The rocky mountains of Montana surround you. They tower high above. A cool breeze off Swiftcurrent Lake fills your lungs. You exhale the crisp morning air back to nature. It's better than a morning coffee, it's refreshing. This is how you start your day in Glacier National Park. If you're up for a wilderness adventure, a trip to just run free in the woods and play like a kid, Many Glacier Hotel should be high on your list. This popular national park hotel is right on the edge of Swiftcurrent Lake and provides for a fun-filled trip into the northern most part of the lower 48 states. Built in 1914, the hotel was recently renovated, and it embraces the idea of getting away. There's no TV and spotty wifi, so you can focus on nature and family.
Arriving to the hotel, you can fly into Kalispell and then rent a car to drive in, or take a shuttle to the Park. I like the car option as it allows you to explore the area independently.
The other option is to take a train into the area. Amtrak's Empire Builder stops in West Glacier and you can pay for a shuttle from the station to the hotel.
As I mentioned above, this place is popular, so the rooms tend to fill up quick. This is partly due to being open seasonally (mid-June to mid-September.) The rooms start at about $200/per night, so I think this is a steal. The hotel has 205 guest rooms, 7 family rooms and 2 suites. The accommodations are rustic, well-maintained and pet/smoke free. Also, there's no air-conditioning. Since it's so far north, it's not really an issue (snow is still melting in June.) Below is a list of room options:
Value Rooms: You can chose from a double, 2 doubles or a double and twin bed. These rooms can accommodate from 2 to 4 people.
Parkside Rooms: Provide a little more space than the value rooms and an upgraded view.
Lakeside Rooms: Offer some of the best views at the hotel. Wake up each morning and take in the lake and mountain views.
Lakeside Suite: Provide the same great view, but have even more room
Family Units: These go fast, very fast, as they hold up to 6 people. There’s only 7 available, so grab one of these to allow your family to spread out a little more.
The Ptarmigan Dining Room is a great place to enjoy a meal with a view. The lake and mountains become an amazing backdrop to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tall ceiling, the large chandeliers, this place makes me think of the grand hall at Hogwarts (non-harry potter fans can google this now.) The menu includes several meat options, (such as Seared Montana Bison Tenderloin and Snake River Farms Wagyu Top Sirloin) but also has a couple seafood, chicken and vegetarian dishes as well (such as Grilled Wild Alaska Salmon and Wild Mushroom Stroganoff.) The kids menu provides several different options, but if they’re in the mood for pub food, you can head to the Swiss Lounge. Here you can grab a burger, brat, roast beef sandwich, veggie melt, or a lentil burger. They also have some small plates which include a vegan house salad and Dungeness Crab Cake.
As far as activities, the great outdoors await! There's over 700 miles of trails within the park, 700!! You can explore the different mountains and seek out that perfect spot for a family photo.
If you're looking for a tour of the park, without the hassle of transportation, book a tour with the famous Red Buses. The tour can pick you up at the hotel and shuttle you to a number of different sights in the park. The retractile roof will provide for unobstructed views of the mountain as your guide drives you around.
If you want to explore the area on horseback, Swan Mountain Outfitters offers rides through the park. You can do a one hour tour for $50 or a cowboy cookout (2.5 hours with dinner) for $140.
If you want to hit the water, you've got a couple options. You can go through Glacier Guides and try out a scenic raft float or a whitewater rafting trip for the more adventurous. The second option is to visit Glacier Park Boat Company for both rentals and tours. They rent rowboats, kayaks and canoes for $18 an hour, which is reasonable. For tours, you can go out on a 1.5 hour cruise of St. Mary’s Lake for $28 (adult) and $14 (child.)
I hope you enjoyed this hotel highlight! If you do end up going, please let them know that I sent you, and don't forget to subscribe!
All photos courtesy of the Zanterra Travel Collection