Historic Going-to-the-Sun Road is the 52-mile main parkway through Montana's beautiful Glacier National Park, bisecting it from east to west and spanning the length of the entire park. It is, in fact, the only road that does so. Encompassing two lanes and carving a narrow, winding, snakelike path throughout the mountains, cedar forests, and valleys of the park, a scenic drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road is considered to be one of the highlights of visiting the area.
Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed in the year 1932 and is the only American highway to be officially designated both a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, setting it apart from all other roads of its type. It was also one of the first roads ever specifically built to cater to tourists traveling the countryside via automobile.
As a nod to the era in which it was finished, a group of vintage tour busses was refurbished and restored in 2001 in order to offer sightseeing tours of the scenery along the road in authentic 1930's vehicles. Whether you opt to take the tour or drive it in your own vehicle, the road itself is peppered with turnouts and scenic stopping points to allow tourists and visitors to better take in the many spectacular vistas to be found along the way at their leisure.
Going-to-the-Sun Road derives its name from the Going to the Sun Mountain, which is the key element of the scenery beyond the point where the road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. According to a local legend, the image of a Native American solar deity by the name of Sour Spirit can be seen on the face of the mountain itself, making it a popular sight for tourists to watch for as they pass by. Sour Spirit is said to have descended to the Earth to teach the Blackfoot Indians the fine art of hunting and then left his image there on the mountain to commemorate the event before returning home to the sun.
In addition to the mountain from which it derives its name, Going-to-the-Sun Road also offers spectacular views of the full range of beautiful natural terrains to be found within Glacier National Park. A full drive along the entire road will provide an amazing natural showcase that includes cedar forests, glacial lakes, and alpine tundra vistas in addition to mountains and valleys. It passes several regional landmarks and points of interest along the way including but not limited to St. Mary Lake, Lake McDonald, and Heaven's Peak. Tourists are encouraged to travel the road in both directions to get the full effect of the landscape, as the view differs greatly depending upon the direction in which one is traveling.
The beauty of the landscape seen from Going-to-the-Sun Road can also be seen in several major feature films. For instance, it can be seen in The Shining as the road up which the Torrances travel to get to the Overlook Hotel. It is also seen momentarily in Forrest Gump during Forrest's famous cross-country jog.