Today is day 8 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.
We were up early and headed to “Going to the Sun Highway”. My friend Avis and her family brought me here 41 years ago. I have looked forward to this leg of our trip because of those fond memories. It is my favorite national park (so far). I can’t describe the amazing scenery here… You must experience it for yourself…
Our ride today will make a big loop through Glacier National Park back to Kalispell via Hwy 2. We then head north-west through Libby and to Ed and Avis’ just outside Troy, MT.
“The Going-to-the-Sun Road,” borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Local legend told the story of the deity, Sour Spirit, who came down from the sun to teach Blackfeet braves the rudiments of the hunt. On his way back to the sun, Sour Spirit had his image reproduced on the top of the mountain for inspiration to the Blackfeet. An alternate story suggests a white explorer in the 1880s concocted the name and the legend. No matter which version is accurate, the road named Going-to-the-Sun still inspires all who travel it. Riding into the Glacier from west to east, this morning, I could see why the road is called “Going-to-the-Sun”… It seemed we were always staring into the sun…
After entering the park, our first stop was the visitor center and our first view of McDonald Lake. The lake, surrounded by the mountains, is such a peaceful view. The water’s surface was like glass, reflecting the surrounding mountains through the rising mist.
Our second stop was at McDonald Lodge. The lodge and grounds are a must see. The lodge, a Swiss Chalet, opened its doors on June 14, 1914. The lodge is a three-story structure built on the eastern shore of glaciated, picturesque Lake McDonald. The lobby is a large open space built from large tree trunks with balconies surrounding it on three sides. It has a very inviting rustic decor that is something to see.
The lobby floors have messages in Kootenai (a local Native American dialect). Some of the messages translate into phrases such as “welcome”, “new life to those who drink here”, “looking toward the mountain”, and “big feast”.
There is a good view of McDonald Lake at the rear of the lodge. I could have sat for hours and listened to the rushing stream that runs into the lake. It was so peaceful sitting in the cool morning air….
“Going-to-the Sun Highway” took us through some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen so far on our ride. Parts of the highway hug the mountainside with a few tight curves. Heading east toward Logan Pass, you are able to look over the edge of the road in a few spots. The speed limit is 40 on the lower part and 25 for the higher part of the road. This pace allows for an enjoyable ride through all the majesty of this very scenic road.
A must stop is Jackson Glacier Overlook. The Overlook is located on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road between Logan Pass and St. Mary. Jackson Glacier Overlook allows the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.
Glacier has wildlife along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The most likely place to see Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep are typically near Logan Pass. I was on the lookout for the sheep and goats but luck wasn’t with us today… 🙁
We have met many people since our trip began and today was no exception. Everyone was talking about the scenic beauty and offering their suggestions. One suggestion was to ride/drive the “Highway-to-the-Sun” in both directions because you get a whole different perspective of the park on the return trip. We thought we would do that if we had time. Once we got to the other end, we realized that time would not let us to ride “Going-to-the-Sun” road back… If you are planning a trip to Glacier make sure you plan seeing the park in both directions… On our next visit we will do that…
Our ride down Hwy 89 to East Glacier (the town) had many scenic views of mountains on our right and large (relative to Texas) hills on our left. Picking up Hwy 2 back to Kalispell, we had more beautiful scenic views of the glacier capped mountains at times.
From Kalispell we rode Hwy 2 through Libby to Troy. We saw more beautiful mountain scenery all along the way.
Today we are staying with a good friend, Avis and her husband Ed. We had a lot (41 years) to catch up on. Ed and Avis were great hosts, feeding us a good home cooked dinner with fresh veggies from their garden. It was nice to have a home cooked meal after 8 days on the road.
After dinner we walked to the Savage Lake across the highway. From the highway the lake is hidden from view by the trees. The reflection of the mountains, across the lake, was beautiful. Ed and Avis sometimes see moose across the lake in the evenings… but not today :(…
Ed and Avis have a beautiful home out in the country with a beautiful view of the mountains from their front lawn. I would love to get up every morning and have that view to look at while I drink my morning coffee. Yes, I am a bit jealous…
Today was a great day with beautiful scenery and time spent with good friends…
For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new post by email. Also please take some time and leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…
Tomorrow we will be an easy day of riding. Just 260 miles to Golden, BC, Canada. We don’t have any planned stops except when we see something interesting… The following day we will be riding Banff National Park. I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…
Checkout the slide show of the ride below:
This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…
National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore