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Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park: Drive Both Ways!
The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park is not only one of the top attractions of Glacier National Park, but is one of the most scenic highways found anywhere on the planet…. and what we strongly recommend is that while visiting Glacier Park you drive the Going To The Sun Road from east to west and west to east, in no particular order. Why? Because each direction presents a completely different perspective and view of the mountains, and it is well worth the time to do this.
Where and What is the Going To The Sun Road?
The Going To The Sun Road is the only road that runs entirely through Glacier National Park, and is located between the west entrance of Glacier Park at West Glacier Montana, and the east entrance of Glacier Park at St. Mary. This amazing civil engineering marvel climbs to the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, and provides views of mountains, lakes and valleys that are so incredibly beautiful it is impossible to describe or even photograph adequately. The Going To The Sun Road is so amazing that we want to you enjoy it to the fullest, and that is why that we are STRONGLY recommending that you take the time to drive this famous road both ways.
Each Direction Looks Completely Different!
It is absolutely astounding to us just how different the views are along the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park depending on the direction you’re driving. It’s really like two completely different roads, equally spectacular and equally worth seeing. And just when we think we’ve picked our favorite direction, we change our minds. Each direction presents a completely different landscape… so if you only go over the Going To The Sun Road in one direction, you are only seeing 50% of what this famous road has to offer.
Options: Split Up The Drive
If you don’t want to drive all the way along the Going To The Sun Road from the east entrance to the west entrance and then back again in one day, then split it up into two separate adventures. Obviously you are going to want to spend plenty of time on the east side of the park, especially the Many Glacier Area and Two Medicine Area. Once you’ve spent plenty of time on the east side (however many days you think you’ll need), then get up early and head up the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park and enjoy!
Make sure you stop at any or all of the Going To The Sun Road Turnouts and Overlooks that interest you, and DEFINITELY stop at Logan Pass, and enjoy the short hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook (The Highline Trail is also an amazing Logan Pass Hike that you may definitely want to consider.) Once you’re finished enjoying some time on Logan Pass, then head down the west side of the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park, where again you’ll see several amazing overlooks and turnouts.
For more information on the Going To The Sun Road turnouts and overlooks, CLICK HERE.
Near the end of the west side of the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park you’ll see the “Trail of the Cedars“, which is a really short but really gorgeous boardwalk through an old growth Cedar and Hemlock forest that is definitely worth the effort. Then you can either stay at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge (which is awesome) or you can keep driving another 10 miles and stay at Apgar Village.
Now that you’re on the west side, enjoy the Lake McDonald Area for as many days as you feel you’ll need, and then head back over the Going To The Sun Road and end up on the east side again. Of course you can do all of this in reverse, depending on whether you are coming from the east (Minneapolis, etc) or the west (Seattle, etc.)
Something else to consider is since you’re going to be on Logan Pass twice, if you like hiking, hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook the first time, and then hike along the Highline Trail the second time you’re on Logan Pass (or vice versa).
Both Directions in One Day?
If you want to drive the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park both ways in one day, therefore ending up where you started, then here’s some tips:
If you are starting at the East Entrance and you’re a little pressed for time to get back before dark, then we recommend that you drive to Lake McDonald Lodge, and then turn around and begin heading back. This will cut off a total of 20 miles and you are seeing the majority of the Sun Road attractions.
If you are starting at the West Entrance, then at least go to Rising Sun (which is just past the famous Wild Goose Island Overlook on the east side) and begin heading back. This will cut off about 12 miles and you’ll see most of the east side attractions along the Going To The Sun Road.
LEAVE EARLY in the morning so you can enjoy your day on the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Park. Also, by leaving early, this will help ensure that you get an easy parking spot on Logan Pass. If there is a sign on Logan Pass that says the “PARKING LOT FULL”, this simply means that there was no available parking spaces at the time they put up this sign. But every minute someone is leaving the parking lot, so go ahead and drive into the parking lot and drive around a bit until you find a parking spot. We’ve never had to drive around more than 15 minutes or so until a spot became available. You just have to be determined and stubborn, and you’ll find a parking spot no matter what time of day, but obviously the earlier you get to Logan Pass, the easier it is to find a parking spot…. by 10:30 a.m. preferably.
For more details on the Going To The Sun Road, CLICK HERE.
Glacier National Park is a beautiful place, and the Going To The Sun Road is one of the top attractions in this world famous national park. By driving the Going To The Sun Road both ways, you are maximizing your enjoyment of this iconic scenic road. Once you do this, you’ll understand exactly what we’re trying to say in this article, and you’ll be extremely glad you followed our advice.
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