TRIP IDEA

A Half Day in Glacier for a Sightseer

Glacier National Park

Line of road streaks across mountain side with snow patches
Duration Half Day
Topic(s) Architecture and Building, Scenic Views
Activities Museum Exhibits, Scenic Driving, Guided Tours
Type Kid Friendly, Relaxed, Inspirational, Scenic
Parks Glacier National Park

If you want to see epic mountain vistas in as little time as possible, take Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Logan Pass. At 6,6466 ft (2,025 m) in elevation, Logan Pass is the highest point in the park reachable by road. The road itself is a marvel of engineering and a National Historic Landmark. As you drive, think about the difficulties of building such a road in the mountains.

West Side Travel

If you start at the West Entrance or in the Apgar area, your Going-to-the-Sun journey begins by hugging Lake McDonald’s shores as you drive northeast. About 9 miles (14.5 km) up lake you will come to Lake McDonald Lodge. The lodge was built in 1913-14 and is a National Historic Landmark. You can either stop now and check out the lobby’s hunting-lodge decor, or stop on your return journey. Driving to Logan Pass without stopping could take about an hour, but it would be a shame to drive without stopping to occasionally marvel at the views or read an informative sign. Once you reach Logan Pass, you will likely have difficulty finding parking. Be patient. From this point, the views down St. Mary Valley are stunning. If you do park and get out of the car, check out the exhibits inside and outside Logan Pass Visitor Center. Head down the Hidden Lake Trail as far as time allows. Even a few steps down the boardwalk affords great wildflower viewing. Retrace your steps to end your day of scenic driving.

East Side Travel

Start at St. Mary Visitor Center. Watch the 15 minute park film for an overview, then explore the beautiful interactive exhibits on American Indian tribes and their ties to the lands that today make up Glacier National Park. Then head out on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Driving to Logan Pass without stopping could take about 1.5-2 hours, but it would be a shame to drive without stopping to occasionally marvel at the views or read an informative sign. There are many trailheads along this stretch of the road, making parking difficult in the most popular hiking spots. Once you reach Logan Pass, you will likely have difficulty finding parking. Be patient throughout your trip. The views are breathtaking at every turn. If you do park and get out of the car, check out the exhibits inside and outside Logan Pass Visitor Center. Head down the Hidden Lake Trail as far as time allows. Even a few steps down the boardwalk affords great wildflower viewing. Retrace your steps to end your day of scenic driving.

  • Glacier National Park

    Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Scenic Driving
    • Pets: Yes
    • Duration: 3–8 Hours
    • Season: Summer
    • Time of Day: Any Time
    Car drives uphill over triple arched stone bridge

    A drive across this engineering marvel has been a quintessential part of any trip to Glacier since the 1930s.

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    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Museum Exhibits
    • Pets: No
    • Season: Summer
    • Time of Day: Day, Dawn, Dusk
    Flagpoles in front of modern building with exaggerated roofline

    These visitor centers are worth a stop for the information and exhibits provided, as well as their historic architecture.

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    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    • Season: Summer
    • Time of Day: Any Time
    A hand holds historic photo aligned with actual historic hotel building

    Step inside one of the historic lodges and pretend you are a traveler on the Great Northern Railway in the 1910s.

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Last updated: May 7, 2017