Cross the Border

Glacier National Park, Montana, and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Mar 20, 2012
Outside
Outside Magazine
Mount Sinopah

Glacier Park's Mount Sinopah    Photo: Daniel Ewert

Waterton Lake

Waterton Lake, Alberta

Pack your passport and credit card but keep your panniers light for this six-day mission through the most majestic scenery south of Alaska. Start in Whitefish, Montana, where you can pick up a Jamis bike, panniers, tubes, a pump, and Clif Bars at Glacier Cyclery (rentals, $160 per week), then head east to Glacier and the classic, old-school Lake McDonald Lodge, 11 miles into the park on the famous Going to the Sun Road (doubles, $127). The next day, things get steep and twisty: ride east up Going to the Sun, a 50-mile, switchback-filled monster that climbs on a 6 percent grade before topping out at the Continental Divide, at 6,646-foot Logan Pass. Set out early—you need to reach Logan before 11 a.m., when the road closes to ascending cyclists until 4 p.m. It’s all downhill from there to the east side of the park, where you can crash at St. Mary Lodge (doubles, $149) and load up on huckleberry pie at the Park CafĂ©. The following day, ride 27 miles to the border crossing at Chief Mountain, then another 19 to the Prince of Wales Hotel, a six-story chalet on the shores of Waterton Lake (doubles, US$234). Take a day to hike around Waterton (try the 7.5-mile Bertha Lake out-and-back), then head south, crossing back into Glacier. Spend your last night at the Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake to complete your tour of the grand chalets (doubles, $149), and fill up on rib eye—28 ounces of it—at the nearby log-walled Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club. On your final day, catch a complimentary shuttle back over Going to the Sun (climbing it once is enough) from the St. Mary Visitor Center to the town of Apgar, then coast back to Whitefish.