Going to the Sun Road is one of the highlights of a visit to Glacier National Park in Montana. It is the chance to experience the Crown of the Continent with epics views.
Going to the Sun Road - Glacier National Park
The road is one of our top things to do in Glacier National Park! If the road is open it is a must!
There is something honestly magical about driving up the Going to the Sun Road and seeing the park spread out before you.
So many amazing waterfalls, wildlife, and scenic vistas as you hold your breath around turns and sharp corners.
Driving the road is not for the faint of heart! There are corners that make you feel like you may drive off a mountain, there are crazy drivers trying to drive way to fast and you never know if a bear is going to pop out in front of you.
Even saying all of those warnings I truly feel that the road is a National Park Bucket List moment everyone should experience.
The road was constructed in 1932 and includes 50 miles of a two-lane highway. When you reach Logan Pass you are crossing the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high.
Going to the Sun Road Status
I am pretty sure the most popular question for Glacier National Park is when will the Going to the Sun Road open each year.
There is no set date for the road to open each summer. It all depends on the snow load from that winter.
Many years the road does not open until after the 4th of July.
You can check the plowing status page for information on where plows are working and epic pictures of the work they are doing.
The road status page is constantly updated to show the current road status.
Check out past opening and closing dates to see the range of dates.
One thing to know is there are specific regulations on the size of cars, trucks, and vans that can drive over the Going to the Sun Road.
Vehicles with our without trailers can not be longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors) between Avalanche Campground and the Rising Sun picnic area parking.
Vehicle and vehicle combinations over 10 feet in height may have difficulty driving west from Logan Pass to the Loop, due to rock overhangs.
How long does it take to drive the Going to the Sun Road?
The National Park Service says you should plan for at least two hours to drive the full 50 miles.
I would say you should plan for at least 3-4 hours minimum if not the full day.
Now that you have planned to spend time on the Going to the Sun Road we need to talk about what you are going to see along the way!
One thing to know is many times you will see the mileage for highlights along the road. It is worth noting that the road starts from before the West Entrance to the park.
You will want to check where the mileage is starting from.
Lake Mcdonald is a 10-mile long lake that offers amazing views. You can't miss it as you drive along the road.
There is a pull-off on the side of the road that provides a great view of McDonald Falls. You can head down a few stairs to the viewing platform to get an up-close look at McDonald Creek.
Lake McDonald Lodge has a great gift shop, restaurant, and offers gorgeous rooms and cabins. If you need a place for lunch Jammer Joes Pizza is a great easy lunch option.
The Motel Lake McDonald is near the Lodge and is a more basic option for lodging.
Sacred Dancing Cascade
Sacred Dancing Cascade is a great cascade of water for photos. There is a great parking area so you can easily walk down the stairs to the footbridge and overlook.
You will want to be prepared for the trail to possibly be muddy in spots. It is a sort of steep walk down on gravel with a few steps.
Horses have the right-away on the bride so be aware if any are heading towards you.
The bridge is also part of the John's Lake Trail Loop.
Trail of the Cedars is an amazing half-mile accessible trail that is not to be missed. This is a great way to stretch your legs before sitting in the car for a while.
This is the only switchback on the entire road! There are also bathrooms here so make sure everyone knows these are the last bathrooms until you get to Logan Pass visitor center.
Bird Woman Falls
Bird Woman Falls is an almost 500-foot tall waterfall that can normally easily be seen from the road.
There are multiple pullouts along the road to help you get a great photo.
You will literally drive over a portion of Haystack Falls. There is an arch in the road and you can see where it flows under the road.
The Weeping Wall is amazing and a great way to surprise your passengers when driving east to west.
We have a Jeep that we love to take the tops off and drive the road. On one of our trips, I knew my wife was taking photos and not really paying attention to what part of the road we were on...
I pulled over just enough so she got wet from the weeping wall. LOL! Don't worry it was a crazy hot day and she was not mad just shocked.
If you don't want to get wet make sure you tell your passengers it is coming up and to roll up their windows. The spray can be quite cold.
The Big Bend offers amazing views of McDonald Creek Valley and the Weeping Wall.
Logan Pass is the highest point along the road at 6,646 feet. You will want to plan to arrive early to get a parking space at Logan Pass.
Many days the parking lot at Logan Pass can be filled by 9:30 am and full until 4:00 pm. The parking lot tends to turn over fairly quickly but you may have to wait a bit.
There is a visitor center and restrooms next to the Logan Pass parking lot.
Keep an eye out for Mountain goats and Big Horn Sheep!
You can take the Hidden Lake Trail from Logan Pass.
While you can turn around and drive back to West Glacier and Lake McDonald from Logan Pass we highly suggest continuing east to St. Mary's.
The Big Drift
As you drive through this part of the road imagine 80 feet of snow built up here!
You are in Glacier National Park so you definitely want to see a glacier while in the park. LOL
It is sad to think that many scientists are saying that all of the glaciers in the park could be gone by 2030.
Wild Goose Island
If you are looking for a postcard image of Glacier National Park you will love the view of Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake.
There is a great pull off so you can walk over and get an amazing photo.
Keep an eye out for bears as you drive by Rising Sun!
Saint Mary Visitor Center
The Saint Mary Visitor Center has restrooms, a small store, interpretive information, and FREE WiFi!
If you are stressed because you haven't been able to check emails or post your amazing photos on social you will definitely want to stop in and take advantage of the free WiFi.
From here you can continue up Highway 89 towards Many Glacier or farther north to Waterton-Lakes National Park in Canada.
Bears - Both Black Bears and Grizzly Bears can be seen anywhere along the road. We have had bears jump out near the car and stroll across the road.
Mountain Goats/Bighorn Sheep - At the top of Logan Pass we normally see quite a few Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats.
In 2020 there will be no Glacier Shuttles to help maintain a safe distance.
Red Jammer Tours
One of the iconic ways to visit Glacier is on a Red Bus Tour. They can be a highlight of a trip to Montana.
You don't have to worry about driving the Going to the Sun Road and can enjoy the views while listening to your driver tell you all about the park.
Things to know
Speed Limit - 45 miles per hour is the speed limit in the lower elevations of the road and 25 miles per hour in the alpine section.
Gas - There is no gas available along the road. You will want to make sure you fill up while in West Glacier or in St. Mary's.
Bathrooms - When you see a bathroom use a bathroom! The last thing you want is to get stuck in a bear jam or traffic and not have any options.
On the east side of the park, you can stay at the Rising Sun Motor Inn.
Weather - The weather can change a ton as your travel the 50 miles over the Going to the Sun Road. You will want to have layers of clothes just in case.
It is not uncommon to have snow on Logan Pass even into August.
Driving tips - If you are nervous about driving next to the sharp drop-offs you may want to drive the road from the East to West.
This portion of the road travels close to the mountainside instead of the drop-offs.
There are portions where the side of the road feels like it is going to drop right over the mountainside.
Additional Glacier Resources
Glacier National Park Lodging - Check out all of the lodgings within the park.
Glacier National Park Camping - Check out all of the amazing campgrounds in the park.
National Parks in Montana - check out all of the great National Parks you can visit in Montana
Prince of Wales Hotel - Find out what it is like to stay at the Prince of Wales in Waterton Lakes National Park.