This post is part of a recap of our Epic Road Trip 2020, in which we went out west in our camper, starting in Ohio. It was an 18 day trip! You can read more about our trip in the posts found HERE.  Thanks for stopping by!

When we booked our trip to Glacier National Park early in 2020, I had no idea what was even at the park.  It was all new to me.  As I researched I learned that one of the big attractions at the park was a main road which intersects the park, named Going To The Sun Road.  I also learned that the entire road doesn’t even open typically until late June, but it’s all based on how fast they plow the snow off the road for the season!  When COVID-19 hit, the national parks shut down and not much work was done.  Glacier NP is bordered on the east side by the Blackfeet Indian reservation, and they decided they did not want people going through their land, so the east side of the park isn’t even open yet (as of July 1st, 2020).  Given these factors, by the time we got to the park during the last week in June, the road was not open to vehicles… but it was open to bikers and hikers.  

Since we didn’t take our bikes with us, we decided to rent some bikes and ride the road.  Unfortunately, due to the availability of the bikes and our schedule, we didn’t get the bikes until the last day of our stay in Glacier.  That also meant we were at the mercy of the weather that day.  And guess what?  Rain was in the forecast.

The night before our ride the rain started and I had a hard time sleeping thinking about getting out there in the cold rain.  It was only going to be in the upper 40’s.  Did I bring the right clothes??  Why don’t I own a proper raincoat??  What kind of mom takes her kids out to bike in this weather??? I finally got some rest when I came up with the great idea of wearing my poncho under my light jacket, so I wouldn’t look like I was wearing a trash bag.  I know, great idea haha!  But hey, it settled my mind.

When we woke up it wasn’t even raining and the forecast looked a bit better.  I was in high hopes that this was all going to work out!  I hopped out of bed and got everyone ready.  I told everyone to bring something really warm for the ride back down the mountain, and we even picked up some thicker fleece gloves at the gift shop for the ride – well, everyone except my husband, who decided he would keep his gloves for the ride down, and use a pair of socks on his hands for the ride up 🙂

I quickly realized I got everyone up far too early because the parking lot was barely full, and hardly any of the cars there had bike racks.  They all belonged to hikers.  Earlier in the week the parking lot had filled up by 8:00am because it was a beautiful day.  Today, not so much.  It was raining again.

We got geared up for our ride.  I decided that I didn’t care what I looked like and put my poncho on, but had my backpack holding it down.  Note, I did turn the poncho inside out because it had a SeaWorld Shamu on the back, but otherwise, I didn’t look too bad.

As we started down the Going To The Sun Road (GTTSR), we were the only people out there for quite some time.  It was quite peaceful and beautiful out there!

We saw a couple of hikers in ponchos, but that was about it.  As we were cruising down the road my son looked over and said “Bear!”. 

Right next to him on the side of the road was a black bear!  We rode right past the bear and then stopped to take a picture.  We saw there was another bear right across the street!  Luckily they didn’t care about us and eventually walked away.  They were so cute!! (10 seconds of cute bear coming up!….)

On our trip up the GTTSR, we only saw one group of bikers coming down.  I was excited to see someone.  We stopped many places along the route to take pictures and rest, because it was an uphill climb.  Unfortunately it was quite a foggy day and higher up we went, the foggier it got, so we couldn’t see all of the beautiful mountains.

On our ride we climbed 2,000 feet!  My daughter is not fond of biking, so she kept asking when we were stopping.  You should have seen the disappointment on her face when we got to a stop sign at mile 10 and then a worker who was there moved the sign aside so we could could continue 🙂  

I knew there was some point of interest at mile 13, so we told my daughter we go there and then decide if we could continue farther.  The Continental Divide and Logan’s Pass was at mile 16, which was as far as the road was open.

We got to see some snow along the way. Ok, it was a lot of snow!

Mile 13 was the Weeping Wall, which is a segment which has waterfalls when the spring thaw is happening.  

By the time we made it past the waterfalls we were completely soaked and decided to turn back.  I put a puffer coat over my jacket, which wasn’t really dry, but it felt warmer than my wet jacket.  We also all put on our dry gloves.  

The trip down was super fast!  I didn’t stop for any pictures because my hands quickly felt frozen and barely worked!  My legs started shaking because they were so cold. I considered it a bonus to be able to switch gears, but my main priority was to just clench the brakes to slow myself safely down the mountain.

It took us 2 hours to get to the top, and an hour to go back down.  It would have been shorter going down but we talked to a few people who were coming uphill and wondered “how much longer” and we also tried to warm up our hands and legs a few times!

I can only imagine how beautiful the views would have been on a clear day, and how much more fun it would be on a warm day 🙂   But I certainly don’t regret going for that ride.  It was a lot of fun, and we’ll always remember it.  My son said it was a mix of “suffering and happiness”.  My daughter said she will probably have PTSD from the ride.  LOL!!  Yep, we’ll never forget it.

And one more thing, after a ride like that, you’ll need a treat. How about the huckleberry shakes that are a specialty in the area? 🙂

Q: Have you ever biked on Going to the Sun Road? How was the weather?

6 thoughts on “Glacier National Park – Going to the Sun Road”
  1. WOW! So, you essentially has the entire road to yourselves, no vehicles? That would be awesome to not have to worry about traffic. The rain and the cold, well…that would be less great LOL I’d also be fearful of going down the wet road too fast and wiping out. Still, quite a adventure 😉

    1. Yep, just bikes and hikers! It couldn’t have been a worse day weather wise though – but we made the best of it. What an experience!! Some day I’ll go in it when it’s sunny ☀️ Surprisingly we weren’t too concerned with slipping going down – we just wanted to get to the bottom so we could warm up!!

  2. To have the road almost all to yourselves sounds wonderful! I think my husband read that in normal years, they close Going To The Sun Road one day each summer for just bikers, but you got lucky in that it was closed anyway – just not as far, correct? Weeping Wall is really cool, but to have to ride on the other side of the road near that steep drop-off looks pretty scary. Was it?

    I wore a poncho for Bike New York last year when it poured rain the entire 40 miles (it hovered around 55° the entire day). Bill called me the ghost rider because my clear poncho blew behind me since I didn’t have anything weighing it down. LOL
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…An Impromptu Hike at Sky Meadows State ParkMy Profile

    1. I did see a few riders with some flying ponchos. Hey, I’d rather do that than be completely soaked! I think that is true – there is certain time/day for biking on GTTS road. But in early summer (I guess that’s “spring” to them!), you can ride until they get the plowing completed I think.

    1. Glacier really is so beautiful. Boat rentals were cancelled due to COVID-19, so I’m glad the bike rentals were still going. We would have really missed out if we didn’t do that ride!

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