Many Glacier Hotel
You pay for the view and the atmosphere, not the room. A perfectly good night's sleep but like most places in the park, overpriced. There is a great little hiking trail behind the hotel that takes you alongside a stream. A great way to walk off dinner. You must have a drink in the bar overlooking the lake. I recommend the huckleberry margarita!
yet another historic Inn
Not many National Parks can boast two incredible historic hotels but Glacier sure can. In addition to the classic Many Glacier Hotel on its eastern side, the west side of the park has the Lake McDonald Lodge, Cabins & Motor Inn. This is another sprawling, mostly wooden, alpine Swiss-influenced affair also on the Register of National Historic Places as of 1987. While full of amenities and restaurants, it still oozes the charm of another era and its lobby area, while not as big as the one in the Many Glacier Hotel is perhaps even homier if that is possible. Rooms $120 and $170, certainly good value for the location. This was out of our range on a six month trip around the US and was quite far from where we camped. We stopped by on our way out of the park to warm up after coming across a soon-to-be-snow-closed Logan Pass. We grabbed a coffee, soaked up the atmosphere and headed out of Glacier National Park after a very successful and enjoyable trip.
Quaint and Charming amidst Wilderness Beauty
We didn't stay here but did visit on our last day in the park and boy did we ever wish we had spent some time here! Smaller than its historic sisters, Glacier Park Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel, the Lake McDonald Lodge has all kinds of character and charm oozing from every pore! Built in 1913 and as with the other two it sports a great high-ceiling lobby with Arts and Crafts style furnishings. The rear of the lodge has a great view of Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park and a boat dock for the park-operated boat tours.
Besides the lodge rooms, the complex also has small cottages and a motor inn that have rooms that are less expensive than those in the lodge. 2005 rates were $96 per night for the cottages, $105 for the motor inn rooms, and $145 for the lodge.
Next time we visit Glacier we're spending at least a couple of nights here! Lakeside swimming, boat rentals, gift shop, lounge, dining room, boat tour dock
Trying to compete with the Railway
As a result of our major hike to Grinnell Glacier on the east side of Glacier NP, we did not leave the Many Glacier area until about 4 PM as we headed south and west across the Going-to-the-Sun Road toward our next destination, Lake McDonald Lodge located on the Pacific side of the continental divide. This establishment has a mixture of main Lodge, Cottages and a Motel unit providing a combined 100 rooms. The National Parks reservation service had slotted us into a second storey room in one of the older motel sections, at a rate of US$115 per night ($130 when all the dust from taxes and surcharges had settled).
We immediately noticed the increased air temperature on the Pacific-side of the Rockies, and had to get the windows open to achieve some sort of through breeze to cool the room down. Looking around for an electrical outlet to plug in a battery charger revealed that this place was so old that only 2-prong outlets were installed, so we were unable to use any of our electrical devices. The lumpy bed and noise from the parking lot below (including back-up beepers) did not make for a really restful night - I guess that is what you get when you are only one step away from the bottom of the rate structure! Fortunately, there is a convenience store on the property where I was able to get a couple of cold beers to help me wind down after a full day of hiking and driving over mountains. This is the site of the oldest accommodations in Glacier NP, with the Glacier Hotel being built here by a private developer in 1895. Following the creation of Glacier NP in 1910, the new owner of the hotel decided to tear it down and build a bigger one along the same 'Swiss-style' lines that the Great Northern Railway was doing on the east side of the Park. Realizing that accommodations for wealthy railway guests was going to have to be impressive, the newly opened (1914) Lewis Glacier Hotel featured the same large log supports, big fireplaces and Swiss chalet style construction of the GNR hotels. Because of the length of Lake McDonald and the lack of roads in the Park, the most ornate entrance to the Hotel was built facing the lake, where the boats landed. By 1920, a road had been built from the west, so now entry is via the 'back-door' on the less striking landward side. GNR bought the Hotel in 1930 to bring all the hotels and chalets under 'one roof' and they renamed it the Lake McDonald Lodge in 1957. Because of the greater nearby population density on the Pacific side, Lake McDonald is actually the busiest recreational spot in the National Park.
We enjoyed wandering the grounds and checking out the lakefront where one of the old tour boats, the 'DeSmet' still carries on. The interior of the lodge was quite impressive and has more of an American west style to it with stuffed game and mounted heads dotted around the premises. My ratings for this accommodations are for the Motel section we stayed in.
Glacier National Park has many fine campground spread over its considerable area. Organized car campgrounds are mostly clustered on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. With the great size of the park, it makes most sense to move from one area to the next rather than backtrack but if you remain in one spot, at least the road you are backtracking on is amazingly scenic! Campgrounds vary in amenities and also when they are open so please check the park's helpful website to pick the one that best suits your needs. West of Logan Pass has Apgar, Fish Creek, Sprague Creek, Lake McDonald, and Avalanche Creek. I have not stayed on that side of Logan Pass so cannot comment on them.
The east side of the Divide has Rising Sun and St. Mary on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. On that side of the park but in separate sections of the park, there is Many Glacier and Two Medicine. Most campgrounds in the park are first-come, first-served but you can reserve for St. Mary and Fish Creek.
In 1994, I camped at Rising Sun and it was a wonderful spot but on our most recent trip in 2008, we picked Many Glacier for a variety of reasons. Though remote from much of the park, it is close to some of the finest day hikes in the park. More importantly, it was close to a backcountry ranger station, making it easy for me to get up early and walk to get permits while D slept in.
Many Glacier Campground is one of the park's most popular despite being a bit away from the rest of the park due to its scenic beauty. Set in a dense forest, sites are well-spaced with picnic tables and fire grates. We had two three night stands in this campground and enjoyed both spots for different reasons. One spot was deeper in the campground and perhaps more scenic but we had neighbors in an RV next to us that ran their generator when it was allowed. Thankfully, they have cut off hours for such things. It was cold and I can understand why they would want to. They just should have invited us in! Actually, they were very nice but had a few cookouts and steak seemed to always be on the menu. Not only did this make us envious and hungry, we also were a bit worried about the scent. Here we were, laying in our little tent, freezing and smelling a sizzling steak, imagining a bear doing just the same. Well, smelling the steak, not laying in our tent. The campground has kind of rustic restrooms but certainly serviceable with flush toilets though the lack of hot running water was missed during our fairly chilly stay in September of 2008. Luckily, the campground is fairly close to the Many Glacier Hotel and very close to the Swift Current Motor Lodge. In fact, for our second stint at the campground, we opted for a spot close to the latter. It was not quite as scenic but was on very high ground. It was raining a fair amount so this was important and helped keep our tent drier. It was also a very big spot with only tenters around us. Perhaps most importantly, it was very close to the Swift Current. We spent a good amount of our downtime hanging out in their lobby and their restrooms were cozy, warm and had hot running water!
This is grizzly territory and proper food storage is required. Rangers make the rounds to make sure you are not leaving any food out when not in use. They have food storage lockers for those camping without a hard-sided vehicle but unlike Yosemite, you do not have to use them if you do have a hard-sided one. This is a lot easier logistically when you are moving around.
It was $20 per night to camp in the summer of 2008 and pretty good value.
Many Glacier hotel.
Many Glacier Hotel
Interior of the Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel
Where should we stay
I am planning a trip to Glacier National Park for a surprise for my husband. Our five year anniversary is coming up and after seeing the pictures of the park, I knew that was where I wanted to go. I was planning on staying at either Many Glacier Hotel or Lake McDonald Lodge. They looked so pretty online and with the redbus system and all the guides and stuff affiliated with them it seemed perfect. BUT... the reviews for all the lodges there seem HORRIBLE. Are they really that bad? I am not looking for the Ritz type atmosphere; however, I would like something that feels special and maybe on a Hilton or Holiday Inn level of quality with the lodge atmosphere. (Although, I will take a hotel if that is my only choice.) I definitely don't want to wisk my husband away as a surprise and hate where we are staying. Can anyone provide some ideas or alternate places to stay? We will be there for 6 days and 7 nights. I am going to get a rental car, so even something just outside the park would work. I am at a loss. I truly would like to stay at the Great Bear Lodge in St. Mary Montana, but they aren't taking reservations due to possibly selling the lodge.
RE: Where should we stay
The lodges at Glacier (including the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier) are grand hotels of the NPS system. And you have to remember that they were built in the 1920s. They haven't been updated to Hilton standards and the rooms might be considered rustic. However it is the charm of staying inside the park and hanging out in the grand lobbies (a seat next to the giant wood fireplace at the Many Glacier Hotel is heaven) and taking in the breathtaking views from your room that are worth the lack of modern hotel amenities. My opinion is that they aren't horrible. They are basic (no TV, no radio, no clock even) but they are functional, clean, if not in need of some updating. But when you take in the fact of your surroundings it will all be worth it.