Route: 228 miles with the option to go further or add on additional routes at the end
Time: One big day or 2-3 days if you make all of the stops along the way
Roads: Paved, but seasonal. The Going-To-The-Sun Road is only open for a few short summer months
Google Maps Full Route Guide Map Link
*When calculating the route, Google will only calculate when the road is open in the summer months. If you are doing some winter planning, you’ll need to assume this map goes over the pass opposed to the other option of taking you on the 2 roadway.
The Going-To-The-Sun Road is one of Americas amazing drives that should defiantly be added to your motorcycle routes bucket list. The Sun Road is the only route that goes through the park passing the Continental Divide across Logan Pass. At it’s the highest point, the road reaches 6,646-feet and is approximately 50-miles long, though it will likely take a couple hours to complete it.
Winter can bury the road in up to 80-feet of snow making the road extremely difficult to plow, and as a result, the road is only open for short periods in the summer months. It’s free to drive but ride at your own risk. Every road barrier every built on the road has been destroyed by Mother Nature, and there are no longer plans to try and rebuild them.
Great Falls to Giant Springs State Park 5-miles
We’ll kick-start this Montana road trip in Great Falls touching on some of the cities sites. Then wind our way through Glacier National Park and up and over the stunning Going-To-The-Sun Road, and wind our way down towards Hungry Horse/Kalispell where you can choose to make your own way or pick up on another one of our great routes.
One of the big, bad, and blue? burgers at the Roadhouse Diner. You’ll see what they’re turning out once you get there.
Dining before you dash options
Whether you’re passing through or making your way out of Great Falls, you may want to time it with a lunch stop before leaving town. A casual eatery that is warm and welcoming for the biker crowd is the Roadhouse Diner. Big, house-made burgers with crowd-pleasing results are what the Roadhouse is known for. Try wrapping your mouth around the PB&J burger on a freshly baked bun, or their unique FRYDAY fry specials.
For if you’re setting off early and just have time for a coffee and a cake, check out the Crooked Tree. An independent coffee shop with fresh baked goods and enough coffee options to get your caffeine stop off to a great start.
Giant Springs State Park
Once you’re fuelled up on food and drink and ready to hit the road, make your way just outside the city for a quick detour before making your way to the Going-To-The-Sun Road. Just outside Great Falls about 5-miles, is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country. Discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, the Giant Springs State Park is an impressive display of one of mother natures most exceptional achievements. Set close to the springs and Missouri River, is this beautiful park, picnic area, fish hatchery, and Rainbow Falls. Stopping here makes for a stunning part of a spectacular day.
As part of the Giant Spring stop, you’ll want to be sure to allow time to park your bike outside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center just up the road. Inside the center you can learn all about the 8000-mile expedition, view a re-enactment in the theater, marvel at a host of artifacts, and try your hand a pulling a boat against a Missouri River current. The whole Interpretive Center is fun and highly interactive, gaining it 5-star reviews online.
Image: David on Flickr.
The classic looking old trail museum. You’d never suspect that dinosaurs live here, but they do!
Buffalo, ice cream, and dinosaurs. Giant Springs to Old Trail Museum 57-miles
For a little something different from the interstate, exit out of Great Falls on the 1st Ave N road that crosses the Missouri River and turns into Central Ave W. Once this road crosses the Sun River, it turns into McIver RD. At the end of the McIver road, you’ll hit a T-intersection. Go left here and make your way to the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. This drive out her is more relaxing than the interstate, and getting to know the history of the first nations people in the area at this informative museum is well worth the stop. There is even a great viewpoint from the top of the buffalo jump that you can hike to or ride your bike up to.
After the Buffalo jump head back up Vaughn RD towards the I-15, then exit onto HWY 89 past Vaughn & Fairfield towards Choteau. Just on the edge of Choteau is a great little stop complete with life-sized dinosaurs and well-deserved ice cream. The Old Trail Museum is a great little museum. The place has just enough history to make you feel smarter afterward, cool dinosaurs so that all your photos aren’t just old artifacts whose significance you can’t remember, and the final stop is ice cream! What better way could there be to enjoy history than with ice cream. As a special bonus, admission is just $2!
Once you’ve had your ice cream-asouras fix, keep heading North on HWY 89 until you meet up with Browning. About 70-miles up the road. In Browning, you’ll have the option to learn why Casinos rarely go broke, but their patrons often do. Not far before the Going-To-The-Sun Road gets started is the Glacier Peaks Casino and a couple of hotel option, like the Glacier Peaks Hotel. Depending on how your night at the Casino goes, you’ll be happy to know you can also take an old school, red bus tour up the Sun Road!
One of the many beautiful stops along the way. The whole drive is one great shot after another. Just like this one with beautiful snow-capped peaks sitting behind crystal clear waters.
Going-To-The-Sun Road. Saint Mary Visitor Center to Apgar Visitor Center 48-miles
If you are coming from this side to take on the Going-To-The-Sun Road, you must stop at the Saint Mary Visitor Center for several reasons. The Center is a wealth of knowledge for the area, and the park rangers that work there can field most of your questions about the area. It’s an excellent place to ask questions if you want to do the nearby hike to Red Eagle Lake, get information about the pass, or know about staying at the Saint Marry Campground up the road.
Inside the Interpretive Center, you can also watch a short film about Glacier National Parks history, wildlife, and geography. Even just stopping to take in the views is worth putting the kickstand down for half an hour.
Going-To-The-Sun Road Overview
- 50-miles long
- Allow 2hrs to complete the drive with stops
- The road is a two-lane paved road
- Vehicles on the road must be UNDER 21ft long x 10ft high x 8ft wide
- You’ll want to confirm before arrival that the way is open
Image: nps.gov It’s good to pay attention on this stretch of highway, as waterfalls like this one across the road might be fun for a van, maybe a sudden surprise on a motorcycle.
Sites and Stops Along The Road
One of your first stops along this way will be at the Logan’s Pass Visitors Center. From the Visitors Center, you can hike the 6-mile round-trip hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook. It’s noted as one of the best hikes in the national parks for those with kids or looking for something not overly strenuous. You’ll want to pack clothing layers as the weather can change quickly, but the views are amazing, and you’ll likely see some wildlife along the way. Possible even some mountain goats or good sized rams.
Next on the road will be the Wild Goose Island Lookout. It’s an easy stop to pull over and get photos of the viewpoint with your motorcycle in the background. #WildGooseIsland
A bit further up the road, you’ll have the chance to see one of Americas next to be extinct landmarks, a glacier. Stop by with your zoom lens or set of binoculars and peer out into the remaining Jackson Glacier. Global warming, natural earth cycles, conspiracy theories, call it what you want but the facts are that glaciers in America are disappearing faster and faster year after year. Some theorist state that they could all be melted away in the next decade. Get a glimpse of the Jackson Glacier one while you can.
Image:nps.gov One of the old school buses that can take you up and over the Going-To-The-Sun Road. If you think there is too much to see and you’d rather be holding your camera than your handlebars, take one of these.
There are also some picnic areas, visitors centers, and other little lookout points along the way. If you’re lucky, you might even see some of the other wildlife that lives in the area, like bears or the previously mentioned goats. Watch out, drive cautiously and try to stay as focused on the road as you do on the scenery. On this drive, it will be a toss-up if it’s better to be the driver enjoying the road or the passenger enjoying the views.
You can even spend the night or stop for lunch along the way. For eating you can stop by Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria. Right here is also a couple of sleeping options. The Motel Lake McDonald and the fancier Lake McDonald Lodge. There are also a host of other camping spots along the way if you’re packing a tent, and looking to stay closer to nature.
Once you’ve made your way through the beautiful twists and hair-raising turns of this road, you’ll land that the Apgar Visitor Center near the roads end. The visitor center is again, a wealth of information if you are looking for more. Onsite there is an Amphitheatre where you can sit and take in the beauty of Lake McDonald, as well as a campground or Inn for sleeping at.
Optional Stops Overview
- St Mary Visitor Center
- Logan’s Pass Visitor Center
- Hidden Lake Overlook
- Wild Goose Island Lookout
- Jackson Glacier Lookout
- Going-To-The-Sun Point
- St. Marry Falls
- Avalanche Creek Picnic Area
- Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria
- Apgar Visitors Center
Image:@jenny.hutto A quick “warning” on the way into the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery. When’s the last time you were in a house of mystery anyway?
After The Sun Road. Apgar Visitors Center to Montana Vortex 15-miles
Once you’ve successfully taken on this route, made all the scenic stops, and enjoyed a fantastic day or two crossing the Going-To-The-Sun Road. You’ll then have the option of where to go from here. If you’re worn out from the road or just enjoy towns with memorable names. Spend the night in Hungry Horse. Here you can check out the reservoir, drive up the road to the Big Sky Waterpark, or if you really want to have your mind blown they have something special.
Not far from Hungry Horse is the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery. The place is a unique space of energy where perception and gravity are not like those in the rest of the world. Check it out for a few laughs and to re-think what you thought you know about science.
You can also head into Whitefish or Kalispell from here if you’re looking for a more significant center to stay in or find some biker buddies. Then for those of you looking to continue exploring some of Americas greatest motorcycle routes, drive on over to Sandpoint Idaho and pick up one of our other great route guides.