Great Northern Rail Journey

Glacier National Park Rail Tour
Much as the Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads did in other National Parks, the Great Northern developed both accommodations and services for early 20th Century visitors to Glacier. Glacier National Park visits provided patronage for passenger trains, and everything from construction materials to hotel-and-restaurant supplies arrived by freight train. Great Northern built hotels and backcountry chalets, and provided transportation by bus, boat, and horseback along with meals and lodging. This Great Northern Rail Tour will recreate some of these early experiences. The scenery, of course, is as breathtaking as ever.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Great Falls to Havre, MT
We gather at the international airport in Great Falls, Montana, and depart for Havre aboard our vehicle. If you prefer to, arrive in Havre by train and we will join you there. Consider a visit to either the Wahpka Chug'n Buffalo Jump archeological site or to the Fort Assiniboine historic site while we are driving up to meet you. Havre, halfway between St Paul and Seattle, was selected in the 1890s as the site for major repair and overhauling of locomotives. It became the largest Montana city on the railway's main line. Meals included: Dinner

Day 2 —Empire Builder to Glacier National Park
This morning we visit the Havre Locomotive Shop to learn about the work required to keep BNSF's modern diesel-electric locomotives operating at their peak. The nearby H.E. Clack Museum, interpreting the history and natural history of Montana's high plains, provides an alternative experience. After lunch we will see and photograph Great Northern Railway 4-8-4 steam locomotive no. 2584 (Baldwin Locomotive Works, 1930), preserved at Havre's Amtrak station, while we await Amtrak's Empire Builder for our four-hour trip to Glacier Park Station. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3 — Glacier National Park: Two Medicine
This morning we visit the Two Medicine region of Glacier National Park for a ranger-guided boat cruise on Two Medicine Lake and guided walk to Twin Falls. After lunch, we travel to Browning, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, where we visit the US Department of the Interior's Museum of the Plains Indian. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 — Glacier National Park: Many Glacier
We take a scenic drive along the eastern border of the park to Many Glacier Hotel, which is surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery in the heart of the park. We arrive in time for a guided boat cruise on Swiftcurrent Lake/Lake Josephine followed by an optional guided hike to Grinnell Lake. If time allows this area is full of amazing hikes and we can further stretch our legs to a nearby waterfall or search for resident wildlife. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 — Going to the Sun Road
Discover why Glacier National Park is labeled "The Crown of the Continent" as we travel the Going-to-the-Sun road on a red bus tour to Logan Pass on the continental divide and to the west side of the park at Lake McDonald. With waterfalls, glacial lakes, wildlife, and iconic views around every corner there is no shortage of places we could stop along our drive today. We will enjoy lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge which was built in 1913 before returning to the east side of the park. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 — Essex, MT & BNSF Railway
After a leisurely breakfast and opportunity to relax at the hotel, we will transfer to Essex, Montana, along the BNSF Railway main line at the southern boundary of Glacier National Park. Our lodging tonight is the Izaak Walton Inn, built in 1939 primarily to house employees of the Great Northern Railway. As railway operations and maintenance became less labor-intensive, the hotel gradually drew more of its clientele from the traveling public rather than rail workers. Hiking will be available, as will train-watching – or take the opportunity to relax. Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 — Departures from Great Falls, MT
After breakfast transfer to Great Falls International Airport. Amtrak passengers may board at Essex or East Glacier stations. Meals included: Breakfast

Lodging

Best Western Plus Great Northern Inn - 1 night

Situated in Northern Montana, guests at our Havre hotel can enjoy a free shuttle to Amtrak and the airport and a spacious pool area for lounging and relaxing as well as a 24-hour fitness center. Spacious guest rooms feature Wi-fi, satellite TV, and coffee makers.

Glacier Park Lodge - 2 nights

The lodge is located just outside the boundaries of Glacier National Park in the village of East Glacier Park and was built in 1913 by the Glacier Park Company, a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway. Rooms have hardwood floors, western decor, free Wi-Fi but no TVs; some overlook the central lobby, others have shared balconies with views. Amenities include a striking timbered lobby, an outdoor pool, a 9-hole golf course and a day spa.

St. Mary Lodge - 2 nights

Located just across Divide Creek from the entrance to Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road, this lodge provides a perfect base for exploring the park. Rooms offer air conditioning, TV, and a private balcony with exceptional views of the surrounding natural beauty.

Izaak Walton Inn - 1 night

A family-owned retreat bordering Glacier National Park, in Essex, Montana. Relaxation is key in the quiet rooms where TVs and room telephones are absent and beds are extra plush. The main, historic lodge and fully equipped, authentic caboose cars in the hills all house décor reflecting the Inn's historic past, surrounding nature and laid-back Montana style. The new heated covered patio, affords guests the chance to take a break from the trails & have a hot beverage & local specialties while taking in stunning mountain views, fresh air, and the occasional passing train.

Pricing & Inclusions

Price Includes:‍‍
  • Lodging as outlined in lodging section above based on double occupancy
  • Meals as noted in itinerary above
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Train tickets and museum admissions for all included activities
  • Commentary by rail expert
  • Services of professional tour manager
  • Ground transportation for all included events during the trip & porterage service
Trip Price Excludes:
  • Pre & post tour travel
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities for your BSA guides

Public Dates and Availability

DatePriceSingle SupplementAvailability

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