Glacier National Park Information


History of The Going To The Sun Road
Glacier National Park

For hundreds of years, what we know now as Glacier National Park, was home to the Native American Indians. They roamed through these mountains, hunting and defending their space. These beautiful unusual mountains were called the Back Bone of the World by them. Only they knew where the passes and best hunting was. The tribes fought each other for territory rights. It must have been a harsh way to live in the winter.
In 1895 the Federal Government bought the land from the Indians. It was told that there were valuable minerals in these mountains. None were ever found, so it was made into a National Park by Congress. In 1910 It was made a protected area for the wildlife.

Belton Bridge Glacier National Park
Belton Bridge - the first entrance to Glacier National Park.

In 1921 Congress authorized funding of 100,000 dollars to start building a road up into the park from Belton {west Glacier] to Apgar.  Near Lake Mc Donald. This was only the beginning of a massive project.
This would be the start of what we know now as the " Going to the Sun Road ". There would be many hardships and dangerous conditions before the 52 miles of road was completed up and over the Continental Divide. The road would climb to a towering 6,646 feet above sea level. It would take untold amounts of dynamite to blast out stumps as well as sheer rock to make level paths along the sides of mountains. There were accidents that caused at least 3 deaths from rock slides and falls. Summers must have seemed short and winters long for those who worked so hard. There would be no work when snow and ice were at their worst. I have read that the weather and falling rocks were not the only dangers.  Bears smelled the food that the workers carried and would fight for it. The only thing they could do to protect their food was to hang it high in the air, between two trees.
It took twenty years and three million dollars to finish the road. In June of 1929 the west side was completed and in July of 1933 the East side was finished.
Then came the dedication at Logan Pass. 5,000 people were there on that historic day, there were also two important Indian Chiefs present. They gave their Blessing to this great accomplishment. The name of this highway came from an old Indian legend about a Spirit who came down from the sky to help those in trouble. Then he would go back up to the sun. They called the Spirit " The face of sour spirit, who went back to his sun after the work was done".  It is no surprise that the name was shortened to "Going To The Sun Road ".
40,000 people drove over the Sun Road in it’s first year, today it’s over 2 million a year. Workers are constantly working to maintain the safety of the road now. There can still be rock slides, avalanches and heavy snows during the winter During the fall of 2006 there was major flood damage from heavy rains. Over eleven inches in a short few hours washed out parts of the road and flooded the lower level of Many Glacier Hotel but it was not as bad as was thought and was repaired long before another tourist season. There is constant repair work done in all areas of the roads and trails, as well as buildings. There have even been new restrooms installed in many campgrounds, which are in compliance with the "Americans with Disabilities Act".  Approximately 80 % of visitors entrance and campground fees go to maintaining the Park.
"Going To The Sun Road" is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Middle Fork Flathead River

Come and see this beautiful Road, and travel to some of the most wonderful sights you will ever see this side of Heaven. Happy Traveling !