Lake McDonald Lodge & Cabins
You can’t beat the atmosphere and scenery at this Swiss-styled lodge, built 1913–14, on the scenic shore of the largest lake in Glacier National Park. The historic main-lodge rooms with lake views, as well as outlying cabins sitting on the pebbled beach, are often booked a year in advance. This leaves many travelers, who accept that nature is the main amenity, to make do with rooms in the characterless four-story modern motel wing. The soaring lobby lounge with a huge, pictograph-carved stone fireplace, vintage hand-painted lanterns, and deer, elk, and mountain goat trophies, as well as the sensational views from the pier and beach, make up for minuscule bathrooms, spartan room furnishings, slow Wi-Fi, and iffy cell phone signals. Self-drivers use the lodge as a base for the famed 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road across the Continental Divide. Hikers explore paths, including the wheelchair-accessible Trail of the Cedars, surrounding the 10-mile lake; the U-shaped valley branches into smaller glacier-carved “hanging” valleys dotted with waterfalls. In summer, guests also enjoy horseback riding and tours on the DeSmet, a vintage cruiser.
By Susan Hack, AFAR Contributor