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Glacier National Park

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Are there hotels that are near the train stations?

Do the train stations in the park have a rental cars without going off property?

Is it possible to tour without a rental car using tours and shuttles?

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We've got plans in the works for East Glacier Park (GPK). The Glacier Park Lodge is pretty much a stones throw from the station at East Glacier. This hotel provides a shuttle to/from the Amtrak station. I believe other may hotels do the same.

 

Rental cars are available in East Glacier Village but I'd recommend reservations...I don't know the availability of rental vehicles. We reserved through Avis.They will also pick you up and drop you off.

 

There also lodging at West Glacier (WGL) and Essex (ESM) (Izaak Walton Inn) and may have car rental available.

 

In-park, there are "Red Bus" tours and the NPS has a park shuttle as well.

 

You might wander over to the Glacier NP website as well as others to research. Google for starters!

 

From photos I've been seeing, they are still trying to get the "Going to the Sun Road" plowed and open...lots of snow this past winter!

 

Enjoy...its beautiful.

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When I went to Glacier National Park, I stayed at Lake MacDonald Lodge, not too far from the West Glacier Station. I took a Park shuttle from the station to the Lodge (and had made reservations in advance). The Red Bus tour picked me up that the Lodge and returned me.

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In East Glacier, I'd definitely recommend rental car reservations. Avis and Budget rentals are provided at the Glacier Park Trading Company, which is a short walk from the station. We rented from them last July, and I don't think they had a large fleet available. More importantly, they will also stay open if the Empire Builder is late (as ours was) if you have a car reserved.

 

Regarding East Glacier lodging, the Glacier Park Lodge is beautiful and very close to the station and will shuttle you as John indicated. I can't comment on availablity or cost, however. During our visit, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Browning (we used points for a couple nights free rooms), which is about 15 miles east of East Glacier.

 

Have fun, it's breathtaking scenery!

 

Ray

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I took a road trip to Glacier National Park with my father in 2011. We stayed at the tiny Izaak Walton Hotel in equally tiny Essex, Montana. While small, it is the only commercial lodging that I know of in the immediate vicinity of the park which is open year-round...they cater to cross-country skiiers in the wintertime, as well as railroad snow removal crews. It's remote...no cell phone service and no electronics permitted in the lobby, although free wi-fi internet is available downstairs in the bar.

 

The setting of the Izaak Walton is spectacular...there are mountains on all four sides of the hotel:

post-4967-0-92622400-1495254068_thumb.jpg

 

We were able to take a Red Bus tour of the park during our stay. We had originally planned to take the circle tour of the park through the Going-To-The-Sun Road, but they were still digging out from fifty feet of snowfall over the winter. Instead, the tour guide took us on a loop through the east side of the park, past the Amtrak station at East Glacier and the Glacier Park Lodge just a stone's throw from it:

post-4967-0-13550400-1495254211_thumb.jpg

 

For my money, though, the most scenic lodging at the park (and the place I'd most want to return to if I had time and funds) is the Many Glacier Lodge north of East Glacier, about halfway up to the Canadian border. While there is shuttle service available through the Red Bus concessionaire, I'd strongly recommend a rental car if you wanted to stay there (rental cars are available in East Glacier during the park's summer operating season). The hotel sits right on the lake and the setting is remote and spectacular:

post-4967-0-63885300-1495254324_thumb.jpg

 

Finally, three years later in May 2014 we returned to the area, staying about an hour's drive up the road in Whitefish. We drove out to Glacier Park and visited in the vicinity of West Glacier, which we hadn't seen in 2011. Although it was the off season and most of the park and all of the lodges were closed (save the Izaak Walton), I did snap this photo of the boat pier at the Lake MacDonald Lodge. I would rank this lodge's scenic setting a close second to Many Glacier:

post-4967-0-71436800-1495255824_thumb.jpg

 

All in all, one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Definitely worth a visit...or two, or three, or four....

 

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I would reccomend the Isaac Walton Inn, at Essex, I have not staued there, but I hear it's great for railfanning, as it's located a few yards from the BNSF northern transcon, they even have a bridge over the tracks to sit on and watch trains.

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I would reccomend the Isaac Walton Inn, at Essex, I have not staued there, but I hear it's great for railfanning, as it's located a few yards from the BNSF northern transcon, they even have a bridge over the tracks to sit on and watch trains.

 

That footbridge is where my first picture above was taken from. If you like quiet, remote, and off the beaten path (and I do), it's hard to beat the Izaak Walton.

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We stayed at the tiny Izaak Walton Hotel in equally tiny Essex, Montana.

[...]

It's remote...no cell phone service and no electronics permitted in the lobby, although free wi-fi internet is available downstairs in the bar.

 

No electronics in the lobby would be fine, but quiet hours would be better. The time I stayed there, there were noisy patrons until about 4 in the morning, and no staff available. I complained the next day and was assured it would not happen again, and the next night was the same.

 

I would reccomend the Isaac Walton Inn, at Essex, I have not staued there, but I hear it's great for railfanning, as it's located a few yards from the BNSF northern transcon, they even have a bridge over the tracks to sit on and watch trains.

 

The new owners might run a tighter ship, but I would not stay there again without some assurance that I could sleep at night.

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We didn't have any problems at all on our three-night visit in 2011. We stayed in one of the first floor rooms with a queen and a twin bed. If you really want peace and quiet, you could spring for one of the freestanding cabins or cabooses which the hotel operates.

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We chose the option of not staying "in the park". We detrained from the eastbound EB at Whitefish (which offers checked luggage), where the local Hertz agency had placed a car for us to pick up. They have a satellite office in the station but is not open at that hour. Due to unavailability and higher prices we stayed near West Glacier (Columbia Falls) in a conventional hotel, drove the loop thru G-T-T-S road and around on U.S. 2 thru Essex (Isaac Walton Inn) and Marias Pass. Did not take any commercial tour except boat cruise at Lake MacDonald. If I had stayed at one of the lodges, I would have passed on the rental car and taken the Red Bus tour. As a side trip, we crossed the border to visit the adjoining Waterton Lakes National Park. The view from the Prince-of-Wales hotel is awesome. I recommend it.

I cannot say enough about the scenery at Glacier- and IMHO, some of the best in all of North America. And coming from someone who resides the Grand Canyon state, that's saying something.

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I will be doing a campground talk for the National Park Service in Flagstaff this summer that I've been preparing. The topic will be the History of Railroads and National Park Lodges. One that I discovered in my research is the Belton Chalet near the West Glacier station. It was the first Great Northern hotel at Glacier and is now privately operated. It looks quite appealing.

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Speaking of Glacier National Park: are there any shuttles within the park that transport you to different parts of that national park, once you're inside? A la like what Zion National Park does, in southwest Utah. Or are the shuttles complimentary ones, only limited to people staying at a certain hotel/motel/lodge near the respective Amtrak stops in the vicinity of Glacier National Park?

 

Had been trying to figure out what I should do, since that'd be a cool trip to do someday. Sometimes I wonder if it'd just be best to rent a car anyway after I booked some hotel/motel, just to be safe. Probably would need to do that(along with bringing my passport), if I also wanted to see neighboring Waterton Lake National Park in Alberta, Canada. I will google Red Bus later, was wondering what their shuttle service within Glacier National Park was like.

Edited by dogbert617

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The concessionaire that runs the Red Bus tours also does provide shuttle service within the park, although I'd have to direct you to their telephone number for information on schedules and pricing.

 

Edit To Add: I see that's a repeat of what I said above. When I last checked, the shuttle service connected the major lodges in the park and, I believe, the Amtrak stations. However, IIRC, they operated on a space-available basis and did not take reservations. Made it difficult to plan. Of course, I could be remembering wrong or policies could have changed in the past few years; check for yourself.

Edited by ehbowen

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Is there any Red Bus or shuttle service around the park during the winter? I will likely be visiting in early January (probably Izaak Walton Inn) and nobody in my group drives so a rental car is not an option.

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Is there any Red Bus or shuttle service around the park during the winter? I will likely be visiting in early January (probably Izaak Walton Inn) and nobody in my group drives so a rental car is not an option.

Don't think so (not sure). Been watching Glacier NP on Facebook and they are still plowing roads and trying to get campgrounds open. BNSF had their hands full as well with our past winter.

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No. The Red Bus tours run from mid-June through mid-September and the shuttles run from the first of July through the first few days of September.

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I will be doing a campground talk for the National Park Service in Flagstaff this summer that I've been preparing. The topic will be the History of Railroads and National Park Lodges. One that I discovered in my research is the Belton Chalet near the West Glacier station. It was the first Great Northern hotel at Glacier and is now privately operated. It looks quite appealing.

Greatcats, we stayed at the Belton Chalet several years ago in May. We loved it. We had lunch at the Issac Walton Inn and although we didn't stay there, we prefered the Betlon Chalet. Their restaurant food was outstanding (the locals said it was the best in the area); the trackside deck was perfect for cocktail hour; a passing siding in addition to the double main provided much rail activity with trains often parked on the siding; a couple minutes to Apgar village and the west entrance to the park and Lake McDonald area; a short walk to the West Glacier, aka Belton, station and the Amtrak stop; the places oozes history and our room with a balcony providee a bed side view of the tracks. Highly recommended.

 

When and where are your talks in Flagstaff. We often stop there when on our way from visiting relatives in Phoenix area to a stay at LaPosada.

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In August 2013, I took a trip to Glacier Park for a little vacation. I had passed by the area many times on Amtrak, vowing to someday hop off & check it out. Of course, I got all the advice I could from folks who had been there, including this group. Turned out, it's the most enjoyable trip of my life!!!

The hotel shuttle was waiting for me at the West Glacier station & took me directly to my hotel, The Village Inn at Apgar. The Inn is literally on the tip of Lake McDonald. Wish I could send pics but I got out of Flicker a few years back. I was without a car & never needed one. The little village has a camping store, Eddy's Restaurant, ice cream vendor, boat rentals, three very nice gift shops & the Red Bus Tour bus picked me up at the Inn & the free Park Shuttle stopped a block up the street! BTW, the Inn's prices were very reasonable!!! Google is your friend!!! The Village Inn at Apgar

 

HAVE FUN

RF

Edited by Rail Freak

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a lovely trip to Glacier on the train in 2014.

You can view my blog post of it here http://glacier2014esa.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-glacier-journal-somewhat-of.html?spref=fb

Although we did not get in until 4 AM, the folks at the Glacier Lodge picked us up and got us to our rooms. In the morning we marveled at the lobby, had a great breakfast, then the rental car folks picked us up and we were on our way. We headed to Two Medicine and took the boat ride, the first of four wonderful water trips. When we finished we headed to Many Glacier for a marvelous room with a balcony on the lake.

A grand old hotel, I had stayed there in the 60's with m folks and it was just as marvelous. We had the boat ride not only on Swiftcurrent and Lake Josephine. Even though she had a boot from a foot injury, she made the hike with no issue. The next day we drove down to Lake Mary for another stunning boat ride. We finished it off with an out of the world chicken dinner (Sunday only) and returned for sunset on the lake.We took the Red Bus tour to Logan Pass and loved it.

The next day we drove GTTSH and I was out of my element. We survived and had a wonderful lunch at Jammer Joe's Grill a the hotel in West Glacier, although we chose to stay at the Belton Chalet. The meal was very good. I played golf the next day at Valley View and loved it. We took the Trail of the Cedars and loved it. Lunch at the Lake MacDonald lodge was good. We drove back to East Glacier that evening, stopping at the Izaak Walton Inn. Best meal of the trip, but I wish we had stayed there.

A final wonderful evening at the Dancing Bears Inn. We dropped the renter at the train station in the morning to get back on the EB for our return.

Enjoy your travels !!

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a lovely trip to Glacier on the train in 2014.

 

Very nice. We are looking forward to our trip there in a couple of months.

 

"The next day we drove GTTSH and I was out of my element." ... like to hear more about this...we are also renting a car and I'm planning on making the drive!

Edited by FrensicPic

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a lovely trip to Glacier on the train in 2014.

 

Very nice. We are looking forward to our trip there in a couple of months.

 

"The next day we drove GTTSH and I was out of my element." ... like to hear more about this...we are also renting a car and I'm planning on making the drive!

While I'm all in favor of renting a car for exploring at Glacier, from what I've heard of the Going-to-the-Sun road I'd highly recommend that you look into booking the Red Bus circle tour. That way you can give your full attention to the scenery and let the driver watch the road.

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a lovely trip to Glacier on the train in 2014.

 

Very nice. We are looking forward to our trip there in a couple of months.

 

"The next day we drove GTTSH and I was out of my element." ... like to hear more about this...we are also renting a car and I'm planning on making the drive!

While I'm all in favor of renting a car for exploring at Glacier, from what I've heard of the Going-to-the-Sun road I'd highly recommend that you look into booking the Red Bus circle tour. That way you can give your full attention to the scenery and let the driver watch the road.

 

Thanks ehbowen, I've heard that advice before.

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Driving The Going-To-The-Sun-Highway is not pleasant for the driver. His passengers will enjoy the magnificent views , but the driver must focus intently on the navigating the narrow and curving road. I drove the road the easier way from East to West Glacier. This is easier because you are on the side of the road away from the edge of the cliff. Large campers and busses are prohibited and bikes have limited hours of travel. The road has traffic all summer and is closed in bad weather. We had a snow shower in August on our passage.

Edited by RRRick

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