Glacier National Park is the very definition of rugged beauty. The stunning northwest Montana landscape near the U.S. border with Canada invites lots of picture taking, as well as climbing, boating and fishing in summer, horseback riding and, especially, hiking. You'll get your mountain legs here; flat surfaces are few and far between in this craggy wilderness. At the end of the day, luxury and hearty food await in the many Swiss-style lodges in the park and nearby.
Glacier Park Lodge
The Great Northern Railway built many hotels in this part of the world, and Glacier Park Lodge is no exception. The alpine-style lodge, with its enormous Douglas fir timbers in the lobby, sits just inside the east entrance to the park on what used to be the Blackfeet Reservation. The lodge, operated by Glacier Park Inc. in conjunction with the National Park Service, has a large outdoor pool, a nine-hole golf course and a day spa. The scenery is majestic and the setting inside the park can't be beat. After a hard day on the trail, try the elk sausage or the buffalo burger in the Sunset Lounge. As are all lodges inside Glacier, the hotel is closed from late October to spring.
Lodge at Whitefish Lake
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is just outside Whitefish, Montana, and close to the national park as well as Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. Guests have a choice of luxury hotel rooms with private decks overlooking the lake, or condominium suites, also with private decks. Guests can rent watercraft or bring their own. An on-site marina has boats, canoes, kayaks and a 31-foot lake cruiser for rent. An outdoor pool and hot tubs overlook the lake. In winter, the lodge can arrange cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, skiing and snowshoeing, snowboarding and ice skating.
Prince of Wales Hotel
Just over the U.S.-Canada border in Waterton Lakes National Park, which adjoins Glacier, reigns the much-photographed Prince of Wales Hotel, a monument to architectural beauty and persistence. The Great Northern Railway chose the site for the hotel in 1912, but it took until 1926 to convince the Canadian government to lease the land. Louis Hill, president of the railroad, had a vision for the hotel but kept changing his mind. Some portions of the hotel were rebuilt four times. At 4,500 feet, workers had to use mules for the last 25 miles to haul materials to build, and rebuild, until Hill was satisfied. Today, this chalet-style, 86-room beauty stands seven stories tall and commands a magnificent view of Waterton Lake and the mountains that surround it. Many visitors to Glacier make the trip here to stay overnight at this hotel.
Many Glacier Hotel
The Many Glacier Hotel is another ode to Swiss chalet architecture. Also built by Great Northern, the 211-room Many Glacier sits along the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside the park. The quaint setting makes you feel as if you've been dropped into a photogenic Swiss village. Large windows offer panoramic views of nearby Grinnell Point and Mount Henkel. Catching glimpses of the mountain goats, bighorn sheep and the bears that live amid these glacier-carved peaks is a sport in itself. A cozy sitting area by the fireplace in the enormous wood-paneled lobby provides a spot for meeting your fellow travelers.
- the rockies image by Michael Brookhart from Fotolia.com