There was 1 question nagging me as I was researching our trip that would take through Glacier National Park and Canada What kind of name is “Going to the Sun” Road?
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road
This is the road that cuts Glacier National Park roughly into halves: top and bottom. The road takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Glacier National Park but it’s not particularly steep. It definitely doesn’t feel as if you’re going anywhere close to the sun.
Then I found out that the road was actually named after a nearby mountain: Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Which makes more sense, I guess. I was hoping to discover some exciting fact about the origin of this intriguing name. That wasn’t meant to be.
Regardless of where the name came from, Going-to-the-Sun Road is worth all of its 50 meandering miles.
Hidden Lake Side Trip
We stopped by Logan Pass Visitor Center to hike the Hidden Lake trail which came highly recommended as one of the short day hikes you have to do in Glacier NP.
Eager to stretch my legs, I jumped out and ran to the trailhead still in my Tevas. Little did I know that part of the trail was still covered by snow. Needless to say my toes weren’t too happy. Eventually they got too numb to even register the cold of the ice (and the subsequent icy water) that got between my toes and I continued my merry way until I found myself at the overlook of the hidden lake.
Hidden Lake was nice… but nothing too spectacular. To be honest, the highlight of this hike was coming across a trio of marmots who were play-wrestling right by the trail. They were completely oblivious of me. At one point, one of them almost ran over my (numb) toes.
SO FREAKING ADORABLE!!
As for Jack, the highlight was finding a path carved out of this snow-covered hill by the trail where he glissaded down to the cheering of a group of hikers who have gathered to watch him.
*insert eye rolls here*
As we continued driving along the cliff-hugging Going to the Sun road another question popped up in my head.
Where are the glaciers?
Was I so naive to expect to see glaciers in Glacier National Park?
We could see evidence of their existence: deep, u-shaped valleys carved millions of years ago by the ever-moving glaciers. But the only glacier we could spot from the road was Jackson Glacier… a tiny speck way up a mountain side.
There would be no more glaciers in 7 years
Later on I learned Glacier National Park is slowly losing its glaciers due to a global warming trend (here you can see comparison pictures). There are now 25 active glaciers, down from 150 in 1850. If the warming trend continues, there will be no more glaciers in Glacier NP by 2020. So that means you have about 7 years left to see any glaciers here.
For now you can still see some glaciers in the Park from pretty close, you just have to work for it. One of the park’s most popular glaciers is the Grinnell Glacier which can be reached by a 5.5 mile trail.
Don’t come to Glacier NP for the glaciers
Little known fact: the rock in the park is some of the world’s oldest. There are no fossils embedded in the rock because it is older than most life on the planet.
Glaciers or not, the park is beautiful in its own way with its craggy peaks, deep green valleys, hidden turquoise lakes, and massive cliffs. I can’t wait to show you more of this place, including one of the elusive glaciers of Glacier NP.
Would you come to Glacier NP to see glaciers?
Tips for Visiting Glacier NP
In the summer, campgrounds within the park get filled quickly. On our first day, we stayed in St. Mary Campground. The next day, we left around 6:30 am to secure a site at the very popular Many Glacier Campground. This page helped us predict when a campsite would run out of spots.
The campgrounds here are very developed. The 2 that we stayed at have a restaurant, a hotel, a store, and shower facility nearby.
Driving time of Going to the Sun road: 2 hours.