Glacier National Park is a real treat. If you’ve never been, we’ll be the first to tell you that it’s everything you think it is – a hiker’s paradise, gorgeous rocky peaks towering over blue and green alpine lakes, a haven for wildlife – and more.
It exceeded our expectations despite less than ideal conditions, and we can’t wait to go back in better conditions to explore more.
Recently, the park has seen a huge influx of visitors, which is straining their systems and making it essential that you book your accommodations early. But where should you stay in Glacier National Park? In West Glacier? Many Glacier? Near St. Mary?
If you’re planning a trip to Glacier and you’re wondering where to stay, we’ve got you covered.
In this guide to where to stay in Glacier National Park, we’ll detail the best places to stay inside and outside the park, both in West Glacier and the eastern side of the park.
Planning a trip to Glacier National Park? We’ve got some other travel guides to help you plan an incredible trip.
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A Glacier National Park Geography Overview
Glacier National Park is in northwestern Montana, situated just south of the Canadian border in the Rocky Mountains. The easiest way to understand Glacier is to think about it as three separate areas:
- West Glacier: As the name suggests, this part of the park spans the western half of the park, roughly from Apgar and the southwest edge of Lake McDonald up to Logan Pass. This is the more crowded and popular part of the park, and includes the most scenic stretches of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- East Glacier: Covering the area between Logan Pass and St. Mary, this part of the park includes St. Mary Lake and the eastern stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Of the three areas listed here, we’d recommend staying here the least.
- Many Glacier: This part of the park is north of the other two, and you have to exit the park and reenter near Babb, heading West. Here, you’ll find all sorts of amazing alpine lakes including (but not limited to) Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, Cracker Lake, and many, many more. This part of the park is less visited, and also has fewer options in terms of places to stay. Unlike West Glacier, there’s really no place to stay outside the eastern edge of the park. That means that you’re going to either have to stay inside the park (there’s a couple of lodges and campgrounds) or do it as a day trip from the other parts of the park.
Technically, there are actually five regions of the park, but most visitors with only a few days skip Two Medicine (the southeast corner) and the northwest corner. We’ll be focusing on the three main regions that 90+ percent of visitors make it to, which are the ones listed above.
There is only one road that runs through the park from east to west – Going-to-the-Sun Road – and it’s one of the most scenic drives in all of the United States, featuring countless pullouts with stunning views and short hikes to waterfalls, lakes, and more.
It runs 50 miles from the Apgar Visitors Center on the west side of the park, up and over Logan Pass (6,500 feet above sea level), and then down to the town of St. Mary on the eastern edge of the park. Driving the entirety of this road is a MUST DO on any Glacier National Park itinerary.
There is nowhere to stay along Going-to-the-Sun Road once you get past the Lake McDonald Lodge, which is at mile eight or so, which means you’ll have to stay at either end (in Apgar or St. Mary), or one of the nearby towns outside the park.
In the guide below, you’ll find suggestions on where to stay on the western side of Glacier, on the eastern side of Glacier, and near Many Glacier for a range of budgets and styles.
Where to Stay in Glacier National Park: A Summary
Glacier is big. Driving from the western entrance over to Many Glacier takes more than two hours, pushing three with traffic and road work (there’s always road work in the summer – prepare yourself for delays!).
We’d recommend using West Glacier and Many Glacier as your home base for exploring the park, splitting your time and staying in each place (which are about two and a half hours away from each other).
You can easily access East Glacier from both West Glacier and Many Glacier, and there aren’t really a whole lot of places to stay near the St. Mary entrance (aside from Rising Sun Motor Inn and the two campgrounds – Rising Sun and St. Mary).
If you only have a night or two, it’s probably best to pick one, and do a day trip to the other side of the park. With three or more nights, we’d really, really recommend splitting up your nights between West Glacier (either inside or outside the park) and Many Glacier (or Duck Lake, if you can’t get a place to stay inside the park).
Below, we’re going to go through West Glacier and Many Glacier, giving you the best places to stay inside and outside the park for each to help you find the perfect place to stay near Glacier National Park.
The Best Places to Stay in Glacier National Park: A Complete Guide
Now, let’s get into exactly where to stay when you’re visiting the park. We’ll go through the three areas of the park that we mentioned above – West Glacier, East Glacier, and Many Glacier – and give you specific recommendations on where to stay both inside and outside the park, including camping options.
Before we get into the full guide, I want to reiterate you the most important tip: plan to stay AT LEAST one night in Many Glacier, if you can swing it. It was our favorite part of the park (although Going-to-the-Sun Road is pretty spectacular), and is home to some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, like Grinnell Glacier, Cracker Lake, and Ptarmigan Lake.
Not sold? Here are a couple of pictures to convince you.
Here are some quick ideas on how to make that happen:
- If you only have one night, you’re kind of out of luck. Stay on the west side and focus on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- If you have two days at Glacier, it can be done. Spend the first day driving from Apgar to St. Mary along Going-to-the-Sun Road, and spend the night in Many Glacier. Spend your second morning on a hike in that neck of the woods (you can read our picks here), and in the afternoon drive back to the western side of the park. It’s a lot of driving and logistics, and you might prefer to stay in one place rather than trying to stay in separate places. Up to you!
- If you have three days in Glacier National Park, spend your first night on the west side of the park, your second day at Many Glacier, and your third back on the west side of the park.
With that tip out of the way, let’s get into exactly where to stay near Glacier National Park.
Staying in West Glacier
The western half of Glacier National Park is the most visited part of the park, featuring most of the places you’ve seen in the brochures and travel guides about Glacier like Lake McDonald, Going-to-the-Sun road, the Loop, the Highline Trail, and more.
This is the part of the park that most people stay in and around, both because it has the highest concentration of things to do and see, and also because it has the best choice of places to stay just outside the park boundary.
You have plenty of options inside the park – both camping and hotels/lodges – and just outside the park entrance in the towns of West Glacier, Hungry Horse, and Coram, and the bustling mountain town of Whitefish, which is the furthest out that we’d recommend.
Where to Stay Inside the Park
There are three lodging options inside the park’s western side. The thing to know about booking a place to stay inside Glacier National Park is that reservations open 13 months in advance, and that’s when you’re going to need to make your reservations if you’re coming over the summer (unless you happen to get lucky and snag a cancellation).
For most people, that doesn’t really work – who knows what we’ll be up to in 13 months?!
The other thing to know about staying inside a national park is that you’re going to pay more than it’s worth for the convenience. If the facilities are constantly at capacity, when are they going to update them?
As long as you go into it with the expectation that you’re going to pay a pretty penny to stay inside the park, and the rooms are going to have a bit of a rustic feel, they’re a fun experience. And you can’t beat the convenience.
The nicest is the Lake McDonald Lodge, which is a bit up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Apgar Visitor Center. It’s very rustic, modeled after Swiss chalets in the alps.
It was built back in 1914, and sits on the southern shore of Lake McDonald. They have rooms inside the historic lodge itself, and there are also cabins and other buildings with more room options.
There are two options at Apgar Village, which are both a worse location (further from Logan Pass), and are slightly less rustic and charming.
The Village Inn at Apgar is a simple motel-style lodging option. Some rooms have kitchens, and some have room for four to six people, which is nice for families and traveling groups.
Just across the road, Apgar Village Lodge and Cabins is the other option, and you’ll choose between cabins with a kitchen, cabins without a kitchen, and motel rooms.
If you’re up for camping, you’ve got a plethora of campground options on the west side of the park. The only one that you can reserve in advance is Fish Creek Campground, and it’s super competitive. We stayed there for a few nights over the course of our week in the park, and it’s great.
There are free showers, and lake access from some loops to get you down to the shore of Lake McDonald. Reserve up to six months in advance (we did it within fifteen minutes of the window opening, and sites were mostly booked within the next thirty minutes or so). Reservations are here.
Other options are first come, first served. Apgar Village usually has sites because it’s massive. Not the sexiest campground in the world, but it’ll do the trick. Sprague Creek is much nicer, but it’s tiny and fills up by 7am (sometimes earlier on weekends in the summer). The last choice is Avalanche Campground, which is past the Lake McDonald Lodge up Going-to-the-Sun Road.
More info on camping can be found here, including season dates and more details you’ll want to know.
Staying Outside the Park
This part of the park has the best selection of places to stay just outside the entrance. In Many Glacier and St. Mary on the eastern side of the park, your options will be limited at best. Not the case here!
There are so many options, we’re actually going to break this section into three subsections to make it easier to digest.
Here’s an overview of the options outside the park in order of proximity to the park entrance (we’ll get into details in each section below):
- West Glacier has the fewest number of places to stay, but it’s literally right outside the park entrance, which means it’s the best place to stay near Glacier National Park. You’re going to pay a bit extra for the lodging (and the gas), but it will be worth it if you’re looking for the most convenient place to stay outside the park.
- Hungry Horse and Coram are two small towns just 15 minutes away from the entrance, and have a nice variety of places to stay, from cozy rustic cabins to historic lodges and upscale glamping. There are a few places to eat and drink, but you’ll be limited in your options.
- Whitefish is the best city of the three, with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shopping within its cute little town center. If you care about proximity to those types of things, that’s your best bet (though it’s the furthest away from the park entrance).
Where to Stay in West Glacier
Distance from the Apgar Visitor Center: 8 minutes / 2.5 miles
West Glacier is about as close as you can get to staying inside the park without actually staying inside the park (and paying the premium for the privilege). Plus, the upside of staying outside the park is that you don’t have to book a year in advance, which is probably what it’s going to take to get a spot at the highly coveted Lake McDonald Lodge.
If you’re not able to snag a spot inside the park and want to stay as close as possible to all the action, this is your best bet. However, there are very, very limited amenities here, and you’ll be paying a premium for the ones you do find (namely, gas and groceries).
There are only really three good options here. All three make an excellent home base for exploring Glacier and the surrounding area. If we were going to Glacier tomorrow and couldn’t find a spot in the park (and weren’t up for camping), we’d choose one of these places.
Great Northern Resort
Located just a mile away from the west entrance to the park, Great Northern Resort is about as close as you can get to staying inside Glacier National Park (without paying the premium or having to book a year in advance). They have a range of room types, split between cabins and lodge rooms.
The cabins are our pick, mostly because each one has its own kitchen facilities, which is important to us when we’re traveling. They have a range of cabin sizes between one and three bedrooms, so they’re a great choice for groups from one to two people (or a couple) all the way up to bigger groups of six to eight.
It’s worth noting that the one bedroom cabins have two queen beds AND a sofa bed, so they can really sleep up to six people if you’re willing to share a relatively small space. Maybe pick the two bedroom cabins if you’re traveling with your inlaws. Their three bedroom cabins have room for up to ten, with two separate living areas.
The lodge is modeled after the original Glacier National Park Lodge, and has 14 rooms that are basically hotel rooms. There’s a small mini-fridge in the room, but no kitchen facilities so you’ll be eating most of your meals out. Choose between standard king rooms (with one king bed), a room with two queen beds, or a room with a king and a twin bunk bed.
Glacier Outdoor Center
Another option with a choice between cabins and lodge rooms, Glacier Outdoor Center is right next to the option above. Again, you’re going to be choosing between one and two bedroom cabins that sleep anywhere from two to ten people. They also have “deluxe cabins” which are bigger and nicer than the standard cabins, with kitchen facilities and three bedroom options.
The Lodge here has the same basic amenities that you’d expect from any hotel room, including a small mini-fridge. Lodge suites, which cost a little bit more, have a kitchenette.
Again, we’d choose the cabins all day for the extra space, the full kitchen, and the nice patio to enjoy a post-hike beverage. But that’s just us.
Vacation Rental for Groups / Families: The Glacier House
If you’re looking for a place to stay near Glacier National Park with a little more space to accommodate a larger group, this spacious cabin (three bedrooms and three bathrooms, sleeps six) just across the road from the turn into the park might be the right choice for you.
Seriously, the location could not be better. It’s less than five minutes to the western entrance to the park and Apgar Visitor Center, and it’s within walking distance of a grocery store and some restaurants.
You’ll have access to a spacious deck with a barbecue, a full kitchen, and a ping pong table. Huge windows in the dining room bring in tons of natural light.
Staying near Hungry Horse and Coram
Distance from the Apgar Visitor Center: 15 minutes / 12 miles
This is where the options get a little more robust, with a nice variety of places to stay from a historic lodge, to glamping, to upscale cabins for families and groups. And you’re still just 15 minutes away from the Apgar Visitor Center and the shores of Lake McDonald!
This stretch is the best blend of location and amenities. There are some restaurant options, a supermarket, a Conoco gas station, and plenty of bars, saloons, and even a distillery!
The Ridge at Glacier
Brand new cabins! The Ridge at Glacier is located on an offshoot just off of Highway 2, which takes you up onto the ridgeline where you’ll find several cabins with great views.
The cabins, which are either two or three bedrooms, are all equipped with a kitchen that has everything you need to cook meals for you and the group (including dishes and utensils) and a propane fireplace for those slightly chilly nights (there will probably be at least one while you’re in Glacier).
Sky Eco Cabins
Sky Eco Cabins is home to some nice cabins along Highway 2 about 15 minutes from the entrance to Glacier National Park, giving you easy access to Going-to-the-Sun Road. Cabins are fairly spacious, with a kitchen that has a full size refrigerator and a small two burner stovetop and a microwave. Plenty to cook a few simple meals over the course of a couple of days of exploring.
They have four cabins, and four studios (which essentially have the same facilities, but aren’t standalone).
Under Canvas Glacier
Under Canvas, which has made our lists for Zion, Moab, and the Grand Canyon, is going to be a cool experience. It is, however, going to cost you.
This is glamping at its finest and most bougie – you’ll stay in a canvas tent under the stars (with West Elm furniture, duh) and have access to the communal fire pit (S’MORES) and the picnic areas and barbecues. Some tents come with private bathrooms, some have shared bathrooms (single occupancy and lockable).
If you’re a couple, look at the treehouse, which looks fun. It’s a canvas tent elevated off the ground in, you guessed it, a tree.
If you are a family with kids, they have options to have a separate, smaller kids tent with two twin beds set up next to the main tent. Which seems like the best way to go glamping with kids.
Keep in mind, because they’re canvas tents and Glacier gets COLD, the season is mid-June through mid-September. If you’re going to Glacier in the offseason or shoulder season, you’ll have to stay elsewhere.
Historic Tamarack Lodge and Cabins
Though they’re a little further away from Glacier’s west entrance, Tamarack Lodge and Cabins is probably one of the best places to stay in this neck of the woods. You’ll have your choice between the lodge rooms, cabins, and motel-style rooms, which is a nice diversity of choices. Specifically, though, the cabins caught our eye.
All cabins have at least a microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator, but the larger cabins have full kitchen facilities.
The hotel rooms are… rustic. So are the motel rooms. They could probably use an update, but they have everything you’ll need for your time in Glacier, you just won’t be wowed by stylish decor.
Vacation Rentals near West Glacier
If you’d prefer having a little more space and privacy, there’s a bunch of cool vacation rentals just outside the western entrance of the park. Here are four that caught our eye.
At the Doorstep to Glacier National Park (2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms): This is actually in West Glacier, which is a great location. You’re within walking distance of grocery stores and other useful amenities, but you’d never know it given the cabin’s secluded feel.
The Glacier Guest House ( 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms): Nice cabin with plenty of space – both indoors and outdoors – for a group of up to eight once you account for all the sofa beds. It’s on a full acre of land, which you’ll have all to yourself. There’s a fire pit and Weber grill to occupy your evenings after a day of exploring the park.
Custom Cabin Minutes From Glacier National Park ( 2 bedrooms / 1 bathroom): Newly built, modern, and spacious, this place would make a fantastic home base. It’s about 15 minutes from the park entrance. There’s no TV or WiFi, so you’ll be able to completely disconnect and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Glacier has to offer.
Secluded Cabin Near Glacier Park ( 2 bedrooms / 1 bathroom): Just 10 minutes away from the entrance to the park, this cabin is well-thought out and has two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and a nice outdoor patio complete with fire pit and Adirondack chairs. They DO have WiFi, but no cable (so you’ll have to use your own streaming services if you need some entertainment).
Staying in Whitefish
Distance from the Apgar Visitor Center: 35 minutes / 28 miles
We enjoyed Whitefish. It reminds me a lot of places like Bend, Oregon in that it’s clearly a gateway to amazing outdoor recreation, but stands on its own as a cool town even when you put the location aside. We arrived a day early and spent our day relaxing and walking around town. We loved Wild Coffee, Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, and Montana Shirt Company, among other things.
If you’re not super concerned with driving a little extra AND you care about being in a town with plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop after your day of exploring, Whitefish is the spot for you.
It’s worth noting that most of the hotels in Whitefish are south of town along the highway that connects Whitefish to Kalispell. That isn’t the best location, but it is still only a 10 minute walk / three minute drive away from town. If you want to stay in town within a few blocks of the town center, the Firebrand Hotel is your best bet. There’s also some fun places to stay north of town on Whitefish Lake, which will add time to your drive into the park, but make up for it with waterfront accommodations where you can watch the sun set over the lake.
Hotels in Whitefish
There’s a lot of hotel choices in Whitefish, so we’re going to give them to you in rapid fire with a couple of sentences on what stands out to us.
- Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge (Value Pick): Best Westerns (along with Holiday Inns) near national parks are usually about as good a value as you can get. This is no different. It’s along hotel row, 10 minutes south of downtown. FYI – prices triple during the summer time, so maybe visit in shoulder season?
- North Forty Resort (Cabins): This place isn’t quite in Whitefish, it’s out east towards the park, which may or may not be a good thing. I’m in love with their cabins though, which is why it’s here on the list. They have spacious rustic cabins of all sizes, from one to three bedrooms, all with full kitchens and wood burning stoves.
- Duck Inn Lodge (Mid Range): Just south of Whitefish on hotel row, this is a really good value. It’s right on the river, and rooms are clean and comfortable. All have fireplaces, and some have a view of the river from the bed.
- Firebrand Hotel (Boutique & Stylish): This is the best hotel in downtown Whitefish. It’s a boutique hotel, and it’s very modern and stylish. The price reflects that style and the convenient location – you’ll be able to walk to anything and everything in downtown Whitefish. There’s a restaurant, bar, and coffee shop onsite, though there are plenty to choose from just outside the hotel’s front door too. There’s a nice rooftop patio, and it’s pet-friendly.
- Lodge at Whitefish Lake (Lakeside): We love the look of this place! It’s owned by the same people who own the Firebrand, so it’s no surprise that it’s nice. All the amenities you can possibly think of – indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, nightly s’mores around the firepit, multiple onsite bars and restaurants, complimentary wine during happy hour, and free use of the hotel’s bikes and canoes. Choose between the main lodge and the Viking Lodge, which both have comfortable lodge rooms with either a king bed or two queens (and a fireplace!) or their lakefront condos, which are basically standalone houses between one and three bedrooms with full kitchens, lake views from the patio, and plenty of space for a group to spread out. It’s five minutes north of town (by car) right on Whitefish Lake.
Vacation Rentals in Whitefish
Whitefish also has quite a few vacation rentals, which are great for people who want more space and access to a kitchen (which is a must when we’re traveling).
Here are three options that we liked:
- The Railway Loft (1 bedroom / 1 bathroom): Highly rated, and it’s easy to see why. Spacious one bedroom with a full kitchen, a dining area, and living room. All 2 blocks from the heart of downtown.
- Luxury Downtown Condo in Great Location (1 bedroom / 1 bathroom): Stylish and comfortable, this condo is on the ground floor and has a beautiful living area with an electric fireplace, and a brand new full kitchen. It’s at the northwest corner of downtown Whitefish – close enough to town to walk, far enough away to be a little quieter.
- Luxury Penthouse in Downtown Whitefish (2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms): New development in downtown Whitefish. This open floor plan penthouse is on the top floor, and has amazing views from the terrace. Inside you’ll find brand new kitchen appliances, comfortable beds, and a washer and dryer for you to use.
Staying near Many Glacier
If you want to stay near Many Glacier – which we’d absolutely recommend – you’ve essentially got two options. You can stay inside the park at one of the three park-run lodging options, or you can stay outside the park near Duck Lake, which is a 45 minute drive away from the Many Glacier entrance.
Staying Inside the Park
The options inside the park are great because you’ll be able to walk to every trailhead or activity, which means you don’t have to worry as much about parking (which can be nuts in Glacier, especially in Many Glacier).
However, the same caveats about staying inside the park apply here – it’s not a great value for the money in terms of the quality of the rooms, and you’ll have to book well in advance to have a chance to stay there.
There are three options inside the park:
- Many Glacier Hotel: The most luxurious option of the three, this is one of the best hotels inside a national park that I’ve ever seen. It’s on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake, and it’s stunning. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s well worth swinging by to grab a drink on the lake after a day of hiking. Plus, multiple trails – including the amazing Grinnell Glacier Trail – leave right from the hotel. They have a range of rooms, including “budget” rooms (which are still quite expensive) and some rooms with lake views. It’s a splurge, but it might be worth it to you.
- Swiftcurrent Motor Inn: While the Many Glacier Hotel was built to attract rich clientele, I was tickled by the story behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn that I read on a sign outside the store there. Essentially, it boils down to “should we have somewhere for the not-filthy-rich people to stay?” The rooms here aren’t exactly luxurious… or spacious… but they’re in an excellent location. They’re also relatively affordable, which is usually hard to find inside a national park. Cabins don’t have kitchens, so you will have to bring a camp stove or something else to cook with outside, or plan on eating at the Many Glacier Hotel.
- Many Glacier Campground: If you want to camp, this was our favorite campground in Glacier National Park. Book six months in advance, to the day, and try to get a site on the south side along the river. Occasionally, this campground gets completely closed to tent camping due to bear activity. It wasn’t an issue when we were there, but when my mom went three weeks later, they had to leave a day early because of an aggressive bear. DON’T LEAVE FOOD OUT. Tragically, that bear had to be killed because they got into human food and kept coming back.
Staying Outside the Park
There’s not a whole lot going on when you leave the east entrance of the park, but the best place to stay, by far, is going to be near Duck Lake. It’s 45 minutes away, which is kind of a long drive, but it’s got some beautiful cabins for rent, a nice campground or two, and, to be honest, you really don’t have another choice.
Duck Lake is the best place to stay outside the east entrance (really, there’s two) of Glacier National Park, conveniently located between the St. Mary entrance (giving you access to Going-to-the-Sun Road) and the Many Glacier entrance.
Your best bets are going to be either camping, or finding a nice cabin along the lakeshore.
Here are some places to stay around Duck Lake that caught our eye.
- Duck Lake Campground: If you can’t get camping reservations inside Glacier National Park, this might be the best option outside of the eastern side of the park. It’s 23 miles away from the Many Glacier entrance, and 13 miles from the St. Mary Entrance.
- A-Frame Hiker’s Retreat (Studio): This cozy A-Frame is perfect for groups of one to two (or couples) traveling to Glacier because it has everything you’ll need – including a kitchen – in a cozy cabin along the lake.
- The StoneHouse at Duck Lake (3 BR / 2 BA): This rustic cabin that sleeps six is on the northwest shore of Duck Lake. It’s elevated on a ridge above the lake, which means it has nice views of the surrounding mountains and plains. There’s a full kitchen, BUT THERE’S NO WIFI if that’s important to you.
- Glacier Quarry (1 BR / 1 BA): This isn’t on Duck Lake, it’s actually just a few minutes away from the junction where you turn off to Many Glacier, which is a great location (but there’s not many options nearby). Newly renovated with modern touches, great views from the deck, and modern appliances in the full kitchen.
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