Going to the Sun Road

Note: this road is closed during winter.
Length: 50 miles (2 to 6 hours)
Overall Rating:
10 - Bucket List
10 - Stunning
08 - Great, but you're not here for that
06 - Moderate traffic, quieter off-peak

Fans of The Shining may recognize this road from the movie's opening scene, where Jack drives his Volkswagen on the twisty, remote road en-route to the Overlook Hotel. While you won’t find a spooky hotel here in real life, the road’s drop-offs and cliffs may be enough to unnerve some drivers. For others it adds to the fun!

One thing that may not be immediately evident in the movie is the grandeur of the scenery. It’s absolutely spectacular, and is arguably the best road-side scenery you’ll get in the American Rocky Mountains. Both the western and eastern ends start with lakes (Lake MacDonald, and Saint Mary Lake, respectively), with climbs to 6600 foot Logan Pass. The ascents on both sides cling to the mountain walls with long drops to the valley below.

The majority of its length travels through Glacier National Park; ensure you check the website for a complete list of attractions, fees and seasonal restrictions (it’s closed for much of the year). While both directions provide great views, travelling eastwards will keep you perched on the cliff edge with (if I recall correctly) more pull-outs. The best bet would be to spend one or more nights in the park and drive both directions, and visit/hike as many park attractions as possible. In four hours it is possible to travel one direction and take in most of the pull-outs (and even do a short hike on the bluffs over St Mary Lake), but that is missing many other things that the park offers (like the Hidden Lake and Highline trails).

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