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Spring Training to The Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

"Spring Training" to The Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

Photos and Travelogue by Carl "Montana Mo" Morrison,

May 12 - 19, 2010


Morning arrival of the eastbound Empire Builder at the Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

Morning arrival of the eastbound Empire Builder at the Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana.

With very fond memories of our previous trip to the Perfect Railfan's Inn, The Izaak Walton Inn, I felt it was time for another visit.  The challenge would be for it to be as memorable of a trip as the first time there on June 9, 2008, two years previous.  I must admit that I took my title, "Spring Training" from the Amtrak ads for their Guest Rewards Triple Point promotion.


My Clergyman and Railfan buddy, Don "Preacher" Roe, (my nickname for Don is based on a pitcher the Dodgers had in the 50s, "Preacher Roe," and the fact that Don's favorite team is the Dodgers).  I like to say, "I travel like the US Presidents, I take my clergyman with me."

Don and I used our Amtrak Rewards Miles, each using 15,000 rewards miles to pay for a roomette each way from Fullerton, California, to Essex, Montana.  As Don points out to our wives, "It costs half as much if we go without our wives."  Don't worry, my wife will find plenty of quiltmaking to do in our absence.

As I said, it would be hard to beat our first trip to the Izaak Walton Inn (IWI) in 2008.  We arrived in the morning of the first day and had beautiful weather, so we rented a car at the Inn, and headed to the East Glacier National Park Lodge, spotting BNSF freights on bridges and in snow sheds on the way, then back west, past IWI, to West Glacier National Park's Entrance.  The second day, it began raining in the morning, turning to snow, and we spent the day watching trains pass the Inn.  By late afternoon about 8 inches of snow had fallen, and by the time we flagged the westbound Amtrak Empire Builder, there was even more snow.  I checked later and the accumulation for the day was one foot!  I'll put a link at the end of this story so you can read that 2008 report on the IWI.

What's new at the Izaak Walton Inn

Dorothy Van Geison, General Manager,
of the Izaak Walton Inn,  said they now have completed the cabins that were under construction in 2008, and added the "luxurious GN 441!"  We're looking forward to seeing the other parts of the IWI property including the cabooses, the lodge dining room and the railroad memoribilia downstairs in the Inn.  The Helper Station adjacent to the Inn provides constant railroad photo ops, as well as the many frieghts and twice-a-day Amtrak Empire Builder passings.  Off property, I want to return to the East and West Glacier National Park entrances and see more of the beautiful park interior, as well as checking the many bridges and snow sheds for photos of freights.  What about the weather, it helps when you can just look on their webcam and see the current weather, which I enjoy doing at:  (If the camera shows a photo of the Inn with a gondola car and cloudy weather, it is the same photo when writing this report.)

National Park Reservations Description of the IWI:
The Izaak Walton Inn was built in 1939 by the Great Northern Railway to accommodate the railroad's crews. Today the Izaak Walton Inn welcomes tourists that come by car, train or plane! The Izaak Walton Inn is a beautiful historic chalet. The Izaak Walton Inn is conveniently located just on the south side of Glacier National Park. This pristine area encompasses a million acres of wilderness with jagged peaks, wildlife and glaciers. The Izaak Walton Inn has a rustic elegance that can be felt right as you walk in the lobby. The lobby is thoughtfully appointed with a massive stone fireplace, log furniture, and pine ceilings. Rooms are cared for, with quaint decorations such as Americana quilts, down comforters, Montana pine furniture, antique school desks, and historic memorabilia of the Izaak Walton Inn and Glacier National Park. Guests often mingle around the lobby fireplace prior to dining on brook trout, Montana beef or international specials served nightly in the Dinning Car.

Families and individuals can enjoy the lounge-recreation room and the Izaak Walton Inns skiing and hiking packages. Glacier National Park is approximately a 30 minute drive to both the East Entrance or West Entrance. The Inn is open year round and offers activities to compliment each season.

All room-types and rates are also located here, plus a nice video/ad for Glacier:

Izaak Walton Inn, YouTube Video:

Empire Builder arriving from the west at the Izaak Walton Inn, (how it looked when we arrived from the west):

View from the Izaak Walton Inn's porch
of a westbound passing freight.  Notice the IWI's caboose accommodations across the track:

A video that the Izaak Walton Inn has on their webpage:

Before you click the following two links, BOOKMARK my page so you can return to it.  Amtrak doesn't let you go away from the Amtrak page easily.

Information on the Amtrak Coast Starlight:  Click Here

Information on the Amtrak Empire Builder:  Click Here

Our Tickets Going:

Pacific Surfliner, from Fullerton, CA, to Los Angeles

(When you book a room on the Coast Starlight, you get Business Class on the connecting Pacifuc Surfliner on the return.)

Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Portland, OR.

Empire Builder from Portland, OR, to Essex, MT

The yellow line (right) shows our route.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction (above)

  2. "Spring Training" from Fullerton, CA to Essex, MT.

  3. Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, Montana

    1. New GN 441 Luxury Locomotive Accommodations
    2. Six new Cabins
    3. Four Caboose Cottages
    4. Accommodations in the Inn
  4. Glacier National Park, East and West

  5. The Last Day at the Izaak Walton Inn and  "Spring Training" back to Fullerton, California.

  6. Links for this Report

Next:  "Spring Training" from Fullerton to Los Angeles to Essex

[ Table of Contents | Izaak Walton Inn | | Silver Rails Country, La Plata, Missouri |

Other Rail Reports by Carl Morrison | Rail Travel Specialist:  Bella Vista Travel ], Trains and other Outdoor Photos by Carl Morrison for viewing and purchase.