Regional Guide

Glacier National Park and Northwest Montana - Scenic Driving

Here in northwest Montana you'll find one of America's most scenic drives: Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 52-mile two-lane highway runs the width of Glacier National Park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (6,646 feet). Going-to-the-Sun Road offers visitors a sampling of Glacier's scenic diversity—from glacier-fed lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys to windswept Alpine tundra atop the pass. Be sure to take advantage of the many viewpoints and pullouts as you cruise along.

During your visit to Glacier, take a spin north along U.S. 89 and Alberta 2. These two roads connect Glacier with its northern neighbor—Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park. U.S. 89 is the main route along Glacier's eastern boundary and provides a panoramic view of the Continental Divide and of Chief Mountain. The road passes through St. Mary, the park's eastern gate, where the prairies of Big Sky Country meet the mountains.

Naturalist and conservationist John Muir once said that the ponderosa pine "gives forth the finest music to the winds." Head for Kootenai National Forest to take in this woodwind concert. Montana Route 37 makes a scenic route through the forest, running east from Libby, Montana, along the shore of Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa. You'll see Tony Peak (1,459 feet) to the south as you drive by.

For a scenic sampling of three different public lands, check out U.S. 2. This two-lane highway winds along for 56 miles between East Glacier Park and West Glacier. On one side of the road lies the southern boundary of Glacier National Park; on the other, you'll find the northern borders of Flathead and Lewis and Clark National Forests. Enjoy brilliant foliage during the fall and a spectacular wildflower bloom in late spring and mid-summer.

Take a scenic drive through Flathead Valley, the western gateway to Glacier National Park. Start your tour in Bigfork, a lakeside resort town that boasts galleries, cherry orchards, and some of Montana's best restaurants. Cruise northwest via Route 35 and U.S. 2 to Kalispell, where you'll find everything from good eats to live theater. From Kalispell, take U.S. 93 North to Whitefish, the valley's recreational hotspot. Enjoy watersports on Whitefish Lake and year-round fun at Big Mountain Ski & Summer Resort. Finally, head northeast to Glacier via Route 40 and U.S. 2.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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