Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road before it opens to vehicular traffic is an excellent way to see Glacier National Park.  But better make the ride just as soon as you can after the plows reach the pass (check the Internet), and that will be soon. A week or so after clearing the snow, the road will then be open for vehicular traffic transforming the area from a place of serenity to one that is so congested that impatient people will be blaring their horns — and parking at Logan Pass will quickly become a virtual impossibility.

Grand Canyon and Zion national parks have each made closures on a few roads, stipulating that during peak season only bikers and shuttle buses can enter.  Something like that may one day be necessary in Glacier to protect the resource.

Tunnel-300x225 8057538860_9c224c6988 GNP-Bike-8

LtoR: Riding through a tunnel just before approaching the West Side Loop;
Access to Hermit’s Rest in the Grand Canyon is by shuttle and bike only; 
Logan Pass shortly after pass opened last year.


WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:

Make the ride and then write your representative asking that the middle portions of the Going-to-the-Sun Road be closed permanently to cars. Propose that Glacier follow the example of Zion and the Grand Canyon, which allow access to certain areas only by shuttle — and by bike. Last summer by 10 in the morning all parking had been taken at Logan Pass. Closure to vehicles might also eliminate visitors with shitty attitudes. The aged can still drive in these restricted areas, and so can the handicapped if they have a driver.

Here’s a repeat of a posting I made on Facebook serveral years ago that highlights the pleasure of BIKING TO LOGAN PASS. There could not have been a more perfect day for my daughter and son-in-law to make the 32-mile round-trip bike ride from the parking lot at Avalanche Campground to Logan Pass, an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. At this time of year, the road is open for bicycle riders and emergency vehicles only.

GNP-Bike-13

In June waters cascade down the most
appropriately named “Weeping Wall.”

Though it was cool when we departed we quickly shed our windbreakers, then progressed along McDonald Creek. Almost immediately the Going-to-the-Sun Road began to climb, passing first through a tunnel, then to the West Side Loop where we took a few photos back dropped by majestic Heaven’s Peak, which I once climbed.

From the Loop our ride passed dozens of water falls and the climb was demanding. We stopped at Bird Woman Overlook where we had lunch, then rested, we continued up to Weeping Falls, which at this time of year was absolutely gushing with snowmelt.

An hour later I rode into the snow-cleared parking lot at Logan Pass. Leaning my bike against a towering snow bank I spent an hour or more photographing the incredible fields of snow still remaining. The Logan Pass Visitor Center was literally covered with snow and was certainly not yet ready to greet the summer hordes.


GNP-Bike-2 Biking-GTS-8

Angie and Will Friedner pause en-route to Logan Pass, backdropped by
Bird Woman Falls;
Return form Logan Pass for a total of abut 32 miles,
which makes for a day of fun and health-filled activities

 

Though it took me several hours to ascend to Logan Pass, from there it was all downhill, which I enjoyed — coasting along at about 30 mph. That seemed like a sane speed, but apparently not everyone agreed. On the way up we’d almost collided with some downhill riders who must have been cruising at dangerous speeds, perhaps 45mph.

And that may account for the day’s sad experience.  As Will and Angie approached the West Side Loop they encountered a small group gathered around a lady who had either crashed or been hit by as an out-of-control rider. Blood covered the road where she was laying and she was immobile.  Park ranger responded quickly. An emergency helicopter soon flew in and took her to the hospital. We have no idea what the outcome might have been.

BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE PARK:

Certainly that was a very unfortunate incident, but other than that our day was glorious, and later, WE AGREED THAT BIKING IS THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE PARK. By July, hordes of visitors have massed, and when that happens, numbers are so OVERWHELMING that in recent years parking spaces at Logan Pass are completely taken.  That’s when competition for parking gets mighty nasty.


———————————–


OTHER BIKING EXPERIENCES ON NATIONAL AND STATE LANDS:

Anza Borrego

Learning from Biking

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy