One of the most impressive sights in Montana is Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. I will never forget my first time over the Road. My eyes were wide open in amazement that something so beautiful existed and that I was lucky enough to experience it. I was in a car at the time, biking the road is a completely different type of amazement. I can assure you, pedaling the Road is one for the bucket list. It’s on my list more than once, so I try to make it happen every couple years. Here’s what to expect on your two-wheeled journey up Going-to-the-Sun Road.
When to go
Hands down, the best time to go is springtime, before the road opens to vehicle traffic. This is typically early to mid-May through mid-June. This, of course it varies yearly due to snowpack and other weather conditions. Check in with Park to stay informed.
Time to go
The Park only permits hikers and bikers at times when the plows aren’t working. Stick to evening rides during the week after 4:30pm or anytime on the weekends. If it’s hot out, get an early start to beat the heat.
What to bring
Bike-Rentals available at Sportsman Ski Haus
in Kalispell & Whitefish, Great Northern Cyclery
and Glacier Cyclery
Waterproof gear-Glacier’s weather changes fast
Bike Emergency Tool Kit
The Ride by the Numbers
The Road by the Numbers
Length: The ride will it take 3-6 hours. Time on the Road depends greatly on where the snow level and turnaround point is.Later in the season, the snow level will be higher providing an opportunity to go farther on the Road for a longer ride.
Elevation Gain: 3,165 feet from Avalanche Creek to Logan Pass
Miles: Avalanche Lake to Logan Pass-16 miles
Mileage really depends on when you make the trek. I recommend waiting until the road is open from Avalanche Creek area, starting from Avalanche cuts out a lot of flat road-riding along Lake McDonald. Although, the ride around the Lake is not short on eye-popping scenery.
What to Count On
You can count on sweeping vistas, jaw-dropping views and tired legs, not to worry though, it is worth the pain. At first your ride will climb gradually alongside McDonald Creek. The Road steepens as it ascends toward the loop. I like to break the ride into a few different resting spots: Logan Creek, the Loop, Bird Woman Falls, the Weeping Wall and finally Logan Pass. Each of these spots are perfect for resting and photos.
Lastly, you can count on huge grins across the faces of fellow riders on their way down as you pump your way up. Rest assured you’ll have the same smile on your face as you speed down this mountain highway for the memory of a lifetime.