This Rocky Mountains wilderness of glacial peaks and valleys runs up to the Canadian border, leaving an alluring trail of luxury-camping domes, cool cabins and fire-warmed resorts in its wake – book your stay now with Culture Trip.
Glacier National Park, located in the Montana stretch of the Rockies, just south of the Canadian border, feels like one of the last wild places in America. You’ll truly feel deep in the wilderness when exploring the dramatic landscape of mountains, lakes, alpine meadows and pristine forests formed by glacial activity. If you plan to go hiking on one of the 700mi (1,127km) of trails that traverse the park, be sure to carry bear spray, or go with a local guide – grizzlies are some of the most famous residents here. From historic lodges to luxury resorts, these are the best hotels near Glacier National Park.
Lake McDonald Lodge, open since 1913, has a scenic setting on Lake McDonald’s eastern shore. Accommodations include lodge rooms and cabins on a tree-lined path. There’s also Snyder Hall, a historic dormitory, that endures as a hostel-style stay, with doubles or bunks and in-room sinks. The hotel embraces the early 1900s era, with rustic furniture and pared-down amenities; only suites have flatscreen televisions, while hostel-style rooms have shared bathrooms. Activities such as boat cruises, horseback rides and evening ranger talks are also on the cards.
Clear Sky Resort’s stratosphere-spying geodesic domes take glamping to the next level. The luxury-camping pods have swinging chairs, decks with hammocks, telescopes for stargazing and rain-shower bathrooms. The resort is between Glacier National Park’s west and east entrances and the Great Bear Wilderness. Guests are almost guaranteed wildlife sightings of animals such as bears, deer and elk, from the communal Welcome Dome’s 1000 sqft (93sqm) panoramic window. Go for a brisk hike from Stanton Lake Trailhead or fishing 300yd (274m) from the lodge’s back door, and end your day tucked into a soft robe while looking up at the stars through your very own skylight.
The Village Inn at Apgar was built in the fifties and still has a vintage-motor-lodge-meets-Swiss-chalet vibe, even though it was renovated in 2015. Guest rooms are neat and tidy and include ground-floor one-bedroom units with fully equipped kitchens (including refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers and stoves) and two-bedroom units that can accommodate six. All have brilliant views of shimmering green-tinged Lake McDonald. Note that rooms have no televisions, with nature providing the entertainment.
Another chalet-style stay, this time in a quiet forest canyon in West Glacier, Glacier Guides Lodge could be at home in the Alps. Flowers draping over a second-story railing and handcrafted timber doors add plenty of character. The lodge is environmentally friendly, to boot. Guests are spoiled with a free organic breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries and eggs each morning. Also a guiding service, Glacier Guides offers hiking, biking and fishing excursions.
The storybook Great Northern Resort, less than 2mi (3.2km) from the national park, has one-, two- and three-bedroom cabins and lodge rooms overlooking a pretty pond. Each has a kitchen, a deck and a gas fireplace. Hotel staff can arrange fishing excursions and adrenaline-pumping rafting trips. We also love the casual cafe in a vintage train caboose.
On the banks of a clear alpine lake surrounded by snowy peaks, you might mistake Many Glacier Hotel’s setting for Switzerland. The secluded hotel is among the grandest in the national park. It has a three-story lobby with tree-trunk columns and a fireplace similar to the famous one at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. The lakeside Ptarmigan Dining Room, with a giant stone fireplace on one end and a vaulted wooden ceiling, is one of the most elegant places to dine on the likes of beef short ribs and pan-seared duck breast in Glacier National Park.
Between Whitefish Lake and the Viking Creek Wetland Nature Preserve, Lodge at Whitefish Lake has breathtaking scenery and some of the most luxurious digs in the area. Roomy studio suites have gas fireplaces with sitting areas, balconies with bistro chairs and kitchens with mini-fridges and microwaves. Bathrooms with soaking tubs and walk-in slate-tile showers feel spa-like. But, for even more pampering, make an appointment at the actual spa for a detoxifying body scrub or facial. The hotel offers treatments in waterfront cabanas during the summer months. Not all rooms have lake views, so a request would be best.
Kandahar Lodge is equally appealing in summer and winter. The authentic lodge has a great room with a fireplace and a large outdoor hot tub, inviting after a day on the slopes (Kandahar Lodge is ski-in) or after a day spent hiking and exploring Glacier National Park, 30mi (48km) away. James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Blanton runs the hotel’s upscale Cafe Kandahar, where nightly tasting menus might include pork belly with smoked honeycrisp apples and bison tenderloin with Yukon golden pommes frites. The 50 guest rooms come in various sizes and configurations, including full-kitchen lofts and two-room suites.
The Firebrand Hotel is a good choice for urbanites who also want to explore the beauty of northwest Montana. The hotel is in downtown Whitefish, close to excellent restaurants and bars as well as skiing and hiking activities. The West Glacier entrance to Glacier National Park is less than an hour away. In contrast to many other Montana stays, guest rooms at the Firebrand are sleek and contemporary, with crisp white sheets and tall grey headboards. The menu at the restaurant mixes ahi tacos and charcuterie plates and also serves an excellent weekend brunch.