The Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is one of the most famous drives in all of the U.S. National Parks. Though we encountered quite a bit of construction today, we still had wonderful scenery and great views, so it's easy to see how this drive earned all its accolades.
We headed out around 9:30 this morning and entered Glacier National Park at the St. Mary entrance which is maybe a mile from our campground outside the park.
The Going-To-The-Sun Road is the 50 mile route that connects the St. Mary entrance in the east to the West Glacier entrance in the west. One section of the road prohibits vehicles and vehicle combinations longer than 21 feet and wider than 8 feet (including mirrors).
After driving a few miles along St. Mary Lake, we started going up and made a stop at an overlook that provides an opportunity to take this iconic photo of Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake.
Continuing our drive we passed mountain streams ....
We pulled over at turnouts for views of lovely valleys, ....
and mountains and more waterfalls.
This is the eastern tunnel that leads up to Logan Pass and Clements Mountain.
This is Lunch Creek.
As we went over Logan Pass, we saw Mountain Goats by the road and could see them on the Highline Trail as well. On the west side of the pass, the traffic picked up and the road narrowed along the rock walls. The next shot looks up to the Highline Trail where we hiked last Thursday.
I snapped a quick shot as we passed the Weeping Wall and as a Red Tour Bus approached.
The 500-foot Bird Woman Falls were in the distant shadows, but still impressive.
On our Highline Trail hike, those falls were in view quite a bit of the way.
The road curved and descended until it ran along McDonald Creek and its beautiful water.
Unfortunately, many of the creekside turnouts were closed due to road construction, so several of the best views were inaccessible. We sat stopped in construction for twenty minutes.
On the other side of the construction, we wanted to walk the Trail of Cedars and check out Avalanche Gorge. But the construction traffic was terrible and there was no parking.
So, we continued on and drove next to the very large Lake McDonald. We did make one stop along the lake for photos. I took this shot from the roadside, ....
and then scrambled down the bank for this one.
The most spectacular views were up around Logan Pass, and it was a long way from there through the western side of the park. By the time we finally got to the west entrance, we were really glad we were staying in St. Mary.
Rather than retracing our drive on the Going-To-The-Sun Road and dealing with the construction, we exited the park and drove east on U.S. 2 that borders the southern edge of the park. We made a stop for lunch in East Glacier Park at the Glacier Park Lodge.
East Glacier Park and the lodge had a very laid back vibe. But it's a long way from both ends of the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
It is, however, close to one of the least visited areas of the park - Two Medicine. We entered Two Medicine and stopped at the Eagle Falls trailhead.
It's only a third of a mile to the falls.
These falls are also known as Trick Falls. In heavy flow, water falls over the upper rocks and can obscure or hide the lower falls you see above. Also, the lower falls seem to flow from underground.
Here's some video to add sound.
The views heading away from the falls weren't bad either.
We drove to the end of Two Medicine Road and, although it doesn't get as many visitors, there isn't a whole lot of parking. Rather than wait for a spot, we just drove on out.
There are a dozen hiking trails in the Two Medicine area, and several seem intriguing. But it's just not convenient unless you are camped in Two Medicine or East Glacier Park.
We drove up Montana Hwy 49 which is a curvy, bumpy connector road between U.S. 2 and U.S. 89 heading on up to St. Mary. We stopped for a photo of Lower Two Medicine Lake.
What a gorgeous day we had with some wonderful views on our driving tour. We learned that the location we selected to camp in St. Mary was by far the best for us. It has the easiest access to Logan Pass, and it has easy access to the Many Glacier area, arguably the prettiest part of the park.
Hope you enjoyed the tour.