Glacier National Park, one of the most-visited national treasures in the United States, requires little introduction. Nestled just a stone's throw from the Canadian border in the northwestern region of Montana, this vast wilderness covers 1,583 square miles, offering a spectacular tapestry of undulating mountain peaks, deep glacier-carved valleys, and alpine lakes glistening beneath the fading ice. Embraced by a sprawling network of 700 miles of hiking trails, including the renowned Highline Trail, and iconic driving routes like the awe-inspiring Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park magnetizes millions of visitors (a staggering 2.908 million in 2022) with its breathtaking mountains, serene lakes, and a resident wildlife ensemble that includes black bears and moose.
During the winter, the park's core becomes isolated by snowfall, but in the summer, it reaches its zenith as the prime high season. Accessing this lofty paradise is uncomplicated, thanks to regular flights touching down at Glacier Park International Airport in the nearby town of Kalispell, just north of the expansive Flathead Lake. Given the limited accommodation options within the park's confines and the tremendous demand that surges during the summer months, your best strategy for securing a room (along with some much-needed breathing space) is to seek lodging beyond the park's borders.
With two main gateways available, St. Mary on the park's northeastern fringe and West Glacier on the southwestern end, visitors to Glacier have the choice of serene retreats near St. Mary or the bustling locales surrounding Whitefish and Columbia Falls, replete with dining, shopping, and entertainment alternatives. Regardless of the entrance you favor, the forests, meadows, and mountains surrounding the national park offer a wide array of chic, design-forward vacation rentals, spanning from cozy tiny homes to cabins inspired by the Scandinavian aesthetic.
The Nooq - Whitefish, MT
For aficionados of cutting-edge design in proximity to Glacier National Park, The Nooq stands out as an unequivocal choice. This Scandinavian-inspired, minimalist ski chalet and cabin, located near Whitefish, Montana, exudes a striking monochromatic charm in birch white and jet-black, an aesthetic that truly comes alive amidst the snowy backdrop of winter. This Instagram-famous retreat was meticulously crafted and designed by the adventurous duo of photographers, Alex Strohl and Andrea Dabene, who intended it to be their haven between their globe-trotting escapades.
Inside, the chic and minimalist interior boasts two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, and an array of high-end amenities, including a washer and dryer. Additionally, a cozy loft offers the perfect spot to unwind, equipped with a top-notch entertainment system. Yet, it's the living room that steals the spotlight with its floor-to-ceiling, cathedral-like window that frames the pristine forest beyond. The teardrop-shaped fireplace suspended from the ceiling adds a delightful touch of charm.
Positioned in proximity to Whitefish Mountain Resort, The Nooq grants convenient access to Whitefish Lake and the Flathead River, making it an ideal base for activities like rafting and kayaking, in addition to expeditions into Glacier National Park. However, it's worth noting that securing a booking at The Nooq can be quite competitive, as availability is limited, and reservations tend to fill up rapidly.
Raven’s Nest - Columbia Falls, MT
Drenched in a radiant, golden wood exterior accented with sleek black trim and roofing, this elevated A-frame stands as a striking symbol of style amidst the untamed woodlands of northern Montana. Nestled within the serene confines of the Mountain Treehouse Retreat, a five-acre wooded expanse in Columbia Falls, the Raven’s Nest represents one of the two design-forward lodging options on this enchanting property.
The interior boasts a modern farmhouse-style aesthetic, complete with sliding barn doors, minimalist embellishments, and elegant gold and metal accents. Upon entering the cabin through the living room, you're welcomed into an open-concept space that seamlessly merges with a well-appointed kitchen, offering a dishwasher, farmhouse sink, and chic floating shelves. The second bedroom and bathroom are thoughtfully situated just off the kitchen. A charming wing extends outward from the primary A-frame, creating a snug reading nook adorned with forest-view windows.
Venturing to the upper loft, you'll discover the primary bedroom and bathroom, ensuring a comfortable and well-appointed stay. Inside, you'll find Wi-Fi connectivity for modern convenience, and outside, a fire pit beckons for cozy evenings under the starry Montana sky.
Choosing to stay here opens the door to a wealth of exploration, as you're not only within a 30-minute reach of Glacier National Park but also in close proximity to Whitefish Mountain Resort, one of the prominent ski destinations in the region.
Meadowlark Treehouse - Columbia Falls, MT
Situated amidst the charming Mountain Treehouse Retreat, this distinguished two-story treehouse conjures a sense of enchantment reminiscent of a fairy tale. With its entrancing spiral staircase entrance, peaked roofs, shingled chimneys, and the natural presence of tree trunks intersecting the floor, it exudes a rustic cabin ambiance that transports you to another world.
Both levels of this arboreal abode boast picturesque outdoor balconies and generously sized windows, ensuring that you're perpetually immersed in the beauty of the forest and mountainous vistas from your lofty vantage point. On the lower floor, you'll find a compact yet fully-equipped kitchen, complete with a dishwasher, a bathroom, and a cozy living area. An iron staircase spirals gracefully upward to the master loft bedroom, providing comfortable accommodations for up to four guests.
Adding to the allure of this treehouse escape, you'll have the added convenience of a fire pit and a delightful picnic area at your disposal on the ground level, perfect for those serene moments of outdoor relaxation.
Glacier Getaway - West Glacier, MT
Offering accommodation for up to six individuals, this generously proportioned, traditional Lincoln Log-style cabin is the perfect choice for larger families or groups of friends seeking a delightful retreat in the vicinity of Glacier National Park. The cabin's wooden interior exudes a cozy ambiance, brought to life by a sizable triangular window adorning the front of the structure.
Inside, the layout features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a snug living area, and a well-appointed kitchen, ensuring comfort and convenience during your stay. An inviting upstairs loft serves as an excellent hangout spot, with direct access to the window framing scenic mountain vistas. This loft is equipped with a pool table, inviting plush couches, and comfortable chairs.
However, the cabin's allure extends beyond its interior. The front deck beckons for extended outdoor enjoyment, boasting a Jacuzzi and providing direct access to a fire pit, setting the stage for memorable evenings under the starlit Montana sky.
ElkCalf Mountain A-Frame - Coram, MT
Nestled just seven miles from the west entrance to Glacier National Park, this charming A-frame cabin may be petite in size, but it packs a punch when it comes to its endearing appeal. Adorned with locally-sourced aspen and crowned by a sleek black roof, it exudes a seamless blend of rustic and contemporary aesthetics.
Stepping inside, the two-story interior unfolds with a kitchenette on the lower level, complete with a bathroom featuring a shower and a compact sitting area. Ascending the ladder to the loft space, you'll discover a cozy bed tucked into a snug nook, offering a window that grants a tranquil view of the cabin's rear. While the interior might lean toward the cozier side, the true allure lies outdoors, where the covered deck at the front of the cabin beckons.
Settle into Adirondack chairs, fire up the provided grill for a barbecue feast, or indulge in a rejuvenating soak in the inviting hot tub. Of course, with the splendors of Glacier National Park on your doorstep, outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, rafting, and kayaking are also at your fingertips, making it a perfect base for exploring the surrounding natural wonders.