If you could come up with an amazing name for a place that would make you immediately want to go there, Going to the Sun Road should just about cover it. Sounds pretty good, right?
The Going to the Sun Road is one of the many highlights of the spectacular Glacier National Park in Montana. It winds along 50 miles of the park, going along mountain sides, glaciers, natural wildlife, and majestic plains.
Once you have the chance to spend time on the Going to the Sun Road, you’ll likely never forget the experience, but in order to enjoy it, there are a few important things you need to know first.
A Little Bit of History
The Going to the Sun Road was first built in 1932. Considering the fact that this road not only crosses the Continental Divide, rises up over 6,500 feet and is paved for the entire 50 miles, it was quite the undertaking at the time.
If you hope to hop out and take some photos or observe the view, don’t worry there are a number of pull outs that are built into the road throughout the park. Be aware that during the height of the summer months, the road and the pull outs can get a bit crowded.
How to Get There
While Glacier National Park is beautiful, it’s not exactly the easiest place to get to. The closest “major” town is Missoula about 150 miles away. Many people use this as the start of their trip to the park. It’s also where the closest major airport is, and you can rent a car at the airport and drive.
One interesting fact about transportation to the park is there is availability via Amtrak. If you happen to stop at West Glacier, there is an available shuttle (for a fee) that transports passengers to the lodge.
If you make it to the park without a car and still want to hit the road, don’t worry you still have some options. Bicycles are allowed over the road throughout much of the year, and the park does offer a shuttle service every 30 to 60 minutes.
Driving the Road
It goes without saying, a place like northern Montana sees quite extreme weather. So, because of that, the road is not passable all year round. Typically, the road is completely open anywhere from late June to early July, there is a plowing status page for exact dates.
The road closes down portions of it throughout October. Generally, the road will be fully accessible until early October, and then parts will be closed as weeks go by during the month.
There aren’t many restrictions on what types of vehicles can access the road. But, there is a length limit, and that is at 21 feet. Drivers who have vehicles wider than 8 feet or taller than 10 feet might also experience potential issues due to rock overhanging as well.
Have you been to the Going to the Sun Road before? Let us know what you thought of it and your tips in the comments!