Lake McDonald sky glows at sunset

 

The great circle is a two day scenic drive through Glacier and Waterton

Glacier Park
“Going to the Sun” Highway
Waterton Lakes Natl. Park
Crows Nest Pass

306 miles, two days

In 1932, Glacier National Park was linked with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park to form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first of its kind in the world. This status of shared stewardship between nations manifests the ideal that people of the world can set aside their differences to work cooperatively for the well being of all life.

Glacier is important to science, too, protecting one of the largest, most intact, and biodiverse ecosystems in the lower 48 states. Because of this, in 1979, the United Nations designated Waterton-Glacier the world’s first International Biosphere Reserve. In 1995, UNESCO further recognized the park’s international importance by designating it a World Heritage Site.

The beautiful and diverse lands that comprise Glacier National Park have always been sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe and other indigenous nations. They are no less sacred today.

The “Great Circle” tour is a two-day drive through the most breathtaking scenery of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Day one will send you into Glacier and across the Continental Divide on the historic, 50 mile long “Going To The Sun” highway. Once across the mountains you can spend the night in St. Mary, Montana at the St.Mary KOA. Day Two’s agenda will take you on a loop into Canada and then back “home” to the Whitefish KOA.

Many Glacier Hotel and Chief Mountain
Historic Many Glacier Hotel

You will get the most out of this tour if you plan to stop frequently and get out of your car. Spend time inside historic Lake McDonald Lodge and visit McDonald Creek Falls. Bring some good walking shoes and hike the nature trails you find along the way, like the “Trail of the Cedars” at Avalanche Creek. Many of the trails are not too strenuous and quick to accomplish. Walking them will give you an intimate, interactive experience, and an awareness of the incredible, beautiful diversity of Glacier Park. Each of the trails offers something unique and special from the ancient cedar forest at Avalanche Creek, to the polished, sinuous curves of the rock walls at Avalanche Gorge, and the dramatic, alpine highlands of Logan Pass’s “ Hidden Lake Nature Trail.”

Photograph Bighorn sheep and other wildlife
Bighorn Sheep

Day 1 ? Going to the Sun

Take a leisurely drive over “Going to the Sun” highway. This highway, completed in 1932, is a National Historic Landmark and an awe-inspiring feat of engineering. Have your cameras loaded and your binoculars handy. Your heart will beat faster as you wind around hairpin turns going higher and higher through a wild world of pristine mountain beauty, seemingly up to the sun itself. Stop at the Logan Pass Visitor Center to learn more about the rugged world around you. Walk the nature trails to enjoy fragile alpine flowers, powerful mountain scenery, and frequently spotted mountain goats and other wildlife.

26 miles

  • From the Whitefish KOA Kampground go north 2 miles on US Highway 93. At the flashing light turn east on Montana Highway 40, which merges into US Highway 2. Travel through Columbia Falls, on to West Glacier, and enter Glacier Park. You will need to have a park pass or pay a small entrance fee.

50 miles

  • Drive the Going To The Sun Highway. The Logan Pass Visitor Center is open from 9AM-5PM, and beginning June 27th, from 8AM-7PM. Be on the lookout for those special stopping places where you have the opportunity to get out of your car and meet Glacier face to face.

 

Glacier Park's mountain peaks take great pictures
At Logan Pass

 

Note : Because of the steep winding roads, motorhomes, trailers and other vehicles over 21 feet long (Including bumpers) or 8 feet wide (including mirrors) are prohibited.

The largest vehicles on the road will be part of Glacier’s historic fleet of canvas-topped, convertible tour buses. These bright red “jammer” buses provide commercial tours of “Going to the Sun” and other highways and attractions throughout Glacier Park.

If You Want to See More

Visit historic Many Glacier Hotel on the shores of Swiftcurrant Lake. This hotel was built in 1914-15, its design inspired by the mountain chalets of Switzerland. Enjoy panoramic views and the beautiful log and rock construction of a by-gone era. To get there:

39 miles

  • At St. Mary turn north on US Highway 89 to Babb Montana and then go west back into the park to visit the Many Glacier Hotel. Take the time to go in and marvel at the log construction.
  • Return to St. Mary

When You’ve Had Enough for the Day

Check into the St. Mary KOA for the night.

 

Day 2 – Canadian Rockies Tour

(When traveling into Canada you will be required to have two pieces of identification or a passport in order to return to the US. If you don’t have a passport the best identification to carry is both a drivers license and a certified copy of your birth certificate. With proper identification you will have no problem re-entering United States)

230 miles

  • From the St. Mary KOA head north on Highway 89. Four miles north of Babb take Montana Highway 17 to the Chief Mountain border crossing. Once across the border you will be on Alberta Highway 6. Take a side trip to Waterton National Park to enjoy the wildlife and spectacular views.
  • Continue north on Alberta Highway 6 through Pincher Creek and on to Alberta Highway 3, also called the Crowsnest Highway. If you are a fan of early American history you might want to take the gravel roads to the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump just North of Highway 3. The Blackfeet Indian Nation manages this site to educate visitors about their history.
  • Stay on Crowsnest Highway (3) into British Columbia. Make a short stop at Fernie, a great ski run and winter sport center.
  • Continue on to Provincial Highway 93 and head south on it. This highway becomes US Highway 93 at the BC - Montana border.
  • Cross the border at the Port of Roosville and return home on Hwy 93 to rest at the Whitefish KOA.
Lake McDonald is great for pictures
Lake McDonald Reflections

 

 

 

 

© Whitefish KOA