Going-to-the-Sun Road

At least, it may feel that way

The main route through the center of Montana’s famous Glacier National Park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which every year funnels visitors (via propane-fueled buses) from one vista to the next. The road, completed in 1932, crawls over 32 miles of the park’s surface. It’s the only way to travel by vehicle from one side of the park to the other.

Fun Fact : The bright red tour buses that zig-zag across the Going-to-the-Sun Road were originally built in the 1930s, although they were upgraded to more environmentall-friendly propane engines in 2001.

There are few highways in North America as impressive (and dangerous) as the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The way is generally narrow and twisting, with the path becoming worse west of Logan Pass. Any vehicle longer than 21 feet is disallowed from making the trek, which means no trailers or recreational vehicles.

Fun Fact : The Going-to-the-Sun Road is so perilous that it takes over a day to clear just under 500 feet (150 meters) of snow during the winter. Up to 80 feet (25 meters) of snow can lay on top of Logan Pass during the chilly months between December and spring, leading many to refer to the eastern part of the pass as the “Big Drift.” In total, the road itself takes about 10 weeks to plow completely.

Be careful when making the trip along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. When passing the Continental Divide to the east side, there are often no guardrails to prevent automobiles from plummeting off the edge! It’s good reason to shut down the passageway during the winter (if the piled snow drifts don’t already deter visitors).

Fun Fact : Fans of scary movies may recognize the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the opening moments of the famous Stanley Kubrick thriller, The Shining . The main character’s (Jack Nicholson) car whizzes past local attraction St. Mary’s Lake before disappearing underneath a tunnel.

Logan Pass

For those wondering, Logan Pass is the highest point along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Its elevation is an incredible 6,646 feet (2,025 meters). Many hikers heading off into the wilderness often start their journeys at the nearby seasonal visitor center, with the most popular path being the Highline Trail.