Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
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. Prior to its opening, visitors came by train and stayed in the lodges built by the Great Northern Railway to capitalize on park tourism. To accommodate the new auto-touring crowd, the company built the East Glacier Auto Camp in 1941. It was later re-named Rising Sun.
During our stay in Glacier National Park, we explored Going to the Sun several times, stopping frequently to see the sights along the way. On our first trip down Going to the Sun Road, we began at the East entrance in St. Mary. We parked in the Rising Sun lot.
The exhibit in front of the motel describes Rising Sun as the place “where the mountains meet the prairie.” In addition to the motel, there are log cabins, a campground and a general store. Rose Creek flows through the complex to St. Mary Lake, with the mountain-prairie convergence allowing diverse wildlife to thrive here.
After exploring the area, we boarded the Red Bus for the Eastern Alpine tour. This tour travels Going to the Sun Road from St. Mary to Logan Pass. 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.
Our driver and guide, Laura, is a school bus driver during the school year and it’s apparent she enjoys her summer job as a Red Bus ‘Jammer.’ When she pulled up at Rising Sun to pick us up, she hopped out and rolled back the canvas top so that we could ‘Prairie Dog’ at stops where we couldn’t get out. And off we went for our morning’s adventure!
When we returned to Rising Sun around Noon, we stopped in for lunch at Two Dog Flats Grill. I didn’t have high hopes for a park eatery in a motor lodge, but our meal was surprisingly good. It is a simple, standard American menu with a few twists, and the food is well-prepared. We had the huckleberry pulled pork, fruit salad, build-your-own burgers and the best fries we had the entire trip.
Going to the Sun Posts➤
- Rising Sun
- Wild Goose Island and Jackson Glacier Overlook
- Logan Pass
- Going To The Sun Road
- St. Mary Lake
- St. Mary Falls
Location: Going-to-the-Sun Road, East Glacier Park, MT
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: May 11, 1910
Date of my visit: June 24, 2018
10 thoughts on “Rising Sun: Glacier National Park”
Love all this info. We loved our visit to GNP in August 2019 !
Thanks! It’s a beautiful park!
We have enjoyed this area several times. Each time we visit is like the first time.
Lucky to live driving distance from there, cousin! 🙂
As usual a very well written post. Glacier is such a special. Great images too. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much 🙂
We haven’t been to Glacier yet but can’t wait to get there! Definitely want to do the red bus. I don’t think I could enjoy Going to the Sun Road any other way. I loved your photos.
Definitely do the bus…the road is narrow, winding with steep cliffs and lots of traffic. Hard to enjoy the views when driving.
Although we loved everything about Glacier, the Red Bus tour was definitely the highlight.