The ultimate foodie experience: Dinner at The French Laundry. The ultimate backcountry lodge experience: Sperry Chalet! Reached via an 8-mile (one-way) hiking trail in Glacier National Park, this historic chalet makes a night in the rugged, rocky wilderness very hospitable. Built in 1913 by the Great Northern Railway, Sperry is nestled on a mountainside in some of the world’s most dramatic alpine scenery. You won’t even have to cue the wildlife: It’s all around you—grizzly bears, marmots, ptarmigan, and the famous mountain goats, lounging on the salt-tinged boulders and noshing on grass. Sperry’s two main buildings—a lodge and a casual dining room—are both built out of native rock, and look much the same as they did 100 years ago. After an 8-mile hike in, with a fair bit of uphill and sweating, you’ll be welcome at the lodge with some refreshing lemonade, and options for sandwiches and fresh-baked goodies. A stay at Sperry Chalet includes homemade breads, soups, and full-course dinners and breakfasts.
But the best part of being here is that you’re waking up in the heart of Glacier National Park. After a tasty and filling breakfast, venture out on one of several hiking side trips of varying lengths, all with gorgeous scenery. Our top recommendation for a side trip: a journey up to Comeau Pass, without a doubt one of Glacier’s most magnificent hikes. Rising above the tree line, you’ll pass alpine lakes, climb a narrow stone staircase built into the mountain, and come out to pure wow. The Rocky Mountains stretch in hulking pyramid shapes for as far as the eye can see—including to the Canadian Rockies. Keep hiking for another mile, following cairns to the official sign marking famous Sperry Glacier. Have lunch here. Later, swap stories with other lodge guests over a delicious warm dinner, then take a seat outside with lounging mountain goats on the natural rock amphitheater for a sensational sunset show over Lake MacDonald, the park’s largest lake, wayyyy down below. Sperry’s simply spectacular.
TIP: Marriage proposals highly recommended.
Sperry Chalet is open from mid-July to mid-September. Reservations for the summer season open in January and it fills up very fast, but there are cancellations, so persistence in following up can pay off. Or plan ahead and save the date for booking in 2017. There is an option to get to Sperry by horseback. All guests get a private room, dinner, breakfast, and a trail lunch. There’s no electricity in the lodge, but you’ll be equipped with what’s necessary, including a flashlight (though bringing a headlamp is recommended). Bathrooms are outside of the lodge, with sinks. Gotta use the loo in the middle of the night? Lanterns light the way, and be sure to look up at the stars in the deep, dark sky. Just don’t trip over a goat! No dogs.