Going-to-the-Sun Road 2022: All About Glacier National Park’s Reservation System

Views along Going-to-the-Sun Road 2021

Are you planning a trip to Glacier National Park in 2022? If so, you’ll need to make a ticketed entry reservation to drive Glacier’s crown jewel: Going-to-the-Sun Road.

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 with little effort!

This scenic drive is a must-see, typically open from late June to early October.

But starting last year, the National Park Service began requiring reservations for all those that wanted to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road during the summer months. 

This system will continue in 2022, and I’m here to share everything you need to know about Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2022, including:

  • All about the vehicle reservation system for 2022
  • How to check Going-to-the-Sun Road status and opening dates
  • Tips for driving this epic 50-mile route
  • 22 must-see stops along Going-to-the-Sun Road

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Glacier National Park? Don’t miss these posts!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may 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 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. If you’re looking to stay outside the park, look for accommodations in Babb or St. Mary, like St. Mary Village.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana. Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The best way to get around the park is by having your own car. Use Rentalcars.com 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 the history and geology of Glacier.
  • 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. This 51-mile scenic drive winds through the heart of the national park.

But before Going-to-the-Sun Road, there wasn’t an easy way for automobiles to navigate the park.

In 1921, congress granted the Glacier National Park money to begin 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. Plus, the road was built without large explosive blasts 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.

Sun sets on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, one of the best views on this 3-Day Glacier National Park itinerary.

Will Glacier National Park require reservations in 2022?

Glacier National Park will require reservations in two areas in 2022: Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork. The reservation system limits the number of daily visitors allowed to enter these park areas to improve traffic and protect park resources.

Visitors to Many Glacier and Two Medicine will not need reservations.

Glacier National Park Ticketed Entry Flow Chart

Why does Glacier have a reservation system?

Glacier National Park is continuing their reservation system in 2022 to reduce traffic and congestion and improve the visitor experience. As national parks continue to set visitation records, reducing the number of vehicles in highly-trafficked areas is crucial.

Reducing the number of visitors along Going-to-the-Sun Road allows emergency vehicles and park rangers to navigate the park without encountering dangerous traffic gridlocks. Less traffic also makes it easier for you to get around the park!

On the other hand, North Fork is a sensitive, remote environment. The infrastructure in this part of the park cannot support the crowds found elsewhere.

Reducing the number of visitors here keeps this area a quiet escape from the crowds found in the rest of Glacier National Park. 

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, plus tips on avoiding crowds along Glacier’s best scenic drive and an exclusive map!

Download your free Going-to-the-Sun Road guide here.

Details on the Going-to-the-Sun Road 2022 Vehicle Reservation System

In 2022, Glacier National Park will require all visitors to make a reservation to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road between May 27 and September 11, 2022.

Reservations will also be required to enter the North Fork area via the Polebridge Ranger Station during the same dates.

Reservations can be made via Recreation.gov starting March 2, 2022, at 8 AM MST and are available 120 days in advance.

This blog post focuses on the details for the Going-to-the-Sun Road reservations in 2022. To learn more about the reservation requirements for North Fork (if you plan to visit Bowman Lake), you can read the Glacier National Park update.

2022 Going-to-the-Sun Road Map and Reservation Area

The map below shows the reservation areas along Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork in Glacier National Park for 2022. The route outlined in brown indicates sites along Going-to-the-Sun Road only accessible by reservation.

You can view this Going-to-the-Sun Road map in more detail here.

Map of Going-to-the-Sun Road 2022 in Glacier National Park

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 does not include reservations in Many Glacier or Two Medicine. Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road is only included for the duration of your stay in the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor.
  • You have commercial activity reservations along Going-to-the-Sun Road. This includes 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 are only visiting the Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas of the park. You do not need a reservation to enter Many Glacier and Two Medicine. However, they are prone to reaching capacity. To avoid traffic, arrive outside of peak hours (before 10 AM or 2 PM).
  • You arrive at the park before 6 AM or after 4 PM. The park entrances are not staffed during these hours, and reservations are not required. However, in 2022, there is nightly construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road lasting until 6 AM on the west side of the park. This means you can only enter the park before 6 AM from the St. Mary entrance (not the West Glacier Entrance). It’s important to note that last year, some guests reported receiving a parking citation when entering the park before 6 AM and leaving their car parked at a trailhead all day.
  • You’re visiting Glacier National Park after September 11, 2022. Reservations are only required from May 27 until September 11, 2022. After that, access to Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn’t require reservations until closure in October.
  • You are only driving Going-to-the-Sun Road from St. Mary Entrance to Rising Sun. Reservations on the eastern side of the park aren’t needed until you reach the Rising Sun Checkpoint. Visitors can drive from St. Mary to Rising Sun (along St. Mary Lake) without a reservation.
Glacier National Park Ticketed Entry Diagram

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, if you want to drive Going-to-the-Sun for longer than three days, you’ll need an additional reservation.
  • 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 entry to the park separately.
  • The ticketed entry system does not cover your park entrance cost. All visitors will be required to either present a valid national park pass (including lifetime senior passes) or pay the $35 7-day 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 will be required to make a ticketed entry reservation.

How to Make Going-to-the-Sun Road Vehicle Reservations for 2022

Your reservation to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road can be secured in two ways:

  • Book 120 days out. Most reservations will be released 120 days in advance, beginning on March 2 at 8 AM MDT, on Recreation.Gov.
  • Book one day before. The remaining reservations will be released one day in advance, starting on May 26 at 8 AM MDT. You can also make these reservations via Recreation.Gov.

Important Note
The easiest way to make reservations is online via Recreation.gov. However, you may also make reservations by calling the Recreation.gov Call Center (Reservation Line: 877-444-6777). Phone reservations are meant for those without internet access and do not provide any advantage over booking online.

Tips for Reserving Your Going-to-the-Sun Ticketed Entry

  • Buy a national park pass ahead of time. Unfortunately, the $2 ticketed entry reservation does not cover your park entrance fee. So you’ll either need to pay the $35 entrance fee or buy a national park pass. I highly recommend the America the Beautiful National Park Pass if you plan to visit multiple national parks in the next 12 months. This pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, and you can get it here for only $80.
  • Make reservations at 8 AM MDT the day they are released. Reservations will be in high demand, so I recommend making your reservation at precisely 8 AM MDT 120 days out. As an FYI, 120 days out doesn’t mean the same day four months out. Double-check your dates by googling “120 days before July 15”… or whatever your date is.
  • Create a Recreation.gov account ahead of time. Reservations are expected to sell out quickly, so make an account on Recreation.gov the day before and be logged in precisely at 8 AM MDT when reservations are released.
  • You don’t have to enter the park on the first day of your reservation. Per the Glacier National Park website, visitors are strongly encouraged to arrive on the first day of their Going-to-the-Sun Road reservation. Still, the reservation will be valid at any point during the 3-day window. For example, you could book a reservation for July 15 but enter Going-to-the-Sun Road for the first time on July 16. The reservation beginning on July 15 would be valid for three days until July 17. This is an excellent alternative if your target date is sold out.
  • Download your reservation offline or take a screenshot ahead of time. Cell service is notoriously bad at the entrance stations, so download offline, take a screenshot, or print a hardcopy.
  • You will need to provide proof of purchase for in-park lodging or tour services. If you are using lodging or tours as your entry, you will need to present proof of purchase (along with a valid park entrance pass or pay the entry fee). Again, I recommend making this available offline.

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 2022, consider some of these alternatives:

  • Enter Going-to-the-Sun Road before 6 AM. Reservations are only required between 6 AM and 4 PM. Visitors can enter before 6 AM without a reservation and drive through the park. However, in 2022, there is nightly construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road lasting until 6 AM on the west side of the park. This means you can only enter the park before 6 AM from the St. Mary entrance (not the West Glacier Entrance). It’s important to note that last year, some guests reported receiving a parking citation when entering the park before 6 AM and leaving their car parked at a trailhead all day.
  • Visit the Many Glacier or Two Medicine areas instead. These areas of Glacier National Park do not require reservations in 2022. Many Glacier may reach capacity and temporarily limit visitors between 10 AM and 2 PM on busy days. Plan to arrive in Many Glacier before 10 AM.
  • 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. See below for the exact tours that grant you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Tours Along Going-to-the-Sun Road

The following tours allow you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road for the day:

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 2022, 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:

Read More: 35 Best Places to Stay in Glacier National 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:

Glacier National Park welcome sign

When does Going-to-the-Sun Road open?

The opening date of Going-to-the-Sun Road changes each year, depending on the last winter’s snowfall and plowing schedules. Generally, the road opens in mid-to-late June. However, it’s best to plan your trip to Glacier National Park between July and September to be safe.

Historic Going-to-the-Sun Road Opening and Closing Dates

Parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road close during the year while others remain open year-round. The lower section of the road between Apgar and Avalanche Campgrounds is 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 crews plow the Logan Pass area. Before the entire 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:

  • 2017: June 28
  • 2018: June 22
  • 2019: June 22
  • 2020: July 13 (late opening due to COVID)
  • 2021: June 25

Glacier National Park closes Going-to-the-Sun Road for winter, with small sections from Apgar to Avalanche Creek open year-round. 

Over the past five years, Going-to-the-Sun Road across Logan Pass has closed on:

  • 2017: September 3 (early closure due to Sprague Fire)
  • 2018: September 29
  • 2019: September 25
  • 2020: October 9
  • 2021: October 10

You can read more historical opening dates and all historical closing dates here.

Is Going-to-the-Sun Road open right now?

You can check the latest 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 2022.

General Information About Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through the heart of Glacier National Park. Along the drive, you’ll find some of the park’s best views and hikes.

Here’s what you need to know before driving Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Do you need a pass to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road?

In addition to the ticketed entry reservation system in place for 2022, 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

Are you visiting multiple national parks in the next year? The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for a full 12 months!

Get your national park pass ahead of time for only $80.

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.

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 Going-to-the-Sun Road in either direction. However, if you are particularly fearful of heights, I recommend going east to west, putting your car along the canyon wall for most of the drive.

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 having to go 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 vehicle or RV that is restricted, I recommend renting a car for your time in Going-to-the-Sun Road. 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 shuttle service 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 2022. It is also very convenient for those staying in Apgar Village, Lake McDonald, or any campgrounds along Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The shuttle runs between Apgar Village and St. Mary Visitor Center with Logan Pass Visitor Center transfer. Details on the exact schedule for 2022 are still being finalized, but you can stay up-to-date by reading more about the Glacier National Park shuttle system.

Unlike 2021, reservations will not be required for the Glacier National Park shuttle along Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2022. Instead, the shuttle will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

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.

Tips for Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2022

  • 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.
  • Start early. Going-to-the-Sun Road gets crowded in the middle of the day, and parking can be nearly impossible. In addition, a ticketed entry reservation does not guarantee parking in popular areas. To avoid crowds, start at sunrise or in the late afternoon. If you can’t get a ticketed entry reservation, you can still enter Going-to-the-Sun Road via the St. Mary entrance before 6 AM!
  • 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 taking at least 4 to 5 hours to explore this route and its excellent stops!
  • Bring food and water. To save time and money in the park, I recommend packing a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. If needed, dining options are available at Apgar, Lake McDonald, and Rising Sun.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your trip? Check out my guides on the best hiking gear, what to pack for a road trip, and essential camping gear for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

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. Here you’ll find incredible hikes and opportunities to see wildlife like mountain goats or a grizzly bear!

If you want more tips on the best places to stop along the route (including a few incredible unmarked viewpoints!), download this free, printable Going-to-the-Sun Road guide.

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, roughly a mile past the entrance station. This smaller visitor center is an excellent place to stamp your national park passport, talk to park rangers, or use the restroom.

Lake McDonald Lodge

Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park

Built in 1913, Lake McDonald Lodge is a swiss-chalet park lodge. This historic lobby is worth a look around. After admiring the hall, head out back to take in the views of Lake McDonald from the dock.

Here you can rent water sports equipment, like canoes, or sign up for a boat tour of Lake McDonald through Glacier Park Boat Company.

Avalanche Creek

Avalanche Lake hike in Glacier National Park

This area is home to Avalanche Campground and trailheads for Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake. You’ll notice it looks different than most areas of the park, more reminiscent of the pacific northwest with cedars and hemlocks.

This is because Avalanche Creek was sheltered from recent forest fires, retaining more old-growth than other areas.

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. The Loop is also the ending point for the Highline Trail and a trailhead for access to the Granite Park Chalet.

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, plus tips on avoiding crowds along Glacier’s best scenic drive and an exclusive map!

Download your free Going-to-the-Sun Road guide here.

Big Bend

Big Bend viewpoint along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

As its name implies, Big Bend is a point where Going-to-the-Sun Road bends back on itself, creating a U-shape. The large pull-off here provides more opportunities for viewing and photographing the valley. This area is particularly pretty around sunset.

Logan Pass Visitor Center

Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier National Park

Logan Pass Visitor Center is located at the highest point along Going-to-the-Sun Road. It is home to two of the park’s most popular hikes (Highline Trail and Hidden Lake Overlook), so parking is difficult to come by in the middle of the day.

Read More: 19 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier Overlook

Jackson Glacier Overlook along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

Jackson Glacier is the seventh-largest glacier in the park and one of the only ones visible from Going-to-the-Sun Road. Bring binoculars for a closer view of the glacier, and take a moment to read the signage here around climate change’s impact on the dwindling glaciers.

Wild Goose Island Overlook

Before reaching the eastern park exit, stop at this overlook along St. Mary Lake. Wild Goose Island Overlook is a majestic vantage point for sunset. It was featured in the opening credits of The Shining.

St. Mary Visitor Center

At the end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll find St. Mary Visitor Center before the park exit. Just outside of the park exit is another Glacier National Park sign if you missed the photo op on the way into the park.

Looking for more ways to fill up your days in Glacier National Park? Check out my 3-day Glacier itinerary or my 7-day Glacier itinerary!

Frequently Asked Questions About Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2022

Do you need reservations to enter Glacier National Park?

In 2022, all visitors will need reservations to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road. Most of these reservations are released 120 days out, with the remaining reservations released one day before.

Is Going to the Sun Road open in Glacier?

Going-to-the-Sun Road is expected to open in mid-to-late June, depending on plowing progress. For the latest updates and Going-to-the-Sun Road status, check the Glacier National Park Service website.

Final Thoughts on Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2022

Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the best scenic drives in the United States. In 2022, Glacier National Park will require all visitors to reserve ticketed entry to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road and the North Fork area of the park.

You can make reservations via Recreation.gov up to 120 days in advance, beginning on March 2, 2022.

If you cannot get a ticketed entry reservation, try booking a boat tour instead, as this grants you access for the day of your tour.

Once you arrive in Glacier National Park, don’t miss the 22 must-see spots along Going-to-the-Sun Road listed here. 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!

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, plus tips on avoiding crowds along Glacier’s best scenic drive and an exclusive map!

Download your free Going-to-the-Sun Road guide here.

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