Glacier National Park
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
Going-to-the-Sun Road Description
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is arguably the most scenic road in the U.S. Snow-capped peaks, glaciers, cedar forests, waterfalls, and wildlife will keep your passengers "oohing" and "ahhing" all along the narrow, winding road that gains more than 1,400 feet in 32 miles). Frequent stops -- and there are some glorious ones -- will please kids and drivers. If you are afraid of heights or just want to do your part to alleviate Park congestion, there are shuttles and the beloved red "jammers" -- refurbished 1930s-era motor coaches with roll-back canvas tops -- that travel the route.
Babies: Babies generally sleep well on this road. The switchbacks mimic rocking, and they're not afraid of heights (yet). Stock your diaper bag well, though. There are few places to re-supply along the road.
Toddlers & Pre-K: Strapped in a car seat for too long, toddlers often start to voice their displeasure, so plan for frequent stops. Luckily, such stops along this road are pleasurable -- every outlook has a unique view (glacier, waterfall, lake, cedar forest, wildlife) and gorgeous short hikes (and longer ones, too) abound. But don't forget the snacks and bottled water since they're not easy to find en route.
Pre-Teens & Teens: "Look at this view!" you'll find yourself demanding, while your teens glance up, nod, and return to their iPods and books. Animal sightings might elicit greater attention. Stop often, and they'll love it; if you make the drive without stops, they'll only remember being car-sick.
- Fill-up before you leave. There is no gas available along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- Bring snacks or lunch. There are some lovely picnic areas, but food can only be purchased at Rising Sun Motor Inn, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Apgar Village.
- Bring something for queasy stomachs. If your kids are prone to motion sickness, give them Dramamine before starting out (hard candies to suck on the road and frequent stops sometimes help, too).
- Don't take an RV on this road. Vehicles are restricted to those less than 8 feet wide (including mirrors) and 21 feet long (bumper to bumper). And if your vehicle height is over 10 feet, you may scrape the occasional rock outcroppings that jut out over some parts of the road.
- Go early or late. The road gets heavy traffic between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and some of the parking lots at various stops -- like the one at Logan's Pass -- fill up. Just be sure not to travel in the dark.
- Go east to west if possible. The St. Mary entrance to the Going-to-the-Sun Road is less congested; the west entrance can have waits of up to an hour in July or August. If heights bother you, going east to west also puts your vehicle on the mountain side rather than the cliff side for most of the route.
- The drive will take longer than you think. The lower elevations of the road have a 40 mph speed limit and the higher elevations are 25 mph, but between the view, the overlooks, and the traffic, even without stopping, it will take two hours. And you'll want to stop.
- Free shuttles travel the road. You can get on and off at any of the 16 stops, but be sure to take note of the last shuttle time. Park-operated shuttles run July 1st through Labor Day and are free with park admission.
- Try a "jammer." A private operator offers tours of the road in charming, vintage red buses that used to run in many of the national parks from the 1930s to 1950s. The buses are called jammers because, before refurbishing, the dual manual transmissions had to be "jammed" into gear on steep hills. Prices for tours run $30-$80 for adults and half price for kids under 12. For more info, call (406) 892-2525.
Just the Facts
Hours: The road usually opens in early June, closing in mid-October (depending on weather and construction/repair). Call ahead.
Fees: $20 - $30
Recommended Time: Half day
Reviews of Going-to-the-Sun Road
By eclairebears November 29, 2007
What we loved:
What we didn't love:
Its really narrow & high!
Warning for those scared of heights: this road is a great way to try to overcome your fears! Its a beautiful drive, but I was so scared that I kept my white knuckles glued to the wheel and eyes focused in front of me. Theres cliffs on either side with just a little rock wall, and a lot of big vehicles, even RVs.br/br/There are several hiking trails along the route and from the visitor center at the top. We got lucky and spotted some of the native mountain goats.br/br/If you dont feel like driving, take one of the tour buses.br/br/Even if you go in the summertime, youre likely to find a pile of snow that hasnt melted.br/ Read More