One of the most dynamic places I’ve ever encountered in the United States has to be Glacier National Park. A close second would be Yosemite National Park in northern California (I’ll cover that in another post at some point). Located in northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park skirts the Canadian border, specifically the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
In fact, when you arrive at the visitor center, you see Canadian Mounties in their bright red regalia. While I didn’t get to bike the “The Sun Road,” as it is romantically named, on this particular visit, I do plan to ride it someday in the future.
Glacier National Park was established in 1910 and stretches over 1 million acres. Native Americans, however, first inhabited the land that would be contained in the park over 10,000 years ago. The Blackfeet tribe still has a reservation there today.
Of particular interest to bicyclists, as mentioned, is “The Sun Road”, or to use the longer name, “Going to the Sun Road.” That nomenclature stems from a Native American legend that a god named Sour Spirit descended from the sky to teach the Blackfeet how to hunt.
The “Sun Road” starts at the west entrance to the park and runs for 50 miles. It cuts across the continental divide and reaches an elevation of 6,646 feet. It is the only major road through the park, which was opened in 1933 after 11 years of construction. In its history, “The Sun Road” received three designations: it is a National Historic Place, a National Historic Landmark, and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
“The Sun Road” allows for amazing views of mountains, waterfalls, and glaciers. The largest glacier at the park (check my Monday photo post for a picture) is, unfortunately, rapidly disappearing due to the effects of climate change but is still a wonder to see. You also might see wildlife like Longhorn sheep and Grizzly Bears. However, while I was there, I experienced the scenery but no wildlife. And while I didn’t get to ride there, the roads are baby smooth and well-maintained with lots of places to stop for pictures.
Important to note: if you plan to ride “The Sun Road,” it’s wise to plan ahead as it is only open to vehicle traffic from June to October due to the heavy snow the area receives. Just to give you an idea of how much snow Glacier receives, it takes snow plows 10 weeks to clear it.
The other item of information to be aware of is that, because it is the only major road that traverses the park, traffic can sometimes be quite heavy. That was the case when I was there. Additionally, the road is two lanes and narrow with “hairpin turns” along with varying speed limits from 45 to 25. The road also has tunnels but they are fairly short.
Have you ever been to Montana or Glacier National Park? Have you ever got to bike “The Sun Road?” Please like, share, and comment and let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.
On another note, today is the first day of September and summer is definitely on the wane. Right now is perfect weather for getting in some great riding with warm days and cooler nights minus the humidity, plus it is Labor Day Weekend. If you are traveling or you’re just staying home, I wish you all a safe, fun, relaxing, and happy holiday.