When it comes to roads, Going-to-the-Sun Road to truly unique: It is the first road to ever be registered as a National Historic Place, National Historic Landmark and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Because of the exceptionally rugged and steep terrain and the careful integration into the mountainous setting, the construction that began in 1921 carried on for 11 years. Once it was finished, Going-to-the-Sun Road became one of the first National Park Service projects specifically intended to cater to tourists in automobiles.
If you ever make the trip along Going-to-the-Sun Road, you will come to appreciate the immense effort by the National Park Service each year to open the road in the spring. It ranks as one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow because it is common for up to 80 feet of snow to cover Logan Pass (at 6,646 feet, the highest point of the road). In all, the plowing effort takes nearly 10 weeks, even with equipment that can move 4,000 tons of snow per hour.
Despite the extreme amount of snow at the pass during winter months, some portions of Going-to-the-Sun Road remain open all year for specific attractions and activities. Each year the road is usually fully open in late June or early July, yet there is never a set date for the road to open. For up-to-date road information use the NPS link.
Without stopping, it takes around two hours to drive the full 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road. There is no cost for the road itself because the National Park entrance fee provides access to the entire park. Before you make the trip, be sure that your vehicle conforms to the road’s rules: no vehicles or vehicle/trailer combos longer than 21 feet (including bumpers) or wider than 8 feet (including mirrors). While this may be limiting in some ways, Glacier National Park provides a free two-way shuttle service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center. This shuttle service allows you to take more pictures along the way, avoid the crowded parking lots, and enjoy some vintage history…the shuttle fleet is composed of vintage (but modernized) 1930s red buses.
Even if you have not been to Going-to-the-Sun Road in person before, you’ve likely already seen it, as it is featured in the opening driving scenes of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film, The Shining.