Is the rock really red? You bet. At Red Gap Pass, ancient seabed layers reveal maroon hues in the rocks. This vibrant color, a trademark of Glacier National Park, contrasts with green forests and blue lakes below.
Frequently in this high realm, mountain goats and bighorn sheep cross the pass. Unlike hikers, they rarely pause to look at Old Sun Glacier. Perching on rugged 10,0003-foot Mt. Merritt, Old Sun is one of the few remaining glaciers in the park.
Driving cannot reach Red Gap Pass, but hiking will. Mostly, multi-day backpackers visit the pass. The trail over the pass connects two lakes: Poia Lake to the east and Elizabeth Lake in the Belly River to the west. For overnighting before and after the pass, backcountry campgrounds flank both lakes. Camping at either lake requires a backcountry permit.
At the pass, prepare for howling winds, due to its location east of the Continental Divide. Sometimes, these raging winds force backpackers to crawl on all fours across the pass.
As an alternative, long distance day hikers from Many Glacier loop over Red Gap Pass in one day. But it’s a 23-mile trek demanding three big climbs.