McDonald Falls was one of two roadside waterfalls that Julie and I encountered while briefly touring the western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We thought the scenery on this side of the park was less dramatic than the east side, and we felt the same way about the waterfalls here as well. Nonetheless, it seemed like it was still quite popular here as it seemed to have a bit more traffic than the east side. I'm still trying to figure out why (especially since bridging the east and west sides required a lengthy 2-hour detour on the Roosevelt Highway thanks to the Going-to-the-Sun Road closure between Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek during our September 2010 visit).
Anyways, there was a narrow viewing area for this falls that was accessed via stairs descending from the road, but it seemed like the views were obstructed no matter where we stood. It turned out that the best spot to view McDonald Falls (at least in my mind) was not even from the narrow lookout area. It was from the road before descending the stairs.
Nonetheless, I'm sure the weather had a bit to do with our subpar viewing experience because I'm betting that there would've been a scenic mountain backdrop to make this falls a little more interesting. We're hoping for a return trip under better conditions when the Going-to-the-Sun Road would be open so perhaps we could give this falls another try.
From the West Glacier turnoff for Glacier National Park, drive east for a couple of miles to a three-way junction, then turn right to get onto the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Continue east on the road for roughly 11 miles as the road skirts the eastern shores of Lake McDonald. There's a large pullout area on the west side of the road.
For context, West Glacier was 50 miles (2 hours) west of St Mary via the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass, but since it was closed during our visit, we had to take the Roosevelt Highway to the south, which made the drive 89 miles (also 2 hours), but significantly less scenic. In addition, West Glacier was 33 miles (45 minutes drive) northeast of Kalispell and 136 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of Missoula.
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What Other Visitors Have Said
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Yes been there! (MacDonald Falls) Actually, the best place to view the falls is from the trail on the other side. See our blog with pictures http://www.girlsinglacier.com/hikes-blog