Hotel Review: Granite Park Chalet, Glacier NP, Montana

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To start, Granite Park Chalet isn’t a hotel in the usual sense of the word. One review on TripAdvisor called it a “high-end hiker’s hostel” – which is apt.

There are two ways to get to the chalet: you can hike 7.6 miles on the Highline Trail, or 4 miles on the Loop Trail. The former is longer but not as steep while the latter gains 2,220 feet – so it’s pretty much climbing straight up.

Granite Park Chalet review

First approach into Granite Park Chalet

I stayed here with my friend Angie for 3 nights in July 2017.  We opted to park at Logan Pass and hike the 7.6 miles in and out (so 15.2 miles round-trip). It cost about $200 per night with the linens package. And I paid an extra $106 for 3 days’ worth of food.

This was a perfect place to spend a few days and use as a base for other shorter hikes in the area.

Arrival and check-in

The day we arrived, we drove the rental car to Logan Pass, which is right about in the middle of Going-to-the-Sun Road – itself an engineering feat.

We parked at the pin, then hiked the Highline Trail to the chalet

Well, it was brutally, miserably hot that day. And we had to carry supplies for 3+ days on our backs. So the hike in started out pretty nice, but soon turned nearly unbearable as the sun beat down. By the time we got there, we were both so out of it: hot, exhausted, sweaty, and pretty beaten down.

Our chalet building

Checking in was easy. They had our names written down and showed us to our room, #18. There are no locks on the doors – so it’s all an honor system.

Our room, #18

They told us to settle in and come back in for a tour of the kitchen and to get our pre-ordered food any time before 7pm.

The room

We both instantly fell into a slough of despond and napped while we cooled down. The room itself was very spartan. No furniture aside from two bunkers, two chairs, and a little table – that was it.

Our room and bunk beds

Hooks for our packs and jackets

They’d already put sheets, blankets, and pillows on the beds. It was a small room with only the absolute basics. And the soundproofing was nonexistent. As one GCP employee put it, “There are no secrets at the chalet.” Luckily, the people next to us didn’t snore.

The chalet

I gotta say, what an amazing location:

In front of Heaven’s Peak

The views in every direction were phenomenal. From the front porch, you have a direct view of Heaven’s Peak, one of the most distinct in the park. And the chalet is excellent for several other day hikes to Swiftcurrent Lookout, the Loop, even to Many Glacier. There was one particularly steep “secondary” trail to Grinnell Glacier Overlook that just about killed me (kinda sorta not kidding). But so worth it.

My food and water for 3 days

Most of the food for purchase up there is freeze-dried and it’s all definitely pre-packaged. I only used the kitchen to boil water for my packaged meals. A couple of them were “meh,” but a couple were pretty tasty! I also hauled up lots of protein bars and a few fresh apples.

Supply mules

Wondering how they get supplies up there? By mule, of course. The mules send up food, water, and linens and haul out the garbage and whatever else needs to be sent down. They said they get a mule delivery once a week. Or twice a week if there’s something urgent.

Very chill communal space

You’ll spend a lot of your time in the main building, where there’s a dining room lined with tables. And the kitchen is in there.

Each evening at 8pm is “Coffee Hour” – a tradition where you can get a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and listen to the history of the chalet and topics about Glacier. It stays light out pretty late in the summer. So after the Coffee Hour was over, the sky was still lit – but we went to bed anyway, mostly because of sheer tiredness.

But this was a fun centering thing to do each evening.

All natural

If you run out of water, there’s a tank nearby with an attached hose – but you have to hike a quarter mile down a rocky path and carry it all back. Luckily, we only had to do that once.

Need to pee? Get in line behind the marmot!

The only bathrooms are modernized outhouses, and there are no sinks – just some Purell and a hole in the ground. Obvi, there are no showers.

And there’s no electricity. So it’s pretty spartan.

The old crapper lol

But it’s still better than when the chalet opened over a 100 years ago. Back then, they gave you porcelain containers. And the hotel staff cleaned them every morning. Ew!

You’ll most likely see deer in the evenings

There’s a lot of wildlife in the area. You’re prone to see deer, marmots, ground squirrels – and maybe even a bear. We spotted a couple playing on a nearby peak from a distance – a mama bear and her cub.

The experience

I found everything to be surprisingly comfortable, all told. The bunk beds were a little squeaky, but nothing too bad.

The biggest annoyances were flies in the room and the bathroom situation.

The buzzing of the flies sounded 1,000 times louder in there somehow. We were able to shoo them out the door, but they’d inevitably find their way back in. They hushed up in the evenings, thankfully.

And those 3am potty breaks. It was pitch black dark. And you have to strap on your boots and find your flashlight. And then there’s that moment where you didn’t know who – or what – is around you out there. I spent a solid couple of minutes surveying the area. And then ran across the path like a banshee, hoping I didn’t run into a bear. That was a nightly occurrence that never got any easier – just part of the deal.

I didn’t mind the food so much, either. I thought I’d hate it, but it was filling and full of protein, so kept me going.

Books to borrow

I spent the evenings reading, talking, and sipping bourbon that I hauled up in my pack. And spent the days hiking. We took an amazing class about the wildflowers in the park. And learned so much about the history of the chalet and Glacier, the geology, the weather, and so much more.

OWWWWW

And, despite a zillion applications of sunscreen and bug spray, I still got burned AF and the bugs never really went away. My advice is to wear loose, breathable clothing and try to cover up as much as possible. Get a hat, any hat. And be prepared for any kind of weather.

We got rained on, hailed on, burnt to a crisp, and nearly frozen in the space of a week. The weather here can and does change rapidly.

Oh and one other thing – use the hooks in the room to hang up your pack and everything else. I heard a mouse nibbling on a paper towel in the middle of the night. So there are definitely critters in there.

Bottom line

*Long dreamy sigh* I loved staying at Granite Park Chalet. To have a place in the middle of so much wonderful nature is truly spectacular. I didn’t shower for 4 days and feared running to the outhouse in the middle of the night, but all-in-all, nothing compares to this unique experience if you let it in.

The employees were great, as were the other guests. Staying here is a big step up from camping, but not at all like a full-service hotel. You get a roof over your head and a twin bed to sleep in – not to mention a fantastic base for many area hikes.

I’d been wanting to stay here for 10+ years, and this summer, I finally did it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You have to spend some time preparing, but that’s part of the experience (sunscreen, hat, and rain gear are absolute must-haves!).

Presented without comment

If you’re interested, I highly recommend reading over the FAQ as it covers a lot of different topics – and helped me prepared for my stay. Pro tip: do NOT carry raw steak to the chalet. 😉

Have you stayed at Granite Park Chalet (or would you)? How does your experience compare? 

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. Awesome review and writeup! I’m sooo excited about our trip to Glacier next month – we were only able to get one night at Granite Park Chalet (8/16) since we booked it so late. Planning on swiftcurrent pass on the way in, and then highline on the way out – a bit nontraditional but for us it’ll work (I hope!).

    • That sounds amazing! Even for one night, it will be an awesome place to rest for the evening before you get back on the trail. I hope you love it and have so much fun!

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