Bird Woman Falls and the Going-to-the-Sun Road Waterfalls

Glacier National Park / Logan Pass, Montana, USA

About Bird Woman Falls and the Going-to-the-Sun Road Waterfalls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2010-09-25
Date last visited: 2017-08-05

Waterfall Latitude: 48.70867
Waterfall Longitude: -113.74811

The Bird Woman Falls was perhaps the tallest and most recognizable of the waterfalls seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road (also called the Sun Road for short), especially near Logan Pass.

It was said to be 492ft high as it plunged off a hanging valley left behind by a tributary glacier that had since receded and disappeared before the main glacier responsible for the U-shaped valley between Mt Cameron and Heaven Peak also disappeared.

Glacier_NP_17_062_08052017 - Bird Woman Falls and its hanging valley context as seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Bird Woman Falls and its hanging valley context as seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

We found the Bird Woman Falls to be such a waterfall highlight that they dedicated several pullouts on the Going-to-the-Sun Road west of Logan Pass.

One of them had a signpost, which yielded the most direct view of the waterfall and its scenic backdrop.

In addition to the Bird Woman Falls, there were also many other roadside waterfalls along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Thus, this page was dedicated to appreciating these falls while also helping you to spot them out as you traverse the only road that cuts through Glacier National Park.

Glacier_NP_17_002_08052017 - Full context of the Bdramatic scenery of the Bird Woman Falls and the Logan Pass as seen from the climbing part of the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Full context of the Bdramatic scenery of the Bird Woman Falls and the Logan Pass as seen from the climbing part of the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road

It would typically take about 2 hours to drive between West Glacier and St Mary (on the opposite ends of Glacier National Park) without stops.

However, it’s likely that a typical visit would consume far more time than that due to its tendency to compel you to make stops so you can take in both the views as well as the hikes along the way.

The Waterfalls along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Below are the waterfalls we’ve managed to identify or visit during our trips to Glacier National Park.

This list is going from east to west since we think this would be the best way to experience the park as far as vistas are concerned).

The waterfalls not directly visible from the road and/or requiring a hike each have dedicated writeups and are linked accordingly.

  • unnamed waterfalls seen from Sun Point and Wild Goose Island
  • Baring Falls
  • St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
  • other unnamed waterfalls feeding Reynolds Creek further to the east
  • “Lunch Creek” – a dramatic unnamed waterfall at the head of Reynolds Creek plunging eastwards away from the Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Oberlin Falls – where Logan Creek tumbled right besides Going-to-the-Sun Road near Logan Pass at the so-called Oberlin Bend before continuing further downstream and plunging westwards beneath Mt Oberlin
  • the Weeping Wall – where some ephemeral (and manmade) waterfalls spilled right onto the Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • cascade on Haystack Creek – which can be seen from the same pullout as that of Bird Woman Falls
  • Bird Woman Falls – the feature waterfall of this page
  • McDonald Creek Overlook
  • Sacred Dancing Cascade
  • McDonald Falls
Glacier_NP_513_09252010 - Scenic context of an attractive (maybe unnamed) waterfall at the head of Reynolds Creek or 'Lunch Creek'
Scenic context of an attractive (maybe unnamed) waterfall at the head of Reynolds Creek or ‘Lunch Creek’

I’m sure there are still more I haven’t named, but these are the ones we’ve managed to identify while either cruising the busy Going-to-the-Sun Road or riding one of park’s shuttles.

Most of the ones named above have pictures so you have an idea of what they look like as you make your tour.

The National Park Service has also put together a nice series of short videos to get deeper into the points of interest on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road – A Perpetual State of Repair and Management

We actually had to wait several years before we finally got to experience the Bird Woman Falls and the neighboring waterfalls for ourselves.

Glacier_NP_492_09252010 - On our first visit to the Going-to-the-Sun Road in late September 2010, Federal Stimulus money was being used to renovate the road, which resulted in unpaved sections like this as well as the road closure over a long stretch around Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek
On our first visit to the Going-to-the-Sun Road in late September 2010, Federal Stimulus money was being used to renovate the road, which resulted in unpaved sections like this as well as the road closure over a long stretch around Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek

That was because on our first visit to Glacier National Park in September 2010, the road was closed from west of Logan Pass Visitor Center to Avalanche Creek (i.e. the most dramatic part of the drive west of Logan Pass).

It wasn’t until August 2017 that we got to make a return visit, but it always seemed as if some part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road would be in a state of repair every year.

After overhearing a shuttle bus driver talking about the park’s lack of funds situation to keep up with maintenance and ever increasing crowds, we gained a better appreciation of how expensive it was to keep this road open.

After all, it was full of narrow ledges and hairpin turns as well as cliff overhangs.

Hidden_Lake_004_08062017 - The crowds and parking situation at Logan Pass were intense, but even the shuttles filled up fast and incurred wait times which resulted in a frustration factor that rivaled that of the parking situation
The crowds and parking situation at Logan Pass were intense, but even the shuttles filled up fast and incurred wait times which resulted in a frustration factor that rivaled that of the parking situation

It was also prone to avalanches, heavy snow, and it was difficult to plow given the rugged terrain.

So it’s pretty hit-and-miss when it comes to whether you can get the complete experience along the Sun Road on a given visit.

It took us two tries before we finally got to have the full experience.

Going-to-the-Sun Road – A Controversial History

The Going-to-the-Sun Road wasn’t without its share of controversy.

Conservationist, activist, and writer George Bird Grinnell (after whom many of the features of Glacier National Park were named) vowed to never return to the park after the Going-to-the-Sun Road was to be built.

Hidden_Lake_276_08062017 - Context of the Going-to-the-Sun Road looking east of Logan Pass
Context of the Going-to-the-Sun Road looking east of Logan Pass

And it turned out that he made good on his promise for the remainder of his life.

As a key advocate for properly protecting Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife and geysers, he was much against the idea of a national park designed with automobile tourism in mind.

Today, with the difficulties that Glacier National Park was facing with lack of funds, ongoing and expensive maintenance costs, and overgrowding, the park seems to be at a crossroads.

Should Glacier National Park strive to keep the park accessible while also maintaining its viability to operationally stay afloat?

Glacier_NP_17_089_08052017 - Looking towards a small cascade near a small parking area just west of Logan Pass. I believe this waterfall is called Oberlin Falls
Looking towards a small cascade near a small parking area just west of Logan Pass. I believe this waterfall is called Oberlin Falls

Or should they take the opposite extreme, which would be to administer Glacier National Park like a wilderness park where Going-to-the-Sun Road would be more like a trail than a throughfare?

The latter option would be much like the way Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks do not have a convenient road corridor to go across the California Sierras as they’re dominated by roadless wilderness.

I’m sure there will be more to come on this topic in the near future, but you do have to bear this in mind when making your visit, especially given the park’s short season in the busy Summer months.

Authorities

Bird Woman Falls and the Going-to-the-Sun Road Waterfalls reside in Glacier National Park near Kalispell and St Mary in Flathead County and Glacier County, Montana. They are administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Glacier_NP_454_09252010 - You never know what you might find while driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We got this fleeting shot of a moose while driving this road early in the morning. By the way, in this photo gallery, we're showing pictures along the Going-to-the-Sun Road heading from east to west (instead of chronologically)
Glacier_NP_218_09242010 - A particularly tall waterfall we noticed at Sun Point back in 2010.  I believe this could very well be Virginia Falls (or possibly Florence Falls) seen across the far western end of St Mary Lake
Glacier_NP_223_09242010 - More contextual view of the falls above which I believe to be either Virginia Falls or Florence Falls
Glacier_NP_230_09242010 - Some other cascade that I think we saw somewhere near Sun Point (if so, then these cascades are likely to be on Reynolds Creek)
Glacier_NP_237_09242010 - Full contextual view over St Mary Lake with that waterfall barely visible way in the background
Glacier_NP_456_09252010 - Some cascade we noticed near Wild Goose Island overlook, which could very well be an angled look towards Virginia Falls
Virginia_and_St_Mary_Falls_258_08062017 - Looking west on the eastern side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road near the St Mary Falls shuttle stop
Glacier_NP_205_09242010 - Distant look at the Virginia Falls from the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is one of the waterfalls that you can hike closer to from the St Mary Falls Trailhead
Glacier_NP_474_09252010 - What's left of the Jackson Glacier as seen from the Jackson Glacier Overlook
Glacier_NP_465_09252010 - A tall cascade not far from the Jackson Glacier Overlook. I suspect that these cascades were also on Reynolds Creek
Glacier_NP_568_09252010 - More contextual view of the falls above
Glacier_NP_467_09252010 - Contextual view of mountains backing some thin cascade near the falls seen above from the Jackson Glacier Overlook vicinity
Glacier_NP_468_09252010 - More zoomed in look at the falls above draining snowmelt and tumbling towards the east end of Glacier National Park along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier_NP_477_09252010 - Contextual view of pair of cascades beneath a peak as we got closer to Logan Pass along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier_NP_478_09252010 - More zoomed in look at the falls above, which drained east of Logan Pass and headed further to the east of Glacier National Park
Glacier_NP_475_09252010 - Looking east on the Going-to-the-Sun Road while it was unpaved and undergoing some road work in September 2010
Virginia_and_St_Mary_Falls_007_08062017 - Whilst taking the shuttle bus from Logan Pass to St Mary Falls, we noticed this cascade on a hot August day in 2017 somewhere not far from the Siyeh Bend
Virginia_and_St_Mary_Falls_010_08062017 - More contextual look at that waterfall seen from the shuttle bus on our second visit to the area in August 2017
Glacier_NP_496_09252010 - One of the larger waterfalls seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road just east of Logan Pass. This was at the head of Reynolds Creek, and apparently, the park literature said this was historically called Lunch Creek because visitors from the past would rest here and take a lunch break.  There's no formal trail to get closer and social trails to scramble for a closer look is prohibited as it's now an active revegetation area.
Glacier_NP_17_091_08052017 - Continuing west from Logan Pass, this was a cascade that spilled right by the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Oberlin Bend.  I believe this to be an upper tier of Oberlin Falls
Glacier_NP_17_096_08052017 - This was a lookout peering west into the steepest parts of the canyon west of Logan Pass.  The park literature recognizes this viewpoint as part of the Oberlin Bend
Glacier_NP_17_094_08052017 - Near that overlook west of Logan Pass at Oberlin Bend, I also managed to spot this mountain goat by the boardwalk
Glacier_NP_17_076_08052017 - This drop might have been the part that's referred to on the maps as Oberlin Falls.  It's further downslope of Oberlin Bend
Glacier_NP_17_084_08052017 - Looking towards a waterfall draining west of Logan Pass, which I believe might be part of the Oberlin Falls as seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier_NP_17_080_08052017 - Heading west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road west of Logan Pass
Glacier_NP_17_077_08052017 - Looking back at the context of the upper part of the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road leading up to Logan Pass
Going_to_the_Sun_Rd_019_iPhone_08062017 - There was no pullout to get a good look at the Triple Arches so Julie managed to take this shot while I was driving east towards Logan Pass in the morning
Glacier_NP_17_112_08052017 - This pullout was the closest to the Weeping Wall, which spilled on the road towards the right side of this picture.  There were also lots of wildflowers in bloom during my August 2017 visit
Glacier_NP_17_116_08052017 - Another look at the wildflowers blooming beneath the Going-to-the-Sun Road near the so-called Weeping Wall
Glacier_NP_17_055_08052017 - This cascade was on Haystack Creek, which crossed the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and it can be seen from the official Bird Woman Falls pullout
Glacier_NP_17_053_08052017 - Contextual view of the cascade on Haystack Creek with the Going-to-the-Sun Road cutting right across it
Glacier_NP_17_064_08052017 - Contextual look back at Haystack Creek and the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier_NP_17_057_08052017 - Sign at a larger pullout for the Bird Woman Falls
Glacier_NP_17_049_08052017 - Looking further downstream at where the Bird Woman Falls ultimately drains into as its watercourse heads west
Glacier_NP_17_047_08052017 - Looking towards the Bird Woman Falls with wildflowers blooming in the foreground
Going_to_the_Sun_Rd_006_iPhone_08062017 - Julie managed to take this shot of Heaven Peak from the car while I was driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the morning towards Logan Pass
Glacier_NP_17_043_08052017 - Looking west against the afternoon sun at the river draining towards West Glacier as seen from the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier_NP_17_040_08052017 - Direct look past some wildflowers towards the Bird Woman Falls
Glacier_NP_17_021_08052017 - Another direct look at the Bird Woman Falls from further west along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in context with the remnants of a glacier above it
Glacier_NP_17_014_08052017 - Looking east on the Going-to-the-Sun Road from one of the first pullouts with a view of Bird Woman Falls. Notice how narrow the road is, which is precisely why longer vehicles can't do this road
Glacier_NP_17_012_08052017 - Looking down towards the basin where all the ice and snow ultimately drain towards as the watercourse meanders to the west side of Glacier National Park
Glacier_NP_17_010_08052017 - Looking west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the same spot, showing how tight it can get
Glacier_NP_17_007_08052017 - Looking back at the context of the Going-to-the-Sun Road from somewhere during the climb (or descent) on the west side of the road between Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek
Glacier_NP_17_006_08052017 - This was my westernmost view of the Bird Woman Falls from the Going-to-the-Sun Road

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The Bird Woman Falls and the rest of the waterfalls on this page were primarily seen on the Going-to-the-Sun Road between St Mary and West Glacier.

Most of the waterfalls were concentrated around the Logan Pass area about as far west as The Loop and as far east as the Jackson Glacier Overlook.

Hidden_Lake_278_08062017 - The busy action going on at Logan Pass, which was pretty much the heart and center of Glacier National Park
The busy action going on at Logan Pass, which was pretty much the heart and center of Glacier National Park

Logan Pass represented the mountain pass in the middle of the Going-to-the-Sun Road right at the Continental Divide.

The map shown here pegs some of the roadside waterfalls that we’ve seen along this stretch.

Rather reproduce someone else’s work, I found this website by Quirky Travel Guy that has a useful mile-by-mile pictorial guide of the points of interest along the road.

You can open up his website and compare side-by-side with the waterfalls in this page to get a sense of which waterfalls you’d like to target on your tour.

For additional context, West Glacier on the west end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road was 50 miles (2 hours) west of St Mary on the east end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Glacier_NP_17_068_08052017 - Context of some of the pullouts adjacent to the Going-to-the-Sun Road to make it easier for you to stop and enjoy the views before continuing on
Context of some of the pullouts adjacent to the Going-to-the-Sun Road to make it easier for you to stop and enjoy the views before continuing on

St Mary was about 8.5 miles (10 minutes drive) south of Babb, 30 miles (under an hour drive) north of East Glacier Park Village, 29 miles (over 30 minutes drive) northwest of Browning (administrative center of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation), and 202 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Helena.

West Glacier was about 28 miles (40 minutes drive) east of Whitefish, 35 miles (50 minutes drive) northeast of Kalispell, and 140 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Missoula.

Long video showing the panorama around the Bird Woman Falls


Sweep from the signed pullout for Bird Woman Falls revealing the panorama that includes the falls as well as a cascade on Haystack Creek



Trip Planning Resources


Tagged with: glacier, flathead, national park, montana, waterfall, rocky mountains, going-to-the-sun, logan pass, st mary, saint mary, apgar



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Bird Woman Falls close-up and more August 30, 2020 10:04 pm by Jose Luis Sanchez Esteban - I submit here the best close-up of the falls that I could get plus another picture I think is somehow scenic. ...Read More

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Bird Woman Falls close-up and more August 30, 2020 10:04 pm by Jose Luis Sanchez Esteban - I submit here the best close-up of the falls that I could get plus another picture I think is somehow scenic. ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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