Friday, September 25, 2015

Six Reasons to Visit Whitefish this October

Whitefish Trail, Lion Mountain Trailhead

Mountain Biking

There’s a plethora of mountain bike trail options around Whitefish.  The most reliable bet is the Whitefish Trail. This amazing community effort has seven trailheads all within a few miles of town and offers 26 miles of riding. Both the beginner and seasoned rider can have fun on the trail! Other options abound in surrounding Flathead National Forest and Stillwater State Forest. A more challenging favorite is the Bill Creek Trail in Flathead Forest’s Tally Lake Ranger District. Check into Glacier Cyclery downtown to get you set up with trail conditions and bike rentals.

The Great Northwest Oktoberfest

Festive Locals
If you can’t make it to Munich this year, be sure to get to Whitefish for Oktoberfest. The festival is big on celebration and runs for two weekends. It kicks off September 24-26th and continues the following weekend, October 1-3rd. This party is not to be missed. There will be Bavarian style music every night—polka and oom-pahs enjoyed by all! Activities include stein holding, log sawing, and keg hurling contests that even the shyest festival attendant can participate in. We can’t forget to mention the brats and beer, both of which will be heartily available for you at the Great Northwest Oktoberfest!
Stein Holding Contest

Glacier's Changing Colors

If you appreciate the beauty of Glacier, you must not neglect the Park this autumn. The Larch, Aspen, and Cottonwood trees boast golden hues while berry bushes turn bright in shades of orange and red. The colorful contrast is breathtaking. Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West entrance to Logan Pass will remain open until the 3rd week of October weather permitting. The Polebridge entrance to the Park is the gateway to stunning Bowman Lake which is planned to be open until October 31st. Although some of the services in the Park shutdown, there are plenty of trails to hike, lakes to fish, scenery to photograph, and wildlife to see.  Explore a crowd-free Glacier this October.
Firebrand Pass, GNP


Whitefish is well known for its active night-life in the summertime, but did you know that one of the best parties of the year is Halloween in downtown Whitefish? Halloween falls on a Saturday this year which can only mean it’s going to be more vibrant than usual. The locals take their costuming seriously. Who knew Whitefishians were so imaginative? The downtown watering holes even team up for a costume contest that offers a hefty cash prize. Book a stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge because we’re offering a special Halloween rate complete with a safe shuttle to and from downtown. Start planning your costume today, but don’t hold back because Whitefish sure won’t!

 Fall Microbrews

Great Northern Brewery
Crisp fall air means rich new seasonal flavors at local microbreweries. Whitefish has two microbreweries right in town. The Great Northern Brewing Company and Bonsai Brewing Project quench thirsty Whitefishians daily, but aren’t the only brews close-by. With a little logistical planning you can enjoy other fine fall ales all in a day’s drive (don’t forget the sober driver). The Tamarack Brewery in Lakeside, Flathead Lake Brewery in Bigfork, Glacier Brewing Company in Polson, and Homestead Ales in Eureka are all within a manageable distance for your October Whitefish visit.

Try these Fall Microbrews
Great Northern Brewery, Whitefish: Oktoberfest Marzen
Tamarack Brewing Company, Lakeside: Bine Hopper Fresh Hop Ale
Flathead Lake Brewery, Bigfork: Biere de Garde

Quiet Streets

If you still need another reason to visit Whitefish in the fall, here it is: the crowds have headed home. Whitefish is a small town and sometimes the summer crowds outnumber our capacity--but not in October. The residents have returned from the mountains and the community has regained it’s local vibe. Book a room at Grouse Mountain Lodge today and see fall colors, polka, ride a bike, have a beer, and make a Fall getaway!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A sight seldom seen

Travelers headed over Going-to-the-Sun Road would be hard-pressed miss the impressive sight of Heaven’s Peak. Although many do miss the tiny structure perched a lonely three miles north of Heaven’s summit. Rarely visited, Heaven’s Peak Lookout is located in rugged country just 10,000 feet from the geographical epicenter of Glacier National Park.

Fire lookout towers remain a part of the Park’s landscape in one way or another. Lookout towers are not only important for fighting fire, but also a meaningful contribution to the history of Glacier. At one time there were seventeen active lookout towers within park boundaries. Today, nine stand and four remain active. Heaven’s Peak Lookout is no longer active but stands strongly on its foundation.

Some friends planned a trip to Heaven’s Peak Lookout and asked me to join. The trek would be challenging, it climbs over 3600’ in about three non-trail miles. Despite the challenge, I was excited for the opportunity to experience this bit of Park history where it stands.

Heaven’s Peak Lookout was built in 1945. It was built by a group of conscientious objectors who traded combatting the Nazi regime during World War II for battling the elements on Heaven’s Peak 7244’ above Glacier National Park. The lookout was in use from 1945-1953. It was in use for only eight years due a trend in favoring aerial wildland fire detection. It was also very difficult to maintain the trail to the lookout. It is regarded as the toughest lookout to reach in the Park.

 Photo courtesy of: Flathead Living

As we headed down the well-beaten path, I felt confident. My legs felt good, the scenery was spectacular and the weather was perfect. The forecast projected a high of 81 in the valley and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The crisp fall air gave the forest a renewed energy. The foliage on the thimbleberry and snowberry was beginning to turn yellow and the huckleberry bushes had already turned a deep burgundy. The color palette was ideal for a scenic walk in the park.

After three miles, the route crosses a creek and turns off the trail. The area we were about to enter is in the Trail Creek Fire perimeter. Trail Creek fire occurred in 2003, arguably the most significant fire year in Glacier Park to date. Our route was densely covered in alder, fools huckleberry, thimbleberry, devil’s club, and downed trees, lots of downed trees. The downed trees are charred black from the fire with branches sticking out everywhere.
Aside from the difficulty of bushwhacking, everyone was in good spirits. Then the fireweed hit. Fireweed is a pretty plant with purple flowers.  Although, it’s not so pretty when it goes to seed and turns into about a billion fluffy sticky flying seeds. Hence the name, Fireweed is among the first plant to return to an area post fire. The seeds stuck to our sweaty bodies like glue. We had fluffy white seed-beards on our faces, inside of our noses and stuck to the mouthpieces of our water reservoirs. Undisputedly, this was the most annoying part of our expedition.

Each step past the first hour became excruciatingly harder and harder.  My footsteps became heavy as I climbed over log after log. Eventually, my legs became so tired that I began to lift them up by grabbing one with a free hand and tossing it over.

In need of a rest, we found a lunch spot, peeled off our shoes and socks that were now full of leaves, sticks, and rocks. We lunched for longer than we should have but after lunch we found a creek bed that had dried up and was brush free! Moving quickly now, we reached the top of the creek bed and broke into the open. A boulder field lay out before us.

The boulders were covered with stromatolite fossils. Stromatolites are an algae or cyanobacteria that thrived on earth in the Precambrian Era. Stromatolites still occur on earth in places where they are protected from grazing predators like snails.

The stromatolite covered rock was no obstacle to us. The fossil creates a razor sharp layer providing a rough surface, perfect for gripping onto.  Even at a steep angle, the stromatolite provided sturdy footing.

We climbed quickly up and out of the boulder field and the lookout began to seem attainable. From our vantage point, it looked like a quick jaunt across a gently sloped meadow and a scramble up to the door. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as that, but it could have been worse.

Finally, we had made it! The lookout stands towering above Glacier National Park like a castle above its kingdom. The 360 degree view is worth the pain of the journey.
The west side of the lookout sits on the edge of a 1000’ foot sheer cliff. The south side looks out to the ridge of Heaven’s peak, while the east side looks over the way in which we came. To the north is an old steep abandoned pack trail.

The pack trail was used to resupply the lookout. This is also how building supplies were delivered in 1945. The trail is so steep, it’s a wonder horses, mules, and packers were able to bring anything up it at all. Stock packstrings are still the most common way supplies are delivered to lookouts in the Park today.

An ironclad catwalk and foundation of rock protects the lookout from falling off the cliffs to the valley below. The lookout is completely boarded up but a visitors log hangs from the doorway. The log shows evidence of visitation and talks about the recent restoration project.

Photo Courtesy: Gary Ludwig(left),Kyle Stetler(right)

Before 2012, the lookout was barely standing, now it stands proudly with a roof and four functioning walls. The restoration project was funded by the Glacier fund, the Mennonite community, and other private donors.Interestingly, the crew who provided most of the labor for the restoration are relatives of the original group who constructed the lookout seventy years ago. Their work is solid and the lookout is beautiful.
As my friends and I took in the beauty that the lookout provides, we didn’t talk a lot. I think in part because we knew we still had a big day ahead of us, but also because we were paying the moment respect. The wall’s on this remote structure hold both the history of those who staffed it and the hard labor of the family that built it seventy years apart. I felt both inspired and emotional.
We sat as long as we could before we knew it was time to head back. I don’t think any of us looked forward to the hike back. But, I do know I looked forward to the creek crossing at the end of the brush where I could soak my tired feet. And, just a bit further would be our car and the cold beverages we left there! Without complaint, we turned and hit the trail.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A night at Glacier Park Lodge

As the new Marketing Coordinator of Glacier Park Incorporated, I am excited to explore Glacier Park and all of GPI’s properties.  I have visited most of the properties but haven’t really discovered the lodges.  As my first assignment I was sent on a tour of the hotels.  I stayed the night at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.  In one short night, I became captivated by the history and grandeur of the hotel.  The first step inside the vast lobby is enough to displace visitors to an earlier time and place.

In 1913, Louis Hill, the president of the Great Northern Railway, developed Glacier Park Lodge. Hill is regarded as a major player in the establishment and development of Glacier National Park.  Glacier Park Lodge is the first of thirteen projects in the Park commissioned by Hill and the Great Northern Railway. 

The lawn leading to the lodge is manicured with inviting green grass and flower gardens sprayed in white and purple.  Teepees hinting at earlier times dot the lawn complementing the flora.  Around the east side of the hotel is a nine-hole golf course.  Obviously I had to try it out and I can’t think of a course around that has a better view, it was spectacular.  With only a few folks taking advantage of Montana’s first golf course, it is definitely one of East Glacier’s best kept secrets. 


As I stepped inside the lodge, I was greeting by period dressed bellman, Zack and Zach. Besides heavy lifting, their job is to pick visitors up in the vintage Checker taxi (pictured below) from the same train station Louis Hill used when the hotel was constructed. 

Stepping further into the Lodge, I noticed the largest beams I’ve seen anywhere.  The columns holding up the grand hotel are made of Douglas-Fir trees.  They still look like live trees and have their bark intact.  They are over 40 feet tall and about 40 inches in diameter.  Because Douglas-Fir trees do not normally grow this large in Montana, they were imported by train from the Pacific Northwest where the moist growing climate produces larger timber.  Aside from the unique architecture, the lobby invited me to sink into a couch and enjoy a hot drink by the crackling fire.

Beyond the elaborate lobby, the original lodge houses a grand dining room now called the Great Northern.  It still bustles with seasonal employees as it did 100 years ago; eager to explore the Park by day and satisfy visitor’s appetites by night.  I had dinner in the Great Northern dining room where locally inspired fare like smoked trout and huckleberry bread pudding more than satisfied my appetite.

On a full belly, I made my way to my room in the annex of the hotel.  The original lodge had 61 guest rooms.  In 1915, it became apparent that the original structure had outgrown itself, so Louis Hill commissioned an additional structure to host 111 more guests.  The addition is connected to the original lodge by a window-lined breezeway.  Day and night, guests lounge in the long corridor to take in the views. I could easily lose hours here while sipping on something delicious, snuggled up with a good book or board game. 

My sleep that night was more than comfortable.   I felt lucky to enjoy a rocking chair view from my balcony overlooking the grand gardens.  Sadly, morning marked the end of my adventure at Glacier Park Lodge.

My stay at the lodge made it easy to forget that the adventure only begins here, and that the lodge is just footsteps away from the adventures inside Glacier National Park.  The history, beauty, and discovery of my Glacier Park Lodge stay made me excited for more adventures in both the lodges and landscape of Glacier National Park.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

April 2015 Calendar

Enjoy a new free computer wallpaper with an April calendar and a beautiful shot of Glacier Park Lodge to brighten up your desktop for spring!

Follow the link to our Flickr account in order to choose the appropriate size download in high resolution:

Happy April!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Boat Tours in Glacier National Park

Boat Tours:

One option for seeing the park in a unique way that is fun and easy for the whole family is take one of the park’s iconic boat tours. Most people are unaware that these tours are fully available in June, in fact, the Lake McDonald boat tours start on May 23rd. These tours are one hour long and depart at 5 set times daily, 7 days a week.

At Lake McDonald it is also possible to rent rowboats & motorboats for $18/hr and $23/hr respectively. A wonderful thing about rentals in June is that you are sure to get what you want and you can enjoy some peace & quiet on the lake before the inevitable frenzy of full-blown summer arrives. After all, isn't relaxation what vacation is all about?

                St. Mary’s also provides boat tours that begin on June 20th. Like Lake McDonald, these tours will leave at 5 set times daily. Unlike Lake McDonald, there is an optional ranger-led hiking option available to those who feel up to adventure. Each boat tour leaving from the Rising Sun boat dock on St. Mary’s Lake lasts 1.5 hours, except for the last boat out at 6:30 which is only 1 hour long. If you decide to do the optional 3 mile hike the tour will be 3.5 hours, but those hikes are only available for the tours leaving at 10:00am & 2:00pm. All cruises except for the 6:30pm tour also have an optional 15 minute hike to Baring Falls.

                Another wonderful option would be to go to Many Glacier for an unforgettable 2-part boat tour on Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. This tour begins on June 13th, and lasts 1.5 hours. The first boat you board, Chief Two Guns, will serenely guide you over Swiftcurrent Lake, and then dock. 0.2 miles away awaits the second boat, Morning Eagle, which will navigate you through the gorgeous waters of Lake Josephine. This boat tour is unique to the others, as it has the option of a guided or self-guided tour to Grinnell Lake, making it the longest of the tour options, of those available at that time, at 4 hours total. There are also rentals available at Many Glacier. Single kayaks cost $15/hr, while double kayaks, canoes, and rowboats go for $18/hr. Renting for these lakes is absolutely something you don’t want to miss out on. It is a truly once in a lifetime experience.

                The final location of available boat tours in June is at Two Medicine, on the east side of Glacier National Park. This tour takes you on the park’s oldest historic vessel, Sinopah. These tours are 45 minutes unless you would like to take the optional guided or self-guided hike to Twin Falls at 1:00pm or 3:00pm. With these hikes the tour becomes a total of 2.5 hours. These tours start on June 6. There are double kayaks, canoes, and rowboats for rent for $18/hr, as well as single kayaks for $15/hr. Two Medicine Lake is a stunning sight that you wouldn’t want to miss.

                All boat tours prefer reservations, which can be made by calling Glacier Park Boat Company at 406-257-2426, or by visiting their website at . Further information on pricing & additional tours that start in July can be found on their website as well. Many Glacier recommends a reservation made 3 days in advance, and Two Medicine recommends one day’s notice. Both Lake McDonald and St. Mary’s accept same day reservations because of the increased capacity of their boats. If you want to take a chance, all boat sites will sell same day tickets, but they will only be offered based on a space available basis.

                Another fun activity to note is the rentals at Apgar Village on Lake McDonald. Open from 10:00am-6:00pm starting on May 30. At Apgar stand-up-paddleboards can be rented for $10/hr., single kayaks for $15/hr., double kayaks, canoes, and rowboats for $18/hr., and 10 hp motorboats for $25/hr. These are an extremely popular attraction for being a great way to get on the water and have freedom around the lake, all for a reasonable price!

                Whether you want to hop on a double person kayak and paddle around with a friend, or take a memorable boat tour or tour with a hike, June is a great time to make these things happen. There will be less people in the park- meaning more room on the lake, easier access to rentals, and higher chances of landing the perfect boat tour for you & the whole family!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Easter Brunch at Grouse Mountain Lodge

Easter Brunch at Logan's Bar & Grill
Grouse Mountain Lodge

Sunday, April 5, 2015
10:00am - 3:00pm
Call 406-862-3000 for Reservations

Adults: $32.95
Children (6-12): $15.95
Children 5 & under: Free

Carved Baron of Beef with Horseradish
Baked Glazed Pit Ham
House Smoked Salmon
Made to Order Omelet Bar
Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce
Bacon, Sausage, Mini Belgian Waffles
Potatoes O'Brien
Cheese Blintz with Berry Sauce
Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms
Penne Pasta Alfredo
Orzo Pasta Salad
Spring Green Salad
Broccoli Au Gratin
Seasonal Fruit, Cheese and Vegetable Trays
Pastries, Breads, Muffins
Vanilla Crème Éclairs
Carrot Cake
Chocolate Torte
Lemon Meringue Pie

Call 406-862-3000 with any questions!
Hope to see you here!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Date Night at Grouse Mountain Lodge

Thursday Night is Date Night at Logan's Bar & Grill
Grouse Mountain Lodge

Every Thursday night from 5:00pm-9:00pm

* Buy any 2 entrees off dinner menu & get ANY appetizer 1/2 off & chef's dessert 1/2 off
* Discounts on bottles of wine
* Happy hour until 7:00 pm 

**Certain nights will have live music or an open mic starting at 8pm or 9pm for dinner & a show!

Call 406-862-3000 with questions or for reservations

Happy woo-ing!