As winter subsides and snow is melting off Glacier National Park’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, another off-the-beaten track lowland route presents cycling opportunities for early season adventure.
Paralleling the Camas Road is the mostly forgotten-about Inside Road which provides access to some of the park’s most pristine wilderness areas. Running from Apgar to Polebridge and nearly to the Canadian border, the road was built in 1901 and holds the title of oldest road in the park. The Inside Road takes you on a tour of historic burn areas, wetlands and aspen groves to Logging, Bowman and, finally, Kintla lakes.
The Inside Road was original called the Flathead River Road, and opened an area of seasonal travel by primitive methods, namely horseback and wagon. The original construction of the road was by oil developers who believed there was a large pool of crude at the head of Lower Kintla Lake, enough so to merit drilling a test well.
An exploration expedition financed by Copper magnate Marcus Daly the in the mid-1880s was led by Patrick Walsh, father of eventual North Fork homesteader Johnnie Walsh. To move the heavy drilling equipment from the Belton station of the Great Northern Railway to the well site, a road into the North Fork became necessary.
The speculative oil ventures proved to be unworthy, but the Inside North Fork Road would allow subsistence farmers and homesteaders to venture into the valley as legal homesteading began in 1906. Soon, Loggers and trappers followed, and they were responsible for repairing and maintaining the road. With the creation of Glacier National Park in 1920, Superintendents were unable to to maintain the road and satisfy the settlers demand for improved access.
Heavily loaded cars and wagons were winched down by cable, and between 1918 and 1940, despite seasonal repairs, the park superintendents repeated various claims that the road was “practically impossible for automobiles to get over.”
Today the road is maintained in a primitive condition— rough, dusty and narrow.
If you and your group want to strike out on your own accord and are seeking adventure, The Inside Road beckons.
While the Going-to-the-Sun Road offers bicyclists a pristine, yet somewhat crowded wilderness experience prior to the highway opening, it’s closed to riders between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer months. During this time, the Inside Road is prime territory for cyclists looking to avoid crowds and have an adventure.
Cycling the 28 miles between Apgar and Polebridge offers different and unique vantage points of Glacier National Park, and in the spring, there are abundant opportunities to view wildlife.
Give us a call to discuss booking this once in a lifetime ride!
The Whitefish Shuttle is proud to offer a shuttle from Kalispell, Whitefish, or Columbia Falls for you and your group. We will drop you and your bikes at Apgar Village where you will begin riding the 28 miles to Polebridge. THIS IS A WILDERNESS NON-GUIDED EXPERIENCE. We will pick you up in Polebridge approximately 3 hours later at the Polebridge Mercantile. We can also pick you up a little later so you can enjoy dinner at the Northern Lights Saloon and Cafe or enjoy some pizza or pastries at the Polebridge Mercantile! Contact us to book this shuttle.