Three Arches of Going to the Sun Road

Sun Road 265

The most popular drive in Glacier National Park is Going to the Sun Road – and for very good reason. It is a beautiful drive, at least for the person not driving. The road is narrow, steep, and curvy so the driver needs to keep eyes on the road at all times. Besides that the only thing keeping cars from toppling over steep cliffs is a low stone wall made from the rock that was removed to make the road. We decided to book a ride on the Red Bus Tours because J. gets white-knuckle anxious on those types of drives and I don’t do well keeping my eyes on the road. It was a good decision.

The road was finished in 1933 after 3 decades of surveying and arduous construction. Building this road was challenging, so much so that the lead surveyor had a 300 percent turnover in help in the three months it took to do the survey work. I am frequently amazed and intrigued by the work that goes into building roads in challenging locations. Because I have had a problem with panic attacks in high locations, building roads on the edge of mountains blows my mind.

The road was built despite sheer cliffs, 60 foot snow drifts, a short work season, and mountains of relatively soft stone that needed to be protected. The road winds up the mountain through Logan Pass and across the Continental Divide, connecting the east and west sides of the park. The place where the Three Arches was built didn’t have any ledge or flat surface to begin building the road so the arches and flat surface had to be extended out from the face of the mountain. It was built by men who were hanging out from the surface of the mountain. I find this incredible – and the result is beautiful.  

Sun Road 261

This tunnel was also a challenge to build and provide us with another arch.

Sun Road 068

Here is a link to see a slideshow telling a more complete story of the building of the road and to see some amazing old photographs. It is worth visiting.  http://www.nps.gov/glac/photosmultimedia/etours.htm

Sue has chosen the word “arch” for her “Word a Week Challenge”. You can see her amazing photos and join the fun with your arches at:

http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/a-word-a-week-challenge-arch/

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13 Comments »

  1. We missed the Going to the Sun Road last June. They were still closed but saw it when I first went there in 2003. Glacier is my favorite of the National Parks although there is a lot more I haven’t seen.

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    • Yes, I agree. The road was built without using a lot of heavy machinery or doing a lot of blasting because the rock is so soft and they wanted to preserve the environment.

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