A Pit Stop a Day (Day 4): The Many Glacier Hotel

On Day 4, we drove from Spokane, WA to Glacier National Park, which took us along Hwy 2 and Hwy 93.

94 years old, the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park opened to the public on July 4, 1915. The hotel was declared a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1976.

Located in the northeastern section of Glacier National Park on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, the Many Glacier is a classic national park lodge in every sense: it’s rustic, beautiful, scenic, and imposingly elegant. Five stories tall, it contains a grand lobby, sprawling decks overlooking the lake, Swiss style architecture, and 214 guest rooms within two large chalets offering lakeside, standard, and value accommodations.

My family and I stayed at The Many Glacier for three nights (Sun-Tues). The hotel was near capacity when we visited in late June (not long after park opening), but The Many Glacier didn’t feel crowded at all. In fact, if you want to feel in the thick of things’, you’d be best suited in W. Glacier (on the opposite side of the park) and its surrounding villages. Many Glacier is a full 21 miles from the nearest visitor center at St. Mary (although only 1 mile from a ranger station where kids can pick up Junior Ranger kits) and over an hour’s drive (over the Going to the Sun Road¦a must!) from Lake McDonald.

So what is there to do at The Many Glacier? More than you can possibly fit in! (Our first full day at the hotel, we never touched our car.) The hotel sits lakeside, with beautiful views in every direction. Over 700 miles of hiking trails criss-cross Glacier National Park, many of which fan out directly from the hotel. We sampled six miles of them, and saw a moose, rabbits, and bighorn sheep! (On the Going to the Sun Road, we braked for a black bear cub!) Boat tours of Swiftcurrent Lake and other surrounding lakes depart regularly from the hotel’s dock. Also on-site is a stable (horseback riding starts at $40 an hour) and a kiosk at the dock where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats. At the front of the hotel is a departure location for the park’s famed Red Bus Tours.

The rooms at The Many Glacier are what I’d call comfortable with no frills’ (which was just fine with us). Standard rooms have a double bed and a twin, a full bathroom with tub, heating/air conditioning units, and a balcony. What they do not have: internet access, TV sets, hair dryers, mini-fridges, or coffee makers. Trust me, these inconveniences are worth bearing for the view alone!

Note: In addition to the above, there is no wifi or cell service at The Many Glacier (or anywhere within the national park). The Park Cafe in St. Mary has wireless access.

The hotel staff (as I’ve routinely found to be true in national parks) was, without exception, polite, friendly, helpful, and passionate about their hotel.

Date last visited: June 2010.

Distance off the interstate: 21 miles from St. Mary, 12 miles from Hwy 89.

Room Rates: Standard rooms start at $165 a night (double occupancy).

Food Services:

Breakfast at the Many Glacier is served buffet-style in their Ptarmigan Dining Room from 6:30 am to 10 am. The food is great (you have to try the Montana scrambled eggs) and the service is quick. Even better? The views: the floor-to-ceiling windows of the dining room look out over Swiftcurrent Lake. (Breakfast is also served at the Swiftcurrent Italian Gardens Ristorante one mile from Many Glacier.)

Box lunches are available from the dining room. (We opted to stock a cooler of lunch foods prior to arrival and make our own lunches.) Snacks, some groceries, and sandwiches can be found at Heidi’s, on the lower level of the hotel. The Swiss Lounge at Many Glacier serves appetizers and sandwiches starting at 11:30 am and afternoon fondue from 2-5 pm. (Fondue can also be ordered during dinner hours, and we can vouch for it…it was delicious!)

Dinner options include casual dining at the Italian Gardens, burgers at the Swiss Lounge, or the European-themed menu at the Ptarmigan Dining Room. (The same children’s menu exists at all locations within the national park. It offers a pretty decent selection and the servings are not tiny.)

Website: Many Glacier Hotel


From St. Mary, take Hwy 89 north to Babb. Turn left and travel 12 miles into the national park to the Many Glacier.

From West Glacier and the western end of the park, take the Going to the Sun Road across the park to the east entrance. Leave the park at St. Mary, then follow directions above.

We paid our own way at The Many Glacier. While the hotel’s media relations specialist was aware of our arrival, the staff, from the dining room wait staff to the valet, had no idea I’d be writing a review based on my experience.

Up Next: We board the ‘Chief Two Guns’ for a Swiftcurrent Lake cruise in Glacier National Park!