Staying at the Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park
Post Summary: What it’s like to sleep overnight at the Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park. I’ll also go over everything you need to know about making reservations, getting to the chalet, and what to bring with you.
The Granite Park Chalet is one of two chalets in Glacier National Park (the second is Sperry Chalet). These are not to be confused with hotels in the park – there are a lot more of those! Granite Park Chalet was built in 1914 and 1915 and then restored in the 1990’s. It was built by the Great Northern Railway and was used as a place to sleep within Glacier NP and it still is today!
Austin and I were lucky enough to get reservations to stay here for the 2021 season and I was thuroughly impressed! Several hikers we met while we were in the park didn’t even know you could stay at the chalet, so we felt like we got to experience a part of Glacier NP that not many people do. I immediately knew I had to share it with you because it’s an experience I think anyone can appreciate!
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How to get to Granite Park Chalet
One of the unique things about staying at Granite Park Chalet is that you can’t drive there! You have to hike at least 4 miles, but you have two options of hikes: the Loop or the Highline Trail. Part of the reason I wanted to stay at the chalet was because I really wanted to hike the Highline Trail, but I’m not an advanced hiker yet, so hiking there and back in one day seemed very daunting. So, we thought we’d hike in on the Highline Trail, sleep at the chalet, then hike the same trail back the next day.
Well, our plans changed!
You see, I always have these epic ideas and I get so excited for them, but sometimes, they’re a lot scarier than I had originally thought. For me, personally, a lot of the Highline Trail was terrifying. I learned that I’m very afraid of heights when there isn’t any guard rail or chain to hold on to.
As you can imagine, once we made it to the Granite Park Chalet, the anxiety started building about hiking the Highline Trail AGAIN the next day. I honestly couldn’t focus on anything else aside from the fear I’d feel all over again. Finally, I asked one of the staff at the chalet if the Loop trail was easier in terms of height and difficulty and they exclaimed, “yes!” Turns out, the Loop trail is just very steep and that’s why its difficulty is labeled as hard.
The Highline Trail isn’t steep in most parts, but it’s more of a mental game for me to trust my footing and my body to not fly off the mountain. The Loop, on the other hand, is more physically taxing because it’s steep. Going up is hard on the leg muscles and going down can be hard on the knees and feet.
We ended up hiking back down the Loop Trail the next morning and hopping on the shuttle to take us to our car at Logan Pass (the Highline Trailhead). This is the only instance where you don’t have to pay for the shuttle. The driver said “I know you just hiked 12 miles, we don’t mind giving you a ride back to your car.”
What to Expect for Sleeping Arrangements
The Granite Park Chalet has a couple buildings you can stay in, but you don’t necessarily get to pick when making your reservations (more on this process below). There is the main builiding where the common areas are – this building has a few rooms to stay in. Then, there is the Annex which was the first building ever built at the chalet.
We stayed in the Annex.
The room was definitely bare bones with two bunk beds housing twin-size mattresses. The room also had a chair, a small table with a lantern, and hooks on the walls to hang clothes or backpacks. There wasn’t much to it, but we were happy to have a private space to sleep after a tiring day.
After making reservations, you have to indicate whether or not you want linens (bed sheets, pillow, blanket, etc.) for each person and they are an extra charge. I assume this is because it’s not easy to wash these items up on the mountain. We got these and I’d highly recommend you do, too because it got very cold at night. We were happy to have a few wool blankets to keep us warm.
I’ll also note that the walls are extremely thin! We could actually hear the people in the next room breathing, so anything you do or say is out in the open. Luckily, everyone was respectful of that and quiet after around 9pm.
Eating at the Granite Park Chalet
If you’re staying overnight at the chalet, you’ll need to figure out what you’re going to do about food. We arrived around 2pm and after eating snacks along the way, we were really only concerned with dinner and breakfast the next morning.
You’re more than welcome to bring your own food – the chalet has a full kitchen you can use to cook it. However, you can also buy meals ahead of time if that’s easier for you.
You’ll get an email about a month before your stay reminding you to buy food and drinks if you want them. If you don’t do this, they still have food and drinks for sale while you’re there, but there’s no guarantee they’ll have what you want.
For food, it’s mostly camping meals (i.e., freeze-dried meals that you add boiling water to). I had Pad Thai and Austin had noodles with beef and mushrooms. These would normally not taste very good, but after hiking 8 miles, they were good enough to satisfy us. The next morning, we each had a breakfast scramble that was actually not bad!
For drinks, you can buy water bottles, tea, coffee, Gatorade, and more. Again, they have most of these for sale at the chalet if you forget. You can also choose to hike to a nearby stream to get your own (already-filtered) water instead of buying water bottles. Austin and I did this once because we needed a lot of water to make our camp meals with.
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Can I See the Chalet if I’m Day Hiking?
Yes! You don’t have to stay overnight to see the Granite Park Chalet. You have a couple options if you want to visit the chalet without an overnight reservation:
Option 1: Hike the Highline Trail there and back. This would be a total of 15.2 miles, so make sure you have enough energy for that! If you plan on doing this, but end up not wanting to hike back, you can always switch to option two once you get to the chalet.
Option 2: Hike the Highline Trail to the chalet and the Loop Trail back or vice versa. This will be a total of about 11.6 miles. If you hike all the way through the Highline and Loop trails, you can hop on the shuttle at the Loop Trailhead and it will take you back to your car at Logan Pass (Highline Trailhead). I’d recommend hiking the Highline first because the Loop is very steep. If you were to hike the Loop first, you’ll be exerting a lot of energy you’ll probably wish you had for the Highline.
Option 3: Hike the Loop Trail there and back. Of course, you don’t have to hike the Highline trail at all! This is a total of 8 miles. I will say that the views are a lot better from the Highline trail, so if you can stomach the drop offs, I’d choose option 1 or 2.
Once you get to the chalet, they have a window where you can buy drinks and snacks. They also have picnic tables for you to eat at. The surrounding views are incredible, so I’d plan for a little bit of time to rest and take it all in when you get here.
NOTE: Day hikers can usually go inside, but because of Covid-19, only guests are allowed to go inside to cook, warm up, etc. for the time being. However, you can still buy food/drinks and have them outside.
How to Get Overnight Reservations at Granite Park Chalet
If you’re like me and want to break a long hike into two days, you’ll want to get a reservation to stay overnight. Heck, even if you’re fine with a long hike in one day, you may still want a reservation because this chalet is so cool!
To get a reservation, visit the Granite Park Chalet website toward the end of the year and there should be an announcement saying when reservations will become available. For the 2021 season, the reservations were available mid-January 2021. The website will have the exact date and time that you’ll want to log on and submit a reservation form.
You’ll want to submit the form at that exact time! Don’t wait a day or two, or even an hour. I submitted the form about 2 minutes after it was available and my request was number 1,200!
Don’t let that discourage you, though. I still got one of my first choices for reservations. Once you submit your request, they will email you a confirmation depending on what is available.
I sincerely hope you get a chance to stay at the Granite Park Chalet because it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It made Glacier National Park my favorite National Park I’ve been to and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you!