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Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana, Glacier National Park

Izaak Walton Inn

Glacier National Park, Essex, Montana, USA

An All-Season Stay at the Izaak Walton Inn, in Two Days!   - 

 "... a unique and beautiful getaway for families, train buffs, groups and nature-seekers alike."

Rail Travelogue  by Carl Morrison,, with help from Don "Preacher" Roe.

Izaak Walton Inn (IWI), Essex, Montana, June 9, 2008

Click here tor Part I:  Coast Statlight and Empire Builder to IWI

Part II:  Izaak Walton Inn (Below)

Click here for Part III:  Empire Builder and Coast Starlight from IWI to Los Angeles.

Timing is the element that most defines Outdoor (including Train) Photography.  And, if you are, as we were on this trip, able to travel independent of a tour, and spend two days full of daylight in an area, timing becomes less stressful, and you can focus on composition and site selection more precisely.   Desk research, as we call it in the travel writing trade, helps with the timing element as well.  For instance, I had been watching the weather at the IWI for a couple of weeks and it had been raining with rain predicted for 10 days.  Therefore, when we arrived and it was partly cloudy,  I immediately rented a car and decided to do all the sightseeing in Glacier National Park that we could accomplish.  With 3 maps from Dorothy, IWI  General Manager, we set out for East Glacier and the sights she knew were perfect for rail fans.  She agreed that our arrival/first day was the best time to do the driving since, "There's a big one coming in."  As you will see in the photographs in this report, We saw two Seasons at the Izaak Walton Inn in Two Days! ... Spring and Winter."  In fact, during the second day, Dorothy exclaimed,  This is the way it looks all winter here.  Another element of timing that worked in our favor was the fact that on our way out from the IWI, we stopped at all the railfan spots, noting the location, took photographs, but did not have any trains in our pictures.  However, on the way back to the IWI, using the scanner and spotting trains along the way, we were able to catch them at all the photo spots we had located that morning.

History of the Izaak Walton Inn

The Izaak Walton Hotel was built in 1939.  The Great Northern Railroad did NOT build the hotel in Essex, MT.  The Railroad contracted with the Addison Miller Co. to build and operate a hotel and lunchroom on railroad land at what was then Walton.  It was originally built to accommodate train crews who worked in helper service and snow removal on the line over Marias Pass.  Because of a planned Glacier National Park entrance at Park Creek, it was hoped to be a resort open to the public.  It was built larger than the needs of the railroad.  Plans for the central entrance never materialized due to WWII.

Why the name "Izaak Walton" Hotel?

The hotel was named after Sir Izaak Walton, a 16th century English author and sportsman.  Izaak Walton has been the patron saint of fishermen for 400 years.  Born August 9, 1593 at Stafford, England, he authored the famous book about fly-fishing, The Compleat Angler.  A local resident who lived in the area in the early days is presumed to have named the hotel after Sir Izaak.

Location, Location, Location

The Izaak Walton Inn is located in Essex, Montana, bordering the southern end of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness.   Essex is on US Highway 2 at mile marker 180, half way between East and West Glacier, each 30 miles from Essex.  The elevation is 3866.  A relaxing atmosphere with no phones, TV, or cell service.  There is Wi-Fi service downstairs in the Bar.  Rental cars are available.  [I'd advise phoning ahead and reserving one of their 4 cars at $65 a day.]  The most popular activities in summer are white water rafting, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing and huckelberry picking. [Any season, enjoy their huckelberry ice cream.]

Wildlife viewing includes moose, elk, coyotes, deer, mountain sheep, and many smaller animals.

Rail fans love this place, every person I talked to during our 2-day stay had a train connection.  From the back porch, or your room, you can watch the active helper station next door.  Railroad memorabilia is displayed throughout the Inn.  They host two rail fan weekends per year  for story sharing and slide shows.

Larry and Lynda Vielleux owned the Inn from 1982 to 2006, and were instrumental in getting the Inn listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.  In 1995 the Inn underwent a major renovation including adding bathrooms to all the rooms.   Present owners, Brian and Mary Kelly continue providing a unique and beautiful getaway for families, train buffs, groups and nature-seekers alike.

Essex originated as a Great Northern Railway town that  housed snow crews who shoveled the snow off the tracks by hand; inspected this section of railroad; tended water tanks, coal chutes, sand houses, the round house and telegraph equipment, keeping the big steam engines running over the 5,213 foot Summit, 16 miles East of Essex, the highest point on the line.

Tom Shields homesteaded the land and by 1898 the town was able to boast a post office.

I could not find any more to the town of Essex than the Izaak Walton Inn and the helper station.  In fact, the closest place to refill the the gas tank on a rental car is 30 miles away at either East of West Glacier, and that is ok with the Inn.

--Italicized print above from Izaak Walton Inn handout

(Click any photograph in this report for a double-sized copy; click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

"Front Door" to the Izaak Walton Hotel, where you will arrive after Bob picks you up at the flag stop a few yards from the Hotel.
Across the parking lot is the "Annex" for laundry and Sauna which, I am sure, is a popular spot for cross-country skiers.
Lounge/Lobby where you can spend quiet time by the fire.  Computers are allowed in the bar in the basement, to keep the quiet atmosphere here by the fire.  No cell service in this area.
First Floor, Room 4 with a view from your bed of the BNSF double-track main line and yard sidings!

Izaak Walton Inn Room Selections

We took The Great Northern, $158/$138 Deluxe large room with one queen and one twin bed.  Also available is The Empire Builder, $137 high season | $117 low season.  Standard room, with one queen and one twin-sixed futon.  Also available is The Empire Family Room, two queens and a twin.  Check in is 3 pm, but ask when you arrive to see if early check in is available, luggage storage is definitely available.  Check out time is 11 am, but can be extend to 3 pm for $35. 

Also available, across the tracks from the Inn via the pedestiran bridge, are other unique accommodations:  four cabooses and and five brand new cabins [pictures of both follow in this report].

Open all Year!

High Season June 16 - Sept 15 and Dec 16 - Mar 31
Low Season April 1 - June 15 and Sept 16 - Dec 15

Be sure to tell the Inn's staff if you are arriving on the Empire Builder and/or departing on the Empire Builder.  Since this is a 'flag stop' the train will not only stop (essential for a visit here), but Bob, Dorothy or any of the friendly staff will be there to help with your luggage and give you a ride in their bright red van to/from the hotel.
Queen Bed in Room 4.

Second bed in Room 4.

(Right) View of the lawn and tracks from Rm. 4.
Jennifer sets a large table in the Dining Room, also on the first floor with windows toward the track as we had in Rm. 4.
View of the Lounge from the dining room entrance, and door to the tracks, showing the classic china patterns and post cards.

The Izaak Walton Inn's Dining Car Restaurant

You might think that a restaurant in an Inn which is 30 miles from the nearest competition would charge monopoly prices...not the case, the Izaak Walton Inn's "Dining Car Restaurant's" prices are reasonable and the quality is very good.  About the menu, their website says,  Breakfast seletions might include Montana Style Potatoes with Rocky Mountain Apple-bread  or Huckleberry Pancakes with thick-sliced bacon.  Lunch favorites include Chicken and Dumplings, a shredded pork wrap with red onion marmalade, and our grilled turkey sandwich with roasted red peppers, suteed mushrooms, and Gouda cheese.  For dinner try our rainbow trout with lemon-pepper pesto,or perhaps grilled breast of checken with oven-roasted tomatoes and melted Boursin cheese.  Remember to save room for our wonderful homemade desserts such as deep-dish huckleberry cobler, caramel-topped bread pudding, or mud pie.

Continental Breakfast is complementary for guests, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Lunch Entrées, served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. include sandwiches and salads.  Sandwiches include soup or waffle fries. 
I enjoyed the half-pound Buffalo burger (which is also on the dinner for the same price) at 10.95.  Lunch runs from 7.95 to 12:50.  Appetizers include crab cakes, breadsticks, and Spicy Elk Sausage and run from 4.95 to 6.95.  Dinner, 5 to 7 pm, includes vegetable, soup or salad, and bread. Prices run form 10.95 for Mountain Meadow Salad, to 23.95 for New York Steak, with six other items in between.  Good prices for good food.  Homemade desserts, Montana beers, and wine also available.

View from the Dining Room of a passing BNSF freight. 
Both mixed and single-category freights travel past the Inn.  Essex adds helper locomotives to large trains headed east over the Marias summit.

Explorations and Adventures Around Essex

Ask at the front desk for the Explorations and Adventures Around Essex map  if you have rented a car and plan to so some rail fanning east of the Izaak Walton Inn.  They will gladly mark points where you can view BNSF snow sheds, trestles, and bridges.  We made arrangements ahead of time by phone to rent a car, so we hit the ground running, so to speak, after depositing our luggage in the room.  The weather was from mostly cloudy to mostly sunny throughout our first day there, and a deterioration of weather was predicted for our second day, so we felt we needed to get all the photos we wanted the first day and only rent a car one day.  The plan worked out well, and we spent our second day at the lodge working on this report, watching freights, and taking walks to nearby highlights across their pedestrial bridge.

Use your scanner (Frequency:  161.250) and listen for the detectors.  There seem to be two in the area and we found that when either one goes off, you've got a freight coming up or down on one of the two main line tracks.  We also found that before and after noon there are few trains, but track inspector "Peterson" has a crew working on the two main lines.  After he relenquished control of the track, freights started rolling.

Our first outing in the car was to locate the best place to shoot the tressels, etc. when trains did pass later.

The first spot Dorothy directed us to was about 1/2 mile east of the IWI on Hwy. 2, just across the  Middle Fork of the Flathead River, where we found the very long Snowshed No. 2 above the river.
This shed seemed to have gone directly through an old slide area, and might still protect the trains and track from falling rock.
Park Rangers were working below to stabalize the riverbank.
This first stop was near the Glacier National Park engrance sign.
Rocky Mountain Goat

Goat Lick overlook, just east of Essex, just inside the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, is one of the few places in the park where mountain goats can be seen pretty much any time.  The goats and other animals use a special bridge under U.S. 2 to enjoy a natural salt lick on cliffs overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

The lick is just east of Essex on U.S. 2.  There is a viewing platform just a few feet from the end of the parking lot.  Interpretive signs inform visitors about the lick.  Late spring and early summer are the best times to see nannies with kids.  Billy goats are also often seen on the rocks or the hillside.

Our second destination, near Hwy. Milepost 182, still on the right/south side of the road, was Goat Lick.  There is a parking lot safely off the road.
From the parking lot and overlook, you cannot see the Sheep Creek Trestle, but if you walk back up to the highway, then on back up the highway to the middle of the bridge, you can see the Trestle.
Sheep Creek Trestle
Middle Fork Flathead River
Sheep Creek Trestle
On the opposite side (north) of the road is the Goat Lick, above this stream.

Next stop, Java West at Mile Marker 184.  There is an old road that takes off to the right, with large boulders keeping out cars.  Park there, walk down the road and you'll find the Java Creek Trestle.  That's our rental car parked on the road.

This is first sight of the Java Creek Trestle over a very deep valley through which Java Creek runs.


Without a train crossing the trestle, it is much easier to study the construction of the bridge.  I've seen the lower section being the entire bridge in flatter areas, but here the rails run on top of what I've learned to think of as a complete trestle.

Top of Java Creek Trestle.
This Java East building and wind sock are upgrade from the Java Creek Trestle, but viewable from the same parking place as the Trestle.

After you leave the Java Creek Trestle, you will immediately go under the RR on Hwy. 2, between Java West and Java East, heading on east.

Glacier Park Lodge

On this day we had 'beek-a-boo' sun, so when we got a glimpse of blue sky, I shot the wonderful scenery.  The state's motto, "Big Sky Country" comes to mind.
East Glacier Lodge, from the East Glacier Station.

Enormous Douglas fir timbers surround the majestic lobby of the Glacier Park Lodge (below), thus it's name, "Big Tree Hotel."

Modern-day Blackfoot Indian art on the front of the Lodge.
East Glacier Lodge lobby.
Don checking the Great Northern Dining Room's Lunch Menu, and he approved.
The closest I got to a Rocky Mountain Goat was this one 'stuffed' into a glass case.

Glacier Park Lodge was built by the Great Northern Railway, in Blackfeet Indian territory, at the foot of Dancing Lady Mountain.  The section containing the lobby and dining room was erected in 1912 and 1913.  It took a crew of 75 men a year and a half to construct the two main buildings.  The lodge, 2 miles east of the park on Montana 49 in East Glacier, was opened to the public on June 15, 1913. This year, it is open from May 30 through Sept. 28.  Room rates for two people range from $129 to $449.

View from our lunch table.

The walk-in fireplace in the Lobby (right).

The 1938-39 "Red Jammer" Busses of the National Parks.

Having heard that Ford had restored the Red Jammer Busses that take guests on tours in National Parks, I was excited about possibly seeing one or two while in Glacier.  The Izaak Walton Inn information said that guests were not being picked up for tours this early in the year at the Inn.  Upon our arrival by rental car at the East Glacier Park Lodge, I spotted one of the beauties, and later found the bus barn where they are kept at the East Glacier Lodge, next to the Amtrak Station.

This 1938 or '39 White Jammer Bus dwarfs the later model Checker bus.
The restoration is immaculate, and even though they are driven through light snow and rain, they are polished and cleaned, evidently, each day.
Both names "White" and "Ford" are on the grill...built by White, restored by Ford at a donated cost of $7.5 million for the original fleet of 33.
Restored original bodies, on new Ford frames with E-450 V-8 engines with automatic transmissions.

Drivers were called "Jammers" from the gear-crunching days of the past.  Because of the new automatic transmissions, we may see that name disappear for the next generation.  Information about their tours:  (406) 892-2525 or the operator of the tour:


These arriving guests were experiencing the first day of the year that the top was rolled back on the Red Jammer Tour...they looked windblown and cold.

(Right) A tour arrives back at Glacier Lodge.  This photo could have been taken in 1940.
The Red Jammers are now Propane powered, but carry gas and can change fuels at the 'flip of a switch.'
Seating capacity is 17...4 seats, 4 across, plus driver.

I can't imagine putting my 6-foot frame in the last seat (below).  Before restoration, this was the area for luggage for the passengers who arrived by train and were transported to the nearby Lodge. 

The top can be rolled back for viewing the vertical landscape of Glacier Natl'l. Park.  Take a hat and coat for the brisk and/or sunny ride.

The "Bus Barn" near the Amtrak Station at East Glacier and the Glacier Lodge.

This two-bus tour (above and right ) stopped at the Izaak Walton Inn for Hot Chocolate and restrooms for the guests on a 3.5 or 8 hour tour.
If you are a rail fan, a rental car for $65 a day from the Izaak Walton Inn would be better than the Red Jammer tour because you'll want to stop at spots they have no interest in, such as RR snow sheds and trestles.

East Glacier National Park

From the East Glacier Amtrak Station, this is the view of the Lodge.
Conversely, here's the Amtrak Station from the East Glacier Lodge.  This station opened for the season, May 1, 2008.

Just east of East Glacier, Dorothy had told me about this classic RR trestle view with a barn  at Two Medicine Bridge.  It is on the north side of Hwy. 2, across the Two Medicine River highway bridge.

At the same stop for the picture at the left, I took a picture down Hwy. 2 to the west.  This is the sight you would see if you were driving from the east to East Glacier, MT.
Before reaching Browning, MT, on the right (south) side of the road, you'll see this wind break as the RR tracks cross over a ravine.
In Browning at the Junction of Hwy. 2 and 89, turn right and you will soon come to the RR crossing and the Browning Amtrak Station. 

This high-plains station seems to be closed, but I found it classic in appearance.
This chalk board announces that the Empire Builder (Train 7 and 8) is on time.  The current  Schedule notes:
Browning Station closes for the season April 30, 2008, and reopens October 3, 2008.

After visiting "Beautiful Downtown Browning," we knew the "Going-to-the-Sun" Road was not yet open over the summit, so we followed the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park map, provided by Dorothy at the Walton Inn, and turned back on Hwy. 89 from Browning west, then caught Hwy. 49 over Looking Glass back to the East Glacier Lodge.  On Hwy. 49, we passed two Red Jammers, so this was their route as well.  We took Hwy 2 westward back toward Essex and beyond to West Glacier. 

Low Two Medicine Lake on Hwy. 49.
Back on Hwy. 2 heading westerly, we again crossed the Continental Divide at Marias Pass, east of Essex.  Summit is at highway mileport 197, RR milepost 1152.2.
At Marias Pass, I spotted this Memorial Marker for  "Slippery Bill" Morrison.  Knowing my brother, he'll find a way to work "Slippery Bill" into our Morrison  geneology.

Slippery donated the land for the Theodore Roosevelt monument, right.

Retracing our steps along Hwy. 2 back to Essex from East Glacier, we listened to the scanner (Frequency:  161.250) for the two detecters to report any passing trains, as well as kept our eyes peeled for slow freights we could photograph crossing the trestles and through the snow sheds we had seen along the way earlier in the day.

A BNSF freight heads upgrade, with helpers from Essex, over Marias Pass.
One of the snowsheds No. 5 - 11 in this area.
Silver Steps falls, south side of Hwy. 2

One good thing about retracing your steps on a train or in a car, you can see the good things again and discover things you missed.  Such was the case of Silver Steps Falls, which we had missed on the way up, probably because we were looking to the left/north, the RR side, for trains!  This falls is a tributary to Bear Creek.

Back at Sheep Creek Trestle, we caught a container freight heading upgrade to Marias Pass.

Rocky Mountain Sheep graze on the east side of the Hwy. 2 bridge from the Goat Lick Trestle.
I caught an uphill freight crossing Hwy. 2 near highway mile marker 184.
Because locomotive photographs on bridges are more interesting to me than freight cars, I hustled over to the nearby trestle and shot the uphill container freight.
Since it was an uphill freight, I calculated that at the end there would be the two helpers from Essex and a photo with those locomotives would be a good shot.

Sure enough it was 6819 and 6821 (with the current logo) that we had seen idling, helping, and returning to Essex for two days.
We drove past Essex 30-some miles to West Glacier's Amtrak stop.
We had passed this Belton/West Glacier Station coming in on the Empire Builder a day earlier,  so it was interesting to see inside the classic station.
We topped off the rental car's gas tank since this was the closest gas to Essex.

The official West Glacier Entrance point.
On our way back to the Izaak Walton Inn, we spotted a mule deer couple on a side road.
Since we left with the rental car right after our arrival, we decided to explore around the Izaak Walton Inn upon our return.

Don said he would be content just to stay in the room and watch trains (above), or (right) read at a table in the dining room.

The view from our Room 4 of a passing freight.
All trains past the Inn pass under their pedestrian bridge over to their 4 cabosses, 5 cabins, and summer help housing.
The Inn is beautifully landscaped, with authentic RR antiques.
The helper yard is literally a few yards away.  When freights stop in front of the Inn, you know they are attaching the helpers.  After helping the freights past Marias Summit, you will see the helpers quickly return downgrade for another job.

A pedestrian bridge, built by the IWI across the tracks, allows access to the four Caboose (and five future cabin) accommodations.  Don, who inspected the bridge before I used it, told me about the openings for cameras conveniently placed on both sides of the bridge.

One of the camera openings in the pedestrian bridge, and the helper yard beyond.
The Inn, with smoke from the fireplace,  from the bridge

Across the pedestrian bridge, there is a snow trail immediately to your right where you can get some good shots of the  Izaak Walton Inn (above and below).  One guest at the hotel came here because he had seen this location on the Train Simulator computer program.  He mentioned that the simulator model looked very much like the real thing.  Each guest here seems to have a railroad story.  One gentleman mentioned that his grandfather had taken him, as a young boy, on all the passenger lines in the US, and even into cabooses of working freights.  He explained how some steam engines used to take on water "on the fly," from troughs between the tracks.

You can get closer to the helper engines on this side of the tracks, without stepping on RR property.
Move farther down the snow trail and you can get a good side view of the other helpers in the yard.

You won't see many photos of the Inn from this angle, including the teepee between the Inn and the walkway.

The pedestrian bridge from the far side of the bridge.
Good (only) place to capture passing trains with the Inn in the background.

Sometimes, capturing the second lead engine makes a good photo as well.  The height of the snow trail allows you to capture both the locomotive and the Inn.
I was at this site when the westbound Amtrak stopped for Izaak Walton Inn guests,  1/8 mile east of the Inn. (They do not stop precisely at the Inn, as their advertisements might lead you to believe, but rather beyond the yard where guests need to cross only one siding to get to the van.)

You could capture this scene with the eastbound Empire Builder to match their advertisement.

The IWI's red van returns with guests from the Empire Builder.
The Great Northern banner on the hotel reminds us that this building was used by the builder of the line, Great Northern.

It is a wild life in Essex (right).  We saw two mule deer, unconcerned about train or pedestrian traffic, cross the right-of-way a few times.


The Izaak Walton Inn also has four cabooses, fitted as suites or cabins, for rent.  They are all located across the pedestrian bridge.
We noticed that they are currently building about 5 cabins in the caboose area.
The IWI's live web cam is apparently located on one of these cabooses across the tracks south of the Inn.

Each caboose has a patio built on the track side with a view of the Izaak Walton Inn.
Cabooses have various logos on their sides,  this one represents the original line through Essex.


Cabins were advertised as opening this month.

Learn more about the cabins at their website:
Although the cabins are not finished outside, the furnishings for the porch and inside are already inside.

Their outdoor, covered pavillion can be rented for weddings and other large-group occasions.

A quarter mile from the Inn out to Hwy. 2, you will find this historic sign, and the large modern-day sign for the Inn.  Remember, you will have driven 30 some miles from West Glacier or East Glacier to get here, so a sign advertising the dining room and Inn out on the hard road is a good idea for car/camper travelers.

The Inn is actually on a hill over the river and Hwy. 2.  East on the highway, near the ranger station, is the trail head to follow to get to the suspension bridge.


Along the drive (left) out to Hwy. 2, is at least one home where permanent employees live. Crystal, the waitress at the Inn, lives in a caboose owned by the Inn.
Stained glass window in the dining room.
Crystal, who lives in a company-owned caboose, is a full-time restaurant employee.

John Longworth, Train Simulator user who wanted to see the actual location of the Essex Helper Station in the simulator.

During the restroom/hot chocolate stop of the second Red Jammer tour, the light rain turned to snow flurries.  This photo was taken at 11:44 a.m., notice the accumulation of snow by the end of this report!
Even the hardware on the Inn's doors is rail-related...a RR spike for a door handle.
The temperature at first snow flurries was about 35 degrees, according to the back porch thermometer.

I enjoyed re-photographing the scenes around the Inn, as we moved from springtime to winter, all in one afternoon:




A humming bird took refuge under the large porch eve, not far from nourishment.


At times it was nearly a white-out.

It was good, wet snow, perfect for snowballs!
Don had perfect timing in this photo, as I released the snowball at him, he snapped this picture.  (It didn't hit him, or my camera!)
The chef came out to retrieve the flowers...
and Hotel Manager, Dorothy, shook off the snow from the blossoms and retrieved the second pot to the front porch.

The teepee on Inn property took on the look of a "Dancing with Wolves" set, which was filmed in South Dakota, not far away.
Dorothy enjoyed the large flakes.




A BNSF freight comes off Marias Pass and through Essex, riding on natures sound-deadening insulation.

Photos from the pedestrian overpass after about 4 inches of snow had fallen:


A cross-country skiers' and show shoers' trail leads from the pedestrian bridge's southwest end.


Views outside our Room 4 window.

Further evidence that Great Northern had something to do with the Izaak Walton Inn, their logo adorns the front porch's railing.

The cross arm with telegraph-wire glass insulators make a nice light pole (right).
The westbound Empire Builder was due to arrive at 7 pm, so about 6:45, Dorothy loaded up the 8 passengers' luggage in the Inn's van.  After 7 guests piled in, I decided to walk the 1/8 mile to the flag stop.  This being the last time I would be in snow like this for who knows when.
I followed the freshest tracks in the snow to see where the van had preceeded me (there was only one wye where I could have made a mistake).  I said a silent goodbye to the pedestrian overpass, and enjoyed the short time of solitude between me and Mother Nature's softest percipitation.

Dorothy had said, "This is how it looks all winter," and I was able to see it take place in one day, actually one afternoon.
As the seven waited in the idling Inn's van, I continued to wait outside, and listen to and watch the snow fall from the evergreen's drooping branches.
We were planning for a 7:00 arrival, and I took this picture at 7:04 pm, not a bad prediction by's Train Status.
Dorothy saw the train arriving and quickly got out and 'flagged' the engineer.  It's the first time I've ever departed and  boarded a train at a flag stop.

There were departing passengers from a sleeper,  but the conductor took Don's very heavy suitcase and trudged a full car length in the 5 1/2 in deep snow to the next car which was ours.


When we 8 departing Izaak Walton Inn guests were onboard, we rounded the bend for a departing look back at the Inn.  As usual, guests were in the yard and on the porch waving at the train. (Compare this photo to the first one in this report which was taken the morning of the previous day.)  That's why I consider our visit here, "Two Seasons in Two Days."  Dorothy later told me that 10 inches of snow fell that June day.  As Don and I looked back on the trip, we Southern Californian's both agreed it was the highlight of the trip.

Make your reservations at the Izaak Walton Inn now:


(406) 888-5700

Tips for staying at the Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

Since you arrive in the morning of your first day, and depart in the evening on the second day, you get two full days and one night for the price of one night's lodging.  Instead of checking out at 11 a.m., I'd suggest using the 'check out late' option and make your checkout time 3 pm for only $35.

Since the Inn is 30-some miles from either East Glacier or West Glacier, and no 'Whoa and Go' type stores for less than 30 miles, I'd rent a car directly from the Inn at $65 a day.  Since we arrived by rail and rented a car, we found a Dollar Rent-a-Car ad in the Empire Builder's Spring/Summer Magazine, "Mention Amtrak and get unlimited mileage on your rental car."

Take advantage of the Off Season rates.  We were there in June, before the Going to the Sun Road was completely open of snow, but everything else was open and the weather was day of spring and one day of winter with 5.5 inches of snow!  So, we saw two seasons in Glacier Park in two days!

To see what the current conditions are at the Izaak Walton Inn, complete with temperature, chance of percipitation, and barometric pressure, check their live web cam:

Electronic Gear that I take, and a wish list for more:

MacBook laptop computer with iPhoto digital image editing software, compatible external hard drive to back up all photos, Canon XTi DSLR camera with 28 - 300 MM (Wish list:  10 - 24 mm wide angle), compatible USB digital card reader, monopod/walking stick and/or tripod, built-in or external flash, two or more 4-GB digital storage cards, power bar with 3 prong to 2 prong adapters, digital camera battery charger, GPS with external antenna and electrical- and car-power adapters, wireless or Ethernet Internet connectivity (Wish List:  Adapter for computer for Internet where cell phone signal is available...not available at IWI), flash light for night shot camera settings, rotating polarizing lens for camera for good contrast skies and eliminating reflections in shots from inside windows,  rain gear and winter clothing.

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