Header Image featuring a stunning view of Glacier National Park and the text Where to Stay for Glacier National Park

Where to Stay for Glacier National Park: The Ultimate Guide

Julia Accommodations, Montana 14 Comments

Glacier National Park is incredible. Of course that comes with some downsides, like accommodations in and around Glacier National Park book up quickly, particularly for summer. Avoid having to driving huge distances to get to the park by deciding where to stay for Glacier National Park and booking in advance. Whether you want to stay in the park, or in a nearby town or city that offers additional activities, the key will be to do your research and book early.

Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase.


How to Decide Where to Stay for Glacier National Park


Located in the the northwest corner of Montana, Glacier National Park sits fairly remote from any big cities. This can make determining where to stay when visiting Glacier National Park a bit of a challenge. You’ll of course want to consider where you are coming from and what you want to do while in the park before booking accommodations for Glacier National Park.

Two other important factors to take into consideration are how you will enter the park and where the visitor centers are. When you first enter the park, you’ll likely want to visit one of the visitor centers, and not all entrances offer one.

Entrances to Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has a number of different entrances giving you more choices of where you stay. In fact, you can enter at six different locations:

  1. West Glacier
  2. Camas Road
  3. St. Mary
  4. Many Glacier
  5. Polebridge
  6. Two Medicine

The primary entrances for the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road are the West Glacier entrance and St. Mary’s, which is on the east side of the park.

Visitor Centers at Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has three main visitor centers. Stop by any of them to find maps, information about the park, restrooms, water fountains, and more. They are all staffed and ready to help you with your trip planning. They also offer ranger-led activities.

  1. St. Mary Visitor Center: East side of the park
  2. Apgar Visitor Center: West side of the park
  3. Logan Pass Visitor Center: Middle of the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Highline Trail

Lodging in Glacier National Park


When visiting Glacier National Park, staying in the park will eliminate a lot of needless driving and allow you to spend the most time exploring and enjoying the park and its amazing scenery. Of course, the lodging options in Glacier National Park do fill up, so book in advance!

Staying in Glacier National Park

Selecting accommodation in the main part of Glacier National Park means most of the must-see attractions and many of the best hikes in Glacier are easily accessible. This enables you to arrive at them early enough to find parking.

Unfortunately, you will find that most of the accommodations in Glacier National Park offer very basic rooms and amenities. If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, you will need to stay outside of the park!

  • Village Inn at Apgar: Get stunning views over Lake McDonald and into the mountains at this lovely inn. The rooms are a bit rustic with no televisions, air conditioning, or in-room telephones, but you’ll be wowed by the location!
  • Lake McDonald Lodge: Built back in 1913, this historic lodge offers stunning views of Lake McDonald and 82 guest rooms in a variety of layouts. One of the perks is the selection of food and activities located within walking distance of the lodge.
  • Rising Sun Motor Inn & Cabins: Located on the eastern side of the park, the Rising Sun Motor Inn & Cabins offers 72 rooms that are rustic in nature lacking televisions, air conditioning, and in-room telephones.
  • Apgar Village Lodge: Not to be confused with the Village Inn at Apgar, the Apgar Village Lodge is another great option in the Apgar area. While the rooms are a bit dated, the location near the lake is prime real estate when visiting Glacier National Park!
  • Motel Lake McDonald: Located about 300 yards from the Lake McDonald Lodge, Motel Lake McDonald features more basic rooms but shares the same great location with food and activities nearby.

Staying in the Many Glacier Region of Glacier National Park

The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park offers a couple of great accommodation options, as well as other services critical to your enjoyment of the region. You’ll find restaurants, an ATM, laundry, a camp store, and showers available for those camping in the area. Additionally, there are some top notch hiking options in the Many Glacier part of the park.

  • Many Glacier Hotel: The largest hotel in Glacier National Park, Many Glacier Hotel is situated on the beautiful shores of Swiftcurrent Lake. You’ll find all of the comforts needed, a few dining options, and stunning scenery.
  • Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins: Stay in one of 95 rustic cabin or motor inn rooms in the Many Glacier area. You’ll find everything you need, including restaurants, a fully stocked camp store, and a gift shop, at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins.

Backcountry Accommodation Options in Glacier National Park

If you’re an avid hiker, there are two backcountry chalets you can hike into for accommodations. These are great options for enjoying a quiet and scenic part of the park outside of busy daytime hours. Remember that they are more rustic and you need to hike in, so be prepared!

  • Sperry Chalet: Hike into a remote chalet built back in 1913, offering comfortable linens, blankets, pillows, hand towels, and meals. Note that you won’t find electricity, heat, or running water, so come prepared to “rough it” a little bit.
  • Granite Park Chalet: Stay in a rustic chalet built back in 1915. You can preorder food and linens, or bring your own!
Avalanche Lake

Where to Stay West of Glacier National Park


There are a lot of towns and cities just west of Glacier National Park, including many of the larger cities near the park and the closest airport. This makes it more common for visitors to Glacier National Park to stay on the west side of the park.

You’ll also find additional perks on the west side of Glacier National Park, like hotels from large hotel chains (for the loyalty point-driven readers out there!) and plenty of restaurant options. If these things are important to you, consider staying on the west side of the park.

West Glacier

Located right outside of the most popular entrance of Glacier National Park, West Glacier is the gateway to Glacier and a hub for all outdoor activities. This small town of just 227 people does offer very limited restaurant choices, but you’ll find plenty of quaint hotel choices!

  • Reclusive Moose Cabins: Located in West Glacier, the Reclusive Moose Cabins offer a homey feel right outside of Glacier National Park.
  • Glacier Outdoor Center: A family owned business, the Glacier Outdoor Center includes 14 log cabins, hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities on-premise. It’s perfect for the whole family!
  • Great Northern Resort: Enjoy an evening on the terrace overlooking the mountains or in the shared lounge area at the Great Northern Resort.

Search all accommodation options in West Glacier, Montana.

Coram

A small town of just over 500 people, Coram is only 8 minutes from West Glacier. This close proximity has caused a number of small accommodation options to pop up over time putting Coram on the map as a great place to stay for Glacier National Park! One of the biggest disadvantages of staying in Coram is simply the limited restaurant options in town, but it’s a small price to pay to spend less time driving each day!

  • Under Canvas Glacier: Make your trip to Glacier National Park one to remember by staying in a luxurious safari tent. Note that some tents at Under Canvas Glacier offer private bathrooms while others have shared bathrooms.
  • The Ridge at Glacier: Stay in a luxury cabin with mountain views, including a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, patio, and more!

Search all accommodation options in Coram, Montana.

Columbia Falls

A simple 21 minute drive to the western side of the park, Columbia Falls is a perfect home base for anyone looking for lodging near Glacier National Park. It offers a number of local and chain restaurants to keep you well fed, and as a bonus, this small town of under 5,000 residents is frequently ranked as one of the best and safest places to live in Montana!

Search all accommodation options in Columbia Falls, Montana.

Whitefish

Whitefish is arguably one of the most popular places to stay near Glacier National Park. Just 34 minutes from the west entrance of the park, Whitefish features a wide array of shops, coffee houses, locally owned restaurants, and entertainment options. It gives you the small town charm while offering the conveniences you need, and you’ll even find some restaurants and fast food options that you might recognize between Whitefish and Glacier National Park.

  • Lodge at Whitefish Lake: Located on the shore of Whitefish Lake, this lodge features an award winning restaurant, full service spa, and gym.

Search all accommodation options in Whitefish, Montana.

Kalispell

Situated 43 minutes southwest of Glacier National Park, Kalispell offers the closest airport to Glacier National Park. It is also home to 1,900 guest rooms in hotels, motels, lodges, and RV Parks. If you’re looking to stay at a well known hotel chain near Glacier National Park, Kalispell is one of your best options. Not to mention you’ll find ample restaurants and alternate activities available in the quaint downtown of Kalispell, Montana.

  • Kalispell Grand Hotel: Located just a short walk from downtown Kalispell, this historic hotel has been offering unmatched hospitality since 1912.
  • SpringHill Suites Kalispell: Also a great choice for Marriott travelers, the SpringHill Suites offers all the luxuries you need to make Kalispell feel like home with a lounge and terrace available to sweeten the deal!

Search all accommodation options in Kalispell, Montana.

Bigfork

About 44 minutes south of West Glacier is the lakeside town of Bigfork. Here you’ll find a wide selection of activities as well as access to the largest natural lake in the western United States, Flathead Lake. If you want to explore more of Montana than just Glacier National Park, Bigfork makes a great home base!

  • The Inn Bigfork Bay: Admire beautiful views of the bay from the sun terrace or hang out on the private beach. The Inn Bigfork Bay is a cozy homestay offering a wide array of rooms and amenities.
  • Timbers Motel: Just a short walk from Flathead Lake, the Timbers Motel is one of the best hotel options in Bigfork featuring comfortable rooms and an outdoor pool.

Search all accommodation options in Bigfork, Montana.

Grinnell Glacier Overlook

Where to Stay East of Glacier National Park


Staying on the east side of Glacier National Park may put you further from a lot of the classic “tourist” activities in the area, but it also has some perks. The top one of course being that you are closer to the main part of Glacier National Park as well as to the Many Glacier area of the park.

In fact, if you stay in West Glacier, it will take you over 2 hours one-way to get to Many Glacier! This makes the east side of the park the best option if you are visiting the area solely for Glacier National Park.

Saint Mary

Located just minutes from the Saint Mary Visitor Center, you can reach the Logan Pass Visitors Center typically in just 35 minutes from the town of Saint Mary. It’s also a very practical home base for visiting Many Glacier as the Ranger Station is just 40 minutes away. If you’re looking to do less driving, but can’t find accommodations in Glacier National Park, Saint Mary’s is the next best thing!

  • St. Mary Village: This resort offers great mountain views and rustic rooms located just outside of the St. Mary entrance to Glacier National Park.

Search all accommodation options in Saint Mary, Montana.

Babb

Located about 12 minutes north of Saint Mary, Babb is the closest place to stay for the Many Glacier part of Glacier National Park. In fact, it’s only a 30 minute drive to the Many Glacier Ranger Station. This all comes with a side of small town charm as Babb is a farming and ranching community with a population of just 174.

  • Thornson’s Motel: Stay at the only motel in Babb! Thornson’s offers both standard rooms and rustic cabins. You’ll have to give them a call to book as they don’t take reservations online!

East Glacier Park

Just 14 minutes south of the Two Medicine Lake area of Glacier National Park, East Glacier Park is another option off of the east side of Glacier National Park. It’s located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and offers a rich cultural and historical significance to the Blackfeet Tribe giving you the opportunity to learn more about the tribe during your visit.

In East Glacier Park you’ll find the bulk of the accommodation options off the east side of Glacier National Park. Unfortunately though, it will still take you about 45 minutes to get up to the St. Mary’s Visitor Center.

  • Glacier Park Lodge: Stay in a piece of history at the Glacier Park Lodge. This lodge was constructed over a century ago for the Great Northern Railway but today is used as a classic hotel near Glacier National Park.
  • Circle R Motel: Stay someplace a little more modern at the Circle R Motel. It offers comfortable rooms that have a flair that feels like home.
  • Backpacker’s Inn: Located behind Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, this small accommodation features cabins that can be shared, like a hostel, or booked as a private cabin. It is one of the most affordable accommodation options around Glacier National Park!
  • Brownies Hostel & Bakery: Another solid budget option, Brownies Hostel is part of Hosteling International. If you’re a HI member, you’ll receive a small discount on your stay.

Search all accommodation options in East Glacier Park, Montana.

Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint Trail on the east side of the park

Additional Details for Lodging near Glacier National Park


It’s likely you still have some lingering questions about where to stay near Glacier National Park. It can be a big decision to minimize your time in the car and maximize your experience in and around Glacier National Park.

Where should I stay when visiting Glacier National Park?

With so many lodging options around Glacier National Park, it’s difficult to determine where to stay. Glacier National Park offers a lot of activities in and around it, but you won’t want to spend all of your time driving. If possible, plan to stay in Glacier National Park. If it’s booked up or out of your budget, check out the surrounding towns listed above.

Should I stay on the east or west side of Glacier National Park?

Staying on the east side of Glacier National Park puts you closer to the Many Glacier region of the park and conveniently located to the main part of the park. This can make the eastern side of Glacier more desirable. However, the towns and accommodations are far sparser than on the western side of Glacier National Park.

Additionally, if you want to see the Many Glacier region of the park, it can be a long drive from the west side of Glacier National Park. In fact, from West Glacier it’s over a two hour drive one-way, and if you’re staying outside of Glacier National Park, in say, Whitefish, it can be closer to 3 hours of driving one-way!

Can you camp anywhere in Glacier National Park?

Camping in Glacier National Park is only permitted in designated campgrounds. Fortunately, Glacier offers 13 different campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites to choose from. Most campgrounds are available on a first come, first serve basis, but you can try to plan ahead by checking the National Reservation System starting 6 months in advance. This is when the Fish Creek and St. Mary campgrounds open up reservations.

Can I sleep in my car in Glacier National Park?

If you have a campsite within Glacier National Park, you are allowed to sleep in your car at the campsite. Otherwise you are not able to sleep in your car in the park.

View from Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Transportation


Determining where to stay in Glacier National Park requires understanding the bigger picture of how to get around the park and the surrounding areas. Here are some additional details to help you plan your trip to Glacier National Park.

Where do you fly into for Glacier National Park?

The closest airport to Glacier National Park is in Kalispell, Montana just 24 miles away. It is the Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) and considered the Gateway to Northwest Montana. From the airport to West Glacier is just a 30 minute drive.

Are there shuttles in Glacier National Park?

There is a seasonal shuttle system within Glacier National Park. Whether you are staying inside of Glacier National Park or staying in one of the surrounding towns, you can park at any of the shuttle stops (recommended to park at the visitor centers!) and catch the shuttle further into the park.

The shuttle connects all parts of the park, including West Glacier, Apgar, Lake McDonald Lodge, St. Mary, and Many Glacier. It may be the preferred way to get around as parking becomes challenging during the peak summer season. That being said, there may also be lines to board the shuttles. Scout the options before you decide to drive or ride!

Find full details on the shuttles in Glacier National Park.

Do you need a car to get around Glacier National Park?

Having a car in Glacier National Park is a blessing and a curse. You are able to explore at your own leisure without having to work around the times and limitations of the shuttles in Glacier National Park. However, you also have to deal with the hassle of driving the narrow, crowded Going-to-the-Sun Road and the struggle to find parking.

How long does it take to drive through Glacier National Park?

As the snow and ice start to melt in the summer, the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens making it possible to drive through the middle of Glacier National Park. This typically happens in late June or early July but is fully dependent on the weather. The full 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will take about 2 hours to drive as it is a very narrow road winding through the mountains.

As you drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll go through Logan Pass, which is the highest point at 6,646 feet high. To help you understand the layout of the park a bit more, Logan Pass is 32 miles from the west entrance and 18 miles from the east entrance.

Is there a gas station available in Glacier National Park?

No, to get gas, you will need to leave Glacier National Park and visit one of the nearby cities listed above.


Prepare for Your Trip to Glacier National Park


Knowing where to stay for Glacier National Park is just one of the many elements that will make your trip a success. To help plan out your hiking in the park, take a look at the top hikes in Glacier National Park. You’ll see some of the best scenery and also know just how strenuous the hikes are to prepare before you arrive.

As you plan your trip, another option to consider is to take a road trip to Glacier National Park. This road trip route from Denver to Glacier National Park takes you through Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park as well as a number of other amazing stops! It’s the perfect way to maximize your time in the surrounding areas of Glacier National Park.

Happy traveling!


Like this post? Pin it.

Glacier National Park - Where to Stay
Where to Stay in Glacier National Park, Montana
Where to Stay for Glacier National Park - in and around the park

Share this post

Comments 14

    1. Post
      Author
  1. What a detailed and helpful list of accommodations! My friends are heading to Glacier Park next month and I know your post would help them. It’s great to know there is a shuttle. We used the shuttle system in Zion and it was easy to park outside and not have to drive ourselves through the hiking areas. I’m pinning for future travel planning!

    1. Post
      Author

      Oh excellent! Glad that it will be of use for your friends (and you in the future!). I found the Glacier National Park shuttle super helpful even with a car because there were a few one way hikes that I could then tackle and not worry about getting back to my car afterwards!

  2. Glacier national park is a paradise on earth. It’s in my bucket list priority! Thanks for sharing the lodging information!

    1. Post
      Author
  3. This is so helpful! I stayed in the KOA at Glacier and almost got into the cabins at Polebridge…but I was really glad that I booked in advance. And I really wish I would have had this post to peruse places to stay. Thanks for this!

    1. Post
      Author

      It’s amazing how fast lodging in (and around) Glacier National Park fills up, especially in the prime summer season! Booking in advance is definitely important!

  4. I found your post really useful as for someone who plans to go there. You give pro and cons for staying on the east or west sides. Also info on campgrounds inside the park. Thank you very much.

    1. Post
      Author
  5. I would love to visit the Glacier National Park one day! I am saving your guide for future trips. It’s super useful to have this list of hotels 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
  6. Wow! So many choices! It’s great you included that first section on how to decide where to stay. Very informative and comprehensive post.

    1. Post
      Author

      It can be really tricky to determine where to stay for Glacier National Park, and because things book up quickly, having choices is key!

Join the conversation