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Tips for Biking Going to the Sun Road

It’s no secret that Going to the Sun Road is a prime highlight of Glacier National Park. Driving the road tops most bucket lists, but there is a special time of year where residents and visitors alike can bike Going to the Sun road without vehicular traffic. This is one of my favorite yearly activities. Those willing to make the climb are rewarded with an experience in this national park that most will never get to enjoy. Biking the road allows enthusiasts to enjoy some of the finer details of the park, possible wildlife sightings, and of course the amazing mountain vistas Glacier National Park is famous for.

If you would like to watch a video with this information click here.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

#1 Equipment

To truly enjoy an activity, its vital to have the proper equipment. Weather in Glacier National Park can change quickly so I always recommend dressing in layers. Additionally, you should plan on bringing or renting the following equipment.

Bike with gears or e-bike (can be rented in Apgar Village)

Helmet

Camera

Gloves if morning or evening

Bear Spray

Sunscreen

Sunglasses

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road - View from the Loop

#2 Timing and Directions

Residents and visitors alike can bike “Going to the Sun Road” without vehicles in May and some years early June while the road is still being plowed to Logan Pass. Check the plowing schedule here and road status here. See some photos of the plowing process here.

I prefer to visit in late May because the road is typically open to Avalanche Campground where we park the vehicle, unload the bikes, and proceed to ride to The Loop. From Avalanche Campground the ride follows alongside the river at a slight incline (for approximately 6 miles), passing over some small bridges with gorgeous mountain views (and some distant waterfalls) before beginning the climb to The Loop. Once the climb begins you have about 2 miles to go to reach 

The Loop. You’ll know you’re getting close when you see the triple arch bridge in the distance. Be sure to take time to pull off here and enjoy the mountain landscapes through the arches. Then, you’ll have one final push to reach The Loop.

The Loop. You’ll know you’re getting close when you see the triple arch bridge in the distance. Be sure to take time to pull off here and enjoy the mountain landscapes through the arches. Then, you’ll have one final push to reach The Loop. 

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

We love to stop here and eat our lunch or snack while enjoying the incredible views of Heaven’s Peak. Here bikers also have access to some pit toilets and a bear proof trash can to dispose of unwanted items. 

This is typically our stopping point, however you can continue the climb further until reaching the plow crew. If you desire to continue, an e-bike might be a great choice. 

Whatever your decision, be sure to take in the views and take all desired photos on your ride up. Once you begin your journey back down, you will pick up speed quickly and it really is such a fun ride.

Whatever your decision, be sure to take in the views and take all desired photos on your ride up. Once you begin your journey back down, you will pick up speed quickly and it really is such a fun ride. Of course, you have complete control over how fast you go, so do only what you’re comfortable with. And, remember that a random goat or deer could be on the road, so be sure to look ahead and be prepared as you come around curves.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road - There are pit toilets at the Loop

If you go earlier in May, the road may only be open to Lake McDonald Lodge so you will have an additional 5-6 miles of biking to reach the Loop. This section is fairly flat, however, and an easy but beautiful ride. 

If you’re visiting and don’t want to rent a bike rack from Apgar Village (for an additional $15-$20) you could also bike from the village, however you will have some traffic along the section between Apgar Village and Lake McDonald Lodge or Avalanche Campground. Biking from Apgar Village will add another 9 miles of level riding alongside Lake McDonald.

Note: Wherever you begin and end, be sure to stay to the right of the centerline as the downhill bikers come fast and furious. Similarly, when riding down stay to the right of center as well to avoid the uphill bikers and hikers.

Note: Wherever you begin and end, be sure to stay to the right of the centerline as the downhill bikers come fast and furious. Similarly, when riding down stay to the right of center as well to avoid the uphill bikers and hikers.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

#3 Sustenance

Any time you find me hiking, biking, or skiing I will most definitely have some food along. Food just tastes better when you’ve earned it and I love rewarding myself with a tasty snack while enjoying the views. Additionally, water is always a must have item!

Water Bladder or Water Bottle 

A water bladder is incredibly convenient while riding a bike, however any water bottle will do if you don’t have a bladder. 

Just remember, if using a disposable water bottle please pack it out or dispose of it in the trash can at the loop. I recommend at least 2 water bottles for the ride.

Just remember, if using a disposable water bottle please pack it out or dispose of it in the trash can at the loop. I recommend at least 2 water bottles for the ride.

Snacks/Lunch - nuts, jerky, sandwich, energy bar, etc.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road - Remember to bring water, if disposable pack it back out

#4 Stamina

All activity levels aren’t created equal. While I’ve said almost any age can do this ride visitors definitely need to be aware of their health and plan accordingly. Make sure you ask questions and discuss with your group before beginning. 

While I’ve said almost any age can do this ride visitors definitely need to be aware of their health and plan accordingly. Make sure you ask questions and discuss with your group before beginning.

As the road steepens will you take more breaks as needed, will you wait for each other or meet at the loop, will you turn around and head back down? Are you desiring to continue past the loop? Each of these factors will also affect the type of bike you choose.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

#5 Dinner or Drinks Afterwards

Ok, here we are again with the food. What can I say? I work hard so I can enjoy yummy food. Some of our favorite places to stop are the:

Huckleberry Patch 

The Huckleberry Patch has great huckleberry pie a’la mode and the kids chicken fingers and fries are good as well.

Gunsight Saloon 

The Gunsight Saloon has outdoor seating and live music most nights. Try the fish po’ boy, a burger, or the Queen of the West cocktail.

Backslope Brewing 

Backslope Brewing has so many dishes with great flavor combinations. I love the bistro burger with parmesan fries, ginger lemonade, and fried pickles.

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

This is such an amazing bike ride and I know you will love it. If you’ve biked Going to the Sun Road before and have additional tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

This is such an amazing bike ride and I know you will love it. If you’ve biked Going to the Sun Road before and have additional tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Note: I read an article this year about the impact of bikes especially on wildlife in national parks and how bikes have more impact than hikers and even vehicles. Please bike responsibly and leave the park as beautiful and untouched as you found it. 

Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

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Glacier National Park - Biking Going to the Sun Road

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