August 18, 2012

On the Going-to-the-Sun Road...

... it's truly amazing (and terrifying!):



We were in Glacier National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for the glacier cameo.

31 comments:

Matt Brown said...

I was there nearly 30 years ago on a family vacation. I remember walking a path to see a glacier, ringing a little bell so the grizzlies would know we were coming. Thankfully we didn't see any. The rangers told us the park has 2 seasons: Winter & July.

john said...

So when the last of the glaciers has melted, are they just gonna close the place, or sell it, or at least take down all the signs?

Mary Martha said...

It's a beautiful and fun road to drive.

I was there last year going back and forth over that road in my convertible.

That wasn't really a glacier. Sadly Glacier is more named for how it was formed than for the actual presence of glaciers.

I made the mistake of going to Glacier National Park after having been to Alaska and actually hiking *on* glaciers. Montana and Glacier National Park can only be a disappointment when compared to Alaska.

I hope you have a safe drive home!

Lem said...

Keep your eyes peeled for the glacier cameo.

*Spoiler Alert*

I saw it.. and its about the size of the Obama Recovery.

john said...

I drove that road once back in the early 90s, on the first day they completed the snow plowing. It was right around the 1st of July. The snow banks were 20 feet high in places.

Lyle said...

That road makes me nervous. Beautiful though.

Synova said...

Lem wins the thread.

David said...

Maybe they are shrinking. After all they are cold.

Palladian said...

I warned you the other day... don't let Meade take that job as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook!

Carnifex said...

Things bigger than the "glacier" in the professors video...
Zero's ego(an easy one, it's bigger than the universe).
Moochie's ass(again an easy one. Can you say BWA? I knew you could)
Biden's gaffes(okay this is too easy).
Dollar amount spent on Moochie's vacations(Okay, enough with the shooting fish in a barrel.)
Amount of amunition purchased by the Social Security Agency(well it does say security right in the title).
The illegal aliens applying for Obamnasty...In Chocago alone.(there we go...that's better)
Amount of money Corzine steals from investors.
The Obamacare Bill itself.
The number of unemployed im America.

Okay, this failed as humorous and went straight to depressing. Never mind.(should have gone with smaller that the glacier) >:/

Rose said...

I really hated that road :)

Mark Nielsen said...


Another great road to drive is Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park -- goes up to about 12,300 feet.

Glacier is a good name for the park in that the place looks the way it does because of what glaciers did. And while the glaciers of the Northern Rockies are in retreat (and have been for more than 100 years), it isn't like they went from huge to nothing overnight. It's been a *long* time (like, before human history) since the ice in Montana was anywhere near as active as it is now further north in Canada.

Jacques Cuze said...

Synchronicity. Via FARK, I was reading this earlier tonight and used google maps and found the road, then visited your blog to see the name of the road I had just been traveling on via google maps.

http://union-bulletin.com/news/2012/aug/16/no-more-glaciers-imagine-that/

No more glaciers? Imagine that

Danny Westneat, Seattle Times

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. — I can report back from the nation’s searing summer that the great ice fields of at this park are still hanging in there. With the emphasis on hanging.


You can’t reach them easily anymore, as I did when I was a Midwestern kid awed to find thick fields of snow and ice lying about in Montana in the middle of summer.


Today the glaciers left are high, distant patches. Their blue ice clings desperately to loose rock mostly up near the mountain peaks.


“I thought you said we’d get to play in the snow in August,” one of my kids remarked, after it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen.


The ice had been the lure to get the family to drive 600 miles east last week. Let’s go see the great glaciers before they’re gone.


But I misjudged how far gone they already are. As did the scientists.


“They recently revised the end date, because the glaciers are retreating much faster than expected,” a park ranger said, when I told her my memories of sliding on ice fields in the 1970s. “Now they’re saying they may be gone completely by 2020.”

Eight years until “Glacier National Park” is just “National Park.” If you haven’t made plans to visit in the next month or two, that means you have only seven summers left to see a force that’s been sculpting one of the nation’s most dramatic landscapes for the past 7,000 years.

edutcher said...

You call that terrifying?

Try it in Jamaica, where the roads are half that wide, everybody drives around 60, and you can't see around the turns, so you have to beep the horn.

PS What happened with the sound?

traditionalguy said...

Do you mean terrifying to a certain Professor who is afraid of heights? That trip must feel like going over a super high bridge that never ends.

The Wiki article said that July 13, 2011 was the latest date before the winter snows could be plowed off the road. That left 3 months before the new snows.

Which is imortant because glaciers do not form due to cold winters, but they form because cooling summers fail to melt the last winter's snows.

Global cooling cometh.

LarryK said...

Very nice, but how did you manage to avoid any traffic? Went I drove it last year it was bumper to bumper all the way up.

Rob said...

Spent the summer of '05 in Whitefish. Fun things to do. Go to summer stock theater (funded by Henry Winkler). Play a round of golf and have dinner at the Glacier Park Lodge. Rent a sailboat and go sailing on Flathead Lake. Watch the local Whitefish summer league baseball in the evenings. Hike to the top of the ski area and have lunch. (Ride down if you are tired.) Go swimming at the beach at Whitefish Lake. Drive to Jasper National Park in Canada and check out REAL glaciers.

AprilApple said...

If we had to re-build that road today with the gaggle of corrupt boobs and inept democrat cronies in charge - no road would exist. But we would still have to pay for it, and it would cost trillions.

Paco Wové said...

"The ice had been the lure to get the family to drive 600 miles east last week"

they could have saved themselves 500 miles of driving and gone to Mt. Rainier N.P. instead. Lotsa glaciers there.

Mark Nielsen said...


April's comment is a good one. My family visits Yellowstone nearly every summer, and I'm always grateful the park facilities there were built when they were. It couldn't be done anymore.

virgil xenophon said...

@Mark Nielsen/

You're right, Trail Ridge Rd is great. I first drove it in 1967. And don't forget to stop at Grand Lake on one's way up if your approaching it north out of Denver, or on way back if one takes the "southern" approach going the other way round..

Craig said...

If you want to see a real glacier go to the Columbia Ice Field about halfway between Banff and Jasper. Every half hour there's a tourist bus with huge tires that will take you out a half mile onto the edge of the glacier. It's like an ocean of ice. Quite easy to imagine you're standing on the north or south pole.

Deborah said...

It's a beautiful park. I visited it both last year and the year before.
I drove over the Going to the Sun road by myself in dark a few times getting back late from spending the day hiking over on the other side.
It does have its scary parts.

I really enjoyed seeing your photos of Avalanche Lake. They brought back memories of my hike out there in 2010. Good times!

If you're staying there a bit longer I recommend the hike up to Scenic Point in Two Medicine. If you can go with Ranger Pat Hagan do it! He's a great guide.

Bruce Hayden said...

.. it's truly amazing (and terrifying!):

It's only terrifying because you are a flatlander. Just keep in mind that most vehicles don't go off the road, and of those that do, most often their airbags deploy - though unfortunately most often not until they hit the bottom of the canyon below.

The problem is that most of those driving the road are flatlanders, and so do drive the road more slowly than necessary, and drive those who are comfortable driving mountain roads crazy.

I will admit to some, obvious, bias here, having first started driving mountain roads by driving over almost 12,000 ft Loveland Pass Sat. and Sun. throughout ski season in high school.

Bruce Hayden said...

You're right, Trail Ridge Rd is great. I first drove it in 1967. And don't forget to stop at Grand Lake on one's way up if your approaching it north out of Denver, or on way back if one takes the "southern" approach going the other way round..

Probably didn't drive it myself until maybe 1970, but have been going over it all my life. My kid is the third or fourth generation to go to camp in that area (my grandparents spent their summers working at one) in the area, and so trips over Trail Ridge are obligatory every year or so. Next time you are on the top, notice the spire with my last name across the valley a bit west of Longs Peak. I probably drove it the most when I was living in Fort Collins, and driving back and forth to Dillon.

But, I have driven the road enough times that I am really inconsiderate to the flatlanders lallygagging along. The problem is that the part above tree line is the scariest for a lot of them, yet, even in the unlikely event that they went off the road, their airbags probably would not deploy - because the slope is actually fairly moderate through most of it. It is the perspective of the whole thing that I think is scary to many, of being so high up and seeing so far (and, yes, you can actually see Wyoming, some 60 miles away from the visitors center).

If I were to compare the two roads, I would consider the one that Ann was just traversing bit scarier, while Trail Ridge to be more majestic. I prefer the latter, mostly because I think it quite exhilarating, all that distance above tree line, but the two of them are my favorite National Park roads, and I tend to go out of my way to drive them.

Synova said...

On the pictures that Althouse labled "glacier", which had a lake and no snow... the trees on the mountain were pretty big, I thought.

If a glacier was over them once, it wasn't at all recently.

The Godfather said...

I remember that road well. I drove it in 1960. I don't remember thinking it was particularly scary (although I was glad I wasn't going in the other direction), but at 17 you're pretty fearless.

There were glaciers then. We took a horse back trip up to one. Several hours, maybe half a day. It was a big, permanent snow field, not what you'd see in Greenland, but pretty impressive. I'd be sorry to hear that it's gone -- but not sorry enough to give up fossil fuels.

HT said...

I keep expecting to see Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart.

Rusty said...

There are much scarier roads around east Glacier that are gravel and there aren't any big boulders along the shoulder to keep you from falling a couple of hundred feet.

Burnt Pole is a nice little drive just north of West Glacier. When we were there in 2001 they had huckleberry ice cream at the general store.

Biff said...

I've been to most of the US National Parks, and Glacier remains my favorite. It doesn't have anything quite as spectacular as Yosemite's Half Dome or Yellowstone's diversity of sights, but Glacier is so consistently gorgeous that its beats the rest. I envy your trip!

EMD said...

The world is an amazing place to live.