Nestled in the lush, evergreen forests of western Montana just outside the southern boundary of Glacier National Park is a home away from home called the Izzak Walton Inn. Built by the Great Northern Railroad in 1939 to accomodate its workers, this historical inn is designed to keep one comfortable and free from urban distractions as much as possible. There are no tvs or room phones here! The owners and staff do the best possible to make you feel like you’re part of the family, and in my opinion, go above and beyond expectations.
It’s easy to get to the inn at any time of year. The most convenient means of travel is via the Amtrak’s Seattle to Chicago Empire Builder train. The train passes by the inn twice a day, and it is a tradition of the inn’s staff to come out to the front porch to wave to the train as it passes each morning and evening. The train will make a stop for you if you have tickets for the Essex stop. The Izzak Walton Inn is also a great way to visit Glacier National Park. The park happily accomodates visitors from the inn with a ride in one of their restored historical red buses. You must make a special tour reservation with the park or inn at the time you make reservations for your stay at the inn. Be prepared to spend a full day out in the park when using the red bus tour service. These tours are a real treat!
Inside the inn, you’ll immediately feel that cozy, country cabin feeling with the rustic wood paneling and decorations of Montana lore, including a huge, mounted Big Horn Sheep trophy head along with Great Northern Railroad nostalgia. In fact, if you are a rail fan, this is a great spot to do some train photography. You can watch or photograph locomotives work their way up through Marias Pass from a walkway overpass above the tracks adjacent to the inn. The same walkway leads to restored cabooses made into living units that you may wish to stay in. For additional luxury, there has recently been added a restored locomotive unit, which I have yet to see, and I bet would thrill the pants off any locomotive fan! You gotta check out the interior design photos of this unit at the Izzak Walton Inn homepage. All I can say is…wow! Here are some of my own photos taken of the live-in caboose units on my first visit to the inn a few years back.
So next time you want to get away from it all and have always wanted to see wild and beautiful Montana, or have plans to visit Glacier National Park, keep in mind the Izzak Walton Inn in Essex. In fact, I need to get back there soon myself. Montana is calling me! It was such a memorable time for me the first time I visited. I will always remember the charm and exuberant hospitality of the inn!