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.