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My Life Outdoors

Going to the Sun Road – Glacier National Park

As I write this, Going to the Sun Road is covered in snow, and only 21 miles are open to the public. Depending on the snowfall this winter…it could be next July before the entire 48.7 miles are open again. But I am dreaming of August 2011 when my family and I drove over Logan pass, crossed the continental divide, and took in some of our country’s most amazing views.

Wild Goose Island on St Mary Lake – Going to the Sun Road
Glacier National Park view from Logan Pass
Storm coming in over Logan Pass

For the nearly two million visitors that come through Glacier National Park each year, this road is the most of the park they will see. Glacier National Park consists of 202 square miles but has only one road (not counting hwy 2 at the Southern boarder) going through the park. For such a large park, that’s not much to see. But Glacier doesn’t disappoint. Breathtaking views exist at every turn and are easily accessed from one of the many pullouts. Slowly travel toward the top of 6,646 foot Logan pass and encounter turquoise lakes, waterfalls, snow covered peaks, views of ancient glaciers, and abundant wildlife.

Overlook of St Mary Lake
One of many roadside waterfalls on Going to the Sun Road
Looking up at Logan Pass form Going to the Sun Road
Logan Pass Glacier National Park

The first chance I had to experience Going to the Sun Road was one day after I spent 5 days in Glacier’s backcountry. I was sure up close wildlife encounters would be common place. But nothing could compare to the encounters available at Logan Pass. Within minutes of reaching Logan Pass Mountain Goats and a herd of Longhorn sheep came within feet or my family and I. It was the closest wildlife experience we would encounter our entire time at Glacier.

Mountain Goat on Logan Pass
Long Horn Sheep on Logan Pass
Long Horn Sheep
Playing in the snow on logan pass

But Going to the Sun Road isn’t all positive…the sheer number of people can be overwhelming. As I said before Glacier has nearly two million visitors a year. Summer time and especially August is peak season. With very little paved access Logan pass becomes annoyingly crowded.

Large crowd on Logan pass. If you look closely you can see the line of people all the way up the mountain.

Another annoyance is vehicle traffic and construction on Going to the Sun Road. No one on Going to the Sun Road is in a hurry, everyone is looking out the windows at the scenery (and thus not looking where they are going) and the road is one lane each way. To make this issue worse harsh winters limit road construction is to just a few months a year…summertime. This requires frustrating flaggers with long waits as both directions of traffic are forced to use the same lane of road.

Waiting on a construction flagger on Going to the Sun Road

Even with the cons Going to the Sun road is a must do drive. If your not the hiking or backpacking type (and if your not…I don’t know why you are reading this blog) you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to Glacier.

Wild Goose Island – St Mary Lake
At a pull out on Going to the Sun Road overlooking St Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island

St Mary Lake
St Mary Lake


I used both the book and map featured below while planning my Glacier Trip. Buy them through these links and support MyLifeOutdoors

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Comments:

  • Beth Wagenius

    December 7, 2011

    The drop off on that road makes me so nervous when we drive it. But oh so worth it! It is a beautiful drive!

  • 1HappyHiker

    December 7, 2011

    As you stated in your opening paragraph, those are indeed "some of our country’s most amazing views"! Wow! Your Blog has an excellent mix of truly excellent photos from this uniquely gorgeous part of the country.

    Did you drive to Montana, or fly to someplace and rent a car?

    John

  • Steven Smith

    December 7, 2011

    We drove all the way from west Texas to Montana. It took us about 3 days.

  • Norman Rick

    December 11, 2011

    Beautiful story. National Geographic would be proud of your photos. Glad you had a great time and looking forward to your next adventure.

  • Greg

    December 13, 2011

    That's some fantastic scenery! I'm a little envious as we do lack big mountains down here! I could spend all day looking at St Mary Lake. Beats my current view of the rail yards out my window whilst I sit here at work!

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