Prices for the Red Bus Tours start at $30 and go up depending on which tour you take and where you embark.
No, riding the historic Red Buses is completely voluntary.
There are almost as many reasons to ride a Red Bus as visitors in the Park. One of the biggest reasons is that it enhances your understanding of the Park through our informative commentary on numerous subjects related to the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the Park. By taking a tour you leave the driving to a professional so you are free to enjoy the scenic splendors of the Park. In addition, by taking a Red Bus Tour, you are making a measurable contribution to reducing atmospheric emissions in this pristine environment, reducing the impact on global climate change.
The first Red Bus Tours leave at 8:30 a.m. from various pick-up points in and around the Park. Other tours leave throughout the day depending on your location. Most tours are completed before dark. The various tour departures and durations can be found in the Red Bus Brochure located at most lodges and information centers in and around Glacier National Park. You can also call our Central Reservation agents at 406.892.2525.
The Red Buses were built in the 1930s and therefore were never designed with ADA-accessible needs in mind. When the Red Buses were recently refurbished in 2001, it was decided that to make the busses accessible would take away from the structural integrity of the wooden frame of the busses.
You are welcome to bring a stroller if it can fold up and fit under the seat of the bus. However, due to the historic nature of the buses, there are no seat belts in the passenger bench seating; therefore car seats are not needed or allowed.
Most times, the Red Buses are full and therefore cannot accommodate personal luggage. However, small purses or handbags are more than welcome if they comfortably rest in your lap or under the seat.
Although the buses were first built in the 1930's, they were completely refurbished with new suspension and shocks in 2001. It is these new features, the open top, and the scenic splendors of the Park that make the Red Bus ride an unforgettable experience.
A Red Bus experience goes through some of the most spectacular scenery and winding roadway in North America. If you do experience motion sickness, you are welcome to get off at the next available shuttle stop, stretch your legs, and get on one of the National Park Service shuttles to head back to your point of origin.
Riding a Red Bus is an experience one doesn't soon forget. The open top allows unparalleled views of some of Glacier Park's most majestic mountains. And while you sit back and take in the scenery, our Red Bus drivers, known as "Jammers", tell tales of Glacier's history, geology, and biology.
Throughout the tour there are numerous stops at which to take advantage of restroom facilities.
Yes, the Red Bus Tours are limited to 17 seats, so reservations are strongly recommended. To purchase tickets, please call one of our friendly reservation agents at 406.892.2525.
After the complete refurbishment of the buses in 2001, the entire fleet of 33 Red Buses now has the capability to run on cleaner burning propane gas. And although the propane systems get slightly worse miles per gallon compared to conventional gasoline engines, the reduction of greenhouse gas emission is worth the extra cost.
The Red Buses each hold 17 passengers plus one driver.
Each tour is designed to make numerous stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in order to allow our guests to take pictures or to more fully explain the cultural or scientific significance of a stop.
You will have to drive yourself or you can use the National Park Service shuttle system to enjoy some of the Park's more than 700 miles of hiking trails.
If you find an item on a Red Bus, please give it to a Red Bus driver so they can turn it into the concierge. If you lost an item, please visit one of our historic lodges and contact the concierge or front desk.
Visitors traveling in large groups are more than welcome to use Glacier's historic Red Bus fleet to better suite their needs. To arrange a private tour for your group please contact our Sales Manager at 406.863.4704.
Every seat on a Red Bus will provide plenty of views. The open tops allow all passengers to enjoy the awe and wonder that is Glacier National Park.
This third generation of park touring coaches at Glacier (manufactured from 1936 to1939 by the White Motor Company of Cleveland, OH) were first placed in service during 1936 and remained in service without interruption (except for a short period during World War II) until August 1999 when they were removed from service for renovation. The fully renovated Red Buses returned to regular tour service in Glacier National Park in 2002.
In the 1930s the National Park Service developed a program with the White Motor Company of Cleveland, OH, for the production of canvas-topped touring coaches to provide transportation for visitors within national parks. More than 500 vehicles were manufactured in the mid-1930s and were purchased for use in various western national parks including Bryce Canyon, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks. While the canvas-topped tour bus experience was replaced elsewhere, the fleet of (red) buses are maintained at Glacier National Park. The buses were ideal for trips across the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The open-air touring coaches afforded visitors a multi-sensory experience. The drivers known as 'Gear Jammers' toured the Reds across the Continental Divide.
The fleet was pulled from service in 1999 for reasons of safety. The decision to remove these icons from the roads was not taken lightly, but once the problems with structural and metal fatigue were identified, there was no choice but to remove them from use - at least temporarily - until an economically feasible solution could be found. The fully renovated Red Buses returned to touring services in Glacier National Park in 2002.
After Glacier Park, Inc. (GPI) had conducted its internal inspection, the Park concessioner consulted with the National Park Service (NPS) about structural integrity and safety issues. NPS management concurred with GPI and the fleet was removed from use. At that time, an independent interdisciplinary team was brought to East Glacier in September to inspect, evaluate, and consult with GPI and the NPS regarding their results. This team included a White Motor Company expert, Ford Motor Company, The Federal Transit Administration (represented by the Denver RTD, GPI, and the NPS).
After the fleet was removed from service, both GPI and NPS committed subject matter personnel to serve on an interdisciplinary team. They worked towards finding an economically feasible solution to returning this fleet of historic buses to service in Glacier National Park. This team brought together an ad-hoc group who consisted of mechanics, concession specialists, engineers, and consultants from Ford Motor Company, National Trust for Historic Preservation, White Motor Co., Federal Transit Administration (U.S. Department of Transportation), Montana Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior, National Park Foundation, Glacier Fund, Clean Fuels U.S.A. (Amerigas), National Park Service, members of the Glacier Park Foundation (former Gear Jammers), and numerous others concerned about seeing that the buses return to the roadways of Glacier National Park.
The buses were found to have varying degrees of structural and safety problems. Many of the structural concerns were associated with the drive train, brakes, steering mechanisms, and chassis. As an operating fleet, the buses had undergone routine maintenance over the years, so individual vehicles varied in condition. In 1989, the manual transmission and steering mechanisms were replaced with automatic transmissions and power steering.
Until 2001, the fleet of 33 historic vehicles was privately owned by Glacier Park, Inc. and has been operated under a concession contract within Glacier National Park since they were purchased from the Glacier Park Transportation Company (Howard Hays, Owner) in the 1950s. In 2001, Glacier Park, Inc. donated the fleet (33 Red Buses) to the non-profit National Park Foundation so that Ford Motor Company could fund the rehabilitation of the buses. Upon completion of the renovation and restoration work by Ford Motor Company and their contractor, Transportation Design and Manufacturing (TDM) of Livonia, Michigan, title of the buses was transferred to Glacier National Park. One of the coaches has been kept in as original condition as possible for historical purposes. All partners agreed that upon completion of all rehabilitation work in 2003, Glacier Park, Inc. would continue to operate the buses in Glacier National Park under an amended contract for as long as the contract's terms allow.