Going-to-the-Sun Road Geology

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Every year thousands of people enjoy the views from Glacier National Park’s engineering marvel known as the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Whether you’re looking at the scenery from the seat of your bicycle, a red tour bus or your car, the trip from St. Mary’s to Lake McDonald provides some of the best high country ambiance in the Rocky Mountains.

Up close and personal, you will notice the rock formations. They are stunning and colorful but, unless you have a good tour guide or a handy reference book, the geology on display may remain incomprehensible.

Geology Along Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana will meet your needs perfectly. First published by the Glacier Association in 1983, this practical, well-illustrated guidebook has met the test of time. The book is organized into twenty-one stops from east to west along Sun Road that illustrate many of the park’s geological features.

Sun Road Tour Stops

Sun Road's Logan Pass - NPS Photo

The book includes color photographs of both the far-away and the close-up features. For example, you can compare what you see when you look at Curly Bear Mountain 3.9 miles from the entrance station with a diagrammed photograph that illustrates the mountain’s visible rock formations.

Or, at Stop 5, “Grinnell Formation,” text and close-up photographs in the book help you better understand this colorful red rock. Logan Pass, Stop 10, at 6,680 offers excellent views of the horn-shaped mountains created by glaciation, including Clements Mountain (shown in the book).

In addition to the stops, the book includes a glossary, information about rock colors, a list of the park’s rock formations and a handy shaded relief map of the road. Written by geologists in a language intended for non-scientists, the guide adds to a visitor’s understanding and enjoyment of a highway that has thrilled millions of tourists since its completion in 1932.

Malcolm R. Campbell, who worked as an editorial assistant for this Glacier Association book project, is the author of two novels partially set in the park, The Sun Singer and Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey.

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