The Great Northern Route

Like many tourist towns on the edges of our national parks, West Glacier has its share of tackiness, but here it’s on a tolerably small scale and limited to the approach along US-2 from the west. After all the billboards advertising scenic helicopter rides, taxidermy museums, and “The World’s Greatest Maze,” the actual town of West Glacier seems serenely quiet and peaceful, with little more than a couple of restaurants and comfortable motels, including the West Glacier Motel (406/888-5662, $90 and up), right on the Flathead River (and the railroad tracks!). There’s also a large visitors center for Glacier National Park.

For many visitors, especially those who love trains, the main highlight in West Glacier is the landmark Belton Chalet (12575 E. US-2, 406/888-5000, $140 and up), built by the Great Northern in 1910 and fully, lovingly restored in 2000. Rooms are small but have balconies with nice views, and the restaurant is one of the best in the Glacier region.