The “Big Tree Lodge”

I love visiting national park lodges and admiring their architecture. And the striking Glacier Park Hotel located on the Blackfeet Reservation in East Glacier, Montana has got to be one of my favorites. The Blackfeet named it “Omahykoyis” or “Big Tree Lodge”.

It was built almost a century ago when the Great Northern Railway purchased the site from the Piegan, a tribe of the Blackfeet Nation. It’s in a gorgeous area east of the Continental Divide, formerly the settlement of Midvale. When the railway depot was built in 1912, the area was renamed Glacier Park Station. In 1950 it became known as East Glacier Park.


The East Glacier Train Depot as seen from the hotel


Visitors to the park still arrive at the historic train station, and whenever my family and I visit the area I look towards the railway depot, imagining what it is like for first time visitors arriving at Glacier Park. Do they find the Rocky Mountain Front with its spectacular scenery as magnificent as I? Are they in awe of the purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain? Do they think of Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery and how difficult a journey it was crossing the Rockies and finding a route to the Pacific? Or do they shrug and think, “What’s the big deal, it’s just mountains”. But I digress, I was talking about the lodge.

The hotel is impressive. Massive logs support the structure of the East Glacier Lodge so that it appears that trees are holding it up. The timbers are old; about 600 to 800 years old when they were cut for the construction of the hotel in 1913. A total of sixty trees which measure 36 to 42 inches in diameter and 40 feet in length, were used for building the hotel. They were shipped in by rail from the Pacific Northwest because Montana rarely has trees that grow so large. What’s amazing, I think, is that they still retain their bark. They were cut prior to sap rising in the tree and this is what allowed the bark to remain intact. You can touch the columns and they feel like trees!


This is how it looks when you first enter the hotel.


For as long as I can remember, my family has been motel and hotel snoops. Some may call it trespassing, but I call it checking out the place, much like test driving a car to see if you like it before you pay for it. It’s much the same with national park lodges, we like to look around and make ourselves feel at home.


Looks cozy, doesn't it?


On a recent outing to East Glacier we visited the lodge. The ambiance was warm and inviting, and we took pictures of the impressive lobby.


That's my girls in the center of the photo (in the black shorts).



We walked through the veranda, and relaxed in the cool breeze of the balconies.


Look at the logs on the ceiling. Isn't that unique?


You don’t have to be a staying at a national park lodge to experience their unique and beautiful architecture. They are there waiting for you to enjoy, even if you are a visitor sleeping in a tent.


Looking down to the lobby from the second floor.


Everywhere you look, life is an adventure!



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