The Ultimate Guide To Going-to-the-Sun Road

The Ultimate Guide To Going-to-the-Sun Road

The Ultimate Travel Guide To Going to the Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road, the main attraction in Glacier National Park & an engineering masterpiece!

Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the prettiest mountain drives in the world and a must-do when visiting Glacier National Park!

Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the entire Glacier National Park from the east to the west entrance of the park, passing through several glacial lakes, roadside waterfalls, cedar forests, a couple of tunnels, and reaches the highest point on the drive at the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road got its name from the nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain and is listed as a National Historic Place, National Historic Landmark, and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The road and the tunnels were built in the 1930s without modern construction equipment and are living pieces of engineering marvel!

The road is about 50 miles long, well-paved, two-lane highway, and passes through all major vista points and trailheads in Glacier National Park. There’re several vista points and parking spaces along the road, but it gets quite busy in the summer months, and finding parking might get challenging. However, the park offers a shuttle service, and there are a few guided tours provided by a couple of tour companies.

If you’ve limited time when visiting Glacier National Park, I recommend driving through the Going-to-the-Sun Road and stopping at the vista points along the road to get the most out of your trip. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is about 50 miles long and takes about 2 hours if driven non-stop. However, I highly recommend stopping and hiking as you drive through the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Here is my ultimate guide to Going-to-the-Sun Road, featuring must-see places, hiking trails, and overlooks along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

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Planning Your Trip To Going-to-the-Sun Road

Planning Your Trip To Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road Hours & Seasons: Going-to-the-Sun Road is seasonal and is open only during the summer months. However, Glacier National Park stays open year-round, but only a small portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is plowed and remains open during the winter months. 

Going-to-the-Sun Road Driving Directions: The Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the Glacier National Park from the west entrance/Apgar Visitor Center to the east/Saint Mary Entrance. You could drive from east to west or west to east based on where you enter the park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a paved, 50 miles two-lane highway and takes about 2 hours if driven non-stop, but if you stop at all vista points, hike a couple of easy trails, and stop for lunch, it might take 4-5 hours. 

Upon completing the drive, you could either take the Going-to-the-Sun Road back to your starting point or exit the park and join the highway outside the park, Highway 2 on the wast and Highway 89 on the east, to get to your destination or other sections of the park.

Driving Rules & Restrictions: Due to the nature of the road and safety reasons, there’re a few strictly imposed driving regulations in Glacier National Park.

  • Speed Limit: 45 miles per hour on lower elevations and 25 miles per hour on higher elevations.
  • Vehicle Size: Due to the several switchbacks and a few hairpin turns, there’re strict policies around the vehicles’ size – Not longer than 21 feet, not wider than 8 feet, and not taller than 10 feet.
  • Parking: Parking is allowed only at designated pullouts and parking lots.

Park Shuttle Services: There’re several vista points, trailheads, and parking lots along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, during the peak season, the park gets quite crowded, and it might be challenging to find parking near the popular spots along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. So, the park offers a free shuttle service during the summer months, starting at the Apgar Visitor Center on the west side and St. Mary Visitor Center on the east side of the park, taking visitors to all major trailheads and viewing points in the park.

Going-to-the-Sun Road Guided ToursThere’re a couple of tour companies, including Sun Tours and Glacier National Park Lodges Red Bus Tours, which offer guided bus tours of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The bus tours are well-narrated, well-paced, and stops at all major viewing points along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road Services & Amenities: You will find dining and lodging options along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, but there’re no gas stations along the road.

  • Gas Stations In Glacier National Park: West Glacier Gas Station located near the west entrance/Apgar Visitor Center, and St. Mary Grocery Store & Gas station near the west entrance/Saint Mary Entrance.
  • Food & Lodging: There’re quite a few lodging and dining options along the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Rising Sun Motor Inn. However, you won’t find any service along the 33 miles stretch from Lake McDonald Lodge to Rising Sun Motor Inn.
  • Visitor Centers: There’re three visitor centers along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, including Apgar Visitor Center near the west entrance, Logan Pass Visitor Center located in the center of the park, and St. Mary Visitor Center near the east entrance. You will find basic amenities like water fountains and restrooms at all the visitor centers in Glacier National Park.

You can find more details about Glacier National Park, including hiking trails, camping, lodging, and dining options, in my Ultimate Guide To Glacier National Park.

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Going-to-the-Sun Road Stops

Going-to-the-Sun Road Map

Going-to-the-Sun Road Map

With several overlooks and hiking trails along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, it becomes quite challenging to select the best stops and hikes for your drive. So, I have created a Going-to-the-Sun Road map and compiled a list of best stops along with mile markers to help plan your perfect Going-to-the-Sun Road trip.

Here’re the must-see places along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, starting at the west entrance & ending at the east entrance!

Apgar Visitor Center

Apgar Visitor Center ( Mile 2 )

The Apgar Visitor Center is the only visitor center that’s open year-round and offers basic amenities, including water fountains, restrooms, a souvenir shop, a bookstore, and rangers to help plan your trip.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald ( Mile 3 )

The glacier-carved Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park, and besides the spectacular views of the lake, it’s also a popular destination for kayaking, bout tours, and camping.

Lake McDonald | Going-to-the-Sun-Road

Lake McDonald Lodge

Lake McDonald Lodge | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Lake McDonald Lodge ( Mile 11 )

Lake McDonald Lodge is a historic lodge with gorgeous lake views, several dining options and is the starting point of several hiking trails and guided tours in the park, including Red Bus Tours, Boat cruises, and several other ranger-led programs.

McDonald Falls

McDonald Falls ( Mile 12 )

The McDonald Falls is a small but beautiful waterfall located right by the Going-to-the-Sun Road, has a pullout, and is easily accessible. 

McDonald Falls Going to the Sun Road Montana

Trail of Cedars

Trail of Cedars & Avalanche Creek | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Trail of Cedars & Avalanche Creek ( Mile: 16 )

One of the most popular stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the starting point of two very popular hikes – Trail of Cedars, a short one-mile loop, and Avalanche Creek Trail, branches from the Trail of Cedars and is about 4.5 miles roundtrip moderate hike.

West Tunnel

West Tunnel ( Mile 24 )

There are two tunnels on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and the West Tunnel is the shorter one, measuring about 190 ft, with grooves/windows on the tunnel wall overlooking the valley. However, stopping in the tunnel is not permitted, but you can park at a nearby pull out and return to enjoy the tunnel.

West Tunnel | Going-to-the-Sun Road

The Loop & Heavens Peak

Heavens Peak | Going-to-the-Sun Road

The Loop & Heavens Peak ( Mile 25 )

The only switchback on Going-to-the-Sun Road, The Loop is a hairpin turn along the road and a popular vista point along the road featuring stunning views of snow-capped Heavens Peak. The Loop is also the starting point of the popular Granite Park Chalet Trail.

Bird Woman Falls

Bird Woman Falls ( Mile 27 )  

This point offers a distant view of Bird Woman Falls, across the valley floor, cascading down the slopes of Mt. Oberlin. 

Bird Woman Falls | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Haystack Falls

Haystack Falls | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Haystack Falls ( Mile 28 )

The Haystack Falls is a gorgeous roadside waterfall along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, with a small arch constructed below the road to let the water pass by. The Haystack Falls can be viewed from the car as you drive by, but the best photos of Haystack Falls are with the arch and can be taken from a distant pullout right before reaching the falls.

Weeping Wall

Weeping Wall ( Mile 29 ) 

The Weeping Wall is a stone wall along the Going-to-the-Sun Road with snow water melting and pouring out through the rocks. It’s almost like a waterfall in the spring, but in late summer, the water flow reduces, and you can just see the wet rock surface.

Weeping Wall | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Big Bend

Big Bend Going to the Sun Road

Big Bend ( Mile 30 )

One of the most photographed and cherished views along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Big Bend is a turnout featuring spectacular views of the lush valleys and the mountain peaks in Glacier National Park. 

Triple Arches

Triple Arches ( Mile 31 )

The Triple Arches is a living piece of an engineering marvel built in the 1920s. There’re was a gap on the mountain surface at this section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which was filled by building a stone arch bridge that acts as a retaining wall and supports this section of the road.

Triple Arches | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Logan Pass

Logan Pass Going to the Sun Road

Logan Pass ( Mile 32 )

Located in the heart of the Glacier National Park, the Logan Pass is the highest point along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is a very popular stop featuring stunning views, the Logan Pass Visitor Center, and the starting point of the most popular hiking trails in the park, the Highline Trail and the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail.

East Tunnel

East Tunnel ( Mile 33 )

The longest of the two tunnels along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the East Tunnel is 408 ft long and passes through Piegan Mountain. Even this park structure was built without using modern-day machinery and was constructed by blasting and digging through the mountain walls.

East Tunnel | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Siyeh Bend

Siyeh Bend | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Siyeh Bend ( Mile 34 )

This is another wide turnout along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, featuring great valley views, and is also the starting point of several trailheads, including Piegan Pass, Siyeh Pass, and Preston Park.

Jackson Glacier Overlook

Jackson Glacier Overlook ( Mile 36 )

Jackson Glacier is the only glacier visible from the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Jackson Glacier Overlook offers distant views of the Jackson Glacier, but that’s the only glacier that’s easily visible without having to hike several miles. 

Jackson Glacier Overlook | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Sunrift Gorge

Sunrift Gorge |Going-to-the-Sun Road

Sunrift Gorge ( Mile 40 )

This is where you’ll find a short 70 ft trail that leads to a river carved gorge, the Sunrift Gorge, and trailheads for a couple of popular hiking trails, Baring Falls and Siyeh Pass.

Sun Point

Sun Point ( Mile 41 )

The starting point of the Sun Point Nature Trail, another popular but short hike in Glacier National Park, is highly recommended for people visiting just for a day. The 1.4 miles roundtrip easy hike offers stunning views of Saint Mary Lake and has a picnic area. 

Sun Point Going to the Sun Road

Wild Goose Island

Wild Goose Island | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Wild Goose Island ( Mile 43 )

One of the most photographed sections of Glacier National Park, the Wild Goose Island is an iconic landmark known as the lone survivor against all the glacial activities in the area!

Rising Sun

Rising Sun ( Mile 44 )

The Rising Sun area features a campground, a few lodging and dining options, guided boat tours of Saint Mary Lake, a picnic area, and is the starting point of the Otokomi Lake hiking trail.

Rising Sun | Going-to-the-Sun Road

Saint Mary Visitor Center

Saint Mary Visitor Center ( Mile 49 )

Located near the east entrance of Glacier National Park, the Saint Mary Visitor Center is open only outside the winter months and offers basic amenities, including water fountains, restrooms, and a bookstore.

There’re you have it! These are the best stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, but there’s a lot more to see in Glacier National Park!

Going-to-the-Sun Road is undoubtedly a must-see in the park, but there’re several other regions outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road that are absolutely stunning in Glacier National Park. You can find more details about Glacier National Park, including hiking trails, camping, lodging, and dining options, in my Ultimate Guide To Glacier National Park.

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The Ultimate Guide To Going-to-the-Sun RoadI hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Going-to-the-Sun Road, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Find out more about Glacier National Park in my Ultimate Guide To Glacier National Park.

Happy feeding your soul!

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