Great Lodges of the National Parks
Glacier Lodges: Sperry Chalet
Early Native American residents and European explorers of the region probably took little notice of the starry skies above. Before the advent of outdoor electric light at the start of the 20th century, all skies offered crystalline views of the heavens.
Modern day explorers in the Park's backcountry will be pleasantly surprised to discover a rarely seen universe of stars overhead. People who keep track of such things say this part of Montana has some of the darkest skies in the country, with an average "limiting magnitude" of 6.8. For Chalet guests, this translates into great stargazing with the naked eye.
Visitors will see much of the structure in the Milky Way. Familiar constellations, such as Orion and the Big Dipper, are actually a little more difficult to locate, due to the "interfering" light from large numbers of fainter stars.
The backcountry settings of Sperry and Granite Park Chalets provide visitors with an excellent chance of seeing some of Glacier National Park's more interesting wildlife.
The Montana mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus missoulae) is an almost daily visitor at Sperry Chalet. There are about 800 goats throughout the high peaks, and the number is increasing.
Another high-elevation dweller is the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis), which is only found in three other National Parks.
There is also a healthy population of black bears in the area. In the Lower 48 states, only two Parks have any grizzly bears, the other being Yellowstone. Backcountry hikers are advised to carry bear mace (although no one seems to have any suggestions for handling rare encounters with mountain lions).
People & Protection
Hikers in the backcountry of Glacier National Park are encouraged to remember that they are in a wilderness where Nature makes the rules. Rescue missions happen annually, and deaths, from a variety of causes, are too frequent.
Two young women died on "the night of the grizzlies" in August 1967. Until that tragic night, no deadly grizzly bear attacks had been recorded in the history of the Park. But for reasons that no one understands, on this particular night, two different bears attacked humans within about 10 miles of each other. One woman was killed at Trout Lake. The other woman was killed when she was just a short distance from the safety of Granite Park Chalet; a man was also mauled in the attack.
Sperry Chalet can be reached on foot or by horseback. The trail is 6.5 miles (one way), from Lake McDonald Lodge.
Day Trips from the Chalet
1. Lake Ellen Wilson is 2.4 miles (one way); from the lake, it's 1.7 miles to Gunsight Pass and the Continental Divide. Round trip from Chalet to Gunsight Pass: 8.2 miles.
2. Sperry Glacier is 3.7 miles (7.4 miles round trip). A rope handrail is provided at Sperry Headwall.
Granite Park Chalet's two access trails are for foot traffic only. No pets, horses, or bikes.
- Highline Trail climbs just 200 feet over 7.6 miles (one way) from the Logan Pass Parking area.
- The Loop Trail is steep, climbing 2,200 feet in 3.5 miles (one way) from the Loop Parking area.
Day Trips from the Chalet
1. Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, less than a mile (one way) to the Continental Divide.
2. Swiftcurrent Look Out Trail, 1.4 miles (one way) from Chalet to Look Out.