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Where to Eat in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a hiker's dream world.  It's also on a lot of lists "to see before they're gone".  Not that the park is going anywhere, but the glaciers are.  The park had one of the warmest summers on record and several forest fires.  While we were there in September it was still in the high 70s.  We were able to see, and even touch, several glaciers... and witness how quickly they are melting away.

I'm not going to lecture anyone on global warming (although I could go on and on about climate change), our planet goes through a natural cycle of warming and cooling... we just happen to be living in the warming trend.  What I do want to tell you is that if seeing glaciers is on your bucket list, then please go soon!  Glacier National Park is a great park to visit, not only for the glaciers, but the wildlife, the mountains, the big blue sky, the pristine glacial lakes, being able to see the milkyway, everything is just beautiful!

September was really the perfect time to go for us, the crowds were starting to dwindle and the weather was flipping the switch from summer to early winter while we were there.  The first days were warm and I got tan lines between my cropped pants and boot socks!  The last two days were chilly, especially at night when it was near freezing and the winds were howling.  The leaves were starting to change and some of the flowers were still blooming.

The first day we hiked the highline trail which runs along the continental divide.  We spotted lots of mountain goats up on the very edge of the jagged ridge line which is amazing how they don't slide down the steep slope.  If you're afraid of heights, this trail is not for you.  At the very beginning there is a section that includes a rope line because there is a steep drop off on the edge of the trail.  Eek!  But no worries, the trail is plenty wide enough that you don't actually need the rope.

The next day we hiked up to Grinnell Glacier, probably the coolest hike I've ever done.  You hike past three beautiful lakes, including Grinnell Lake which is perfectly turquoise fed from the glacier.  There are a few switchback and you walk through a waterfall which was refreshing on that warm day.  At the top, a glacial lake with icebergs (fallen pieces of the glaciers) and Grinnell, Salamander, and Gem glaciers with waterfalls.  Quite the amazing site!  If you're careful, you can cross a couple glacial streams and actually touch Grinnell Glacier, which was neat... and scary... we could hear pieces falling away under the surface and could see the constant melt.  Thankfully for the glacier, the next day would bring colder temperatures so it could recover from the long, hot summer.

The other days we wandered around the park doing shorter hikes (our legs were sore!).  We even got hailed on right before I accidentally threw my phone into a mountain stream (so terrifying).  We saw rams, marmots, mountain goats, and even some black bears from a distance.  We took so many pictures because it was just sooo beautiful.  Below are a few of those pictures (and then below that, an eating guide to the park)...

glacier highline trail glacier highline trail glacier highline trail 
glacier highline trail glacier grinnell trail glacier fall colors glacier grinnell trail grinnell glacier grinnell glacier
grinnell glacier glacier ginnell icebergs 
glacier avalanche gorge glacier mountain goats 
glacier avalanche gorge glacier lake mcdonald 
glacier marmot glacier lake mcdonald 
glacier lake mcdonald 
Just like Yellowstone, there are not a ton of places to eat inside the park.  Unlike Yellowstone, there aren't a lot of place to eat outside of the park either.  Many of the places we ate at were closing down for the year the week we were there, so after mid-September, pack your bear bag full of picnic supplies, because that is your only option!

The first night we went to St. Mary Lodge right outside of the East entrance.  On the table was a Taste of Montana menu, so we totally wanted to choose from those courses!  We got to the restaurant pretty late since we were hiking and then setting up camp, but the service was pretty terrible.  We put in our order and not all of it came out.  When we told our waiter that we didn't get our appetizers, he told us he would take it off the bill (instead of bringing it out).The food and beer were decent.  I went a little overboard on the huckleberries since I knew they were in season.  Turns out, I'm not a huge fan of huckleberries.  We were hungry, so we pretty much polished off everything in front of us (I had salmon smothered in huckleberries and he had a lamb burger).

glacier saint mary lodge glacier saint mary lodge 
glacier saint mary lodge glacier saint mary lodge 

The next night we went to Many Glacier Hotel.  The view was amazing and we sat right next to the window to watch the sun set over the mountains.  Our waitress was much more attentive than at the last lodge and the food was much better.  I had the bison filet and my husband had trout.  We also ordered a cheese plate and some drinks... all very tasty!  A little more pricy, but we were on vacation!

many glacier hotel IMG_7528 
IMG_7529 IMG_7530 

Our last morning on the east side of the park we stopped by Park Cafe which is a little diner with about 12 tables.  It was completely full with a line when we arrived.  When we sat down we saw that everything was made from scratch and overheard that they had someone running to get more eggs.  I ordered the avocado eggs benedict and he had the bacon pancake.  So good!  And the pancake was huge!  The prices were very reasonable, which is good because they only take cash.  We found out that it was their last day open for the year, so all of the locals were coming to get their diner fix before winter set in.

glacier diner park cafe glacier diner park cafe 
glacier diner park cafe glacier diner park cafe 

On the west side of Glacier, you have a couple nearby towns you could drive to for a larger selection of restaurants.  I would recommend driving to one of them.  The first night we went to a pizza place (Glacier Grill & Pizza) near Glacier Under Canvas and it was mediocre (and they made us wait outside in the cold for our table which they had a whole section of open tables).  Then we went to the diner (West Glacier Cafe) right by the west entrance and, again, had a mediocre experience.

glacier grill and pizza west glacier cafe 

Our last night in Glacier, we went to the Belton Chalet, which was a hotel built to support the railroad travelers and the train station is still across the street.  Everything on the menu sounded really good.  We ended up with crab cakes for an appetizer and then I had lamb and he had the filet special, both came with mashed potatoes and grilled fennel.  We really liked the atmosphere of the building, so much character.  It was hard for us to decide whether we liked this place or Many Glacier Hotel better, but both are very good meals and similarly priced.

glacier belton chalet glacier belton chalet 
glacier belton chalet glacier belton chalet 


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