One of the most famous routes in Glacier National Park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This winding, high-altitude route was no small accomplishment for the early engineers of Glacier. After more than two decades of planning and construction, the 50-mile road was completed in the summer of 1932.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road connects the west and east sides of the park and passes through landscapes like glacial valleys with deep lakes near the village of St. Mary and striking cedar forests closer to West Glacier. Explore the route in your own vehicle, on a historic Red Bus Tour or the old-fashioned way—on foot.
Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Every winter in Glacier National Park is different, and the amount of snowfall dictates when the road can open for the year. Locals usually hope for an opening around late June or early July. Once open, vehicles can drive across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass—the highest elevation reachable by vehicle in the park at nearly 6,500 feet above sea level. Logan Pass is 32 miles from West Glacier and 18 miles from St. Mary.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore the route in detail. Don’t miss the Weeping Wall, a geological formation with a natural waterfall about 3 miles west of Logan Pass. And if you keep an eye out when you’re passing the shores of St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, you might just recognize the opening scenes of the 1980 film The Shining.
Ride through History on a Red Bus Tour
Red Bus Tours have been guiding guests along the Going-to-the-Sun Road for over 90 years now. An experience for a sunny day, the vintage buses feature canvas roofs that roll back to give an open-air view of the surrounding peaks. Tours range from a 2.5-hour intro tour to a full day along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Hiking the Highline Trail
One of the most beautiful and iconic hikes in the park is the Highline Trail, located off the Going-to-the-Sun Road near Logan Pass. The trail offers extraordinary views following along the Continental Divide.
At 12 miles long and with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain, the Highline Trail hike is a strenuous full-day outing. The one-way hike requires taking a free shuttle at the start or end of your day to return to your vehicle. You can begin by parking at the Loop Trailhead and taking the shuttle 14 miles east along the road to Logan Pass, and then hike back to your vehicle. Option two is to leave your vehicle at Logan Pass, hike the trail and then catch the shuttle from the Loop Trailhead back to your car.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a “choose your own adventure” kind of road trip. Only a few months until the last of the snow is cleared and the road is open—get ready!