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Glacier National Park

Exploring America's Crown Jewel
Article Date: November, 2014


East Glacier Park

As in most of the national parks, initial development was led by the railroads. The Great Northern railroad laid track to the area and built lodging, hopefully to entice tourists to travel by rail and stay at their lodges. On the southeast corner of Glacier, there was easy access to their tracks so East Glacier Park was founded. Passengers disembarked at the rail depot and took other forms of transportation into the park. East Glacier Park Lodge was built by the Great Northern Railroad to provide the kind of lodging accommodations these passengers were accustomed to and was located immediately across the road from the depot.

Two Medicine Lake is located near East Glacier Park and offers kayak rentals as well as a number of hiking trails

Many of the grand hotels and lodges constructed in the parks were designed to blend in with their surroundings. Local materials were used extensively in their construction and the lodges were created to be upscale. The lobby of East Glacier Park Lodge shows the large pine timbers used in it's construction. The balconies of the rooms in the main building all look out onto the lobby, which became a popular seating and entertainment area, especially in the evenings when the grand piano was playing. Gift shops, restaurants, lounges, and tour services make up the public rooms surrounding the first floor of the lobby.

East Glacier park has a number of tourist oriented businesses and it's a great location to see the Two Medicine area of the park. Travel up the east side towards Kiowa is accomplished by driving over a mountain. This road is fine for passenger vehicles but RVs or trailers are not allowed. US-2 passes right through town and will take you to the west side of the park or further eastward towards Cut Bank, Shelby and North Dakota. A few back country trails head into the park from here but for the most part you'll be happier staying at West Glacier or St Mary to see the real beauty of the park.

West Glacier

West Glacier is the western anchor of the park and is a great location to set up camp. Numerous RV parks and campgrounds are in the area and continue to spread out through Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls.

If you can't find the service or merchandise that you need here a quick trip to Kalispell will take care of any need you may have. A short hop over the Flathead River bridge gains you entry into the park. Apgar Village is dead ahead while Going to the Sun Road begins on your right and takes you up into the park, across the divide and down to St Mary at its eastern end.

A number of RV parks can be found where you can nestle your RV into a scenic mountain setting

St. Mary and Babb

RV owners staying at Glacier's eastern end are best served by the many services at St Mary. Going to the Sun terminates here and some of the best scenery in Glacier are closest to St Mary than any other location so it make a great choice for setting up your base camp while you explore the park. US-89 heads north towards Babb.

The alpine themed Many Glacier Hotel is located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake. This grand structure, built in 1915, is the largest lodging facility in Glacier National Park

At Babb a spur road takes you into the park towards the Many Glacier area. Many Glacier Hotel is located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and a number of good hiking trails emanate from this area. A bit further and the road ends at Swiftcurrent Lodge. One little known secret is a short hiking trail to Fishercap Lake where moose are frequently seen. It's not well marked but it's at the west end of the parking lot and there's always a ranger around to point you in the right direction if you can't find it. It's a short and easy hike but very rewarding.

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