Complete Guide for What It’s Like to Stay at the Iconic Many Glacier Lodge
Many Glacier Hotel is the most iconic place to stay in Glacier National Park. Located on the east side of the park, it is the gateway to the hiking trails and views that the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park is known for.
Rumor would also have it that Many Glacier Hotel is practically impossible to get reservations at to spend the night. Still, it was a dream of mine to make it happen and this past summer, much to my delight, I got a last minute reservation and lakefront room.
First off, where exactly is Many Glacier Hotel?
To get to Many Glacier Hotel, you need to leave the main Going-to-the-Sun Road winding through Glacier National Park and exit the park at St. Mary. Then head north along US-89 to the Many Glacier entrance to the park.
This route takes you through part of the Blackfeet reservation, including the tiny town of Babb. It’s in Babb where you’ll take a left (if driving northbound) to make your way along a dirt road until you get to the Glacier National Park entrance and then onto the lodge.
What Makes Many Glacier Hotel So Special?
The Many Glacier region of the park is known for its large alpine lakes the color of milky turquoise that are framed by steep, jagged mountains. You’ll see all this and more since you’ll be driving right toward the mountain peaks on the way to Many Glacier with Swiftcurrent Lake sparkling to your left.
Many Glacier Lodge is located right smack dab in the middle of all this scenery.
Many Glacier Lodge is nestled alongside Swiftcurrent Lake, just past where the lake runs into a rapidly flowing waterfall. Behind you are mountains and to the front is a truly majestic view of the lake and some of the park’s most famous mountains.
Built in 1914 to reflect a Swiss chalet, Many Glacier Lodge has an alluring alpine architecture style. That combined with the towering beauty of the mountains juxtaposed against a bright blue lake is what gives Many Glacier the nickname of “the Switzerland of Glacier National Park.”
As soon as you step inside this historic lodge, you’ll discover a multi-story lobby with a large central fireplace and wall-to-wall windows overlooking a large terrace and the gorgeous lake.
You can drop off your luggage with a bellman before parking, but do be aware there are stairs that need to be navigated to the lodge from the parking lot. Plus, many of the rooms are only accessible via stairs, including the lakefront one I stayed in with my daughters.
The room descriptions when you book do a pretty good job of letting you know what stairs or other obstacles you’ll encounter to get to the room. If you or anyone in your party has mobility issues be sure to read these carefully.
What types of rooms do they have at Many Glacier Lodge?
The rooms vary from tiny single-use rooms with no lake view and shared bathrooms, to suites opening onto balconies that have a panoramic view of the lake. The price varies wildly depending on room type and view as you might expect.
Still, for the location and the simply unforgettable experience of staying there, I thought rooms were very fairly priced. Compared to what we paid to stay at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, I thought our room (which I’ll cover in more detail in the next section) was an absolute steal!
Here’s a listing of the rooms types at Many Glacier Lodge:
- Family Units (extra beds and space)
- Lakeside Rooms (These have a view of the lake)
- Parkside Rooms (No lake view)
- Deluxe Rooms (These have a view of the lake with balcony access)
- Standard Rooms
- ADA-Accessible Rooms
- Coffee maker
- Fan (no air conditioning)
- Soap and Shampoo
There are NO televisions in any of the rooms. The Wi-Fi is slow and spotty.Though the fact that they had any Wi-Fi available to guests totally surprised me upon check in since I’d had zero cell service or Wi-Fi in rooms when traveling along the Going to the Sun Road the previous summer.
The Room I Stayed In: Lakeview Triple
Getting a room at Many Glacier Hotel required a lot of refreshing every day in the month leading up to our trip, hoping for a cancellation on the night I wanted to stay. At one point, one of the $500 rooms came available, but I couldn’t justify that one for our budget this trip.
So I kept refreshing multiple times each day and couldn’t believe my luck when a triple opened up! (I kinda expected to squish all three of us into a queen bed tbh.)
I was OBSESSED with our room. The lone picture and description when I booked did not do it justice — or maybe we just got lucky with which room we got in the category. Either way, I thought it was amazing.
I was staying in the room with my daughters and all of our jaws dropped when we entered the room and saw the lake view and door leading to the balcony. I was just expecting a window lake view!
The room was surprisingly expansive with plenty of room to spread out. The girls created worlds with their My Little Pony playsets on the floor while I soaked in the large, charmingly old-fashioned claw foot tub — also totally unexpected.
The highlight of my stay came after I got the girls to bed. It was getting cold outside, plus I didn’t want to wake the girls by opening and closing the rickety old door to the balcony, so I pulled up the armchair so it was directly in front of the window. Then I settled onto it with my kindle and glass of wine while enjoying the lake view and watching the moon rise.
The moon rise was more spectacular than I ever could have imagined! So clear. I was hoping to see a moose or bear walk past our window, but no such luck. Maybe next time. 😉
How to Book a Room at Many Glacier Hotel
As long as snow plowing goes according to planned, Many Glacier Hotel operates from the end of May or beginning of June to mid-September.
Reservations can be booked up to 13 months in advance. On the first of each month at 12am MST you can book for that entire calendar month for the following year. So, for example, on June 1 2024, you can book rooms for June 1 2025 through June 30 2025.
Room categories book up for the summer months within minutes if not seconds. Your best bet is to make an account for Xanterra in advance with all your info and credit card added to your account so you’re all ready to go. Then the morning reservations open, be logged in already, have your dates entered, and start clicking for your desired rooms immediately that clock ticker switches to midnight Mountain Time.
If you’re hoping to book more than one accommodation in the park at this time, have your travel partner (or a good friend you can pay in lattes!) focus on one accommodation while you do the other. If you’re just looking for Many Glacier Hotel, consider having backup dates so both can be searched at once by the two of you to see all options in case the first set of dates is booked.
If you are flexible, click on the search button by month. This brings up a spreadsheet-style page that has all the Xanterra lodges in Glacier National Park listed. You can scroll down to Many Glacier to see what dates are still available in, for example, July, which makes it easy to see consecutive dates possible for booking.
Ok, now let’s say you are NOT booking your trip a year in advance or didn’t get the room category you wanted the day reservations opened. You are not doomed. Here’s how I got my reservation at Many Glacier just one week before we traveled there.
About a month and a half before we left for our trip, I had our itinerary finally figured out.
Nothing was available for the night we wanted to stay at Many Glacier Lodge, so I booked a night in Kalispell and decided we would skip Many Glacier on this trip if I didn’t get a night at the lodge. But I’d used this same tactic to get rooms in Apgar, Rising Sun, and Old Faithful the previous year so I felt pretty confident we’d get a room. Still, it’s always best to have a backup you can cancel. (I like using booking.com for these backup reservations since the app makes it simple to cancel. Always double check the accommodation’s terms and conditions that you can cancel up to 24 or 48 hours in advance to increase your window of finding Many Glacier Hotel openings.)
For research purposes, I recommend looking for a date that has lots of availability at the end of the season when you’re more likely to get multiple room options pulled up (These usually won’t show when searching for sold out dates.)
Then read the room descriptions and note which ones will work for you and your travel buddies plus fit in your budget, and then be ready to book those immediately when one beomes available. Even if it’s not your first choice, you should book it since you can cancel up to 72 hours before your reservation with no penalty (always double check this cancellation window during your room research and booking stage since it’s subject to change each season).
Then keep refreshing a few times each day to see if your first choice becomes available for your dates. And book that first before you cancel your other one in case anything goes wrong with the reservation process. (Plus in the time you took to cancel the first one someone may have nabbed that better room before you!)
More things to bring to Many Glacier Lodge:
Binoculars: Bring high-powered binoculars for spotting moose and bear on the banks of the lake, or mountain goats and bighorn sheep up high alongside the arid terrain of the mountain tops.
Bear Spray: This is especially important if doing hikes from the lodge, but I felt safer having it even when just walking from my car to the lodge.
Camp Blanket: I had a down jacket with me, but my sunrise coffee on the balcony was still very cold, especially sitting on the cold chair. I wish I had brought a cozy camp blanket to cuddle up in.
Easy Access to the Best Things to Do in Many Glacier
While the room and views were amazing, I think the real benefit of staying at Many Glacier Hotel is the easy access to some of the best parts of the area when you stay there.
Many Glacier Hotel is right by the trailheads for Grinnell Glacier and Josephine Lake hikes plus other iconic Glacier National Park hikes.
Being able to hike and then immediately check-in to your room and take a shower and relax is blissful. Or better yet, book more than one night and not have to worry about getting to Many Glacier early enough for a parking spot.
I had done hikes at Many Glacier before, but for this trip, I wanted the focus to be on kayaking Swiftcurrent Lake. Glacier Park Boat Company has a location right by the back of the lodge, so staying at Many Glacier Lodge made kayaking so easy!
Typically kayaks rented through Glacier Park Boat Company are first come, first serve, which makes planning a little tricky since you may be waiting a couple hours for your kayak. But there are a select number of kayaks available each morning at 9am during the season for a 2-hour rental. Check-out is at 11am.
So the girls and I woke up early, had breakfast in our room, ran most of our luggage up to the car and then went kayaking until 10:45. We ran back to our room, quickly changed, used the bathroom, and were on our way to our next destination. It was great!
Again, if you can stay more than one night, this also makes things effortless because you can get on the wait list for a kayak and then hang out in your room or do a little hike by Swiftcurrent Lake while you wait.
Tip for Parents: My 8-year-old is an excellent lake kayaker for her age since we do it a lot at home, but to be on the safe side I brought a long rope so I could connect our kayaks if needed, which we ended up doing about halfway through our paddle. I got a double kayak for myself and my 5-year-old. For more tips on traveling in Glacier National Park with kids, click here!
Where We Ate During Our Stay at Many Glacier Hotel
Being so remote, you can’t just pop down to a local eatery or order some take-out while staying at Many Glacier Lodge. Luckily, there are a few different options for getting food during your stay that are located right onsite.
Ptarmigan Dining Room
This restaurant is a truly memorable dining experience. It is set up for optimal views of the lakes.
But even if you’re seated on the non-window site, it’s still so neat to see the architecture and admire the paintings hanging on the walls of the lodge frozen in time of years past.
The most magnificent painting in my opinion is the one hanging right above the entrance/exit that is massive and incredible detailed. It must have taken a long time to paint!
The food is also delicious with locally sourced ingredients, including steak from nearby ranches (which is what I ordered). There are also some more unique regionally-specific menu items like Whitefish Caviar.
The wine list was also extensive. There must be an impressive wine cellar located somewhere in the lodge!
A kid menu is available for younger diners with crayons provided to color said menu. We found the dining experience at Ptarmigan Restaurant to be kid-friendly as long as your kids are able to sit at the table for the length of the meal.
Ptarmigan Dining Hall does not take reservations so I recommend putting your name down soon after you check-in just in case there’s a long wait. We had about a 40 minute wait at 6pm so I took the girls to the gift shop and we sat on the balcony for a bit before going back to wait closer to the restaurant so we could hear our name being called – still with great views!
While you wait you can also get a drink from the bar at Swiss Lounge, which is another place to eat during your stay at Many Glacier Hotel.
If the wait for Ptarmigan Dining Hall is too long, Swiss Lodge is also a good place to eat with a more casual atmosphere and more pub-like cuisine.
Both restaurants are also open for breakfast and lunch.
We didn’t eat there for those meals since I brought granola bars for breakfast before kayaking and got myself a sandwich and the girls a couple lunchables from the market for lunch…speaking of…
Heidi’s Snack Shop & Espresso Stand
On the lower level of the lodge, next to the gift shop, is a grab and go market where you can get sandwiches, lunchables, and pastry items. Espresso and drip coffee are also available. If you want a bottle of wine or beer to enjoy on your room’s balcony, there is some for sale here, too.
And of course, when you’re down on this level of Many Glacier Lodge, don’t miss checking out the well-stocked gift shop and the park info area next to it.