Come to explore the unforgettable Glacier backcountry without having to tote along all your heavy hiking and camping gear! Glacier National Park is home to two historic chalets, the Glacier Park Chalet and the Sperry Chalet. These remote accommodations are perfect for the experienced hiker wanting an authentic, backcountry experience. Here, you can learn all about the area’s best hiking trails and see which chalet is right for you- or better yet, plan a visit to both!
Granite Park Chalet
Located in the heart of Montana’s Glacier National Park, Granite Park Chalet was built in the year 1914. Sitting at almost 7,000 feet above sea level, this chalet was constructed by the Great Northern Railway and is one of five structures that make up the Great Northern Railway Buildings District.
Before 2003, the surrounding areas, including Granite Park Trail, was covered in woods. However, after lightning struck the woods, a wildfire swept across almost 20,000 acres of the surrounding mountainside, clearing much of the area. Today, though the forest has already begun to regenerate, the area is heavily populated with vibrant wildflowers.
Staying at Granite Park Chalet
The chalet can only be reached through a hiking trail available to those on foot or horseback. Granite Park Chalet has no electricity and offers basic accommodations for an authentic, backwoods experience. Visitors can sign up for a time to use the full-service kitchen as meals are cooked on your own. The staff keeps boiling water on the stove and warm water to wash your hands in. Granite Park Chalet encourages guests to make “water runs,” which requires you to fill a plastic jug with water from a nearby stream where the park has set up a water filtration system.
Getting to Granite Park Chalet…
Going to the Sun Road (Highline Trail)
Length: 7.6-mile hike
Elevation: 2k ft elevation gain
Sights: This route takes hikers along the Crown of the Continent Highline Trail as well as passing through the Garden Wall where there are beautiful sites to behold. Gaze upon breathtaking vistas and pass by wildlife as you march along the trail. You can see ground squirrels, marmots, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and more. Watch the sun peak through the low clouds from out of the deep blue sky, hitting the mountaintops and drawing long shadows across the green valleys.
Difficulty: The trail is a good challenge for hikers as you will face sheer drop-offs in many places along the way.
Length: 4-mile hike
Elevation: 2.2k ft. elevation gain
Sights: Take The Loop up to Granite Park Chalet, beginning off Going-To-The-Sun Road. You can find the trailhead about 13 miles east of McDonald Lodge. This trail provides spectacular views of Heavens Peak, towering almost 9,000 feet above you. Below, stretched out across the valley, you’ll find McDonald Creek, glistening in the afternoon sunlight.
Difficulty: Loop Trail is the shortest and easiest trail leading to Granite Park Chalet, but with a steep elevation gain, it is still recommended only to experienced hikers.
Elevation:2.3k ft. elevation gain
Sights: Startup Swiftcurrent Pass from Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead in Many Glacier, at the far end of the parking lot for Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Don’t forget to take some time to stop and enjoy stunning views of Fishercap Lake, tall, alpine mountains and gushing waterfalls. In the mornings, the lake is a great place to spot moose and other animals.
Difficulty: A flat, easy hike through a wooded area for the first few miles, this hike becomes steeper once you reach the series of switchbacks.
Built-in 1913 by Glacier National Park developer, James J. and his son, Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway. Now a Historic Landmark, the pastoral buildings of Sperry Chalet, built from native rock, have withstood the elements, remaining almost entirely unchanged for nearly a century.
Sperry Chalet consists of a 2-story hotel building filled with private rooms with accompanying kitchen and dining room with another, the newer separate building that holds the restrooms. Sperry Chalet also has no lighting or electricity, but the dining room is still equipped with a wood stove and propane lights. Three full meals are served each day for guests.
Getting to Sperry Chalet…
Gunsight Pass Trail
Length: 13.5 miles
Elevation: 3.3k feet elevation gain
Sights: An all-day hike, Gunsight Pass Trail leads visitors through a forest, alpine climbs, sparkling lakes, and rushing waterfalls. Gunsight Pass Trail crosses the Continental Divide and a multitude of gorgeous views of Glacier National Park.
Difficulty: Gunsight Pass Trail is for advanced hikers. Typically a 9-hour hike, this hike requires an early start. Those who begin too late will miss dinner at Sperry Chalet.
The Sperry Trail
Elevation: 3.3k ft elevation gain
Sights: The Sperry Trail is the main trail leading to Sperry Chalet. Climb through cedar and hemlock forests through McDonald Valley providing stunning views of Glacier’s vistas. Explore spur trails to Snyder Lakes, Fish Lake, and Mt. Brown Lookout.
Difficulty: The Sperry Trail is a challenging hike that is almost entirely uphill.
Sperry Glacier Trail
Elevation: 1500 ft. elevation gain
Sights: Head to the bottom of Sperry Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park. Pass the Sperry Headwall and Little Matterhorn as you make your way to Comeau pass, which offers majestic views of the remote peaks in the Livingston Range. Climb the colorful man-made rock cairns to reach the glacier.
Difficulty: Regarded as a strenuous hike, Sperry Glacier Trail is for those in good physical condition.
You’re in for a fun and peaceful wilderness adventure when you come to stay at Glacier National Park’s cozy Chalets. These historic landmarks offer a true, Glacier experience with access to some of the park’s best trails and most iconic views. Get away from the chaos with a getaway to Granite Park or Sperry Chalet.