worried about missing those views? Have someone with a camera in charge of taking photos, and take turns!
- There Will Likely Be No Cell Service. Download an offline map if you want some navigation and access to the area. (Click on our road trip planner post to read how to download maps!)
- Pack Layers. Mornings in Glacier are pretty chilly but can heat up fast in the afternoon. Bring layers to accommodate the weather for that day!
- Fill up on gas before your journey. There are no gas stations in the park. Fill up at West Glacier or St Mary before you drive in.
- Begin your day early. Many of the popular trailheads and parking lots fill up FAST. This is especially true for Logan Pass, so we suggest starting there to increase your chances of getting a spot.
- Reservation does not guarantee parking space. You are not automatically saved a parking spot by reserving a ticket.
- Bring food and water. It’s a pain to go in and out of the park to get food. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks and water so you can eat meals on the go.
Are there vehicle restrictions on Going-To-The-Sun Road?
It’s very important to know about Going-To-The-Sun Road vehicle restrictions before planning your trip!
What cars can drive on the Going-To-The-Sun Road? Here are some things to know ahead of time for this scenic Montana highway.:
- Cars/RVs cannot Exceed 21 Feet. Park at either the Apgar Visitors Center or St Mary Visitor Center and take the free Glacier Shuttle.
- Cars/RVs cannot exceed 8 feet wide. They are restricted between Avalance Campground and the Rising Sun Picnic Area.
- Cars/RVs cannot exceed 10 feet high. Tunnels restrict the height of vehicles on the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
Have an RV but REALLY want to visit Going-To-The-Sun Road?
There are plenty of places to park RVs and longer vehicles on both the east and west entrances. You can easily park at one of the larger visitor centers like Apgar and St Mary.
You can either hop on the Glacier National Park shuttle, or drive into Kalispell and rent a car for the day. If you rent a car, you will still need to reserve your date and have a ticket for entry.
So, Where Do I Begin the Going-To-The-Sun Road Drive?
There are two entrances to the Going To The Sun Road – one on the east side and one on the west. Here are the coordinates:
- St Mary Visitors Center Entrance (East): 48°44′51″N 113°26′21″W
- Apgar Visitor Center (West): 48.5231° N, 113.9885° W
You can choose to drive in either direction. If you are scared of heights, we recommend driving from west to east.
This way, you are farther away from the cliffside and steep areas. This is also better for passengers, they are able to take pictures right outside the window.
Going-To-The-Sun Road Stops in Glacier National Park (Mile-by-mile Guide)
What can you expect to see on the Going-To-The-Sun Road? Lots of mountain views, wildlife, trailheads, and forest!
Keep scrolling for all of our favorite spots on the Going-To-The-Sun Road, mile by mile.
Mile 0: West Glacier Village
West Glacier is an unincorporated community that serves as a stop for basic amenities. It’s a very convenient place to book accommodations near Glacier National Park if campsites are other hotels are already booked for the season.
Make sure to reserve your stay as early as you can, because these places book out fast, especially for the summer season!
Mile 0.4: The West Glacier Welcome Sign
If you’re someone who loves taking pictures at all the national park signs, this is your place to do just that!
Mile 1: Glacier National Park West Entrance
Passing across the Middle Fork Flathead River, you’ll stop at the Glacier National Park Ticket Entrance. Here, you’ll pay for your park entry, show your ticketed reservation to access the Going-To-The-Sun-Road, and receive a paper map of the park.
Mile 2.1: Apgar Visitor Center
When entering through the Glacier National Park West Entrance, your first stop should be the Apgar Visitors Center. This is where you can go to the bathroom, rejoin your group, and even ask the ranger some questions.
It’s one of the first and best Going to the Sun road stops to prepare for the drive ahead!
Mile 2.5: Lake McDonald
If you’re entering the park from the west side, the first view you’ll get of the park is from Lake McDonald. The lake is 10 miles long and can get up to 500 feet deep.
Along your route, you’ll drive quite a long way beside Lake McDonald for the first part of the Going To The Sun Road, and there are plenty of places to pull off and take pictures of the view.
For a longer stop, we suggest visiting Apgar, which is a little town right next to the water. In Apgar, there is a campground, gift shops, outfitters, and places to book Glacier National Park tours.
It’s a spectacular place to stop for a quick meal on the shoreline – the lake’s horizon is scattered with several mountain peaks.
Our favorite part of Apgar is the day-use area, where you can rent canoes, have a picnic, or even take a dip in the lake!
Mile 11: Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge was built in 1913, in the Swiss-chalet style. You don’t need a reservation to check it out, and it’s worth a stop! Walk around the historic lobby to admire the timber architecture, and then head out to the grounds to see the view.
From the dock outside, you have constructed views of Lake McDonald. To enjoy the water, you can rent canoes, kayaks, SUPs, or even reserve boat tours. You can do so at the Glacier Park Boat Company.
Mile 13: McDonald Falls
One of the first attractions eastbound on Going To The Sun Road is McDonald Falls. There’s a generously-sized pullout area for parking, and you can reach the viewing platform by a small set of stairs.
It stretches across the entire McDonald Creek and is the main feeder for Lake McDonald. It’s one of the quickest stops on Going To The Sun Road worth taking!
Mile 13.1: West Lake Trails (Trout Lake)
Mile 17: Avalanche Trail
If you’re looking for an easy but beautiful hiking trail on the Going To The Sun Road, you’ll find it on Avalanche Trail.
This 4-mile out and back hike is perfect for all ages, with a gentle elevation gain to an incredibly scenic alpine lake.
It’s an easily accessible hike for many in West Glacier, so you’ll find quite a bit of traffic on the trail.
Don’t let that deter you, however – once you’re at the lake there’s plenty of room to spread out along the shore and get some peace and quiet by the water.
Trip Tip: Come early to snag a parking spot. We circled the lot about three times until we luckily came across someone leaving! Come with lots of patience, this part of the Going To The Sun Road is one of the busiest in the entire park.
Mile 16.3: Trail of the Cedars
You can easily take this trail alongside Avalanche Trail because the paths begin on the same route.
This nature loop is wheelchair accessible and family-friendly, with an incredibly flat and wide trail on one side and a boardwalk amongst the cedars on the other.
Notable trees along the path are Western Red Cedar, Black Cottonwood, and Western Hemlock. Some of them are more than 500 years old!
There are also several interesting features along the Trail of The Cedars to discover. Our favorite was the overturned tree, where you could study the roots up close!
You can also spend some time sitting on one of the many benches along the trail and listening to the soothing Avalanche stream that runs in the middle of the loop.
Mile 24.4: The Loop
The Loop is a hairpin turn in the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. It’s incredibly challenging to navigate, so you’ve got to be alert when encountering this part of the route.
This is one of the main reasons why long vehicles at RV’s aren’t allowed on the road. Could you imagine the traffic mishaps that could occur??
Here at The Loop, there is a parking area that fits maybe about 20 cars and is great for a quick stop for those epic Glacier views.
However, we recommend parking long-term at Logan Pass if you choose to take one of the longer Glacier hikes nearby.
Some of the things you can do here are:
- Hike to the Granite Park Chalet and back
- View Heaven’s Peak, an 8,987-foot tall peak
- Begin the Highline Trail (historically this is the “end” but you can choose to go the other direction too!)
Mile 28.7: The Weeping Wall
The Weeping Wall is a section of the cliff that receives a huge amount of runoff during the springtime melt. The water runs off the edge of the rocks and falls right onto the road.
The park has installed drains below to try and control the gush of water on the road, but chances are your car will still get wet.
The flow is strongest in the spring, but we came in September and it was still splashing all the cars that passed by.
Mile 28.9: Big Bend (Best Sunset Spot in Glacier)
The best views on the Going To The Sun Road is hands down at Big Bend. This is a curve in the road before you reach Logan Pass Visitors Center, and immediately following the Weeping Wall (when heading from west to east).
We came during sunset and the golden hour was spectacular. The valley lit up with warm greens and amplified the colors of the wildflowers that covered the ground.
Trip Tip: Stay just a bit longer after sunset for Blue Hour. The light is still rich with color, and most of the crowds have dispersed by this time.
Mile 29.8: Triple Arches
If you look closely, you can see the triple arches that blend into the rock face on the Going-To-The Sun Road.
Mile 32: Logan Pass Visitor Center
The Logan Pass Visitors Center is the highest point of the Going-To-The-Sun Road, sitting at 6,647 feet in elevation. Here, you’ll also cross over the continental divide!
At Logan Pass, you can take a bathroom break, pick up a trail map, and ask the rangers questions about your upcoming hikes.
During the busy season, the parking lot is commonly full so prepare to drive a few laps around the lot until you find someone leaving their spot for you to park.
You can also use the Logan Pass parking lot as your home-base for the afternoon if you are planning on doing some hiking.
There are two trailheads around the lot, including Hidden Lake Overlook and The Highline Trail but you can opt to take the free Glacier shuttle to other trailheads around the area from the Visitor Center.
Mile 32: Highline Trail
The Highline Trail is an 11.8 one-way trail that takes you through some of the most dramatic views of the Glacier National Park mountains.
The most common way to take the trail is by starting at the Logan Pass Visitors Center and ending at “The Loop” trailhead and then taking a shuttle back up to the top. But really, it’s your hike and you can hike it however you want!
Some features on the trail that are worth mentioning can also be great pitstops or turn-around points along the way. Here are some of the best parts of the Highline Trail:
- Taking a break at the Granite Park Chalet
- Walking along the Garden Wall
- Peering down the 100-foot drop on the cliff wall (closest to Logan Pass Trailhead start)
This is likely one of the most interesting and scenic trails in America, so we highly recommend doing it, even if it’s just a little part!
Read More: 11+ Amazing Hikes In Glacier National Park
Mile 32: Hidden Lake Lookout
Hidden Lake Lookout is an easily accessible hiking trail on Going To The Sun Road.
From the Logan Pass Visitors Center, you can take a 3-mile round trip walk to a viewpoint that overlooks Bearhat Mountain and Hidden Lake directly below.
The first part of the trail is on a boardwalk and series of stairs and platforms, so get ready for the best stair-stepping view of your life!
Labeled as ‘moderate’ for its quick elevation gain in such a short period of time (700 feet in 1.5 miles), we think it’s doable if you stop to take in the wildflowers and views every once in a while.
This is a popular spot for viewing mountain goats grazing for a snack, or pikas (little mouse-like creatures) squeaking to each other from the rock piles above.
Remember to always stay a safe distance from wildlife on the trail (25 feet from most, and 100 feet from predators like bears!) and NEVER feed them.
They’ve got plenty of food around the park – they really don’t need your granola bar!
Mile 34.6: Siyeh Pass Trail
Siyeh Pass is a popular hiking trail off of the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
It’s a beautiful trail with inccredible overlooks into Glacier carved valleys. Bears frequent this area, so it’s important to pack your bear spray!
Mile 36.5: Jackson Glacier Overlook
Jackson Glacier Overlook is a quick pullout on Going To The Sun Road. From here, you can view the 7th largest glacier in Glacier National Park.
Located on Mt Jackson in the distance (at 10,052 feet, it’s the fourth highest peak in Glacier National Park), this is a great time to pull out your binoculars and spot the bed of ice at the top!
If you plan to visit Glacier National Park only once, don’t pass this stop. The glaciers are melting rapidly, and it may not be around much longer, unfortunately.
Mile 38.8: St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls hike is one of the most popular waterfalls trails in Glacier National Park.
The easiest way to reach St Mary Falls is hiking from the St Mary Falls Trailhead, but you can extend your hike by starting at Sun Point Parking Lot and walking along the shores of St Mary Lake.
Once you reach the viewing area, there’s a bridge with a great view of the falls, a place to sit for a break, and some afternoon shade for a welcome rest.
St. Mary Falls is 35-feet high with a three-tier drop, but the bottom two are the most easily visible.
Want more from this hike? Continue your adventure to Virginia Falls on the trail past the sitting area. It’s less than a mile away from a second Glacier waterfall!
Mile 37.5: Sunrift Gorge
Sunrift Gorge is a must-see spot on the Going To The Sun Road. Here, you can easily visit waterfalls like Baring Falls, St Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls from the trailheads.
After the 2015 Wildfire blazed through the area, the trees are just standing skeletons of what they once were. But sometimes with destruction comes beauty!
We were very surprised at how much we loved hiking the trails right off this pullout on Going To The Sun Road.
The underbrush was growing in quickly, and the lack of trees actually provided incredible views of the mountains across the lake.
These trails leave from this area are very sunny, so make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat to shade yourself on your hike!
Too warm? Go for a dip in the water!
Mile 40.1: Sun Point Nature Trail
Sun Point Nature Trail is a quick 0.1-mile path to a giant rock that has incredible views of St. Mary Lake in all directions.
Trail Tip: This is a great stop to stretch your legs without committing to a longer hike. Make sure to bring your camera and pack some sunscreen!
Mile 42.7: Wild Goose Island Overlook
One of the last stops (or the first if you’re going westbound from St Mary) on Going To The Sun Road is a viewpoint overlooking Wild Goose Island and St Mary Lake with stunning mountains in the distance.
Wild Goose Island is a great stop on Going To The Sun Road to get out of the car and quickly stretch your legs.
There isn’t much to do except for climbing to the lookout and viewing the island. You can’t actually access the island from this particular spot, but the views are worth it regardless.
We think the best time to visit this spot is when the sun is out! This could mean a specific time like sunrise and sunset, or simply a time when the sun is high in the sky.
This is because the light reflecting off the lake and mountains make for an incredibly Instagram-worthy photo!
Mile 43.9: Rising Sun Area
Mile 49.7: St Mary Visitors Center
St Mary Visitors Center is the last westbound stop or the first eastbound stop on your Going To The Sun Road trip. Here, there are tons of bathrooms for a break, plenty of parking, and shuttle access if you want to leave your car for the day.
Inside the Visitors Center, you’ll find a huge topographical map of Glacier’s mountains, and an interpretive display that teaches visitors about the Blackfeet Tribe that live on the east side of the park.
Trip Tip: Depending on your cell service provider, some carriers have coverage around St Mary Visitor Center. If your carrier doesn’t have service, the visitor center also has free wifi in 30-minute increments.
Biking Going-To-The-Sun Road in Spring
Biking the Going-To-The-Sun Road is a very popular activity for spring!
In the spring when cars are still restricted due to plowing operations, cyclists can bike the Going-To-The-Sun Road during spring weekends, from Friday to Sunday.
Monday through Thursday, the road is closed for avalanche hazard work, to continue to clear the roads for the summer season.
It’s super illegal to come when the crews are working. If you are caught biking the Going-To-The-Sun Road between Monday and Thursday, you could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Just visit on the weekend!
During this “hiker-biker” season in Glacier, the shuttles are open for limited operations, mainly to take people and their bikes from starting points along the Going-To-The-Sun Road. If you re staying nearby, take advantage of this service!
The most popular Going-To-The-Sun biking distances and routes are around 15-20 miles, depending on where you begin. Here are some ride distances and elevation gain:
- From Lake McDonald Lodge to Logan Pass: 21 miles, 3,427 feet elevation gain
- From Avalanche Creek to Logan Pass: 15.5 miles, 3,208 feet elevation gain
- (East Side) From Rising Sun To Logan Pass: 11.5 miles, 2,313 feet elevation gain
Bicycles are subject to park fees, so expect to pay the park entrance fee upon arriving.
Prepare for very cold weather conditions (snow is still present and hypothermia is a possibility!), wildlife encounters, and avalanches. Here is a printable flyer from Glacier National Park for tips on biking the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
FAQs about Going-To-The-Sun Road
Here is some general information about driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
How do you get to Glacier National Park without driving on the Going-To-The-Sun Road?
Entrances to Going-To-The-Sun Road are at Lake McDonald in the west, and St Mary in the east. You don’t have to drive through to access other areas! Two Medicine and Many Glacier can be accessed by driving around on Highway 2.
Do you need a reservation to enter Glacier National Park?
Not a ticketed reservation (those are only for access to Going-To-The-Sun Road and North Fork). You DO need to pay the park entrance fee when visiting Glacier National Park. ($35 for the week)
What Is The Going To The Sun Road’s Elevation?
The highest point of the highway is at Logan Pass Visitor Center, at the Continental Divide sign at 6,646 feet (2,026 meters).
How Long is Going-To-The-Sun Road?
The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park Montana is 51 miles long, passing through Logan Pass and part of the Rocky Mountains. (Want to see as much as possible? Read our Glacier National Park Itinerary here!)
If you drive nonstop without pulling over, it will take you about 2 hours to complete. However, what’s the point of driving Going-To-The-Sun Road without stopping?? Plan for the drive to take you about 4-5 hours with plenty of stops!
Where does Going-To-The-Sun Road begin and end?
Going-To-The-Sun Road stretches from Apgar in the west to St. Mary in the east. It crosses over the Continental Divide, which is located at Logan Pass.
Will I See Wildlife On The Road?
The chances of you seeing wildlife on Going To The Sun Road in Montana are very high. Although we obviously can’t guarantee it, here are some tips on increasing your chances of spotting that bear, moose, or goat off the road!
- Come early morning or late evening. This is when the day’s heat isn’t so bad, and animals come out to graze on the land.
- Ask the park rangers for current wildlife spottings and tips on where to view them safely.
When Is The Going-To-The-Sun Road Open?
The Going To The-Sun Road opening times are only in the summer months at Glacier National Park. Opening dates change depending on the year’s snowfall, and how quickly they are able to plow the road. You can read about historic opening and closing dates here.
The first areas to open are from Apgar to Avalanche Creek on the west side. This is when the park is open to hikers and bikers up to the Logan Pass Area.
Usually, you can bike the Going-To-The-Sun road in May and June. On the east side, St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook and open before other areas too.
Going-To-The-Sun Road opening dates are in a short window, which usually happens between early-mid July and Mid-October. All other times, the road is closed due to extremely high snow volume. (Some parts of the road receive up to 80 feet of snow!)
To reach East Glacier (St Mary area) in the winter, you’ll have to take the detour through Highway 2 which is located on the southern border of the park.
Because of the precarious location of the highway, it’s nearly impossible to plow and maintain during the winter months, so the park completely shuts down the road in the winter.
Is Going-To-The-Sun Road open right now?
So, when is Going-To-The-Sun Road open in Glacier? There is no hard-set date every year for Going-To-The-Sun Road opening dates, as it depends on the weather. You can check the current Going-To-The-Sun Road status here.
Here are some recent historic Going-To-The-Sun Road opening dates:
- 2017: June 28th
- 2018: June 22nd
- 2019: June 22nd
- 2020: July 13th
- 2021: June 25th
Here are come recent historic closing dates for Going-To-The-Sun Road:
Over the past five years, Going-to-the-Sun Road across Logan Pass has closed on:
- 2017: September 3rd
- 2018: September 29th
- 2019: September 25th
- 2020: October 9th
- 2021: October 10th
Should I Take a Tour of Going-To-The-Sun Road?
It’s absolutely possible to book a tour for visiting Going-To-The-Sun Road. If you are scared of driving or simply don’t want to, it’s an easy way to see all the iconic sights of Glacier National Park!
However, if you have the will and the means, self-driving is preferred. Not only is it much cheaper, but you can stop whenever, and take as much time as you want.
You can download a Going-To-The-Sun audio tour, so you can learning bout about the highway’s history while you drive.
Conclusion for Going-To-The-Sun Road
We hope this blog post was helpful for you in planning a trip to Going-To-The-Sun Road!
We did our best to cover reservation requirements, places to stay, things to see, and all of the other goodies at Glaicer.
If you want to elevate your trip even further, here are some more blog posts to amplify your trip!
- Hike Hidden Lake In Glacier National Park
- Take A Sunrise Adventure To Bowman Lake In Glacier NP
- Hike Iceberg Lake Trail in Many Glacier, Montana
- 11+ Beautiful Hikes In Glacier National Park You Have To Experience
- The Complete Rocky Mountain Road Trip Route (Through 6+ National Parks!)