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Maybe I’m just getting old, but I feel like some things about travel just completely confuse me. One of those things? Glacier National Park. Now I’ve visited a lot of parks – almost half of them! – but Glacier is one of the most mystifying to me.
There are tons of different areas of the park with seasonally changing access between them, a variety of reservations you might need, and no clear “gateway” community or single part of the park where you base yourself to explore the park. In short, among many other parts of planning your trip, it’s confusing to figure out where to stay near Glacier National Park.
I made my first trip to Glacier National Park in June 2023 and was fortunate to sample a number of different accommodation options: I stayed in Whitefish a few times, in a couple of different places near the west entrance, and on one of the main roads connecting the east and west parts of the park. All told, I feel like I have a good sense of where to stay in Glacier National Park and the surrounding area – even if I haven’t stayed everywhere.
Based on my experience, I’ve put together this list of hotels in Glacier National Park (and nearby) to help you sort out this part of your own Glacier trip planning process. Hopefully, this helps you narrow down the list a bit, and maybe try staying somewhere you never knew about before. No matter where you choose, get ready to have your mind and eyes wide open to the incredible beauty and natural splendor of Glacier National Park – there really is nowhere like it on earth that I’ve seen!
Whitefish is the largest community near Glacier National Park – and that says something, as it’s home to fewer than 10,000 people!
While most people come to Whitefish in the winter for skiing at the area’s namesake resort, it’s also a good base for visiting Glacier National Park if you find that options nearer the park are either too expensive or fully booked (which can definitely happen in the summer!); it’s a 30-minute drive from Whitefish to West Glacier. As such, there are lots more options in Whitefish than anywhere else near Glacier National Park.
In any case, the place I most recommend for where to stay near Glacier National Park in Whitefish is at the Après Whitefish. This hotel was remodeled in late 2022 and is a delightful, small hotel with all the amenities you need. In addition to modern touches throughout the room, there are thoughtful common spaces including an interior “living room,” a fire pit, and a sauna hut.
There are lots of accommodations to choose from in Whitefish, and the Après Whitefish isn’t in the heart of town (it’s about half a mile from downtown), but you can get there in just a few minutes by car or take a meandering walk through Riverside Park to reach the restaurants and other amenities in town.
Rooms at the Après Whitefish start from $150 per night in the off-season; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
Under Canvas Glacier
As you move closer to the western entrance of the park, which is the more developed side of the lands around the park, it’s easy to miss one of the most unique places to stay near Glacier National Park: Under Canvas Glacier. (Literally, the turn-off for their property comes up really fast on the highway – I had to turn around after blasting past it!)
I’ve always been curious about Under Canvas, and my first visit to one of their locations was at Grand Canyon National Park as part of our honeymoon-road trip back in 2020. Obviously, that visit was affected by the pandemic, so it was nice to stay at another location during full operations: Under Canvas Glacier is like summer camp!
While they don’t have the “Stargazer” tent that I enjoyed so much in Arizona, they do have a variety of other tents with varying amenities; I stayed in a Safari-style tent with a shared bathhouse. (This is the only thing I’d change as having a private bathroom is increasingly an amenity I need!) Around the property, there are other things everyone can enjoy: an on-site restaurant, large fire pits, and afternoon/evening activities make it an even more camp-like experience.
Under Canvas Glacier is open seasonally (June 6 to September 9, 2024) and tents start from $254 per night. Book directly with Under Canvas.
West Glacier Cabin Village
To enter Glacier National Park from its west entrance, you’ll pass through the town of West Glacier; this is the official gateway community for this side of the park, and there are a number of accommodation options in this small area. I had the chance to stay at the relatively new West Glacier Cabin Village during my visit in June 2023 (they opened in 2019) and this will be my go-to on this side of the park going forward – assuming I’m not staying in the park itself, that is!
Each cabin is extremely efficient in its layout and packs a ton of amenities into a small footprint; there’s a full kitchen in each cabin which is fantastic for savvy travelers of any kind who want to cut down on food costs and prepare a few meals while in the area.
Otherwise, the cabins are delightful: a super-comfy bed, incredible hot water pressure (great after a cold day of rafting the Flathead River, lemme tell ya!), and a large common area mean families and groups can hang out together even if you’ve booked more than one cabin or accommodation in the area. There’s also a handy general store at the property entrance with lots of essentials: bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, etc.
I spent two nights here and was sold: I’m hoping to plan a few nights longer on a return trip once the V&V fam (including our new arrival) is ready for adventure in the park!
The next summer season will kick off on May 24, 2024; cabins start from $229 per night and can be booked directly with Pursuit.
The Village Inn
Moving into a few places to stay in Glacier National Park, let’s look at your options on the west side of the park (using Logan Pass as the divide, of course).
Located on the southern end of Lake McDonald in the Apgar Village area, The Village Inn is perfect if you want a heck of a view when you wake up each morning – though it will come at the cost of being in one of the busiest parts of the park. The Village Inn sits right on the banks of the lake with a northeasterly view that’s ideal for watching the sunrise on summer mornings.
There is a surprising range of options for room arrangements: there are one-bedroom units with a kitchen, smaller one-room units for solos, couples, and budget travelers, and larger two-bedroom units for bigger groups. To be honest, the design is dated but works sufficiently especially if you don’t plan to spend a ton of time in your room and will instead be out exploring the park.
All rooms have a lake view, though not all have direct lake access (only the first-floor rooms facing the lake have that!). As you might expect with all this talk of lake views, this hotel books up fast each season.
The 2023 season ran from May 17 to September 25 and will probably be similar in 2024; rooms start from around $200 per night and can be booked directly.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Moving further into the park and along the shores of Lake McDonald, Lake McDonald Lodge is another great option – it’s one of the historic lodges within the park that is super popular, but rightly so.
From the minute you step into the lobby (and really before, based on the exterior), you know you’re in a place with tons of atmosphere; Lake McDonald harkens back to the golden era of national park travel with all the unique style and rugged, rustic design elements that don’t lack on luxury (by national park standards, of course!). Rooms are equally design-inspired, with wooden elements throughout, but modern bathrooms so you don’t lack there.
As Lake McDonald Lodge is 10 miles up Going-to-the-Sun Road, you also want some on-site amenities: there’s a dining room for dinners, a lounge for nightcaps, and a camp store where you can stock up for days out adventuring in the park. There’s also a nearby grill and pizzeria (Jammer Joe’s) for a more casual dining option.
Lastly, Lake McDonald Lodge is one of the main starting points for two main tours in the park: boat tours on the lake and the iconic “red bus tours.” It’s really an ideal spot if you want to be in the heart of the park on the west side. (More about the east side in a second…)
The 2023 season ran from May 12 to September 20 and will probably be similar in 2024; rooms start from around $140 per night and can be booked directly.
Many Glacier Hotel
Now let’s talk about the east side of Glacier National Park. Without getting too deep into geography, the primary road that connects the east and west sides of the park is Going-to-the-Sun Road; it connects Apgar Village (west) and St. Mary’s Village (east). There’s accommodation on both ends of the road, though I haven’t stayed in the St. Mary’s Village area so don’t have a recommendation there.
But there are also two other main parts of the park that people like to visit: Polebridge (north of the west entrance) and Many Glacier (north of the east entrance). Neither of these areas is connected across the park, so you typically visit them on their own. I also haven’t visited Polebridge (not enough time on my trip! Must return!) so I’ll focus on my recommendation for Many Glacier: Many Glacier Hotel, of course!
Another historic property, Many Glacier Hotel is in my favorite – and in my opinion, the most scenic – part of Glacier National Park. It’s located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake with towering mountains all around… and some of the easiest glacier viewing in the park too.
Rooms at Many Glacier Hotel are the nicest of any in the park: modern design and natural elements combine to bring that same relaxing feeling you get out exploring the park into your room when you lay down to rest after a day of adventure.
I haven’t had the chance to stay at Many Glacier Hotel yet, but it’s probably one of my top bucket list hotel stays.
The 2023 season ran from June 2 to September 12 and will probably be similar in 2024; rooms start from around $258 per night and can be booked directly.
Summit Mountain Lodge
Depending on when you visit Glacier National Park, you might be surprised that Going-to-the-Sun Road is not yet open – it opens each year based on snowfall and plowing schedules, and can be as late as the first week in July! (I was very lucky to be in Glacier on the day the road opened in early June 2023.)
If the road isn’t open, you will have to take an alternative route to travel between the east and west sides of the park; U.S. Route 2 is your best option. There’s one more good option for where to stay near Glacier National Park along the way: Summit Mountain Lodge.
Located in Marias Pass – the geographical “low point” (elevation 5,213 feet) in the Rocky Mountains where railroads were able to pass through in the early days of developing the West – Summit Mountain Lodge offers a nice, quiet escape away from the crowds in and nearer the park. Their cabins are the best: each rustic log cabin has comfortable wooden furniture and plenty of privacy plus a private small deck to look out over the little lake in the pass and enjoy the peacefulness of the area.
The only downside is you’re a bit far from everything; during my visit, their on-site restaurant was not open (check before you bookWhere to Stay near Glacier National Park – Under Canvas 1, so my main meal options were 10-15 minutes away in East Glacier Village. Oh, and they only have Starlink wifi at the main lodge; the signal sometimes reaches the cabins – but don’t count on it.
Cabins start from $199 per night; book directly on their website.
Bonus: Granite Park Chalet & Sperry Chalet
I was on the fence about including Granite Park Chalet & Sperry Chalet for one big reason: only the hardiest Glacier National Park visitors will actually consider staying at either of these places. They are both “backcountry” chalets that can only be reached by hiking; 7.6 miles in the case of Granite Park Chalet and 6.7 miles in the case of Sperry Chalet… and that’s just one-way, mind you!
(It’s also worth noting that Sperry Chalet was devastated by a fire in 2017, so the fact that it’s re-opened and available to guests is very exciting considering the challenge of rebuilding a structure this far off the grid.)
In any case, both of these chalets are historic accommodations within Glacier National Park, and you’ll be about as far from crowds as possible even in the peak of summer. Granite Park Chalet can host folks in a backpackers hostel-style accommodation (meaning you’ll want to bring your own sleeping bag/linens or rent some for your stay, as well as freeze-dried meals for pre-order purchase. Sperry Chalet, on the other hand, is a bit cozier with private rooms, included meals, and bedding provided.
These are not your typical accommodations and I haven’t had the chance to visit them yet – but as I get more into hiking and more adventurous, they each sound appealing in their own way.
With this variety of options, do you still have any questions about where to stay near Glacier National Park? Let me know in the comments below!
This trip was supported by Glacier MT and Pursuit; any coverage or inclusions is at my own discretion.