Glacier National Park ~ Going-to-the-Sun Road

July 18th ~ Glacier National Park

Our view on the hike to St. Mary Falls

After a visit the day before at the visitor’s center, we knew that parking lots in prime areas, such as Avalanche and Logan’s Pass often fill up early, so we hoped to beat the crowds with a 6:30 a.m. departure. 

Going-to-the-sun Road

Along Going-to-the-Sun Road

This road connects the west side to the east side, cutting through the center of the park.

By the numbers:

  • The road is 50 miles long running from the west entrance at Apgar to St Mary’s and takes an average of two hours to drive

One of many water falls we spotted on the drive

  • The speed limit is 45 at lower elevations and 25 at higher elevations.

Just one more cascade

  • There is a vehicle size restriction, which means most RV’s, trailers or 5th wheels can not make the entire trip. The maximum length is 21 feet, height of 10 feet and width of 8 feet. Solution – there is a free shuttle service along this route.

Jackson Glacier

  • Part of the road is closed to bicycles from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • There are zero gas stations in the park.

Bear Grass

  • There are no restaurants along the drive, so pack a lunch, bring water and snacks.

With the huge snow fall each year, the road is usually closed until June, but sometimes does not open until July. The season is very limited, which results in a large number of people trying to visit this wonderland in the approximate three-month window.

Old time autos taking a spin on the scenic road

And a bit of trivia: 

“The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet (24 m) of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as the Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4,000 tons of snow in an hour.” ~ Wikipedia

Rambling river beside the road

The scenery along the drive did not disappoint as we motored to the Logan Pass Visitors Center for our first hike up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. The trail to the overlook is 1.35 miles one way and rated easy to moderate (if icy).

First a paved path, then a boardwalk, and now dirt/gravel

It was a little unnerving in a few spots as there were patches of snow and ice that we had to negotiate while handling a 460 foot elevation gain.

As we went higher, we had to navigate over snow and ice at times

Wild mountain goats crossed our path on three occasions which was a bit of a thrill, as momma’s sharp horns looked a little intimidating, and we knew she would protect her young if she felt threatened.

Mountain goats along the trail

Columbian ground squirrels were a bit of a pest as they begged for food. We knew not to feed them, and had been told that even they can get aggressive and bite.

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Begging for a handout – look at those claws!

We were well rewarded by the view when arriving at the lookout.

Hidden Lake Overlook

And a few more from this gorgeous hike:

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We topped off the hike with a picnic lunch at Logan Pass where we enjoyed a view of wildflowers and mountain.

Our view while we ate lunch

St. Mary Falls

St Mary Falls

Our second hike of the day was a 1.6 mile round trip to St. Mary Falls. This trail drops 260 feet, but then gains 285 feet. Not wanting to worry about parking, we took the free shuttle bus from Logan Pass to the St Mary Falls Trailhead.

Karen and Dick on the trail

Dick and Karen

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The falls were beautiful, but for me, the highlight was simply the walk itself with incredible vistas of the small lake below and brilliant flowers that dotted the landscape under burnt out trees from the fire a couple of years ago.

The wildflowers contrast the burn – renewal

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I am able to experience the magnificence of Glacier National Park, and share it with such wonderful friends.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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42 Responses to Glacier National Park ~ Going-to-the-Sun Road

  1. The pictures are breathtaking….no words! Thank you. ❤ Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. salpal1 says:

    It sounds lovely! When we were there (in June) the road wasn’t yet open, so we completely missed this part of the park. We were only there a couple of days, and it RAINED the whole time. Hard! We did take the wonderful red bus tour, but it went around the edges, not up through the middle. Weather cleared enough our last afternoon that we were able to take a helicopter ride – that was amazing! I am SO enjoying your trip – almost as much as if I were right there along with you. 🙂

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  3. Linda and Paul again :) says:

    Wish we could be there with all of you!
    How gorgeous!!!!

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  4. Thanks for the photos. Our late Sept visit to Glacier was, like the rest of our whirlwind trip, a lick and a promise. Barely had time to drive up to Logan’s Pass and back again, but ours was from the west entrance so you’ve shown me a whole new side of the park. Eager to get back there.

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  5. How gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your photos.

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  6. Stunning scenery, and beautiful photos.
    Alison

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  7. What a beautiful photo. We will be there in mid-August–for the first time.

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  8. These are spectacular pictures. We went through several years ago. I was busy and hard to stop along the roadside, so did not get the opportunity to stop and take pictures.

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  9. Terry says:

    Can not wait till I get there next year. Looks like you 2 are having a great time.

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  10. Penny Rambacher says:

    Love the scenery photos – pretty with the wild flowers. Nice to see you had a pro-hiker with you – Karen Theil – our Camino graduate.

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  11. It’s a beautiful drive, and the hike up on top is spectacular. A grizzly was out wandering around the Peggy I made the hike, but it/we kept our distance. We also went backpacking for a few days. We found lots of fresh bear scat and Peggy sang a lot! It’s not nice to surprise grizzlies. 🙂 Great photos. –Curt

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  12. Gorgeous

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  13. I feel like we are following you. First Tetons (great!!!) and now Glacier (going in September). Your photos are gorgeous. I love the wildflowers and the falls.

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  14. Anabel Marsh says:

    Not been to Glacier – we almost chose it one year. Another time! It looks even better than I imagined. Just gorgeous.

    Like

  15. Marie says:

    Beautiful photos. I haven’t been to Glacier in two decades but can still picture it the first time my family went in the mid 60s.

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  16. Jim & Jane says:

    Thanks for sharing the great pics, you know how we love mountains and wild flowers! We visited in early June and the road was still closed, so we could only see the lower entrance roads.

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  17. Gorgeous!! My favorite place you’ve visited yet!

    Like

  18. Amy Pantone says:

    This post makes me smile. Oh to go back and visit again. There is so much to see here, glad you had a wonderful visit and beautiful hiking.

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  19. tippysmom2 says:

    Again, lots of fantastic photos. I love all of the flowers blooming among the burned trees. Really loved the photo of the antique cars with the mountains in the background. Just took me back to a simpler time. I’m a sucker for waterfalls too.

    Like

  20. curvyroads says:

    We did the Hidden Lake hike in July of 2015 and there was no snow at all, so it sure can vary a lot from year to year! Your pictures are gorgeous, and I am missing the west in a big way. 🙂

    Like

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