Glacier National Park Lodging

Feb 24th, 2012, 11:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 90
Glacier National Park Lodging

Well 6 months in advance was not enough to get into the lodging of choice at Glacier National Park (even with the economy and gas prices). We need 2 rooms for 2 couples and the only thing available appears to be St Mary's, which has not gotten very good reviews. I guess I have 3 questions:
1. Has anyone had experience recently with St Mary's and what do you think?
2. Has anyone had experience with getting a cancellation (we would need 2 rooms) with the MacDonald Lodge or Many Glacier or another property you would recommend?
3. Which is the best area to stay in outside the park - East or West gates? And is there any reasonably priced lodging you would recommend?
Many thanks any help will be greatly appreciated in resolving this.
ReillyQ is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 12:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Can't help with #`.
On #2 the only 1 I've stayed at is Lake McDonald Lodge and liked it for it is, an older, historic lodge. Didn't stay at Many Glacier because DW and I thought visiting other areas of the park from there would be too much driving.
On #3 we prefer the West side because of more options. West Galcier, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Apgar, etc.
boom_boom is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Lodging is definitely limited in the Many Glacier/St. Mary area! We usually say at Jacobson's Cottages in East Glacier and make the drive on days we want to hike in the Many Glacier area. There are a few places outside the park in the St. Mary/Babb area: Duck Lake Lodge; Pinnacle Cottages and Glacier Trailhead Cabins. Since we've never stayed at any of those places, I can't personlly vouch for them.

I would strongly recommend you book something now...I'm sure cancellations do happen, but it may not coincide with when you want to go.

You defintiely want to spend more time (or even all of your time) on the east side of the park as scenery and hiking are much more spectacular. The Going to the Sun Road drive is a must and plan on an all day trip for that drive. Don't overlook the Two Medicine area. It's not nearly as crowded as the rest of the park and has some incredible hiking.

This site lists some of the top hikes in the park, all of which are incredible hikes: If you are concerned about bears, you may want to look into the ranger-led hikes which are available for some of those hikes. The schedule should be posted on the nps site at some point this spring.

Enjoy, Glacier is one of my favorite places on teh planet!
wave725 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 01:08 PM
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another option is staying just at the park entrance.

I do think getting a cancellation is highly likely. Getting two rooms though might be a bit tricky.
spirobulldog is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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If you can't get in at Lake McDonald, the best lodging in the Columbia Falls area is at Meadow Lake
My DW and I spent our 30th anniversary there.
If you have to rent a car, the Kalispell airport would be your choice. The closest place to rent a car on the east side would be at the GM dealer in Cut Bank.
tomfuller is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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1JAR is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 04:45 PM
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I made my reservations months ago. Two nights at Swiftcurrent in Many Glacier and four night at Rising Sun on St Mary Lake.

Do not despair. Call, call, call.

If Glacier is like the other parks people and tours make reservations a year in advance. That's the easy part so they do it. Then as the travel dates approach there are a fair amount of cancelations.

The only place I had a problem was Yosemite and eventually I got that as well.

While it's nice to have your own room, decide if one room with two double beds will do if that's all you can get.
Myer is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 06:34 PM
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With two couples, I would highly recommend looking for a vacation home through a site like VRBO. Not only will it provide you more space and more amenities (like a living room, kitchen and, often, satellite TV), but it should probably be less expensive than two hotel rooms. This is what we found when we used VRBO to rent 3-BR vacation homes for our family of 4 in 2009.
We found a great vacation home in West Glacier when we visited that side of the park. It was a short drive to the West Glacier entrance to the park. If you cannot find anything near St. Mary, then you might consider a vacation rental in East Glacier where we also stayed. It would mean about a 1 hour drive to Many Glacier, but it's doable. Also, you would be close to the Two Medicine area of GNP and that's a nice area too.
Now, having said all that, when we did a hike at Swiftcurrent Lake, we stopped into the reception area at the Swiftcurrent Inn and they had a sign saying that rooms were available for that night. So, as others have said, there are often cancellations.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 09:33 PM
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Another option is staying in between in Essex, MT. We stayed at a private home but one unique option would be the Isaak Walton Inn. If you want to splurge, stay in one of their luxury railcars.

It's a historic inn - built for the railroad workers. The grounds are beautiful, hummingbirds all over the flowers, and a good restaurant.

We liked staying near Essex. There's not much there on Hwy 2, but we ate in the park at one of the hotel restaurants or in East Glacier, stopped by to take pictures of the goats at the salt lick on the way home and enjoyed the natural surroundings and non-crowded location. Plus, if GTTS road is not open when you are there, you're going to have to make the drive on Hwy 2 anyway.
starrs is offline  
Feb 25th, 2012, 09:38 AM
Original Poster
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Posts: 90
Thanks all for info and ideas. I found availability at rising sun, inside the park and it should work out really well.
ReillyQ is offline  
Feb 25th, 2012, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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That should work out nicely for you and put you right in the middle of things.
spirobulldog is offline  
Feb 25th, 2012, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Rising sun is right in the middle of things as spiro wrote.

Good catch.
Myer is offline  

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