Glacier-Waterton Loop

Trip Dates:
Jul 06, 2014 -- Jul 15, 2014
Whitefish, MT
Booking Status:

Going-to-the-Sun Road was conceived as a way to permit visitors a glimpse of Glacier National Park’s mountainous interior without the need to travel by foot or horseback. Completed in 1932 after 11 years of work, this engineering and scenic marvel tops the “must ride” list of many enthusiastic touring cyclists. And Going-to-the-Sun Road accounts for only one day of our spectacular Glacier-Waterton Loop!

To begin, we’ll ride north from Whitefish, Montana, into British Columbia and the spunky resort village of Fernie. From there, we’ll head east and crest the Continental Divide at Crowsnest Pass before rolling through Alberta prairies en route to Waterton Lakes National Park, Glacier National Park’s Canadian counterpart. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cross-border Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park features unmatchable splendor symbolic of the solid friendship shared by Canada and the U.S.

Join us for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and be sure to bring your passport. This is one of our most popular tours, so don’t wait too long to sign up!

Start Date: Jul 06, 2014 End Date: Jul 15, 2014
Start Location: Whitefish, MT End Location: Whitefish, MT
Total Days: 10 Riding Days: 8
Rest Days: 2 Miles: 350
Average Daily Mileage: 43.8 Surface: Paved
Riders: 14 Airport: Glacier Park International (FCA)
Tour Leader: Alex Campbell Meals: Shared cooking
Accommodations: Camping Type: Self Contained
Physical Difficulty: Advanced Level of Support: Self Contained
Cost: $1,219.00

Day 1

Whitefish, Montana. We’ll gather in the late afternoon in Whitefish, where we'll camp for the night. If you arrive early you might consider renting a fat bike at the nearby Whitefish Mountain Resort and trying out the some of the mountain’s 20 miles of mountain biking trails. You can ride to the top of the mountain in a chairlift, and enjoy 2,200 vertical feet of gravity-powered fun!

Day 2

Whitefish to Eureka, 63 miles. Today’s ride is the longest of the entire trip. You’ll pedal over gently rolling terrain with the Whitefish Range rising to your right and the Salish and Purcell mountains on your left. We’ll head for Eureka by way of the heavily timbered valleys of the Stillwater and Tobacco Rivers. In Eureka, the Tobacco River Historical Village brings alive this long-isolated area’s Native American heritage and railroading and logging industries.

Day 3

Eureka to Fernie, British Columbia, 49 miles. We’ll enjoy rolling terrain today as we pass into Canada. About 20 miles into the ride, you’ll have the option of detouring onto the Jaffrey-Baynes Lake Road, following a stretch of the Canadian extension of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to the town of Elko. It’s a few miles longer than the main route, but the superior scenery and lower traffic counts make it worth the additional effort. Fernie is a bustling resort town with good bike shops and all kinds of activities.

Day 4

Fernie to Blairmore, Alberta, 45 miles. Today we’ll tackle the 32-mile-long gradual ascent from Fernie to the 4,457-foot summit of Crowsnest Pass and the Alberta border. Lucky for us, what goes up must come down, so the long climb is followed by a great downhill run. You may be tempted to zip through the towns of Frank and Coleman, but it’s definitely worth applying the brakes long enough to visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Center and the Crowsnest Museum, with its exhibits on mining, wildlife, and pioneer life. Down the road in Blairmore they’ll leave the light on for us at the Lost Lemon RV Park & Campground, a favorite with past tour groups.

Day 5

Blairmore to Pincher Creek, 30 miles. Out of the mountains we go, into big ranching country once the domain of the Blackfeet, Peigan, and Kootenai nations. The terrain is rolling and the wind considerable, explaining why power-generating wind turbines are becoming more and more common in the area. Today’s relatively short mileage should leave plenty of time to explore Pincher Creek’s fine Kootenai Brown Pioneer Museum, named in honor of the trapper who was key to the establishment of Waterton Lakes National Park and served as its first superintendent.

Day 6

Pincher Creek to Waterton Village, 34 miles. The first ten miles or so of today’s ride entail long, rolling hills, which give way to a more level terrain that will take us into Waterton Lakes National Park. Before hitting camp, you might want to detour into the historic Prince of Wales Hotel to view its immense lobby, perhaps relax with a hot drink, and take in the gorgeous views of expansive Upper Waterton Lake and the mountains beyond. America’s Great Northern Railway built this iconic, grand hotel during the Prohibition era as a way of luring Americans north of the border, where they could still legally imbibe.

Day 7

Waterton Village, Layover Day. Waterton Lakes is a wonderful place for a rest day. There’s hiking, mountain biking on single-track trails, the boat ride to Crypt Lake, fishing, movies at the Opera House, horseback riding, and kayak rentals at Cameron Lake. Or, you could simply perch on a rock like a marmot, admiring and meditating on your incredible surroundings.

Day 8

Waterton Village to St. Mary, Montana, 49 miles. Today’s ride involves a considerable amount of climbing as we summit Chief Mountain pass. Just south of Babb, Montana, the dead-end Many Glacier Road runs about 12 miles to the magnificent Many Glacier Lodge, perched on the equally spectacular Swiftcurrent Lake. If you’ve got the time and energy, don’t miss this side trip.

Day 9

St. Mary to Apgar, 50 miles. Today you’ll go up the big hill and down the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road. The steady, gradual climb to the summit begins about 10 miles inside Glacier National Park. From the summit, the descent is noticeably steeper than the climb. Whether you’re going up or down don’t forget to stop and look around now and then, because you’ll be riding in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Day 10

Apgar to Whitefish, 30 miles. The tour ends back in Whitefish after an easy ride. It includes four miles of the unpaved Blankenship Road, which we take in order to avoid busy U.S. Highway 2 between Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls. At the end of the day, we’ll hold a celebration feast and toast to a ride well done!

"The downhills were most enjoyable, but we certainly earned them! I enjoyed riding with others. Swimming in lakes, streams and rivers after a long day of riding was fabulous!"

2013 Tour Participant

"Great tour! Nice, kind and professional leaders made this an easy tour, they made the decisions and our entire group followed their lead. Hassle Free Touring!"

2013 Tour Participant

Photo by Chuck Haney