Glacier National Park, and nearby towns (Whitefish, Essex, East Glacier, West Glacier)

Discussion in 'West, Alaska and Hawaii' started by Rail Freak, Jan 17, 2012.

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  1. Jan 17, 2012 #1

    Rail Freak

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    Has anyone stayed at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier? If so, give me a run down, please!!!

    Thanx

    RF
     
  2. Oct 28, 2012 #2

    Twin Star Rocket

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    Not yet! I've planned to return to Glacier Park by rail and stay there. I made a 1980 trip to Glacier and used the Belton station as my entry point to the park. I'm sure I saw the Belton Chalet.

    I can recommend McDonald Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel--both former Great Northern properties just like Belton Chalet.

    When I go again I might use the "red jammers" to get around instead of renting a car at Belton.
     
  3. Dec 17, 2014 #3

    CHamilton

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  4. Dec 18, 2014 #4

    Bob Dylan

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    Who you gonna believe, Rushbo or your lieing eyes?

    Nice find Charlie, everyone should see these, but I'm guessing they won't be shown on Fox Stations!!!
     
  5. May 28, 2017 #5

    dogbert617

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    So I was thinking eventually in a year or 2, I wouldn't mind doing an Amtrak trip to Whitefish, and of course from there go to Glacier National Park. Hadn't decided if I also should try to visit nearby Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta(and bring my passport), or not. I was thinking Whitefish over Essex, since it seems to have more local amenities(motels/hotels, car rental places, etc) vs. Essex(not sure if there's anything there, except the Isaac Walton Inn). I know I also could go from East Glacier Village into the national park, but am still leaning towards Whitefish.

    Anyway, I have some dumb questions to ask(forgive me, lol!), based on early Googling and various message board threads I've read. Are there any free shuttles within this national park(i.e. Zion National Park), or is it better to rent a car and drive to the portions of Glacier National Park I was interested in? I was worried at first the best option would be to rent a car after arriving in Whitefish or East Glacier(though probably I'll do Whitefish), but I do wonder how extensive the shuttle system is within this park. And in the opinion of those who've gone here, what would be the best months to visit this park? It does seem like from road closures if you go in the winter, that probably the best time to visit would be sometime in the mid-late spring or early-mid fall. And perhaps, that you run into slightly less crowds vs. summer. But who knows? Back to the rental car question(I have a license, but just haven't actually rented a car before), do any of the rental car companies allow one to cross the border to Alberta(just for Waterton Lakes) and back? I assume they would, but won't be surprised if they charge an extra fee if you want to do that. Knowing how rental car companies(from what I've researched) can nickel and dime you, over certain minor things.

    Also, any local things/points of interest worth stopping at in this immediate area surrounding Whitefish(and etc. with the towns nearby) besides Glacier National Park? And of course, any recommended nearby places to eat that are decent would be nice to hear about. I was still trying to do Tripadvisor/Yelp/Google research, to figure out what I can on this area. My bigger question mark I want to find out, is if the national park has any shuttles to get to various parts of this park. Or is it only that a few of the nearby motels/hotels, have shuttles that'll get you to various parts of this park? Thanks to someone, who can clarify my confusion on that.
     
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  6. May 29, 2017 #6

    dogbert617

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    I did look it up more, and found out there is a shuttle system within this national park. Still do hope to figure out later if there are any guided tours(say like via a private bus), that allow you to both see Glacier and also Waterton Lakes. Or if it'd be better to rent a car, to do that?

    Hope someone else who has visited Glacier before(and/or Waterton, plus the surrounding area in the past), can respond to this topic. This writeup on Tripadvisor, does help a little bit with info on Glacier:

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g143026-c198714/Glacier-National-Park:Montana:Before.You.Get.Here.Read.This.html
     
  7. Jun 1, 2017 #7

    Pooh2

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    We actually just booked this trip for fall. (First time to that area of the country).

    We are flying into Kalispell, Montana from the east coast, staying one night in Whitefish, two nights in or near the park (hoping to snag a cancellation at Many Glacier), then the last night in Whitefish before boarding the train to Chicago, then flying home. We are planning to rent a car so we can sight see at our own pace but also found the Red Bus Tours in the park look fun, as well as maybe a boat tour.

    Looks like several hotels in Whitefish will do a morning shuttle to the train.

    Good luck with the trip!
     
  8. Jun 1, 2017 #8

    FrensicPic

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  9. Jun 13, 2017 #9

    dogbert617

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    I later realized that had more discussion of this topic, vs. this one I started. Still, never hurts to have a thread on this board as well to talk about things to do in Glacier National Park, and nearby areas.

    Too bad it seems this board is sometimes overlooked, as far as seeing a lot of posting activity on threads discussing places to travel in different regions of the US.

    Thanks! I have no idea when I'll do such a trip, just considering ideas for the future to possibly do. The only thing I was wondering, is that the Red Bus Tour shuttle service easier to utilize if you stay near West Glacier Village, vs. East Glacier? In the other thread Frensic(John) linked to, someone in that thread said that they recommended renting a car if you stay in the East Glacier Village area.
     
  10. Aug 15, 2017 #10

    brianpmcdonnell17

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    I am planning a one night stay there in early January, but will not have access to a car. As of now, I am planning to stay in Whitefish. Is that the best option for a one-day stay without a car? We are taking the train, so the other options seem to be West Glacier or Essex.

    Sent from my SM-J327P using Amtrak Forum mobile app
     
  11. Aug 15, 2017 #11

    CCC1007

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    Yes, and there is a ski resort just a few miles from town that all of the hotels will shuttle you to.
     
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  12. Aug 16, 2017 #12

    FrensicPic

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    Our 4 day stay at East Glacier last month was really great. I can't comment on East Glacier vs West Glacier as we stayed East. We drove around and explored each day in our rental car including driving the Going to the Sun Road which was a really nice drive...traffic yes but no problems negotiating the road. The Red Bus Tours are available at the Glacier Park Lodge. Our drive on the G-T-T-S Road was the only time we were in Apgar/West Glacier. On the way back we stopped in Essex and the Izaak Walton Lodge and checked it out. Gonna have to stay there next time!

    Our stay at Glacier NP was wrapped in travel on two new (to us) routes - the Empire Builder and California Zephyr. We traveled from Los Angeles to Seattle to Glacier to Chicago to Emeryville and back to LA! A very enjoyable 2 weeks for us.
     
  13. Sep 26, 2018 #13

    Twin Star Rocket

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    We stayed at Belton Chalet three nights last week. It's located across Hwy 2 from the West Glacier Amtrak station (which is in use as a gift shop for a Glacier NP preservation group).

    Rooms are small, simple, clean, and have a private bathroom. Some (with balcony) face trackside and the highway; others face the forest in back.

    The lounge area is small but has a fireplace and shares room with an open gift shop area.

    Free coffee is served in the mornings only.

    Supper is provided by an adjacent restaurant. No other meals.

    For breakfast and lunch (and supper) there is the Glacier Highland restaurant within easy walking distance. Recommended!

    Staff at Belton Chalet is very helpful.

    P.S. We also stayed two nights at the Izaak Walton Inn about 25 miles to the east off Hwy 2.
     
  14. Sep 26, 2018 #14

    Palmetto

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    Too bad about no meals at the Belton Chalet. I was looking into a trip there as a bit of a retreat, but with my COPD, the prospect of having to walk to get something to eat isn't appealing. I've been to the IWI a couple of times, and was looking for a change.
     
  15. Sep 28, 2018 #15

    Twin Star Rocket

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    At the tail end of our Glacier NP vacation last week, we drove into Whitefish on our way back to Spokane.

    The former Great Northern depot there is a gem. It has three tenants: Amtrak, a town historical museum, and various car rental agencies (one of which is oldest Hertz agency in the U.S.). It's very clean and spacious inside. Outside the architecture reminds you of the chalet-like GN lodges in Glacier Park.

    The depot is within easy walking distance of many shops and eateries in the heart of the town. Whitefish is a very trendy winter and summer destination.

    Also by the depot are two railroad curiosities: a rare NW3 switcher painted in a traditional GN scheme and the "Bruck." The latter is a custom-built bus the GN used to shuttle passengers between Whitefish and nearby Kalispell in place of a "doodlebug." Kalispell was bypassed circa 1904 when GN built a new mainline to the north of Kalispell.
     
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  16. Sep 28, 2018 #16

    oregon pioneer

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    I have never stopped overnight in Whitefish, but you are tempting me...
     
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  17. Sep 30, 2018 #17

    ehbowen

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    You want some good rates? Try the ski resort during the spring off-season; after the snow melts and the lifts stop running but before things warm up and dry up enough for summer activities. You may have to go through a broker, but you can find some real bargains. I forget exactly how much we paid in 2014, but my dad & I shared a two-bedroom condo with fireplace, living room and full kitchen for a week for less than what I would normally expect to pay for two nights in a Marriott or similar.
     
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  18. Oct 18, 2018 #18

    cpotisch

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    But is it actually a good place to visit and enjoy at that time of year?
     
  19. Oct 18, 2018 #19

    CCC1007

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    I may be biased here, having lived in the flathead valley before, but I would say that the shoulder season for tourists is a great time in the valley, as the locals are less stressed by visiting throngs at that time.
     
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  20. Nov 1, 2018 #20

    Maglev

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    I just got a pop-up ad for Whitefish, and thought this would be a good time to post my picture of Whitefish.  Here's the eastbound Empire Builder on January 10, 2017 running with three locomotives, two sleepers and two coaches in the Seattle section, and an extra SSL deadheading on the rear.

    IMG_6597.jpg
     
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  21. Jun 26, 2019 #21

    dogbert617

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    Wow, that's a lot of traveling you did there. And BOTH riding the EB and CZ, from end to end? I wish I had that much time, to ride Amtrak like that. Sorry for the super darn late reply, on this.

    The great news, is that next week I'll FINALLY(after 2 years of throwing around this idea), be really going to Glacier National Park via Amtrak. Am finalizing the last part of the trip(which'll more involve extending this trip from 2 to 3 full days at Glacier), but am glad that finally I'll be getting to do this! Will post how my trip goes, soon.
     
  22. Jun 26, 2019 #22

    dogbert617

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    Belated question about Isaac(sp?) Walton Inn, are there a lot of things to hike to around Essex? Or am I right in thinking it's a little more limited around there(in terms of hikes), except for Scalplock Mountain Trail and Goat Lick Overlook being nearby? I will say this would be a place I'd at least give consideration too, someday down the road.
     
  23. Jun 26, 2019 #23

    Twin Star Rocket

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    There are hiking trails and ski trails at Izaak Walton Inn. You can rent a car there too and travel up and down Hwy 2 to nearby trails in the National Forests and National Park. It also has its own laundry for guests to use and a restaurant(serving 3 meals a day). It's fun just to explore the grounds around the inn.
    Belton Chalet has a restaurant and bar within easy walking distance for supper. Definitely not open for breakfast or lunch.
     

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  24. Jun 26, 2019 #24

    Twin Star Rocket

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    You really should spend at least 3 days at Glacier NP! There are the classic "red jammers" that will take you to the main sites in the park. They are really meant for folks to stay with the jammer the entire route you select although you can get out and walk at certain stops.
    In addition there are park vans or mini-buses which will take you to a stop and let you off to go hiking. You might return to the same stop later in the day or a completely different stop after a hike.
    Finally there are rental cars at Apgar Village in West Glacier.
    I've only been to Glacier in the fall. However, I've seen film footage of vehicles bumper to bumper on Going to the Sun Road in high summer season. Not for me. Seems that way in many parks that I visited recently compared to 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
     
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  25. Jun 26, 2019 #25

    Rasputin

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    The Izaak Walton at Essex is a great place to stay but it is certainly not the best way to see Glacier National Park. It is a considerable distance from the prime scenic areas and hiking areas of the Park. You can certainly do the grueling uphill hike to Scalplock Lookout nearby (carry bear spray) or do a few other nearby hikes in the national forest but you will miss out on the Park unless you drive there.
     
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