Glacier’s East Side, Going-to-the-Sun Road

0

From Logan Pass to St. Mary, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do on Glacier National Park’s East Side.  This part of the park has some exceptional views and some of the nicest waterfall hikes you’ll find.  Let’s start at the pass and work our way downhill and eastward.

Location

Going-to-the-Sun road connects St. Mary’s, on the east side, with Apgar and the Kalispell area on the west side.  In the middle is Logan Pass, on the Continental Divide.  On this page, we’ll talk about attractions on Glacier National Park’s east side, between St. Mary’s and Logan Pass.

My Visit

If you’re lucky enough to make it to Logan Pass (this part of the road is closed until late spring or early summer), and fortunate enough to find a parking spot (I’ve talked about Glacier’s transportation and parking issues on a separate page), you can enjoy a view like this one.  From the visitor center’s parking area, Going-to-the-Sun Road starts heading downhill.  The road clings to the hillside as it finds a way down the valley.  At the edge of the parking lot, you’ll get a great view — especially about an hour before sunset, when the late-day sun is shining directly onto the mountains.

Not far below the pass on the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll find a nice waterfall cascading down the hillside.  Trails on either side take you up the hill, giving you numerous places to enjoy the waterfall and take some pictures.

If you hit a traffic jam on Going-to-the-Sun Road, there’s probably a good reason.  Find a safe place to park, hop out of your car, and see if you can see what everyone is looking at.

In this case, there were a couple of bears on the hillside above the road.  They were pretty far away, which made this a safe place for viewing — but this was the best photo I could get from this distance.

There are some great waterfalls on Glacier National Park’s east side, and you can hike to one, two, or three of them, depending on how far you want to hike.  This is Baring Falls, which is just a short hike downhill from the road…

… and this is Virginia Falls, the most distant, but also the most beautiful.

Further east, you’ll start to see more trees on both sides of the road.  But there are still some good viewpoints.

You can get a nice view of Wild Goose Island from a viewpoint at the side of the road.  I returned here late one evening and waited for the Milky Way to appear above the lake.  Spoiler: it did appear, but it wasn’t over the lake.  Even so, the stars were beautiful.

Going-to-the-Sun Road slips around this dramatic curve, as you get closer to the shoreline of St. Mary Lake.

Then, the rest of the way out of the park, the road follows the lake…

… allowing you to enjoy some wide-open views.

From St. Mary, you can head north on US 89 to access the Many Glacier area of the park, as well as Waterton Lakes National Park, just over the international border in Canada. If you head south on US 89 and Montana Route 49, you can access the Two Medicine part of the park. All of these areas are worth visiting if you have the time.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from St. Mary to Logan Pass, on Going-to-the-Sun Road:

The Bottom Line

The east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road might get less attention because it’s farther away from Kalispell and the more populated areas of Montana.  But, there’s plenty to see over here.  Try to find some time to hike out to Virginia Falls, or just drive the entire length of the road and enjoy it.

No comments

You might also enjoy this...

Coronado Trail – US 191

A few miles up the road, once you’re almost out of site of the huge copper mine, you’ll find Chase Creek Scenic Vista.  The viewpoint ...