Lodging in Glacier
Glacier has a wealth of lodging choices inside its borders, from old log cabins you'll find at Apgar Village to the laid-back Lake McDonald Lodge and stately Many Glacier Hotel.
Drive the Going-to-The-Sun Road, and past the Many Glacier Hotel, and even to East Glacier and you'll find more options. Here's a look at what you can choose from inside the park.
Many Glacier Hotel
The Many Glacier Hotel is one of the grand dames of the National Park System, both because of its architecture and its gorgeous setting on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake.
Opened in 1915 by the Great Northern Railroad, the Swiss alpine-themed hotel is ringed by craggy mountains that are reflected by the lake. But the years have not been terribly kind to the hotel, which is a National Historic Landmark. Weary floors and furnishings have taken some of the sheen off this beauty. In 1996, the Many Glacier Hotel was among the more than 300 historic structures at Glacier included on the Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places.
Some of the hotel's age and infirmities are in the process of being brushed away, as a substantial, multi-million-dollar restoration project focused on correcting some of the seismic and “life safety” deficiencies in the 214-room hotel has been under way since 2001.
The work, which will continue for several more years at least, is not intended outright to restore lost historic elements of the hotel, However, where surfaces and fixtures (walls, floors, lighting, etc.) are to be removed for life/safety repairs and rehabilitation work, replacement surfaces and fixtures will include historically-compatible surfaces and fixtures.
Though the rooms are small, cramped and desperately in need of renovation, the lodge still is a great base for wilderness forays, day hikes and paddles across the lake.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Enjoying a gorgeous, lake-side setting just like the Many Glacier Hotel, this lodge is much smaller and so more intimate. Indeed, when the day trippers in the park leave for the night, those lucky enough to have a room at Lake McDonald gain a real sense of ownership due to the beautiful solitude.
Just inside the front door is a spacious lobby that frames an oversized fireplace perfect for relaxing in front of after dinner. A second-floor balcony wraps the lobby and offers more room to relax over a book, game of cards, or simply conversation.
If there's a downside to this two-story lodge, that would be the rooms, which are small. Beyond the lodge itself are motel units and cabins; the latter are roomier than the lodge rooms and offer more charm. Ask if Cabin 12 or Cabin 13 if you'd like a nice view of the lake and a short trail down to the shore.
Rising Sun Motor Inn
Locating 6.5 miles from St. Mary and next to the campground of the same name, this motel and its accompanying cabins overlooks St. Mary Lake. As with the rooms at Lake McDonald Lodge, the motel units are on the cozy side, and the cabins have a decidedly rustic feel to them. Also in this complex is the Two Dog Flats Restaurant, so you don't have to worry about cooking, a camp store, and service station.
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
Across from the Many Glacier Campground and about a mile from the Many Glacier Hotel, this motel is often a starting and stopping point for backcountry hikers due to its proximity to such trailheads as Swiftcurrent, Iceberg Ptarmigan, Grinnell Glacier, and Piegan Pass. Again, the rooms are nothing elaborate but they suffice. Nearby you'll find a restaurant, camp store, and, for many rooms, communal showers.
Glacier Park Lodge
Located in East Glacier near a rail depot, this massive log structure is a testament to the Great Northern Railroad and rose up in the railroad's heyday of hauling visitors to the park for pack trips. Its sister lodges are Many Glacier and Prince of Wales in Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park. Though the lodge is heavily timbered, the surrounding grounds are well-tended and even claim an outdoor swimming pool and golf course. Not surprising in light of the era that this lodge was built (1912-1913), the rooms (singles, doubles, and triples) are small and unassuming but come with bathrooms.
This 36-room property at Apgar Village just inside the park's west entrance also is owned by Glacier Park Inc., as are the ones above. The rooms are motel-style, and the location fronting Lake McDonald is well-suited for those looking to rent a boat for exploring the lake. Within a very short walk one can take in a ranger campfire program at the nearby Apgar Campground, enjoy the convenience of a restaurant, store, and gift shop, and head to the visitor center.
Apgar Village Lodge
This independent operation offers cabins that have seen many years, and ooze the charm they've collected over those years. We're talking rough-hewn beams and pine paneling. Some skirt McDonald Creek, others face Lake McDonald itself. Most offer kitchens with ovens, cooktops, and refrigerators. As with the Village Inn, it's a very short walk to the visitor center, restaurant, store, gift shop, and campfire programs. Open from late May through the end of September.
This beautiful, historic, heavily timbered lodge in West Glacier has charm, 25 small but comfortable rooms, great views, a restaurant...and railroad tracks across the street. As a result, train traffic, night and day, might keep you awake. But if you arrive by train, this is a great place to start your visit of the park.
The Sperry and Granite Park chalets date to the days when Glacier was largely the domain of the Great Northern Railroad. After bringing visitors to East Glacier aboard their trains, the railroad would send them out across the park on pack trips, with nights spents in these chalets.
Though decidedling rustic, these chalets are popular and can fill months ahead of vacation time.
The Sperry Chalet, which was built in 1913, is more accommodating than Granite Park. It offers 17 rooms that come with clean linens and three meals a day. The rusticness comes in the composting pit toilets outside and the cold water.
Granite Park Chalet
The Granite Park Chalet is better suited for hikers coming or going in the backcountry. There are a dozen rooms that offer bunkbeds, a community kitchen, and the ubiguitous composting toilets, but no water other than that which you can get from a water source a quarter-mile away.