A Survival Guide for Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Jun 08, 2016
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. It's an eyes-wide-open in awe experience that will leave you feeling advantaged over others who haven't shared the same experience.  Most will traverse the road by car, biking the road is a completely different type of amazement. Be assured, pedaling the Road is one for the bucket list. 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 in the spring, before the road opens to vehicle traffic. This is typically early to mid-May through mid-June. This timeline varies yearly due to snowpack and other weather conditions. Check in with the 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)
  • Water
  • Bear Spray
  • Layers
  • Waterproof gear  Glacier’s weather changes fast
  • Snack/Lunch 
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Bike Emergency Tool Kit
  • The Ride by the Numbers

Length

The ride will it take 3-6 hours. Time on the Road depends greatly on where the snow level and turn-around 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

Mileage

Avalanche Lake to Logan Pass is 16 miles. The mileage really depends on when you make the trek. I recommend waiting until the road is open from the 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. Don't worry, it is worth the pain. At first your ride will climb gradually alongside McDonald Creek.  The Road steepens as it ascends toward the loop. It's helpful 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.
 
 
 
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