A kilometer-by-kilometer guide to the route du soleil

Mileage marker 1: West entrance

It is the most popular entrance to Glacier National Park and is open year round. The community of West Glacier is full of amenities including gas, food and recreational activities. Entrance to the park costs $ 30 for a seven-day vehicle permit; $ 15 for a single person; $ 25 for motorcycles; and $ 50 for an annual pass.

Mileage marker 3: Lake McDonald

Stretching 16 km long and 1 mile wide, it is the largest body of water in the park. It covers an area of ​​6,823 acres and is ideal for boating and sightseeing.

Mile Marker 11: Lake McDonald Lodge

Built in 1913, this historic lodge is perched along its namesake lake with 82 bedrooms, a rustic dining room, a reading corner and a living room. This Swiss chalet-style lodge was designed by renowned architect Kirtland Cutter, whose other works include the Davenport Hotel in Spokane and the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Mile Marker 12: McDonald Falls

This small retreat rewards visitors with a jaw-dropping show of force as water gushes through the jaded rocks.

Meter marker 16: Avalanche stream and Cedars trail

This busy roadside spot features a large campground and the most popular hike in the park, the 2.5 mile getaway to Avalanche Lake. Discover the wheelchair accessible Cedar Trail, which winds through a sylvan setting of towering trees and a peaceful forest. Make sure to arrive early to find a parking space or take a shuttle bus from Apgar.

Mileage marker 23: Tunnel on the west side

It is one of two tunnels along the Sun Road and approximately 17 major masonry and concrete structures along the Sun Road.

Mileage marker 24: The loop

This popular stop is the only official switchback along the serpentine Sun Road. Shuttles frequent this location and hikers frequently use it to get to the Granite Park Chalet or end their jaunt along the Highline Trail. From there, enjoy the view of Heavens Peak to the west, which stretches 8,987 feet into the sky.

Mileage marker 27: Bird Woman Falls

Visible in the distance, these majestic waterfalls fall 560 feet from the north face of Clements Mountain.

Mileage marker 28: Haystack Falls

The Sun Road straddles these scenic falls, which cascade down the garden wall at Haystack Butte to McDonald’s Creek, well below.

Mileage marker 29: Weeping wall

Roll up your windows.

Mileage marker 30: Big Bend

This large stake is ideal for stopping and enjoying the scenic panorama with Cannon Mountain, Mount Oberlin, Heavens Peak, and Clements Mountain in the distance. Surrounding this same area is the Triple Arches, a 60-foot section of road with impressive stone masonry.

Mileage marker 32: Logan Pass Visitor Center

At 66.46 feet, it is the highest point of elevation along the Sun Road. This is the main parking lot in the heart of the park and it fills up early. There are restrooms near the Visitor Center and picturesque views of Reynolds Mountain and Clements Mountain in the distance, as well as meadows of wildflowers. This is a good starting point for several popular hikes, including the Highline Trail and Hidden Lake.

Mileage marker 33: Great drift

During the winter, over 80 feet of snow typically accumulates at this location, creating additional work for snow crews who end their spring clearing efforts entirely focused on this area.

Mileage marker 34: Tunnel on the east side

Many consider this to be one of the Sun Road’s most impressive feats of engineering. This 408-foot tunnel crossing Piegan Mountain was built in 1932 as part of the road construction, but this structure was built entirely by hand instead of motorized equipment.

Mileage marker 35: Siyeh Bend

This winding section of the road is the starting point for many popular hikes, including Siyeh Pass and Piegan Pass.

Mileage marker 40: Sunrift Gorge

This stream runs through a steep canyon of bedrock. Check out the Baring Creek Bridge.

Mileage marker 44: Rising sun

A popular campground with 84 sites, this location has a camping store, pavilion and picnic area, as well as access to Lake St. Mary.

Mile 50 marker: St. Mary’s Visitor Center

This is the eastern entrance to the park and offers a visitor center with interpretive information, a ranger station and more.

About Dianne Stinson

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