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The 50 mile Going to the Sun Road first opened to traffic in Glacier National Park in 1933 and remains a key attraction in the park today. On our first trip down Going to the Sun Road, we took a Red Bus tour of the Eastern side. This fleet of White Motor Company buses have been touring Going to the Sun Road since the 1930s, with restoration and mechanical updates donated by Ford.
With the canvas top rolled back and the sun shining, our guide Laura drove us to our first stop, Wild Goose Island. We filed out of the bus to see the breathtaking view of Wild Goose Island in the glacial waters of Lake Mary, surrounded by snow-covered mountains.
The island gets its name from a Native American story of two young lovers who sought refuge there. But their pursuers followed them to the island and were almost upon them. The Great Spirit took pity on them and transformed them into geese so they could fly away and live out their lives together in peace.
Our next two stops were ‘Prairie Dog’ stops, where the bus pulled into small turnouts while we passengers stood up and glimpsed through the roof what we’d all come to the park to see: glaciers. When the park was established, there were over 100 glaciers. In 1966, only 35 were left and in 2015 the park was down to only 26 that met the criteria for being called a glacier. These remaining 26 have continued to decrease in mass, measured since 1966, and it is estimated that all the park’s glaciers will be gone within the next 20 years.
Laura pointed out Blackfoot Mountain which is home to Blackfoot Glacier, the second-largest glacier in the park. It was measured at 370 acres in 2015, down from 453 in 1966. It used to encompass Jackson Glacier, but they separated around 1929.
The next stop was Jackson Glacier overlook. This lot was too crowded to get a clear view even from the top of the bus, so we came back on a different day to get better pictures. This glacier is the most easily seen from the Going to the Sun Road. It has lost a third of its acreage in the last 50 years.
To see all of my Going to the Sun Posts, please click the following links:
- Rising Sun
- Wild Goose Island and Jackson Glacier Overlook
- Logan Pass (Coming Soon)
- Going To The Sun Road (Coming Soon)
- St. Mary Lake (Coming Soon)
- St. Mary Falls (Coming Soon)
Location: Going-to-the-Sun Road, East Glacier Park, MT 59434, USA
Designation: National Park
Date designation declared: 5/11/1910
Date of my visit: 6/24/2018