Historic Lodges and Chalets

Glacier National Park was established in 1910, and immediately new visitor accommodations started springing up. Many were built by the Great Northern Railway (GNR). Visitors were able to journey through the park on trail, following established routes, with accommodations spaced about a day's horse ride apart. Some nights were spent at a chalet, others a charming tent camp, and others at one of the opulent lodges.

Watch a Great Northern Railway travelogue video, circa 1930.

 

Lodges

Glacier was deemed "America's Switzerland" so the lodges were built in a Swiss-style. Besides stunning mountain locations, the lodges share characteristics like gabled roofs, exposed beams, ornate decorative mouldings, balconies, and plenty of large windows.

 
historic image of buses, people and grounds in front of wooden hotel with balconies
Glacier Park Lodge, 1940

NPS Archive/T.J. Hileman

Glacier Park Lodge
Built in 1912-13
Located outside the park boundary, but connected by trail, sits the first of the GNR lodges. Visitors can step off the train platform in East Glacier and immediately walk across the street to the lodge grounds. With unpeeled log pillars and open campfire-like fireplaces in the lobby, the lodge acted as a grand entry to the wilderness, as most visitors came by train from the east.

 
historic image of multistory hotel on grassy hill with mountain in background
Lake McDonald Lodge, 1920

NPS

Lake McDonald Lodge
Built in 1913-14
Originally there was the Snyder Hotel, which John Lewis bought in 1896. During the winter of 1913-14, Lewis had a new 65-room hotel built on the site. Construction materials that could not be locally sourced had to be hauled from the depot in Belton then ferried nearly 10 miles up lake. The Lewis Hotel, decorated as a hunting lodge, was a community gathering point where artist Charlie Russell could sometimes be found telling stories in the lobby. In 1930, Lewis sold the property. New management changed the hotel's name to Lake McDonald Lodge.
 
historic image of people in period dress on porch of large wooden building with mountains in background
Many Glacier Hotel

NPS Archive/T.J. Hileman

Many Glacier Hotel
Built in 1914-15
Many Glacier was built by the Great Northern Railway as the showplace of their network of chalets and hotels. A hardy crew of craftsmen overcame the difficulties of building what was then Montana's largest hotel while withstanding winter temperatures below zero degrees in order to have the hotel completed for a July 4, 1915 opening. Most of the timber for the hotel was logged from nearby and milled at a sawmill on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake. In the 1960s through 1980s, the hotel was known for its employee entertainment.

 
historic image of multistory hotel with many pitched gables and mountain in background
Prince of Wales Hotel

NPS Archive

Prince of Wales Hotel
Built in 1926-27
Perched above Waterton Lakes in Canada, this GNR hotel is now a National Historic Site of Canada.

 

Chalets

Sprinkled throughout Glacier's backcountry were a number of chalet complexes, all continuing the Swiss-style theme. The complex generally consisted of guest cabins, dining hall, employee dormitory, and other outbuildings. Between 1910-15, Great Northern Railway constructed nine chalets. The sites were Belton, St. Mary, Sun Point, Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Sperry, Granite Park, Cut Bank, and Gunsight Lake.

A few of the chalet buildings survive and function to this day:

 
tinted historic slide of multiple wooden buildings adorned with antlers
Belton Chalet, tinted slide

NPS Archive

Belton
Built in 1910-11
Located outside the park boundary within walking distance of the Belton Train Depot, this was GNR's first chalet, and has been the first stop for a number of park visitors. In the park's first few years of existence, the Belton also served as the seasonal headquarters for Glacier's superintendent.
 
tinted historic slide of stone building with "GNR" above balcony
Sperry Chalet, tinted slide

NPS Archive

Sperry
Built in 1913
The chalet is located near the trail junction to Sperry Glacier. It was built of native stone, which has helped it survive being occasionally pummeled by winter avalanches.

 
historic image of people on porch of large 2 story log building with smaller log cabin beside
Two Medicine Chalet, ca 1914

NPS Archive/R.E. Marble

Two Medicine
Built in 1914
The log building that is now the Two Medicine Campstore was once the dining hall of Two Medicine Chalet complex.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a public radio address from the chalet in 1934.

 
tinted historic slide of stone building with large wooden porch and people in period dress seated at base
Granite Park Chalet, tinted slide

NPS Archive

Granite Park
Built in 1914-15
One of the last GNR chalets built, it is located off the Highline Trail along the Garden Wall. All of the logs and stone used in construction were locally sourced.

 



If you are looking for booking information, go to our Eating & Sleeping page.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936

Phone:

(406) 888-7800

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