Author Topic: Going to the Sun  (Read 2704 times)

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Offline driftlessregion

Going to the Sun
« on: November 04, 2017, 09:26:18 pm »
What's the best time to ride The Going To The Sun Highway in Glacier National Park? Just before the bicycle limitation when snow is an issue, or later when traffic can be a problem? What is it like in July?

Offline hirokim81

Re: Going to the Sun
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 10:52:45 am »

I think I rode there at the very beginning of July and it was after awhile since the lolo pass was opened, so there was no snow on the road, except on the cliffs and mountain slopes. It was doable, weather wise, but there were lots of traffic. Since lolo pass is closed to cyclists from 11am to 5pm, I started rolling at 6am and by the time it was nine, I was near two thirds of the distance, and riding with heavy traffic. I was pretty annoyed with them not because any of them actually pushed me to the edge, but because it was just mentally exhausting to constantly have traffics behind you, trying to pass you, and at couple points, I literally felt that the air pollution was so bad, I could smell the busy city street, which was a bizarre..

And then when I got to the top, I met 7 other cyclists and one of them told me, if you climb the going to the sun road right after the lolo pass was opened, there's absolutely no traffic and it's just magnificent, minus it would be pretty cold when going down hill. Since I gave the ride only 5 out of the 10 experience, due to the bizarre traffics, it sounded pretty awesome, not having traffics at all. Really, the scenery is amazing(that I give 9 out of 10 stars), you might wanna consider doing it around that time. Call the Glacier National park visitor center and find out when the Lolo pass is opened to cyclists but not to auto traffics. Think it was due to snow residue on the road, which cyclists can go through with caution, but cars can't.

Again, think through it, cars are real pain in the butt when you trying to go uphill and you can't speed up, and they constantly push you to the side. Although most of the road have enough room for them to pass by you, there are some sections where you are at the spot where 15 cars are waiting for you behind you and all of them just having fun going up the hill without moving one finger is just annoying scene to look at.     

My experience is negative because of cars, but hope yours isn't. Hope this helped.

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Offline John Nelson

Re: Going to the Sun
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 05:10:02 pm »
Logan Pass is on Going To The Sun Road. Lolo Pass is in Idaho.

I rode up Going To The Sun Road in June, five days after it opened. I left from Avalanche Campground at first light. Traffic was not a problem.

Going To The Sun Road is the best cycling on the planet!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Going to the Sun
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2017, 06:06:51 pm »
You don't say which direction you are traveling.  I have ridden it twice, once in each direction both times in August.  East bound is time-restricted, i.e. must finish by a certain time when climbing to Logan Pass but no restriction on the descent, has a LONG time to see the scenery since you are going slowly uphill, and the eastbound side of the pass is not super scenic, nice but not as nice as the west side.

Westbound riders have not time restriction in either direction so you can start whenever, even late in the day. The climb is a little easier since you start ~1,000 higher.

I personally liked westbound as I could take my time climbing (way out of shape at the time), and I stopped super frequently on the downhill to see/photo the scenery.  There just seemed to be more places to stop on the westbound side though never much space in either direction.

Whichever you choose, enjoy the ride, John

Offline jamawani

Re: Going to the Sun
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2017, 06:49:06 pm »
I'm guessing I have ridden Going to the Sun a dozen or more times - in all seasons.

The biggest thing to know is how variable conditions can be.
Opening day can be any time between late May to early July.
You can ride closed stretches in spring that have already been plowed.
You have the road largely to yourself, but can't do a through trip.

Cross-country riders should plan a crossing no earlier than late June.
Even then it can be iffy in snowy years. And you can still get snow in July.

I prefer westbound to eastbound for a number of reasons.
Heading west, you have the morning sun illuminating the continental divide.
Then coming down in the afternoon, the sun illuminates the Garden Wall.
Also, there is no uphill bike closure westbound - it's 11 a.m. eastbound.
The Lake McDonald stretch on the west side is closed 11 - 4 in both directions.

Late spring/early summer will still be snowy up top - with the road wet in places.
Mid summer will have incredible wildflowers at Logan Pass - but heavy traffic.
Early fall is lovely with far less traffic - but snow comes early up here.

The BEST time is early - regardless of the season. (Not ridiculously early)
If you start an hour after sunrise, traffic will be fairly light.
It will be cool for your climb and you can hike on the Highline Trail in the middle of the day.
Coming down is fast - really fast. Make sure to stop for the views.
And to let your brakes cool off.

My pick - early to mid July
Overnight in Rising Sun campground on the east side
Depart 6:45a - arrive at Logan Pass by 10:00a - even with lots of photo stops
Hike the Highline Trail heading north up to Haystack Butte for lunch
(Maybe take the Hidden Lake boardwalk with the millions)
Head down in mid afternoon - getting splashed by the falls on the Garden Wall
Treat yourself to something - ice cream / beer - at Lake McDonald Lodge.
Camp either at Avalanche or Sprague Creek.

(St. Mary and Apgar campgrounds are massive parking lots filled with RVs.)



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Re: Going to the Sun
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 08:10:01 am »
Just rode the west slope again on June 28th. Stayed at Sprague Creek and started out at maybe 5:45 a.m. Road was closed to vehicles at Avalanche Campground when I started out. But the park opened the rest of the road later that morning. You have to summit by 11 a.m. Traffic wasn't that bad going up because the car crowd must have gotten late word. As I was coming back down the west slope, the traffic heading up was bumper to bumper from the Loop on up. All four of my trips up have been in June. Weather can be iffier than July, but I like to see as much snow on the peaks as possible.

Sprague Creek has nice tent pads and bear boxes for the $5 hiker/biker sites. And the host couple are very nice. They have been hosting there for many years. They gave me some firewood and freshly baked cookies. And the lodge is within walking/riding distance.

Whatever month you choose, definitely leave at the crack of dawn.