One of the most beautiful roads you will ever drive on, Going The Sun Road has some of the most unique views, stop offs, waterfalls and wild life, all from the comfort off your vehicle. There are so many pull offs as well for you to get out and enjoy the view. You are probably wondering what makes this road so special, but it really is unique in all that you get to see. Here are the best stops you must see on going-to-the-sun-road in Glacier National Park
There are many times of year that are great to visit, but we drove the road in October and the fall foliage was beyond gorgeous. We spent 6+ hours driving, hiking and exploring. This Guide will help you plan your day, all the best stops, and how to utilize your time!
Where to Start:
There are two entrances, East and West.
St. Mary’s Visitor’s Center East-48°44′51″N 113°26′21″W
Apgar Visitor’s Center West- 48.5231° N, 113.9885° W this is the more common entrance as West Glacier is more populated and easier to find accommodation.
Cars and Limitations
Can all vehicles drive on Going-the-Sun-Road? NO! Please visit this link for details on vehicle limitation and please follow the rules. The Road is free to drive with park admission and will take at least 2 hours to drive the whole thing.
What To Wear
Glacier can be colder even in the summer. We always pack light layers and a jacket or coat to make sure to stay nice and warm, or cool off quickly. If you are planning some more difficult hikes, the right footwear is necessary. We didn’t do anything too strenuous and usually just wear regular tennis shoes.
Apgar Village has lodges, gift shops, food services and more. It is a major place of activity on the west side. There is also the visitor center with tons of information. Apgar also has the largest campground in the park.
Apgar Village sits right on the water of Lake McDonald. You can rent kayaks and other fun water stuff.
If you are starting from the West, Lake McDonald is the first site you will see. It is 10 miles long and can get up to 500 deep. If you want to stop and see it up close, Apgar Village is a great place to do so.
As you drive along the lake there are plenty of pull offs as well to get different views. You can also visit Lake McDonald Lodge- a Swiss Chalet building with a hunting lodge feel on the inside. The lodge has dining, horseback riding and boat tours.
McDonald Creek Overlook
This is one of the first stops along the route with a large pull off. The Falls are accessible by a small set of stairs that lead to a platform. It is a quick stop worth taking.
This spot is perfect for an easier hike. 4 miles round trip, with a small elevation gain that leads to a beautiful alpine lake. This hike is great for all ages and the perfect way to start your Glacier experience. Not ready for 4 miles, the next trail below connects and it is a must do.
Trail of the Cedars
** This was one of our favorite stops of the whole road because it was an easy hike with beautiful trees and got us pumped for the rest of the best sites on going to the sun road.
This trail is an accessible trail with a path leading right up to a beautiful waterfall. This is a must walk trail because it is so easy and has such amazing views. Anyone can go on it because it is wheelchair friendly. On this path you will see trees as old 500 years-Western Red Cedar, Black Cottonwood, and Western Hemlock.
There are also many benches to stop and relax and enjoy the beauty. You can also explore an overturned tree up close and see the roots as well as a hollowed out tree and many other unique fun things.
If you are heading northeast, the pull out will be on the opposite side of the road, but you can still stop. There is a pull off before and after the tunnel. Here is your chance to get a really fun picture as you can see cars coming from both directions a pretty good distance away and stay safe.
The loop is the portion of the road where there is a hairpin curve. It can be challenging to navigate so be careful. Please follow the speed limits posted and stay safe. This portion of the road is probably why longer vehicles are not allowed on the road.
The road is the only switchback with a scenic view of Heavens Peak. A few hikes begin in this area. There is about 20 parking spots so get there early if this is where you want to be.
Bird Woman Falls Overlook
A 492 foot waterfall cascades the valley between Mt. Oberlin and Mt. Cannon. This is a massive waterfall and can be seen from pretty far away.
This portion is a section of cliff where in the spring water gushes down, but is a mere trickle in the late summer/fall. They warn you to roll up your windows because you will get wet. When we drove in October, there was still quite a bit of water coming off.
One of the best views from the road, you can park and see Mt. Cannon, Mt. Oberlin, and Heavens Peak. This is also the place that boasts the best sunset in the park.
***We loved this stop too! Everything is so breathtakingly beautiful!
Triple Arches comes on quick after Big Bend and there is not a pullover to stop to see up close. Be on the look out as it will be on the passenger side going East.
A somewhat accessible boardwalk that offers vies of the road. There are steps, but it is a boardwalk that is easily walkable. Enjoy the views of the Garden Wall, and don’t forget to look for mountain goats below.
If you plan on doing anything at Logan Pass, get there early. The parking lot fills quick and there really isn’t any other parking near. Here is where you can be right where the continental divide splits. There is a visitor center and facilities. Pick up a park map, stop for a picnic, or just enjoy the scenery.
The Hidden Lake and Highline Trail begin here and you can potentially see wildflowers, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and marmots. The Hidden Lake Overlook is a quick 2.9 mile round trip hike with most of it being on a boardwalk type trail. It is a little challenging but the end views are incredible.
Pro Tip: even if the lot says full, go circle around a few times, we did that and found a lot of open parking spaces even though the lot said full.
A 408 foot tunnel through the Piegan Mountain was one of the most difficult sections of the road to construct. There is a pull off, but be careful as it may be hard to see cars coming and going. We honked our horn the whole way through like we were kids again and it was so much fun.
This area marks the transition between the higher elevation and the forest of the east side. There is quite a bit of parking as many hikes begin from this area. This is a fun area with water running through even to just stop and explore for a bit.
Jackson Glacier Overlook
This is an absolute must stop. Here is where you can get the best view of a glacier from the road and view the 7th largest glacier in the park. There is still a small amount of glacier showing and sadly won’t be around for much longer.
St. Mary Falls
This is where you can hike to see a waterfall. It is where the most popular waterfall in the park is. The easiest way to reach St Mary Falls is hiking from the St Mary Falls Trailhead. There is also another trailhead near the falls where you can see another glacier waterfall
An incredible view of a water carved gorge. The walk to get there is short (only 75 feet), and so worth it to stop and see. From this trail head you can visit waterfalls like Baring Falls, St Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls
An expansive view of St. Mary Lake. There used to be Chalets, but now there are just hiking trails, a nice picnic area, and a great place to take in a view and stretch your legs.
Wild Goose Island
This is one of the last stops on the road (or first if you started from the east). One of the most iconic views in the park. There isn’t much to do, but climbing the rock and taking in the views is worth it!
A large pullout that has views of St Mary Lake and expansive views of the incredible road.
St. Mary Visitor Center
You did it! You reached the end (or the beginning). Here is a great place for information, restrooms, a place to stretch and relax, now turn around and see all of this stuff again.
How Long is Going-to-the-Sun-Road?
The Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park Montana is 50 miles long, passing through Logan Pass and part of the Rocky Mountains.
How Long Does it Take to Drive?
As long as you want it. If you go beginning to end, with zero stops, it will take around 2 hours. It can take as long as you would like to explore.
Will I See Wildlife?
Possibly, we can’t guarantee that you will see wildlife, but you can ask a park ranger on duty any wild life sitings and where to safely go. Wildlife will likely be out when it is a little cooler and not in the heat of the day.
When is the Best Time to go/ When is it Open?
Any time the road is open- mid summer (July) to mid October. There are no specific dates because it depends on the weather. The views are beautiful any time it is open.
For more park information, you can always consult the official NPS website
We hope you loved this guide for The Best Stops to see on Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Glacier really is so beautiful and should be on your list!