Bicycling

Bikers riding the Going-to-the-Sun Road past Weeping Wall
Bikers on Going-to-the-Sun Road near Weeping Wall.

NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Each year an increasing number of bicyclists visit Glacier. Most seek to ride portions of the engineering marvel that is Going-to-the-Sun-Road during the early season while cars are restricted due to plowing operations. Regardless of where you ride, be sure to gather seasonal information such as available services, bicycling restrictions, area closures, and road and weather conditions.

Only those experienced at riding with heavy vehicle traffic in two directions should consider bicycling on Going-to-the-Sun Road during peak summer season.
 

Regulations

  • A fee is charged when entering the park via bicycle.
  • Bicycles are allowed only on paved roads, unpaved roads, and multi-use paths (bike paths), unless otherwise posted.
  • During Spring Hiker/Biker Season Road Crew Closures are in place Monday through Thursday during plowing. Visitors may advance to the Avalanche Hazard Closure when road crews are not working. Avalanche Hazard Closures are in place at all times. Progressive closure locations are determined weekly on Thursdays. Visitors are prohibited from going past the hiker/biker closures. Violators are putting their safety and the safety of our park rangers at risk and could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. You can find closure information on our Road Status Page.
  • Bicycles are not allowed on any park hiking trails or in any backcountry areas.
  • Bicyclists in the park must obey the same rules and regulations that apply to motorized vehicles.
  • Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are allowed if the motor is less than 750 watts (1 hp) and engaged only while pedaling.
  • When roadways are open to vehicles, riding a bicycle abreast of another bicycle is prohibited. Keep well to the right in single file.
  • Bicyclists must use pull-outs to allow traffic to pass when they are available and must pull off the road, coming to a complete stop, when four or more cars have stacked up behind them.
  • During low visibility and between sunset and sunrise, bicyclists must display a white light or reflector on the front and a red light or reflector on the rear.

Safety

  • Drivers are often distracted by scenery in the park, so ride defensively.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Maintain control of your speed.
  • Bring a headlamp if biking in the early morning, late afternoon, or evening.
  • Use hand signals to communicate with drivers and other bicyclists.
  • Never leave food unattended, including in bicycle panniers and backpacks.
  • None of Glacier’s roads have bicycle lanes or shoulders. Wear high visibility clothing and protective equipment.
  • When riding an e-bike, mount and dismount carefully. The added weight of the battery and motor assist technology can add twenty or more pounds to the typical weight.
  • Make sure to carry and understand how to use bear spray and understand the dos and don’ts of a wildlife encounter. Maintain 25 yards (23 m) distance from all large animals, and 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves.
  • Always let an outside party know where you are going and have a check in when you get back safely. There are many hazards on bicycling routes, such as vehicle collisions, wildlife, rockfall, and avalanches.
  • Check tire pressure before you set out and make sure you have the necessary tools to change a tire. Check that your pump matches the valve on your tire.

Hiker/Biker Campsites

A limited number of sites at Apgar, Fish Creek, Sprague Creek, and St. Mary are available for those arriving via bicycle or on foot (hiker/biker sites). Sites are shared, with a capacity of up to 8 people; larger groups must split up or use group sites where available. If hiker/biker sites are full or campers do not want to share a site, hikers/bicyclists must use regular unoccupied campsites. Read more about campgrounds on the Camping page.


The hiker/biker fee is $5 per person per night for Apgar, Sprague Creek, Avalanche, Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and Rising Sun Campgrounds. In the reservation campgrounds, St. Mary and Fish Creek, the fee is $8 for the first person and $5 for every individual beyond the first. Hiker/biker sites are not available to motorcyclists. They must use regular unoccupied campsites.

 
map with restricted areas of road highlighted
Restricted areas highlighted in red.

NPS Graphic

Peak Season Restrictions

Visitor use patterns have expanded into the fall season, and Going-to-the-Sun Road is extremely busy until it closes. Peak season restrictions are in place due to increased vehicle congestion in this corridor with limited sight distance, exposed ledges, and sections of narrow, steep, and winding road. Restrictions are in effect on portions of Going-to-the-Sun Road from June 15 through Labor Day:

  • From Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground bicycles are prohibited, both directions, between 11 am and 4 pm.
  • From Logan Creek to Logan Pass east-bound (uphill) bicycle traffic is prohibited between 11 am and 4 pm.
  • Start early. On average, it takes about 45 minutes to ride from Sprague Creek to Logan Creek and about 3 hours from Logan Creek to Logan Pass.
 
bike trail map
Dotted red lines are bike trails

NPS Graphic

Are There Bike Trails?

Bicycles are permitted on all paved and unpaved roads in the park.

There are also four multi-use trails on which bicycling is allowed:
  • The Fish Creek Bike Path from Grist Road to Fish Creek
  • The paved bike path from Park Headquarters to Apgar Village, Visitor Center, and Campground
  • The old Flathead Ranger Station trail accessed from Quarter Circle Bridge Road
  • The section of Inside North Fork Road, which is currently restricted to vehicles, between Camas Creek and Logging Creek
Other than on unpaved roads, true mountain biking opportunities will not be found in the park. The Flathead National Forest and other locations within the Flathead Valley have mountain biking trails with varying terrain and difficulty levels.
 
Spring Hiker/Biker Handout Flyer (PDF 3.65 MB)
Planning on biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road this Spring? Here's a flyer with some information you need to know before hitting the road. It contains a map with distances, shuttle information, and closure information.
 
Spring Hiker/Biker Handout Postcard (PDF 124 KB)
Planning on biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road this Spring? Here's a small printable handout with some information you need to know before hitting the road. It contains a map with distances, shuttle information, and closure information.
 

Spring Bicycling on Going-to-the-Sun Road

In Spring, portions of Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for hiking and biking, beyond the vehicle closure.

Closures

Road Crew Closures are in place Monday through Thursday during plowing. Visitors may advance to the Avalanche Hazard Closure when road crews are not working. Avalanche Hazard Closures are in place at all times. Progressive closure locations are determined weekly on Thursdays. Visitors are prohibited from going past the hiker/biker closures. Violators are putting their safety and the safety of our park rangers at risk and could face up to a $5,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. You can find closure information on our Road Status Page.


Shuttles

During the “hiker-biker” season, shuttles are typically available to transport bicyclists and their bicycles from the Apgar Visitor Center to the point where the road is restricted to vehicles. Parking lots fill early at this time of the year, and it may be wise to plan on using a shuttle.

  • Bring extra warm layers for when you’re finished riding. Most bicyclists get wet from precipitation and snowmelt along the upper elevations of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
  • Bring enough food and water for the full day, as there are typically no services at this time of the year beyond Apgar Village and West Glacier.

Hypothermia

Rangers often must respond to bicyclists with cases of hypothermia from riding downhill in the spring and early summer. Riders often wear t-shirts and shorts heading uphill, as the 6% grade on a bike is heavy aerobic exercise. Downhill bicyclists often wear winter hats, gloves, and coats. While the exercise keeps you warm, zooming down the mountainside at high speeds can rapidly cool you:

  • The upper stretches of the road can be extremely wet from snow melt, and the tire spray will get you wet.

  • Temperatures at various elevations can differ significantly. It may feel like summer down below and winter up high.

  • Glacier’s weather is rapidly variable at high elevations. There can be sudden graupel, hail, rain, and snow events. Keep your eyes peeled for incoming weather and check the weather reports for both low elevations on the road and Logan Pass to know what to expect.

  • Windbreakers or rain shells over thin insulated jackets are good layers to bring for possible inclement weather conditions.

  • A thin neoprene hat will help keep your head warm, and it will fit under a helmet.

  • Gloves and neck gaiters assist greatly with retaining warmth.

  • Bring additional dry and warm layers for after your ride.

Avalanche Danger

Generally, avalanches do not pose a significant threat to areas below The Loop. While the park does monitor avalanche danger and will subsequently restrict access to portions of the road as necessary, bicyclists have been caught between avalanches on the road in years past. You should always keep your eyes and ears peeled for signs and areas of avalanche danger. Check Flathead Avalanche for more information on avalanches and avalanche forecasts.

Rocks and Rockfall

Rocks of all sizes can always be found on the road. While smaller ones pop tires, larger rocks can throw you entirely off course as you’re speeding down the mountainside, leading to potential high-speed crashes and severe injury. Make sure to stay alert, watch where you’re riding, avoid running over rocks, and always wear a helmet.While it’s uncommon, rocks can fall from higher elevations and tumble with force and high velocity down to the road. Know that you are biking at your own risk in a natural, hazardous landscape.

People

Rangers often must respond to uphill-downhill bicyclist collisions. Do your best to stay in the right lane, with slower traffic keeping to the far right. Skilled riders travel downhill at extremely high speeds. Stay alert and look far ahead whenever you have visibility, so that you know when others may be coming around blind corners.Slow down and exercise extreme caution while bicycling through The Loop. It’s a congested area and a popular place for families to rest with younger children.

Wildlife

Pay attention to the “Safety” list above, as animal sightings are common on the road during the “hiker-biker” season. During a wildlife encounter, you may be in an area with steep cliffs both above and below. Be sure to stop at a distance that allows the animal a clear route to move away from you. Moose and deer are common at lower elevations, goats, sheep, and marmots at higher elevations, and bears are common at all elevations.

Ride Distances and Elevation Gain

From the road closure on the west side at the Lake McDonald Lodge:

  • Avalanche Creek – 5.5 mi; 219 ft

  • the West Tunnel – 12.7 mi; 1,030 ft

  • the Loop – 13.3 mi; 1,100 ft

  • Big Bend – 18 mi; 2,545 ft

  • Logan Pass – 21 mi; 3,427 ft

From the road closure on the west side at Avalanche Creek:

  • the West Tunnel – 7.2 mi; 811 ft

  • the Loop – 7.8 mi; 881 ft

  • Big Bend – 12.5 mi; 2,326 ft

  • Logan Pass – 15.5 mi; 3,208 ft

From the road closure on the east side at Rising Sun:

  • Sun Point – 3.5 mi; 181 ft

  • Sunrift Gorge – 4.2 mi; 223 ft

  • St. Mary Falls Trailhead – 4.7 mi; 295 ft

  • Jackson Glacier Overlook – 6.9 mi; 846 ft

  • Siyeh Bend – 8.9 mi; 1,421 ft

  • Lunch Creek – 10.9 mi; 2,110 ft

  • Logan Pass – 11.5 mi; 2,313 ft

 
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Duration:
1 minute, 52 seconds

This video highlights the spring biking season in Glacier National Park. It shows what to bring and how to enjoy this early season in the park. There is no narration.

 
 
 
 
 

Last updated: May 17, 2022

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