The American Alps
The iconic Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, Montana.
This park spans two countries and some incredible landscape. With few access roads in remains largely wilderness, even today. Because the only road that cuts through the park is still closed due to snow, we took a scenic 3-hour drive around the perimeter of the park to reach to eastern portion.
The drive was dramatic with river and lake views, and free range cows and horses encroaching on the road. One section runs through the lands of the Blackfeet tribal territory and features long plateaus, deep green valleys and rock-strewn hillsides. Part of the road was under construction and the final 12 miles into the national park, was among the worst roads we’ve seen in this country. At first I thought it was just damage from the recent winter season, but apparently it has been a problem for decades. The narrow road is full of large pot holes, uneven sections, and patched sections from areas washed away. It was cold – about 50, and clouds rolled in to deposit a fine mist on our parked car. But the weather and the drive were worth the majesty of the rugged view, the rushing rivers, and the shimmering lake behind the resort.
The hotel just completed a 17-year renovation/restoration and it was fun to see the details. I wish we could’ve been there to participate in one of the daily historic tours (maybe one of my readers will post an update comment to this post!).
Built by the Great Northern Railway in 1910, the hotel was billed as being in the “American Alps” and so it should be no surprise there is a strong Swiss theme. The Ptarmigan Dining Room, however, features Asian accents. I ran into the Location Manager who explained that the dining room was designed to entice wealthy eastern US customers to continue their travels to the Pacific, and by steamer ship on to Asia. As he said – “it was all about marketing.”