Author Topic: Going To The Sun Highway  (Read 5764 times)

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Offline schilld

Going To The Sun Highway
« on: March 08, 2010, 08:37:17 pm »
I'm riding the Northern Tier this summer and would like information on riding the Going To The Sun Highway portion.  Since parts of it are closed to cyclists during the day what was your experience and time line for completing it in one day?

In advance, thanks to all who respond.  I always enjoy the topics and have learned alot from all of you.

Dean
Flagstaff, AZ.

Offline Spokey

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 08:42:51 pm »
I think the whole thing is closed past maybe 10AM or so.  I took the bus ride which was nice.  It is very narrow.  Closing it while cars & buses are on the road seems like a good idea.  My brother has ridden it.  I'll ask him about it.  My memory has him saying it took some effort to do it in the time allotted. 

Offline Monk

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2010, 11:52:51 pm »
The road is open to cyclists in its entirety a few weeks before it is open to vehichles (Not sure the exact dates though). I have yet to ride it, but I spent all summer last year in Glacier and it is just gorgeous.  Once the road is open to cars, then you have to ride between certain times...Last year you were not allowed to cycle between 10 or 11am-4pm, after that its all gravy.  In June there is sunlight till 930 or later so you can get a great morning start, do a hike or hang out by logan pass until  4 and then finish the  rest of the way.  Hopefully one day I will be back and actually be able to ride it.  Have fun.

Offline tsteven4

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2010, 07:53:15 am »
We went in the morning E to W.  Due to the conditions on the summit shown in the background of http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/ we rode to the top from the west on a rest day we took at Lake McDonald.  Again, we rode in the morning.  It is worth doing twice in a row!  You can see other photos here http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/gallery/index.html?albumid=5094829015672537185&si=1 dated 2007-7-19 and 2007-7-20.  Nice hiker biker setup at Sprague Creek on Lake McDonald.

From http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gttsrfaq.htm

"Can I ride my bicycle on the Going-to-the Sun Road?
Yes, but there are some exceptions. From June 15 through Labor Day, the following sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are closed to bicycle use between 11a.m. and 4 p.m.:

    * From Apgar turnoff (at the south end of Lake McDonald) to Sprague Creek Campground
    * Eastbound from Logan Creek to Logan Pass.

Due to ongoing road rehabilitation on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, portions of the roadbed may not be paved. Bicyclists should use caution riding on gravel portions of the road."

Offline indyfabz

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 09:00:27 am »
I was just there last summer and in total have climbed the west side 3 times, descended the west side twice and the east side once.

1.  From a road clearing perspective, it is hard to know when the pass will be open.  Sometimes hikers and bikcers can get to Logan Pass before cars, but that is not always the case, and the east side of the road might be closed. The best thing you can do is check the park's web site as your trip progresses.  The NPS gives daily updates on which portions of the road are open to whom.  This summer the entirety of the road did not open until the 3rd week in June due to repair work necesitated by a huge avalanche during the winter.  It could be open all the way the first week in June like it was when I was there in '00 or it could be closed into July  You never know.  We had intended to cross west to east last summer on June 22 but were forced to go around.

2.  As noted, there is ongoing construction work that may cause delays and force you to share the road with convoys of dumptrucks.  The trucks aren't that big of a deal.  When you hear them coming, simply pull over and wait for them to pass.

3.  IMO, and assuming you are going west to east, you should camp at Sprague Creek.  It's small and thus not a zoo, and there are nice hiker-biker sites for $5/person.  Lake McDonald Lodge (a must see) is a short walk away.  Check out the room with the trophy heads then grab a beer at the bar and take it out lakeside.  There is also a camp store, but buy groceries at the store in West Galcier as the camp store's slection is poor.  From Sprague Creek it's about 13 miles to Logan Pass.  Start very early to beat traffic, to give yourself enough time along the way to takes breaks and photos and for the best chance at spotting wildlife.  If you are there mid to late June, you can hit the road at 6 a.m. and have plenty of light.  Starting early is especially important this year as it is the park's centenial so heavier than normal crowds are expected.  The first 6 or so miles you won't even know you are gaining altitude.  You might see a bear cross the road along this stretch.  The next 7 miles vary in grade, but there is nothing too steep.  If you keep a moedrate pace you should have no trouble reaching Logan Pass by 11 a.m.  When you get there, do the relatively short hike to Hidden Lake if the path isn't too snow covered.

4.  If you want to give yourself more time, camp at Avalanche Campground east of Sprague Creek.  But note that there is no food there so you will have to carry.  Also, because both are east of the Apgar Turnoff mentioned below, you cannot ride to them between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.  If you stay in the Whitefish area, sleep in, ride to West Glacier in the afternoon (heed the map warning about staying off U.S. 2), pick up groceries and head to either campground one the bike ban lifts at 4 p.m.

5.  If Logan Pass won't open in time to fit into your schedule, you will have to go around via U.S. 2 from W. Glaicer to East Glacier, MT 49 to Kiowa and U.S 89 N to St. Mary.  We did that last summer in the opposite direction.  It's roughly 90 miles.  You could break it up into two days by staying in E. Glacier, where there are motel, camping and a hostel.

Offline Spokey

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2010, 09:34:13 am »
Here is my brother's reply but it seems like you have better info already.  We went in 2003 and he had done the bicycle option prior to that so this info is a bit dated.  I probably would not have even posted given what seems better info, but I said I would so here it is:
Brother Bob:
Quote
When we did it, we had stayed overnight at McDonald lodge.  We started out at about 5:00 am and as I recall made it to the top in plenty of time.  As I recall, the road wasn't closed to cyclist going down and I don't think if you were a little short of the summit by 10:00 am anyone would bother you.

Offline valygrl

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2010, 11:45:15 am »
I stayed overnight in a motel just outside the park on the west side, started riding at dawn and made it to the top by 10:00 am.   Didn't stop *too* much on the way, but didn't really hurry, either.

Don't miss the pie in St Mary:  www.parkcafe.us
Seriously.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2010, 01:43:21 pm »
Don't miss the pie in St Mary:  www.parkcafe.us
Seriously.

Seriously is right!  We had breakfast in Waterton Village.  When we told the owner where we were headed next he said the exact same thing.  Had dinner and pie there.  Everything was terrific.

Offline valygrl

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2010, 05:41:46 pm »
I was informed of the pie situation by two separate tourers, hundreds of miles away. 

Offline indyfabz

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2010, 10:26:47 am »
Btw, Nos. 228 to 214 were taken during our climb up the west side of GTS last summer and Nos. 194-152 and 145 are from the leg between St. Mary and Waterton Village, which we did in the opposite direction:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/page2/

I am a veteran of the entire Northern Tier and did the section between Anacortes and Glacier a second time.  If you would like any additional info. send me a private message.


Offline velo

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2010, 11:48:26 am »
My understanding from last summer is that the road restrictions were only for west of Logan Pass. So, if you are riding east bound you just need to be over the top by 11am. Confirm this though. I found that traffic picked up drastically after 9:00am.

We rode, unloaded, from Apgar to Logan Pass and back to the lodge by 10:00 after starting at 4:30am riding with lights. We then kicked it at the lodge for a bit and explored before making our way back to the campground on one of the shuttle buses. Make some noise if you start super early, being loud prevented us from startling a moose on the way up.

The advice to stay at Sprague Creek or one of the other campgrounds farther in is good. They'd be less busy then Apgar and put you in a better position for the ride.

The shuttle buses (free while construction is ongoing!) have bike racks so if you have to bail as long as you make it to a stop you'll be fine.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Going To The Sun Highway
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 12:52:48 pm »
From June 15 through Labor Day you cannot cycle in either direction between Sprague Creek and the turnoff for Apgar between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.