We were drawn to the Red Bus again.
This time it was to take the Crown of the Continent Tour, more commonly known as traveling the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Vehicles longer than 21 feet are not allowed to travel the 48.7 mile winding road.
So, we signed up for the trip on the 25-foot long Red Bus. 21', No; 25', OK. ???
However . . . , the road was closed near Big Bend, a point a little over half the length of the Road.
As of June 13, Big Drift, just east of Logan Pass (the Continental Divide), still had about 70 feet of snow still clogging the road, but it was still closed as of the 24th due to damage caused by avalanches.
We had reservations and were promised an "itinerary modification" in the event of weather conditions or construction work that closed the road. So, we began our trip (there were no refunds) knowing that we would not be able to reach Logan Pass, the highest point on the road.
Our modification took us past this river (first photo) and Goat Lick (above).
Mountain goats frequent this natural salt lick on a cliff above the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, and we were fortunate to see this group of seven mountain goats in the area below the road.
Although the time on the Going-to-the-Sun Road was less than originally anticipated, it was nonetheless still very dramatic.
The photos here were taken on the portion of the road west of the 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. I don't know if any of these mountains are named, but they evoke a "Wow" response when seeing them.
The road officially received its name, “The Going-to-the-Sun Road,” during the 1933 dedication at Logan Pass. The road borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.
Local legend, and a 1933 press release issued by the Department of the Interior, told the story of the deity, Sour Spirit, who came down from the sun to teach Blackfeet braves the rudiments of the hunt. On his way back to the sun, Sour Spirit had his image reproduced on the top of the mountain for inspiration to the Blackfeet.
The Sun Road project received $27.6 million in federal stimulus money to rebuild from Big Bend to Logan Pass. Remaining funds will be applied to the next phase of work in 2010 (Logan Pass east to Siyeh Bend).
Much of the west-facing side of the Rocky Mountains within the park, comprised of the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, features a vertical rock face known as the Garden Wall. The road was literally carved into this cliff. The result is a thrilling and hair-raising ride with unbelievable views of both mountains and valleys. The outer edge of the road drops off thousands of feet into the valley below.
Jagged mountains cut sharply through clouds, their peaks encircling the earth like majestic points of a crown fit for a king. It’s no wonder they call this place the “Crown of the Continent.”
This waterfall at Big Bend was quite striking.
With views shown here, we did not feel too bad about missing the other half of the Sun Road.
Still more to come tomorrow.