Izaak Walton Inn is a Train-tastic Place to Stay in Essex, MT By Glacier National Park
Just south of Glacier National Park is a gem of a hotel: Izaak Walton Inn. This special hotel is on the National Registrar of Historic Places. Located in Essex, Montana, Izaak Walton Inn effortlessly blends rustic whimsy with unique lodging at the foot of the Glacier National Park border.
While not technically in Glacier National Park, the Izaak Walton Inn still has an enviable park-adjacent location.
Izaak Walton Inn is located just 45 minutes from the Two Medicine entrance and 35 minutes from the West Glacier entrance. In addition, avid hikers (or cross-country skiers and hikers in the winter) can access trails that go into the remote southern portion of Glacier National Park right from the resort.
Read More: Winter Guide for Glacier National Park
While the proximity to Glacier National Park is a huge plus for staying at this hotel, it’s the trains that really make this historic lodge stand out.
Izaak Walton Inn is located right by train tracks where the Amtrak comes by twice a day and commercial trains chug by frequently. The lodge even has the departures listed so you know when to head outside to see the Amtrak. It’s also posted to inform guests who are leaving the area via Amtrak.
During dinner at the Izaak Walton Inn, we saw three trains go by while eating.
Then the Amtrak came by before we headed up to our room and even blew its horn while going by while the conductor waved at Izaak Inn guests watching.
And then another train came by that we saw from our window while getting ready for bed!
It was so fun.
There is also a bridge that crosses the track that you can walk over to get to hiking trails or to watch the trains go by underneath.
This bridge is also what you need to walk across from the main lodge to get to Izaak Walton Inn’s log cabins and very cool train car accommodation (though there is also a road for those staying on that side of the property).
This brings us to…
What are the Accommodations Like at Izaak Walton Inn?
Izaak Walton Inn has a number of different lodging options, ranging from standard rooms in the main lodge to family suites to cabins and train cars.
We stayed in the Main Lodge, which has easy parking out front and onsite dining, and a basement with a game room and bar.
I booked us into the family suite, which was perfect since it was my mom, my two daughters, and myself. My girls shared the room with a queen bed and twin bed, while my mom got the other room with a queen bed to herself.
There was even a door dividing the two rooms, with a sink in one room and the shower/tub and toilet in the other room.
The room had lots of fun touches, like nightstands with attached fold-down chairs and the inn’s signature moose on the shower curtain and other decors. We also liked the cozy cabin-like walls.
Train Car Accommodations
Staying with the train theme, Izaak Walton Inn also has several stand-alone train car accommodations. These book up very early, so plan ahead if you want to stay in them during the busy season.
The train accommodations range from small 2-person cabooses to luxurious locomotives. Most of the railcars sleep 4, but the Northern Pacific Caboose can sleep up to six.
The cabooses with a cupola also look charming and great for families of three or four since the adults can sleep down below while the kiddos get to have fun sleeping up in the cupola.
There are also a couple locomotive train car lodging options on the other side of the tracks by the Main Lodge.
Cabins and Mountain Motel Rooms
Across the train tracks from the main lodge are also a collection of cabins lined up against the backdrop of the woods.
There are also some cabins for those looking for a more solitary experience. The cabins can sleep up to four people, with a full-sized bed in the bedroom and a full-sized bed in the loft area.
In addition, as you walk around this side of the hotel property, you’ll see motel-style rooms. These are the School House rooms, housed in a former schoolhouse that was transformed into four separate hotel rooms.
The School House rooms have lovely rustic wood accents and a small patio. They also have views of the train tracks and close proximity to the hiking trails.
In winter, the cabins and School House rooms are solely ski-in, ski-out and aren’t accessible via road.
Are the Trains Loud for Sleeping?
If you’re a really light sleeper, you’ll probably want to request a room on the side of the hotel facing away from the train tracks and bring ear plugs.
I brought earplugs just in case, but didn’t need them. I even left the window open a few inches, but with the white noise machine I always travel with to lull my kids to sleep, we all slept through the night.
I heard one train go by right before dozing off, but didn’t wake again until morning. Neither did my kids and they were in the bed right by the window.
What is Dining Like at Izaak Walton Inn?
Izaak Walton Inn has a restaurant located right onsite just beyond the reception desk. It has a chalet-style indoor dining area that’s also connected to a patio overlooking the grounds and train tracks.
We ate there for both dinner and breakfast and enjoyed it. Kids menus are also available for all meals.
The restaurant has traditional and locally-inspired menu items, like the huckleberry elk meatballs we got for an appetizer and the delicious huckleberry pie we had for dessert. There was also a stuffed trout special we regretted not ordering after seeing it show up looking all delicious at a fellow diner’s table!
The restaurant also has a fun cocktail menu with drink names and ingredients inspired by Glacier National Park and Montana.
For breakfast, I got oatmeal, which was a good way to start the day before heading to Two Medicine for a hike.
Breakfast is not included in your stay at Izaak Walton Inn, so if you don’t want to eat at the restaurant, plan ahead.
There aren’t many places nearby so get dry-good groceries before arriving if staying in the main lodge (there aren’t fridges in the rooms). Some train cars and cabins have fridges and cooking areas, making it easier to bring groceries and make meals on your own. Carefully check what your accommodation will include before booking and arriving so you can be prepared.
There is also a gift shop off the lobby that has some snacks.
Are There Any Other Onsite Amenities for Guests at Izaak Walton Inn?
We already mentioned the super fun game room. In addition to that, there is a sauna and hot tub located across from the main lodge. There’s also a laundry room by the sauna, plus one up by the cabins and train car accommodations.
My kids liked the old-school merry-go-round and slide on the property, too. 🙂
As for Wi-Fi, Izaak Walton Inn has it, but it mostly only works in the lobby. We did get spotty service in our room, but at times it didn’t work. We also had no cell service.
Lack of cell service and poor Wi-Fi connection is incredibly common for accommodations around the east and south sides of Glacier National Park so we weren’t surprised by this. However, it’s important to know in case you think you’re going to be working remotely here.
Enjoyed This Review? Plan Your Stay at Izaak Walton Inn!
If Izaak Walton Inn’s Main Lodge sounds like the perfect place for you after reading this review, please consider booking using one of our affiliate links. Booking through these links has no extra cost to you, but we get a small percentage of the commission. It helps us to keep providing the free content we do on Travel Montana Now! Thank so much for your support. 🙂
Looking to stay on the other side of the train tracks and bridge? To book a train car accommodation, cabin, or family suite, you’ll want to book directly through Izaak Walton here.
Enjoy your stay!