Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the top scenic drives in the United States, called the “Crown of the Continent”. This main road through Glacier National Park is one of the best ways to see the park in a short amount of time.
But this stunning scenic drive is only open a few months a year. In addition, it now requires advanced reservations, so seeing Going-to-the-Sun requires advanced planning!
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2023, including:
- The 27 best stops and scenic viewpoints
- All about the vehicle reservation system for 2023
- How to check Going-to-the-Sun Road status and opening dates
- Tips for driving this epic 50-mile route
Glacier National Park requires all visitors to have a reservation to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road and enter North Fork, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine starting May 26 until September 10, 2023. Read more about the Glacier National Park reservation system.
This post may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.
Glacier National Park At-A-Glance
Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:
- Best Time to Visit: Summer is the best (and most popular) time to visit, thanks to the warm weather and all park facilities being open. Visit in early to mid-September to avoid peak crowds.
- Where to Stay: If you’re looking to stay in the park, I highly recommend the Many Glacier Hotel. To stay outside the park, look for accommodations in Babb or St. Mary, like St. Mary Village.
- How to Get There: Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana, is the closest airport. Use Expedia to browse flights and find the best price.
- How to Get Around: The best way to get around the park is by car. Use Expedia to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy!
- Best Self-Guided Tour: My favorite way to learn more about the park is with GyPSy Guides, a narrated self-guided tour perfect for road trips and scenic drives. The Glacier Going-to-the-Sun Road Guide provides incredible commentary and detail about history and geology.
- Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites (including Glacier!).
What is Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Going-to-the-Sun Road is the crown jewel of Glacier National Park, often called the Highway to the Sun. This 51-mile scenic drive winds through the heart of the national park, the only road through this mountain pass.
But before Going-to-the-Sun Road, there wasn’t an easy way for automobiles to navigate the park.
In 1921, Congress granted Glacier National Park the money to begin road construction on what was then called the Transmountain Highway. Over the next 12 years, engineers and construction workers built what became Going-to-the-Sun Road.
In 1933, the scenic drive opened to the public, but it wasn’t until 1952 that the road was paved entirely!
Today, it is widely considered a transportation and engineering marvel. The builders battled deep snow and harsh conditions constructing a road across the Continental Divide. In addition, large explosive blasts were not used to maintain the natural landscape.
Going-to-the-Sun Road snakes around the cliffs through immaculate scenery. The narrow, winding road makes this one of the most exhilarating drives in the country.
Going-to-the-Sun Road By the Numbers
- Distance: 51 miles
- Drive Time: 2 hours without stops
- Highest Point: Logan Pass at 6,646 feet
- Open Dates: Late June to Early October (varies by year)
- Vehicle Restrictions: Vehicles longer than 21 feet or wider than 8 feet are restricted between Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun Picnic Area
- Park Lodges: Apgar Village Lodge, Apgar Village Inn, Lake McDonald Lodge, Motel Lake McDonald, Rising Sun Motel
- Visitor Centers: Apgar, Logan Pass, Saint Mary
- Campgrounds: Apgar, Sprague Creek, Avalanche Creek, Rising Sun, St. Mary
Will Going-to-the-Sun Road require reservations in 2023?
Like many other national parks, Glacier National Park will require reservations in 2023 to access Going-to-the-Sun Road and other park areas like North Fork, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine.
On Going-to-the-Sun Road, reservations will be required between the West Entrance Station and the Rising Sun Checkpoint. You can view this Going-to-the-Sun Road map in more detail here.
Details on the Going-to-the-Sun Road 2023 Vehicle Reservation System
Reservations will be required between May 26 and September 10, 2023, at the West Entrance. However, since the St. Mary Entrance on the east side of the park opens later in the summer season, reservations will only be required at the St. Mary Entrance from July 1 to September 10, 2023.
Reservations can be made via Recreation.gov starting February 1, 2023, at 8 AM MST for trips from May 26 to June 30. After that, reservations will be released at the start of each month for trips three months out.
This blog post covers the details for the Going-to-the-Sun Road reservations in 2023. To learn more about the other Glacier National Park reservation requirements, read this post on the Glacier 2023 Reservation System.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Reservation Exemptions
If you meet any of these conditions, you won’t be required to make a reservation to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- You are staying at in-park accommodations along Going-to-the-Sun Road, including lodges and campgrounds. This exemption does not include reservations in Many Glacier or Two Medicine. Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road is only included for your stay in the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor. Read more about where to stay in Glacier National Park.
- You have commercial activity reservations along Going-to-the-Sun Road. These tours include reservations for Red Bus Tours and boat tours through Glacier Park Boat Company. Entry tickets to Going-to-the-Sun Road are included for the day’s reservation only.
- You arrive at the park before 6 AM or 3 PM. Reservations are only required during these peak hours. In 2023, nightly construction at the West Glacier Entrance restricts entry to the park before 6 AM. To enter before 6 AM, you must enter from the east side of the park at St. Mary.
- You’re visiting Glacier National Park after September 10, 2023. Reservations are only required from May 26 until September 10, 2023. After that, access to Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn’t require reservations until the seasonal closure.
- You only drive Going-to-the-Sun Road from St. Mary East Entrance to Rising Sun. Reservations on the park’s eastern side aren’t needed until you reach the Rising Sun Checkpoint.
Important Details About the Going-to-the-Sun Reservations
- All ticketed entry reservations are valid for three days. Therefore, you are not required to make multiple ticketed entry reservations for each day you plan to enter within that three-day window. However, you’ll need an additional reservation if you want to drive Going-to-the-Sun for longer than three days.
- All reservations are per vehicle. Your reservation (and park entry fee) covers everyone in your car. However, if you bring multiple vehicles and caravan through the park, you’ll need a reservation for each car.
- Ticketed entry reservations cost a $2 reservation fee. The reservation fee does not include your entry fee to the park. You will be required to pay for entry to the park separately.
- The ticketed entry system does not cover your park entrance cost. All visitors must either present a valid national park pass (including lifetime senior passes) or pay the $35 7-day National Park Service entrance fee upon entering the park.
- Your national park pass does not grant you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road. Even valid America the Beautiful and Lifetime Senior pass holders must make a ticketed entry reservation.
For more tips on booking your Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation, including the release dates for Summer 2023 trips, read this Glacier National Park 2023 reservation system guide.
What to Do if You Can’t Get a Going-to-the-Sun Road Reservation
If you aren’t able to secure a reservation for Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2023, consider some of these alternatives:
- Enter Going-to-the-Sun Road before 6 AM. Reservations are only required between 6 AM and 3 PM. Visitors can enter before 6 AM at the St. Mary Entrance without reservation.
- Make a tour reservation. Reserving a boat, bus, or horseback tour along Going-to-the-Sun Road grants you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road on the day of your tour. Read this blog post on Glacier reservations for the exact tours that exempt you.
- Take the Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle. If you park at the St. Mary Visitor Center, you can take the free, first-come, first-served shuttle throughout the park without a reservation.
When does Going-to-the-Sun Road open?
The opening date of Going-to-the-Sun Road changes each year, depending on last winter’s snowfall and plowing schedules. Generally, the road opens in mid-to-late June. However, to be safe, it’s best to plan your trip to Glacier National Park between early July and September.
When does Going-to-the-Sun Road close?
Going-to-the-Sun Road typically closes for the season in late September or early October. However, this date will depend on construction projects planned for the off-peak season and early snowfall accumulation, if any.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Opening Dates History
Parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road close seasonally, while others remain open year-round. The lower portions of the road between Apgar and Lake McDonald Lodge are accessible even in the winter months.
Plowing begins in spring, with sections of Going-to-the-Sun Road open to hikers and bikers only as road crews plow the Logan Pass area.
Before the opening in June, Going-to-the-Sun is typically open from Apgar to Avalanche Creek on the west side and St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side of the park.
Over the past five years, Going-to-the-Sun Road across Logan Pass has opened on:
- 2018: June 22
- 2019: June 22
- 2020: July 13 (late opening due to COVID)
- 2021: June 25
- 2022: July 13 (due to late winter weather)
Over the past five years, Going-to-the-Sun Road across Logan Pass has closed on:
- 2018: September 29
- 2019: September 25
- 2020: October 9
- 2021: October 10
- 2022: October 16
You can read more historical opening dates and all historical closing dates here.
Read More: Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park
Is Going-to-the-Sun Road open right now?
You can check the current road status here of Going-to-the-Sun Road, including plowing updates. This link also shares the latest updates on the Going-to-the-Sun Road opening for 2023.
Where to Stay Along Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier National Park offers plenty of lodges and campgrounds along Going-to-the-Sun Road, perfect for exploring this beautiful area.
In 2023, these lodging and campground reservations will allow you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road during your stay.
The following lodges will allow you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road for the duration of your stay:
- Lake McDonald Lodge – Swiss-style lodge with fantastic lake views and restaurants
- Rising Sun Motor Inn – Rustic inn with a restaurant near St. Mary Lake
- Village Inn at Apgar – Rustic inn with standard and full-kitchen rooms in Apgar Village
- Apgar Village Lodge – Cozy cabins in Apgar Village near the west entrance
- Motel Lake McDonald – No-frills motel on the shores of Lake McDonald near the lodge
- Granite Park Chalet – Rustic backcountry lodge located along the Highline Trail
- Sperry Chalet – Rustic backcountry lodge with included meals in historic cabins
- Glacier Bear Retreat – Historic private home for rent on the west side of the park
Most of Glacier’s campsites are open from mid-June to early September. These campgrounds will allow you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road during your say:
- St. Mary Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Apgar Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Fish Creek Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Sprague Creek Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Avalanche Campground – Reservable 6 months in advance
- Rising Sun Campground – First-come, first-served, so you must register and get a spot before qualifying as your Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation.
This interactive map can also help you search all the available hotels and rental properties near Glacier National Park! Simply scroll and click the map below to see what is available!
Frequently Asked Questions About Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road
Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through the heart of Glacier National Park. You’ll find some of the park’s best views and hikes along the drive.
Here’s what you need to know before driving Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Do you need a pass to drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road?
In addition to the Glacier reservation system in place for 2023, you’ll also need to pay the fee to enter Glacier National Park. You have two options for your trip to Glacier:
- 7-Day Glacier National Park Pass, which is valid for seven days and costs $35 at the park entrance station
- America the Beautiful National Park Pass, an annual park pass that is valid for 12 months and provides access to all 400+ national park sites for only $80 per year
How long is Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is 51 miles long and runs from West Glacier to St. Mary. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road without traffic or stops. However, plan to spend at least 4 to 5 hours exploring the scenic drive.
What is the Going-to-the-Sun Road elevation?
Going-to-the-Sun Road’s elevation peaks at Logan Pass at 6,466 feet. The lowest part of the drive is near the West Entrance at Apgar Village, roughly 3,200 feet. Between Apgar and Logan Pass, you’ll gain over 3,000 feet winding along Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Where does Going-to-the-Sun Road start and end?
Going-to-the-Sun Road starts in West Glacier just outside Glacier National Park’s west entrance. It traverses the park over the Continental Divide and ends in St. Mary, Montana.
Which way do you drive Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Going-to-the-Sun Road runs east-west between Apgar and St. Mary. You can drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road in either direction. Driving west to east is easiest for stopping at the many viewpoints. However, if you are afraid of heights, I recommend going east to west instead.
Should I take a tour of Going-to-the-Sun Road?
My favorite way to see Going-to-the-Sun Road is on a self-guided tour in your car. I highly recommend the GyPSy Guides Going-to-the-Sun Road self-guided audio tour. It uses your phone’s GPS (which works without cell service!) to provide audio narration of all the top attractions along Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s like having a tour guide without going on a group tour!
Are there vehicle restrictions along Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Since Going-to-the-Sun Road is narrow with sharp turns, the park service restricts vehicle size.
Vehicles, trailers, or RVs longer than 21 feet or wider than 8 feet are restricted between Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun Picnic Area.
If you drive a restricted vehicle or RV, I recommend renting a car for your time in Glacier National Park. You can check rental car prices at the Kalispell airport here.
Can you take a shuttle on Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Glacier National Park runs a free shuttle along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The shuttle is ideal for those worried about congestion in parking lots or those unable to get a Going-to-the-Sun reservation in 2023.
The shuttle runs between Apgar Village and St. Mary Visitor Center with a transfer at Logan Pass Visitor Center. You can stay up-to-date by reading more about the Glacier National Park shuttle system.
How do you get to Glacier National Park without Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only route through the heart of Glacier National Park. To avoid Going-to-the-Sun Road, you can take Highway 2 south of the park between Apgar and St. Mary. You may also visit Two Medicine or Many Glacier areas without driving Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Will I see wildlife on Going-to-the-Sun Road?
Wildlife is commonly seen through the Going-to-the-Sun Road area. Near Logan Pass, you’ll have a good chance of spotting mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Keep your eyes out for grizzly bears and black bears closer to St. Mary.
Tips for Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2023
- Start early. Parking along Going-to-the-Sun Road fills up by mid-morning. In addition, a reservation does not guarantee parking in popular areas. To avoid crowds, start at sunrise or in the late afternoon. If you can’t get an entry reservation, you can still enter Going-to-the-Sun Road via the St. Mary entrance before 6 AM!
- Fill up on gas ahead of time. Unfortunately, there are no gas stations within the park or along Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, gas stations can be found at both ends of the drive, in West Glacier or St. Mary.
- Allow extra time on your scenic drive. It takes roughly 2 hours to complete the drive from West Glacier to St. Mary without stops. I recommend exploring this route and its excellent stops for at least 4 to 5 hours!
- Bring food and water. To save time and money in the park, I recommend packing a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. Dining options are available at Apgar, Lake McDonald, and Rising Sun if needed.
- Drive west to east. Most of the scenic viewpoints on Going-to-the-Sun Road are located on the south side of the road along the valley. Driving west to east allows you to make easy right turns in and out of parking areas. However, if you’re scared of heights or timid about driving, driving east to west can calm your nerves as there are fewer sharp drop-offs on that side of the road.
- Dress in layers. Since you gain several thousand feet of elevation while driving Going-to-the-Sun Road, temperatures at Logan Pass are colder.
- Download maps and reservations offline. Unfortunately, phone service is limited along most of Going-to-the-Sun Road, even at the entrances. So be sure to have your navigation and Going-to-the-Sun Road available offline without cell service before arriving.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Map
Best Stops on Going-to-the-Sun Road
Now that you know all about Going-to-the-Sun Road, I want to share the best stops along the famous scenic drive. You’ll find incredible hikes and opportunities to see wildlife like mountain goats or grizzly bears!
Don’t miss the best sights in Glacier on your upcoming trip! This free, printable guide to Going-to-the-Sun Road covers all the best points of interest, tips for avoiding crowds along Glacier’s best scenic drive, and an exclusive map!
Download your free Going-to-the-Sun Road guide here.
1. West Glacier Village
If you’re driving west to east, you’ll start in West Glacier Village. This small community just outside the West Entrance to Glacier National Park is the perfect place to fill up on gas, grab some snacks, and prepare for the scenic drive ahead.
Just past West Glacier Village, you’ll come to the park entrance. You’ll stop to show your Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation and pay the park entrance fee.
2. Apgar Village & Visitor Center
The first stop inside Glacier National Park is Apgar Village, home to several lodges, a camp store, and Apgar Campground. If you want to stay inside the park, Apgar Village offers plenty of amenities.
It’s also the starting point for the Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle!
3. Apgar Visitor Center
Glacier National Park has three visitor centers along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The first one you’ll encounter is the Apgar Visitor Center, just outside Apgar Village. This smaller visitor center is an excellent place to stamp your national park passport, talk to park rangers, or use the restroom.
A short walk from the visitor center, you can catch your first view of Lake McDonald from Lake McDonald Beach.
4. Lake McDonald
As you continue east on Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll follow along one of the largest glacial lakes in the park. At 10 miles long and 500 feet deep, Lake McDonald is a stunning example of a glacially carved lake.
Before you reach Lake McDonald Lodge, there are several pull-offs on the left side of the road. These spots offer a quick peek at the lake. Don’t miss the famed colorful rocks just under the surface of the icy clear water!
5. Lake McDonald Lodge
Built in 1913, Lake McDonald Lodge is a swiss-chalet style lodge. The lodge is older than Going-to-the-Sun Road, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can stop in and look around the hotel even if you aren’t a hotel guest. This historic lobby boasts towering wooden cross beams and beautiful architecture. After admiring the hall, head out back to take in the views of Lake McDonald from the dock, perfect for sunset.
Here you can rent water sports equipment, like canoes or paddleboards, or sign up for a boat tour of Lake McDonald through Glacier Park Boat Company.
6. McDonald Falls
McDonald Falls is a short cascade just upstream from Lake McDonald. There’s a parking area next to the viewing platform, perfect for a quick leg stretch.
The waterfall flows down several tiers, filled with teal blue water and white crests, taking up the entire width of McDonald Creek.
While you can view McDonald Falls from the road, the best view can be seen from the Johns Lake Loop trail, an easy 3-mile hike along McDonald Creek.
7. Sacred Dancing Cascades
Just past McDonald Falls, you’ll reach another beautiful cascade: Sacred Dancing Cascade. From the road, a short path over a footbridge takes you to the vantage point. Here, the waterfall flows over a stair-like part of McDonald Creek.
The Sacred Dancing Cascades pull-off is another excellent spot to pick up the Johns Lake Loop for views of both Sacred Dancing Cascade and McDonald Falls.
8. Trail of the Cedars
One of the most popular easy hikes in the park, Trail of the Cedars, is a must-visit. The trailhead starts off Going-to-the-Sun Road, with parking available near Avalanche Campground and the picnic area.
This wheelchair-accessible loop is excellent for hikers of all ages and abilities. The flat boardwalk navigates through an old-growth forest of cedar and hemlock trees.
Along the trail, you’ll find educational signs explaining the geology and history of nature in this part of the park.
9. Avalanche Lake Trail
The Avalanche Lake Trail continues from the Trail of the Cedars, sharing the same trailhead. You’ll continue past Avalanche Gorge through the old-growth forest spared by recent forest fires.
After about 2 miles, you’ll come to a clearing at Avalanche Lake, named for the many avalanche chutes that dump driftwood into the lake each winter. The blue-green water reflects the surrounding mountain peaks, making this hike easily one of the best on the park’s west side.
To escape the crowds, continue to the far end of the lake for a new view and fewer hikers.
10. West Tunnel
As you drive further east on Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll reach the West Tunnel, one of two you’ll drive through on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Vehicles greater than 21 feet and wider than 8 feet are not allowed through the tunnel and into Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The West Tunnel was finished in 1927 and includes windows in the tunnel with views of Heavens Peak and the Upper McDonald Creek Valley.
Just past the tunnel, there’s a small pullout. This can be an excellent spot to pull over and take pictures or walk back through the tunnel to check out the windows.
11. The Loop
The Loop is an area named for its hairpin-shaped switchback. Here you can view one of the highest peaks in the park: Heaven’s Peak, standing nearly 9,000 feet tall.
The Loop is also the ending point for the Highline Trail and a trailhead for access to the Granite Park Chalet.
The small parking area here provides a quick stop to take in the stunning views of the McDonald Valley before heading further into Logan Pass.
12. Bird Woman Falls
One of the tallest waterfalls in the park, Bird Woman Falls, drops over 500 feet between Mount Oberlin and Mount Cannon.
While you can’t hike to these falls, you get an excellent view of the falls in the distance along Going-to-the-Sun Road. In the early summer months, the waterfall gushes at full force, fueled by melting snow.
13. Haystack Falls
Another tall waterfall along Going-to-the-Sun Road, Haystack Falls, is easily seen on your scenic drive. You can drive over the waterfall as it passes underneath Going-to-the-Sun Road, further proving the civil engineering feats accomplished in building this road!
The Bird Woman Falls overlook also offers an excellent view of Haystack Falls.
14. The Weeping Wall
This roadside waterfall cascades down a cliff directly on the road. Thanks to springtime snowmelt, these falls at the Weeping Wall are mighty in early summer thanks to springtime snowmelt and splash down onto Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Most likely, your car will get sprinkled with water as you drive past! While you can’t stop here, it’s a must-see as you drive past on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
15. Big Bend
As its name implies, Big Bend is where Going-to-the-Sun Road bends back on itself, creating a U-shape. The large pull-off provides panoramic views of Glacier’s peaks, including Mount Oberlin, Mount Cannon, and Heavens Peak, over the wildflower-filled valley.
Big Bend is one of the best areas in the park for sunset. You can also get a view of the Weeping Wall from here.
16. Triple Arches
One of the most impressive civil engineering feats along Going-to-the-Sun Road, Triple Arches, is a 60-foot stretch supported by three giant stone arches. Initially constructed in the 1920s, the arches bridge the steep gap in the mountain.
While you can’t stop here, this engineering marvel is best seen when driving from west to east, headed uphill.
17. Oberlin Bend Overlook
As you climb towards Logan Pass, you’ll reach the Oberlin Bend Overlook. From the small pullout, a boardwalk takes you to a viewpoint from panoramic valley views with Mount Oberlin towering above.
This is also an excellent spot for Glacier’s alpine wildlife, like mountain goats and marmots.
18. Logan Pass Visitor Center
Logan Pass Visitor Center is located at Going-to-the-Sun Road’s highest point, along the Continental Divide. Due to heavy winter snowfall, this visitor center is only open in the summer.
Here you can talk to park rangers, browse the gift shop, or hike the park’s most popular trails: the Highline Trail or Hidden Lake Trail.
The Highline Trail is a challenging 12-mile one-way hike starting at Logan Pass and ending at The Loop. The scenic hike follows a path high above Going-to-the-Sun Road, eventually straddling the Continental Divide and passing Granite Park Chalet, a national historic landmark.
With meadows, mountains, and incredible views, the Highline Trail is a must-do all-day adventure.
The Hidden Lake Overlook trail is a 3-mile moderate hike that follows a boardwalk path and dirt trail out to a vantage point of Hidden Lake and the surrounding mountains.
The hike is filled with beautiful views of the wildflower-filled meadow and is known for bighorn sheep and mountain goat sightings.
The Logan Pass parking lot fills quickly as it is a popular trailhead. If you’re driving through from 9 AM to 4 PM, be prepared to wait for a parking spot.
I recommend driving Going-to-the-Sun Road one day and returning to Logan Pass early another morning to hike these trails.
19. Lunch Creek
If you’re looking for a break as you descend from Logan Pass, don’t miss Lunch Creek. This spot gets its name because it was a popular place for early visitors to stop for lunch when traveling to Glacier National Park.
This peaceful picnic spot provides mountain views and the tranquil sounds of the nearby flowing creek.
20. East Tunnel
As you continue down Going-to-the-Sun Road, declining in elevation, you’ll pass through the East Tunnel. This 408-foot tunnel was one of the more challenging parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road to build, finally finished in 1932.
The tunnel was constructed entirely by hand without power tools, and workers carried all the debris down the mountain by hand.
21. Siyeh Bend
Going-to-the-Sun Road tightly switches back at Siyeh Bend, another sharp hairpin turn in the road. At this point, Going-to-the-Sun Road begins to leave the alpine climate of Logan Pass behind. It enters the lower-elevation forests near St. Mary Lake.
This bend provides beautiful views of the surrounding mountain peaks and a last glance at the alpine meadows as the Siyeh Creek flows down through the valley.
Two strenuous day hikes also start at Siyeh Bend: the Siyeh Pass Trail and the Piegan Pass Trail.
Read More: Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
22. Jackson Glacier Overlook
Jackson Glacier is the seventh-largest glacier in the park, resting on Mount Jackson, the fourth-highest peak in Glacier National Park. It’s the only glacier you can see from Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, it’s far in the distance. To see the glacier better, bring a pair of binoculars!
Here you can also take a moment to read the signage around climate change’s impact on the dwindling glaciers. Measuring 1,875 acres in 1850, Jackson Glacier now measures less than 250 acres.
23. St. Mary & Virginia Falls
Two of the most famous waterfalls in Glacier National Park can be seen on one hiking trail. Starting at the St. Mary Falls Trailhead along Going-to-the-Sun Road, hikers can climb down to the shores of St. Mary Lake to view the 35-foot cascades at St. Mary Falls.
Continuing from St. Mary Falls for another mile, Virginia Falls is a 50-foot-tall cascade pouring over a cliffside. Both falls are bright blue, filled with glacial sediment from the nearby glaciers.
24. Sunrift Gorge
If you’re looking for a longer waterfall hike, start at Sunrift Gorge and make the loop to Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls. This hike first reaches the smaller Baring Falls before navigating the wildfire-scarred forest along St. Mary Lake.
The new brushy growth here allows for views of St. Mary Lake and opportunities to see wildlife.
If you want a shorter waterfall hike, you can hike the 0.7-mile roundtrip trail to Baring Falls and back.
25. Sun Point Nature Trail
If parking at St. Mary Falls Trailhead and Sunrift Gorge is full, you’ll likely find a spot at Sun Point. This larger parking lot is the starting point for Sun Point Nature Trail, an easy 0.1-mile trail that provides panoramic views of St. Mary Lake.
You can also visit Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls on a 5.6-mile roundtrip hike.
26. Wild Goose Island Overlook
You’ll reach Wild Goose Island Overlook as you continue towards St. Mary. This pull-off along Going-to-the-Sun Road provides views of Wild Goose Island, a tiny isle perched in the middle of St. Mary Lake.
This west-facing spot provides majestic sunrise and sunset views as the fading light reflects off the water.
This vantage point was also used as part of the opening credits of the movie The Shining.
27. St. Mary Visitor Center
St. Mary Visitor Center is the final stop on Going-to-the-Sun Road when driving from west to east. This large visitor center boasts several informational displays, including a topographical map of Glacier National Park and information about the Blackfeet tribe who lives in the area.
If you’re interested in taking the Glacier National Park shuttle, you can park at the St. Mary Visitor Center and board the shuttle stop here.
Don’t miss the Glacier National Park sign as you exit the park!
Tours Along Going-to-the-Sun Road
If you’d rather tour Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park with a guide instead of on your own, these commercial tours are an excellent option:
- Red Bus Tour Reservations (Apgar Visitor Center, Lake McDonald Lodge, St. Mary Visitor Center, and Village Inn at Apgar departures)
- Sun Tours Reservations (Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center departures)
- Glacier Park Boat Company (Lake McDonald and St. Mary Lake tours only)
- Swan Mountain Outfitters Horseback Riding (Apgar Corral and Lake McDonald Corral)
Opting for a tour is also excellent if you cannot get Going-to-the-Sun Road tickets, as a tour qualifies as valid service reservations.
Final Thoughts on Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2023
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana is one of the best scenic drives in the United States. With this guide, you’re fully prepared to see all the best stops on Going-to-the-Sun Road and secure your 2023 Glacier National Park reservation.
If you’re looking for the ultimate highlights of Glacier National Park, this guide on the 27 best stops on Going-to-the-Sun Road is the perfect starting place. My favorites are The Loop, Avalanche Lake, Logan Pass, and St. Mary Falls!
Looking for more helpful guides for your trip to Glacier National Park? You’ll love these posts!
- Reservations: Glacier National Park 2023 Reservation System
- 3 Day Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days In Glacier
- 7 Day Itinerary: How to Spend 7 Days In Glacier
- Top Activities: 21 Best Things to Do in Glacier
- Where to Stay: 35 Best Places to Stay in Glacier
- Hiking: 19 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
- Highline Trail: How to Hike the Highline Trail in Glacier
- When to Go: Best Time to Visit Glacier
Don’t miss the best sights in Glacier on your upcoming trip! This free, printable guide to Going-to-the-Sun Road covers all the best points of interest, tips for avoiding crowds along Glacier’s best scenic drive, and an exclusive map!
Download your free Going-to-the-Sun Road guide here.