by Joseph A. Sprince – Photography by Gerald B. Allen
The Glacier National Park Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to tour Glacier National Park and/or Canada's adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer a variety of experiences. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
The highlight of Glacier National Park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the world’s finest scenic drives. The fifty mile road connects the east and west sides of Glacier National Park, climbing spectacularly over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, elevation 6,680 feet.
The road was constructed between 1921 and 1932 and was considered a major engineering feat at that time. Much of the west-facing side of the Rocky Mountains within the park, comprised of the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, features a vertical rock face known as the Garden Wall. The road was literally carved into this cliff. The result is a thrilling and hair-raising ride with unbelievable views of both mountains and valleys. The outer edge of the road drops off thousands of feet into the valley below.
Driving can be intimidating on a busy summer day because there is very little clearance with oncoming traffic. Vehicles, and trailers, longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors), are prohibited between Avalanche Campground and the Sun Point parking area. Vehicles over 10 feet in height may have difficulty driving west from Logan Pass to the Loop, due to rock overhangs.
See Points of Interest and Shuttle Stops Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road for landmark mileages.
The lower portions of the road are open year-round while the higher portions are open when clear of winter snow, generally mid June to October. Also, due to the age of the road, some maintenance and rebuilding work is performed almost every year. Use the links below to get the road’s status from the National Park Service.
Since 2007, the park service has offered a free shuttle bus service along the entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, from Apgar Village to St. Mary. The buses run frequently from early in the morning until late evening and stop at all important destinations. The shuttle system tremendously improve visitors’ experience by reducing mid-summer traffic and congestion. The Logan Pass Visitor Center’s parking lot is often jammed full during mid-summer. Also, many of the roads best scenic pull-offs west of the Divide have room for only a few cars causing major disappointment to those who can’t stop at the best places. We strongly urge park visitors to use the shuttle bus system!
Going-to-the-Sun Road & Logan Pass
This symbol indicates links to articles on AmericanWestTravel.com.
- The famed Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- Points of Interest and Shuttle Stops Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- Going-to-the-Sun Road Information and Transit System – Glacier National Park.
- Glacier National Park Shuttle System
- Trails in Logan Pass Area. (Interactive Flash Map – Place mouse on numbered black dots for more info.)
- Current Road Status – Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park.
Services in area
Food and Lodging Along Going-to-the-Sun Road (West Side)
- Apgar Village Lodge. Late May to end of September. Rustic cabins and motel-style rooms at Apgar Village, two miles from west entrance. All rooms include private bathrooms. Some rooms with view of lake or creek. Most cabins have kitchenettes. Restaurant, stores, and gift shops in Apgar Village. Boat cruises, ranger programs, golf, and fishing. 406-888-5484
- Village Inn at Apgar. Early-June to mid-September. Motel-style rooms on shore of Lake McDonald near Apgar Village, three miles from west entrance. All rooms include private bathrooms and lake views. Kitchenettes and two-bedroom units available. Restaurant, stores, and gift shops in Apgar Village. Boat cruises, ranger programs, golf, and fishing. 406-892-2525
- Lake McDonald Lodge. Late May to late September. Classic lodge constructed in 1913 originally as a hunting lodge. On the shores of Lake McDonald (ten miles from west entrance), the lodge offers rooms in rustic cabins, lodge rooms, and motel-style rooms. All have phones and private bathrooms. Beautiful lobby with fireplace and huge veranda overlooking lake. Lounge, restaurant, and store. Horseback rides, boat tours, ranger programs, etc. 406-892-2525
- The Historic Belton Chalet. Open year-round. Classic lodge constructed in 1910 by Great Northern Railroad. Located at Belton station, near West Glacier. Rustic motel rooms with or without balconies. All have private baths. Also, cottages with three bedrooms, living room, fireplace, refrigerator and microwave. Grill Dining Room and Taproom. Fishing trips, golf, off-season packages.
Food and Lodging (East Side)
- Rising Sun Motor Inn. Mid-June to mid-September. Modest lodging across from St. Mary Lake, on Going-to-the-Sun Road, six miles west of St. Mary town. Offers rustic cottages, rustic motel rooms, and more modern motel rooms. All rooms include private bathrooms. Restaurant, showers, camp store and gift shop located nearby.
- Glacier Park Lodge and Resort. June to September. Classic lodge constructed in 1913 by Great Northern Railroad at East Glacier Park. Noted for immense wood log columns 40 feet tall and 36-42 inches across. Lobby features enormous stone fireplace and seating. Lodge is run today as a resort with a heated pool and golf course, as well as park's recreational activities. Rooms have all amenities of modern motel rooms (private bathrooms, television, phones, A/C, etc.). Fine dining, lounge, country mercantile, and gift shop.
Food and Lodging – Backcountry
- Granite Park Chalet. Located high in the Glacier National Park backcountry and is accessible by hiking trails only. Generally open from late June to early September. Granite Park Chalet is a hiker's hostel (with 12 rooms) where you bring your own sleeping bag and prepare your own meals in their kitchen. Private bunk bed rooms assigned at time of reservation and can accommodate up to six guests. Freeze-dried food and bed linens may be pre-ordered at an extra charge. No heat, electricity, or running water in rooms. Bottled water may be purchased.
Camping – East Side
- St. Mary. Open: Summer:Late May to late September; Primitive (no water): April to Late May, Mid September to end of October; Winter: November to end of March. Centrally located near eastern end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, 1/2 mile from visitor center. Largest campground on east side with 148 sites (25 sites can accommodate up to 35 foot RVs). Water and flush toilets. Scenic views. In aspen grove, limited shade. Access to free park shuttle bus. Services at St. Mary town, two miles away. Reservations available.
- Rising Sun. Open: Mid June to mid-September. Located adjacent to St. Mary Lake off of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Large campground on east side with 83 sites (10 sites can accommodate up to 25 foot vehicles). Water and flush toilets. Scenic views. Some wooded sites offer privacy. Open sites get lake breezes. Access to free park shuttle bus. Camp store (with showers) and restaurant nearby. Also, convenient to St. Mary boat tour. Evening programs.
- Two Medicine. Open: Summer: Late May/Early June to late September; Primitive (no water): Late September to end of October. Off the beaten path campground in a beautiful scenic area with lake and mountain views. Large campground on east side with 110 sites (13 sites can accommodate up to 35 foot RVs). Take spur road west from MT-49, north of East Glacier. Water and flush toilets. Mostly wooded sites offering privacy. Camp store and gift shop nearby. Ranger programs. Boat tours. Area has good day hiking and excellent chances to see wildlife. Access to fee-based concessionaire shuttle bus.
- Cut Bank. Open: Mid June to end of September. Primitive, off the beaten path campground with mountain views. Small campground on east side with 14 sites (not suitable for RVs). Take dirt road west from US-89, south of St. Mary. No drinking water, pit toilets. Mostly wooded sites offering privacy. Area has good day hiking.
Camping – West Side
- Apgar. Open: Summer: Early May to early Oct, Primitive (no water): Apr, May, and Oct, Winter: Nov to end of Mar. Largest campground in park with 194 sites (25 sites can accommodate up to 40 ft. RVs). Located adjacent to Apgar Village near west entrance. Water and flush toilets. Mostly wooded sites offering shade and some privacy. Ranger programs. Services available at Apgar Village. Numerous day hikes in area. Access to free park shuttle bus.
- Fish Creek. Open: Early June to early September. Second largest campground in park with 178 sites (18 sites can accommodate up to 35 ft. RVs). Off of Camas Road, on northwest shore of Lake McDonald. Water and flush toilets. Mostly wooded sites offering shade and some privacy. Ranger programs. Services available at Apgar Village, 2.5 miles away. Numerous day hikes in area. Access to free park shuttle bus. Reservations available.
- Sprague Creek. Open: Mid-May to mid-September. Small but popular campground on northeast shore of Lake McDonald. Has 25 sites (no towed RVs). Adjacent to Going-to-the-Sun Road. Water and flush toilets. Mostly wooded sites with some unobstructed views of the lake. Camp store, ranger programs, tours, and other services at Lake McDonald Lodge, one mile away. Access to free park shuttle bus.
- Avalanche. Open: Early June to early September. Popular campground in a beautiful and lush scenic area with lake and mountain views. Large campground on west side of divide with 87 sites (50 sites can accommodate up to 26' RVs). On Going-to-the-Sun Road, east of Lake McDonald. Water and flush toilets. Heavily wooded sites offering privacy and cool summer days. Ranger programs. Boat tours. Area has good day hiking and excellent chances to see wildlife. Trailheads nearby for popular Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake trail. Access to free park shuttle bus.
Nearest Visitor Center
Visitor centers are located at Apgar Village, St. Mary just inside the park, and Logan Pass which doesn’t open until the Going-to-the-Sun Road is fully open. The visitor centers have exhibits, brochures, bookstores/gift shops, and other programs. Rangers are present to answer questions, issue backpacking permits, provide emergency assistance, etc.
Other services in area
Food services, general stores, gift shops, guided activities at Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, and Rising Sun.