The Historic Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park.
NOTE: The Sperry Chalet was destroyed by the Sprague Fire during the summer of 2017. Fortunately, the stone walls remained standing, and through the efforts of the Glacier National Park Conservancy and National Park Service, a gallant effort was made to stabilize these historic stone walls before winter arrived. The walls remained standing through a near-record winter, and the summer of 2018 marked the start of the rebuilding process. Below is a photo we snapped on August 9, 2018 of the Dick Anderson Construction Company working on the restoration of this remarkable national treasure....
Sperry Chalet, August 9, 2018.
The Sperry Chalet
The historic Sperry Chalet is located in the Lake McDonald Area, and is an incredibly famous icon of Glacier National Park. Built in 1913 by the Great Northern Railway, the Sperry Chalet is nestled high in the wilderness above Lake McDonald, and is a gateway to pristine beauty that is far beyond description.
The Sperry Chalet is a wonderful stone structure that is reached by hiking the Sperry Trail that begins at the Lake McDonald Lodge. It's 6.4 miles to the Sperry Chalet, and you will climb 3,432 vertical feet during your hike. So if you're not in good physical condition, this hike may not be for you. However, if you are in relatively good shape and you're ready for some adventure, you'll love this hike to the Sperry Chalet!
Stay The Night!
Very few people take the hike to the Sperry Chalet just to briefly visit it and return to the Lake McDonald Lodge the same day. Instead, most Glacier Park Visitors get reservations far in advance and stay the night in this historic building. And what is quite different about the Sperry Chalet when comparing it to the Granite Park Chalet is that you are totally pampered at the Sperry Chalet. You will enjoy a delicious dinner in the historic dining hall (a separate stone building), and each bed has mounds of warm bedding and blankets. There is even filtered tap water near the chalet. The Sperry Chalet in Glacier Park has a wonderful team of hosts that are there to make your stay as comfortable as possible- and they'll even make you a sack lunch for your next day's hikes and adventures.
The reason there are so many more "comforts of home" at the Sperry Chalet versus the Granite Park Chalet is there is a mule train that keeps the Sperry Chalet well supplied twice a week throughout the summer. Now that of course costs money, so the tab for staying at the Sperry Chalet is quite a bit more than the Granite Park Chalet. Now you can opt to stay at one of the nearby backcountry campsites which are about a half a mile further up the trail- but that of course requires you to pack EVERYTHING with you in a large overnight pack- including a tent, sleeping bags, cookware and food.
Leave Lake McDonald Lodge Early!
By leaving Lake McDonald Lodge as early as possible for your hike up the Sperry Chalet, you can get up there and have time to enjoy the beauty that surrounds the Sperry Chalet Area. Don't over pack because the Sperry Chalet has food and a warm bed, but it's quite a hike up to the chalet so carry some water with you and a snack. And as always, bring clothing for all types of weather. And did we mention a camera?
We strongly recommend that once you get to the Sperry Chalet and get settled in, go on a short hike southeast of the Chalet.
This trail begins at the Sperry Chalet and it will
take you right by the back country campsites where backpackers have come to stay after hiking over Gunsight Pass, and then on to Lincoln Pass (see left photo) where you will see a great view of Lake Ellen Wilson and Mount Jackson. Near the head of Lake Ellen Wilson is the famous Gunsight Pass.
The huge peaks to the north are Gunsight Mountain and Mount Edwards. This hike to Lincoln Pass is only a few miles, and is relatively easy. It is very much worth your time and effort, and most visitors can enjoy this area and easily get back to the Sperry Chalet in plenty of time to enjoy their luxurious dinner.
If you want to really get a view and actually summit a Glacier National Park peak, at the top of the ridge on Lincoln Pass there is a trail that takes you up Lincoln Peak. It's a relatively easy hike, and is only about 300 yards, but the view from the summit is astonishing!
You will not only see Gunsight Pass, Mount Jackson, Mount Edward, Gunsight Mountain and Lake Ellen Wilson, but you will also see the remote Lincoln Lake below Lake Ellen Wilson, with the incredible 1,344 foot Beaver Chief Falls connecting these two high mountain lakes (see right photo). You will also see the Sperry Chalet far below you, as well as the spectacular Lake McDonald.
The hike up to Lincoln Peak from Lincoln Pass is short but quite steep, so you really should be in good physical condition to attempt it. And you can always start up it, and if it's too much- simply enjoy the view where you're at and then turn around. Again, you should easily get to the summit of Lincoln Peak and then back to the Sperry Chalet in time for the wonderful dinner that awaits you!
After a good nights sleep at the Sperry Chalet, the next morning we strongly suggest that you take the amazing hike 2.5 miles up to the Sperry Headwall (Comeau Pass) and then on to the great Sperry Glacier (additional 1 mile). The hike is fairly steep (1,600 vertical feet in 2.5 miles), so you need to be in relatively good shape. The hike to the Sperry Glacier is remarkable with magnificent scenery that you will never forget, and it will be one of the highlights of your Glacier National Park Vacation. To learn all about the hike to Sperry Glacier, click the following link: Sperry Glacier.
Gunsight Pass Route to Sperry Chalet The Gunsight Pass Trail is another way to get to the Sperry Chalet, and it's for advanced hikers only. The trailhead is located at the Jackson Glacier Turnout on east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the trail takes you southward up through Gunsight Pass and Lincoln Pass, and then on to the Sperry Chalet. The next day, once you're done exploring the Sperry Chalet Area, simply walk down the trail to the Lake McDonald Lodge where your car awaits you.
Get Your Reservations Far In Advance!
The Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park is extremely popular, and you really need to get your reservations far in advance. We recommend a year in advance just to be safe. This adventure will remain with you in a very positive way for the rest of your life!