Vacation at Many Glacier
Glacier Park’s ‘Many Glacier’ Adventure
Glacier National Park is one of the most stunning and picturesque places on earth with magnificent vistas in every direction. It is impossible to say that any particular place is the most remarkable, but one of my favorites is the Many Glacier area for majestic scenery, wildlife viewing and the best hiking in the park.
My wife and I stayed at Many Glacier Hotel on opening day this Month (June 14, 2016). Over the years we have traveled often to this extraordinary area because wildlife viewing is some of the best in the park and the scenery is spectacular, but this was our first stay at the hotel. More on that later…
THE Place for Wildlife
Ask anyone who knows and they will tell you that the best place to see bears is on the east side of the park. The short drive from the East Entrance on Rt. 3 to the Many Glacier area almost never disappoints. There are a few meadows on both sides of the road after you pass Lake Sherburne where grizzlies and black bears forage for roots many times each day. All of these photos of local critters were taken in this area last October and during our visit last week.
This area also has a large population of sheep (see more photos here), moose and other critters like marmots, deer, etc. The best advice I can offer is to keep your camera ready at all times. I can’t tell you the number of times I missed a great photo because the camera wasn’t in reach.
Many Glacier Hotel – A View With a Room
The hotel celebrates its 100th. birthday this year and it is remarkably well preserved. I know it has undergone numerous renovations over the years and a major overhaul is happening again this year. Many of the rooms are being refurbished so the hotel is operating at limited capacity for much of the season. The restaurant was an unexpected surprise with great food and a many choices at reasonable prices. The breakfast buffet was excellent with every breakfast staple imaginable.
We made our reservation last October and I must admit that I let my excitement cloud my judgement as it relates to our timing. First, June is usually chilly and wet and secondly, it was opening day for the season. This means much of the staff was new and still learning the ropes. Also, it meant that not everything in the hotel was working as it should.
Our room was clean, but quite dated; it looked like something out of the 1940s. It had a beautiful view of Swiftcurrent Lake and a balcony, but due to the blowing wind and rain and cool temps we only ventured out once during our stay. I had two surprises that may or may not bother you, but I couldn’t imagine that any hotel would not have televisions or Wi-Fi available in the rooms in 2016. There was Wi-Fi accessible in the lobby, but it was dreadfully slow and always being utilized by hotel guests. Knowing this, I don’t believe this would be a good hotel choice if you had young kids or teenagers along for the ride.
How badly do you want a shower?
The only serious complaint we had about our room was that there was no hot water for our morning showers. The plumbing for the tub and shower looked like a steampunk creation of some kind that was impossible to figure out (see photos below). After playing with this for twenty minutes we called the front desk for help. After following their directions and letting the water run for another twenty minutes we resigned ourselves to taking very fast showers in cold water. It was just like camping out without the tent. Hotel instructions for using the tub and shower are below:
Parking is a hike
Be aware that the parking is not as convenient as your average roadside motel. The parking lot is quite a climb over a hill located above the hotel which could prove taxing for seniors or anyone with health issues. Trust me, in inclement weather this is also a challenge.
Overall, we loved our experience and had the weather been more cooperative where we could have used our balcony it would have been much more enjoyable. We obviously don’t hold the hotel responsible for the weather; I mention this so that you think more about scheduling your trip and choose dates more wisely than I did. July, August and September are the better months to visit Glacier National Park. One the morning we left, the sun appeared and we were able to get a good photo from our 2nd. floor balcony.
The Many Glacier area is not far from St. Mary where you can find additional lodging options, restaurants, grocery stores and other shopping and services. Plus, you get to drive along Rt. 3 again and have another chance to spot more grizzly and black bears.