Opening Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road

America’s most iconic National Park road is reopening, helping provide lifelong adventures into the heights of Glacier National Park. Soon, once the plows finish clearing snow, Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road will be open to vehicles, once again inspiring and possibly terrifying modern day adventurers with inspiring views. Any day now, the Going to the Sun Road will be open. Will you be driving it this year? 

High up on the backbone of America, full of panoramic vistas and jaw dropping overlooks, Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road is one of the world’s most breathtaking drives. For 50 miles, this iconic and historic road, part of the National Register of Historic Places, has been captivating generations of visitors. Completed in 1932, the paved two-lane road crosses the Continental Divide, showcasing the towering, rocky mountains reaching toward the heavens. Closing after the first snows fall in October, the road doesn’t reopen to cars until June, after the National Park Service plows the hairpin turns. As of June 14th, 2017, the plows are close to reopening the road, causing excitement among the outdoor community. Check road conditions here. For all relevant and important details about the Going to the Sun Road and Glacier National Park, please check out this page full of awesome information.

For a few lucky visitors, their trip to Glacier this June will have them becoming one of the first cars over Logan Pass, connecting both sides of Glacier National Park with this scenic route. In 2016, The Outdoor Society was lucky enough to be in Glacier the minute the Going to the Sun Road opened, with our car becoming the first vehicle to the top of Logan Pass that year. As we entered the park on a sunny June day, I inquired with the ranger working at the entrance station on the timeframe of opening the road. He told me that the road probably wouldn’t be open for a few days, but crews were working hard to get it done soon. Saddened, we headed toward our campground, set up the tent in strong winds and decided to drive up the road as far as we could. We did not expect what happened next.

Passing pullouts and scenic views, the car soon reached a closed gate. A handful of cars were in the parking area, but a ranger vehicle was parked on our side of the gate, with a ranger standing outside. Walking up and chatting with the ranger, we were told that in just a few minutes, the gate would be open and we could all drive across the Going to the Sun Road. Jumping in cars, everyone within earshot of this ranger lined up and waited. We were going to be the first people across the pass for the year.

While the weather was less than ideal that first day (we were met with hail, thunder and lightning and strong winds), the chance to be the first across was amazing. Without any fanfare, announcements or warning, a ranger walked to the gate, unlocked it and officially opened the road for the 2016 tourist season. Engines started up and within a few seconds, we were driving where no-one else had driven since October/November of 2015.

The opening of the gate in 2016, officially allowing cars the ability to travel across the Going to the Sun Road
The first picture from a car passenger at Logan Pass, from June of 2016
The first car up to Logan Pass in 2016 was met with stunning views
Looking down from the west side of the Going to the Sun Road on the second day it was open in June of 2016.
Looking toward Logan Pass from the east side of the Going to the Sun Road the second day the road was open in 2016
2017 NPS photo showing the plows working to clear the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park
2017 NPS photo showing the plows working to clear the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park

For those who haven’t experienced the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, the views are nearly impossible to describe. Highlighted by the breathtaking high alpine tundra at Logan Pass, located 6,646 feet above sea level, mountain goats and panoramic views abound. Each year millions of visitors explore Glacier National Park, the majority of which take the drive or ride one of the iconic buses across this breathtaking route, but only a few experience the open road on the very first day.

If you miss the opening day of the Going to the Sun Road, don’t fret. With each passing week, the snows in the high alpine region of Glacier melt away, opening up a wonderland of trails, mountain views and wildlife experiences.  Glacier, like most National Park’s and public lands, is a one-of-a-kind nature destination, full of experiences unrivaled anywhere else in the world. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is just one of hundreds of must-see location in the park. This year, The Outdoor Society will be covering more information about the best hikes, views and experiences in and around this high alpine jewel.

As one of America’s most-popular National Parks, Glacier has a tough job getting ready after each snowy winter season. Considered to be the crown of the continent, Glacier National Park gives visitors unrivaled access to pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. However, before we can all explore this amazing, alpine-wilderness destination, roads must be cleaned and cleared.

With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness, solitude and drool-inducing views. The park also has amazingly gorgeous historic chalets and lodges, as well as iconic transportation that can take you around the park. This year, you MUST head to Montana and explore Glacier National Park.

You won’t regret it.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at my trip from 2015. Can’t wait until the snow melts? See how Glacier National Park is using technology to connect with visitors! More Plowing Images from Glacier National Park can be found on their Flickr Page, which I imagine they will update often.

Stay tuned!

 


Want to Also See Yellowstone National Park? Check out our INCREDIBLE GUIDEBOOK.

After having been to Yellowstone over 30 times in 20 years,  I have put on the miles, stopped at nearly every gas station, rest stop and scenic area from Seattle, Washington to Gardiner, Montana. I have stayed in the campgrounds, eaten at the restaurants and experienced the lodges. I know Yellowstone, I know the drive and I want to share it with you. The information I give has no hidden agenda. I want to give you the best trip to Yellowstone from Seattle as possible and this guidebook can do that.

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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