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2 Days Driving Going to the Sun Road

The iconic Going to the Sun Road is what connects the east and west side of Glacier National Park. This is one of the most beautiful roads in the world, with views along its entirety. But there are a few things you need to know about driving here!

The season for Going to the Sun Road is short. The whole thing is open typically from the end of June to the middle/end of September. The opening and closing dates are based on snowfall and never guaranteed. Also there are vehicle restrictions on this road. Vehicles must be less than 8 feet wide, 10 feet tall, and 21 feet long. This is because there are several sketchy turns and corners here. So if you were contemplating an RV for this trip, you will not be able to drive it on the road.

Now if you do want to camp or use your RV you can! You can camp at Apgar and take one of the iconic red bus tours along the road, or camp at Saint Mary and stick to the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas of the park. And remember, each of Glacier’s 4 corridors requires a vehicle reservation. For more information, click here.

I recommend doing this route from West to East Glacier. West Glacier will have more amenities as you pass through several small towns on your way in, and I recommend filling up gas here as it was much cheaper than Saint Mary Village on the other side of the park. Saint Mary and Many Glacier have minimal shops and places to eat (although there is a small grocery store), so come prepared!

Here is my itinerary for how to spend 2 days along the Going to the Sun Road! The mileage stops I list start at the west entrance.

Day 1:

Lake McDonald: The first 10 miles of the road run along the length of Lake McDonald. Stop at Apgar Village right after the entrance or at the Lake McDonald Lodge at Mile 11 to see the iconic colored rocks of this lake.

Mile 13: Lake McDonald Falls: This is just an overlook of the falls, but worth a stop!

Mile 17: Avalanche Lake: This is your first hike of the day! This is a very popular area though, so parking is tough. Circle around a few times and watch for people heading to their cars and hope you get lucky! This is also the parking lot for the Trail of the Cedars.

Avalanche Lake is 6 miles round trip with approximately 750 feet of elevation gain, so it is definitely one of the shortest alpine lake hikes in the park. Definitely worth it!

Mile 24.4 The Loop Hairpin Turn: This is one of the sharpest turns on the road and it becomes clear why vehicle restrictions apply. This is also the end of the famous High Line Trail, or for a VERY challenging hike you can start the trail to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook from here. For more details about my favorite hikes in GNP, check out my hikes blog here!

Mile 28.7 The Weeping Wall: Beautiful waterfalls cascade along here! Roll down your windows and feel a little bit of the spray!

Mile 28.9 Big Bend: This is a gorgeous view of the mountains and there is ample parking! Because Glacier’s season is so short, this park is always busy but even the crowds cannot detract from the beauty here. During certain times of year this is a great sunset spot!

Mile 32: Logan Pass Visitor Center: This is the highest point on the Going to the Sun Road at 6,646 feet. THIS IS THE HARDEST PLACE TO PARK! Read that again. There are permanent signs up saying the lot is full because it is so busy and many popular hikes begin here. If you are lucky to get a spot, go for it but if not, this is where you will start day 2 bright and early.

Depending on where you are staying, you have to make the decision where to go next. If you stay near East Glacier like we did, continue on the road with the following stops. If you are near Apgar or West Glacier, it may be easier to return that way for the night and pick up here tomorrow! And any of the stops you don’t have time for will get moved onto your Day 2 itinerary!

Mile 34.6 Siyeh Pass: This is a popular trail for bear activity. We didn’t hike here but it is another beautiful viewpoint if you need to stretch your legs.

Mile 36.5 Jackson Glacier Overlook: This provides a great overlook of a glacier if you won’t be doing one of the popular glacier hikes in the area! And every time we drove past there was parking available!

Mile 38.8 Saint Mary and Virginia Falls: This is a beautiful waterfall hike that traverses along Saint Mary Lake. It is 3.1 miles out and back with 452 feet of elevation gain. The waterfalls are beautiful and if you are feeling brave you can even jump off the bridge near Saint Mary Falls into the water below!

And keep an eye out on the lake! Moose frequent here and we saw 2 feeding in the water near the shores!

Mile 40.1 Sun Point Nature Trail: This is a short walk out to a nice view, and there are plenty of picnic spots near here!

Mile 42.7 Wild Goose Island Overlook: this is one of my favorite views in East Glacier (pictured)! I thought this was a perfect spot for sunset, and overall the overlook was a little less crowded than other viewpoints in the park so it gave us a bit of peace.

Mile 43.9 The Rising Sun Area: There is a small motel lodge here and they do frequent ranger programs in the evenings perfect for families!

Saint Mary Visitor Center: This is the only spot in the park where we had cell service (we have Xfinity), and if you do not have data, the visitor center has free wifi in 30 minute increments!

Day 2:

Start early and drive directly to Logan Pass. We got there at 6:10 am and the lot was full by 6:20. Since the High Line Trail begins here, people are often gone from their cars all day, so if there aren’t available spots when you drive through, most likely a spot will not open up for you.

This is your hike day! First off, head over to the Hidden Lake Overlook trail. This one has a good elevation change, gaining 700 feet in 1.5 miles (one way). But the wildflowers are everywhere, there is lots of wildlife (keep your distance), and the views are incredible. When we went the trail to the lake itself was closed due to bear activity, but it would be worth continuing to if it is open!

Another thing to note is that GNP does have a free shuttle service. However, due to the vehicle restrictions on the road, the shuttles are small! They only fit about 15 people. We heard stories of people waiting over an hour for a shuttle to have room on it for them, so if you can, I would definitely recommend having your own vehicle here.

After your first hike, rest a bit, refresh your water supply at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, and get ready for hike 2 of the day: the iconic High Line Trail. This trail is 11.8 miles one way, most often done as a point to point from Logan Pass to The Loop. But a lot of people just do a part of this trail (this is what we did). The first part of the hike has the ropes section which we loved, so it is worth doing, even if you don’t go very far into the trail! But if you are ambitious, go for it!

After your hikes, depending on how much time you have left, or what you didn’t get to yesterday, pick up where you left off and hit the remaining points on the itinerary.

That is it! Your 2 day itinerary for Going to the Sun Road! This is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever done, and definitely worth seeing as much as you can here. As always, when exploring respect all posted rules of the park and recreate responsibly. Subscribe to the blog to stay up to date on the latest! We have lots more fun coming the rest of the summer! Happy adventures, fam!

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