Content Produced in Partnership with Explore Whitefish
Just south of the US-Canadian border, as winter moves out and spring sprouts, a cyclist’s heaven awaits. Located in northwestern Montana in one of America's prettiest national parks, the biking and hiking trail known as the Going-to-the-Sun Road winds through mountains, valleys and waterfalls for a truly unforgettable hike. Noted as one of the most popular biking trails within the National Park System, Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only roadway that crosses through the national park over the Continental Divide and into Logan's Pass. Though closed each year, the roadway opens exclusively to cyclists for roughly two months every May allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors and the freedom of exploring it all on two wheels.
50 Miles of Safe Riding
The Going-to-the-Sun Road runs 50 miles — you read correctly — 50 whole miles from beginning to end. This is an engineering marvel, and in the spring the road is closed to everyone except cyclists and hikers. That means biking is a great (and safe) way to make your way around Glacier National Park. Easy to do in sections or its in entirety, the roadway also has plenty of easy riding, especially near McDonald Creek and Lake McDonald, so you can bring the entire family along. Plowing of the roadway typically begins in April (you can find a handy guide for the process here), making it for the perfect time to dust off the bicycle and head to Montana for miles of breathtaking scenery. Don't have a bicycle handy? Glacier Cyclery and Great Northern Cycle, both located in Whitefish, offer daily bike rentals.
Waterfalls, Wildflowers, and Wildlife
Spring — fondly known as the "Secret Season" by locals — is a magical time of the year in Glacier National Park, and it's one of the biggest reasons cyclists are drawn to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The lack of traffic in the spring makes it possible to see a lot of Montana’s wildlife like elk, Bighorn sheep and even bears — both back and grizzly — while the warm weather also brings out an equally dazzling collection of wildflowers. If you’re a wildflower aficionado you’ve come to the right place — there are more than 1,000 species in the Glacier National Park and dozens of opportunities to take in the gorgeous Beargrass and fields of glacier lilies. Finally, all the melting snow means one thing: waterfalls. There are waterfalls everywhere, both big and small, but be sure to check Bird Woman Falls — the second tallest fall in the park — while on the road. You can see it near Mt. Oberlin.
Glacier National Park is a treasure and even global organizations recognize it. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the national park as a World Heritage Site, which means it has cultural, historical or scientific significance. Glacier National Park runs all the way to the Canadian border where it meets Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. As a result, the park became the world’s first International Peace Park, spanning two countries, in 1932.
Location, Location, Location
You don’t have to abandon society for a trip to Glacier National Park and Going-to-the-Sun Road. Located just 25 miles from Whitefish, Montana, this vibrant mountain town allows for easy access to the park — and plenty of modern-day conveniences. The area's many award-winning restaurants and hotels offer jaw-dropping views of the jagged peaks and deep valleys (some of which you may bike through), and the charming downtown street is one of the most photographed and recognizable in the nation. Click here to begin planning your Montana getaway and bucket list biking trip today.