Frequently Asked Questions
- General questions about the Chalet and available services.
- Questions about reservations.
- Questions about the trails and hiking.
What is the difference between Sperry Chalet and Granite Park Chalet?
The two chalets sit in different places of the park with different access trails and scenery. Both are incredibly beautiful and worth a visit.
Aside from location, the biggest difference is in the services offered. Granite Park Chalet is a hikers hostel for the do-it-yourself crowd. Bring your sleeping bag and prepare your own meals in our kitchen while enjoying the heart of Glacier from your private room. If that is a little too much doing it yourself, we can help lighten your backpack with our retail menu and optional bed linen service.
Sperry Chalet provides a full service stay on the American Plan, including private rooms, warm bedding and three meals from our restaurant. All you will need to bring is a day pack with your overnight clothes, your outdoor gear, and your sense of adventure.
Are there good day hikes from the chalet?
Yes. Hiking is the principle activity at the chalets and you will find several excellent trails to explore.
Are children allowed at the chalet?
Yes. The Chalets have hosted children of all ages, we are happy to have your family join us.
Can we park overnight at the trail heads?
Yes, although parking can be congested and limited. You should consider using a shuttle.
Is it better to stay two nights? How long do most people stay?
For people who just want the experience and flavor of a stay in the backcountry, one night is usually fine. For people who want to hike and explore farther into the wilderness, two or three nights is a good idea. Being in the wilderness longer than three nights starts to become a little uncomfortable without hot showers and modern conveniences, but a handful of people do enjoy it.
Do I need a backcountry permit to stay at the chalet?
No. Your chalet reservation is all you need.
Is there a campground near the chalet?
Yes. Campground reservations are handled by the National Park Service and require a permit.
Can we refill our water bottles at Sperry Chalet?
Yes. All the sinks and spigots at the rest rooms and kitchen deliver clean potable water.
What kind of weather and conditions can I expect early in July?
Expect to find snow in the high country. Check with a park visitor center to see if your favorite trails are open yet. It is spring-like, the streams are running full and new growth is exploding all around. Mosquitos are plentiful. The days are long, daylight lasts well into the evening making stargazing difficult. Temperatures can still be on the cool side. High temperatures at the chalet tend to reach the mid 70's Fahrenheit.
What kind of weather and conditions can I expect from mid July to mid August?
The snow around the chalets has pretty well melted away. While the weather could turn rainy and cold at any time of year, be prepared for hot and dry conditions. Bring extra water bottles on your hikes. High temperatures can reach the high 80's Fahrenheit. Evenings and mornings will be cool. August is a good month to watch the night sky for meteor showers.
What kind of weather and conditions can I expect in late August and early September?
The seasons have turned fall like. Many streams have dried up, days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. It is not unusual to see fresh snow in September. It is a good idea to bring extra layers and long underwear, just in case. There are few mosquitos and few bugs in general. High temperatures in the low 70's Fahrenheit.
Can we get meals at Sperry Chalet even if we are not overnight guests?
Yes. The dining room is open to the public from 11:30 to 5:00 every day. We have a delicious lunch menu of soups, sandwiches and snacks. (Try the homemade bread, it is excellent.) For dinner or breakfast reservations are required. Please call the reservation office to make arrangements. 1-888-345-2649
What's for dinner?
Dinner at Sperry Chalet is served table d'hote. It includes a salad or appetizer, a soup and bread course, a typical entree is a meat and potatoes style roast and it is followed up with homemade dessert. We rotate through our favorite recipes and entrees of turkey, chicken and beef so that you will get a nice variety of meals if you stay for multiple nights. Dinner seats between 6:00 and 7:00 PM.
Can I get a vegetarian meal at Sperry Chalet?
Yes. Please let the reservation office know about any vegetarians or other special food needs in advance of your stay.
Do you serve wine with dinner?
No. We do not allow alcohol in the dining room.
Can I bring a bottle of wine to have with dinner?
We do not allow alcohol in the dining room. You may enjoy your libations in your room or on the balconies, but be advised, the chalets can be a dangerous place to be intoxicated. Rowdy or boisterous behavior is not appreciated.
Can I get a shower at Sperry Chalet?
No. Showers are not available at Sperry Chalet. The rest rooms are equipped with cold water hand sinks that you may use to freshen up.
What are the restrooms like?
The rest rooms are an advanced pit toilet. They are in a separate building from the hotel and kitchen buildings. There are attached sinks and all tap water is safe to drink.
Can I use my cell phone at the chalet?
Maybe, but don't count on it. The chalet area does pick up a very weak cellular signal, there will be places with no signal at all and any attempt to move about will likely interfere with what little connection there is. Our staff has had limited success with text messages and placing calls, receiving calls is unlikely.
It is possible to climb to higher ground in the Lincoln Pass area, about a mile from the chalet, to improve your cell phone reception.
There is no electricity for recharging your phone or devices.
Please be mindful, the chalet is operated as close to the historic rustic experience as possible. Many of our guests come here to get away from constant connections and electronic devices. Please be discrete when using your phones and electronic devices. Constantly checking your social media and reliance on your device can be a social faux pas in the backcountry.
Is there a minimum stay?
No, not for most reservations. However, participation in our guided interpretive workshops does require a two night stay.
Will we get our own room?
Yes. All reservations get a private room.
Can you put me in my friends room? We both have reservations on the same date.
No. All reservations get a private room. You could join your friends party and make one reservation for everybody.
Can we get on a waiting list for vacancies?
No. We do not keep waiting lists. Any vacancy created by cancellation is immediately available, first come first serve, to the next requester.
Do you get many cancellations?
Cancellations do happen from time to time but they are not predictable. Any vacancy created by cancellation is immediately available, first come first serve, to the next requester.
I know that there are no more beds available, but can one person just sleep on the floor?
No. Sleeping on the floor is unsafe. The chalet does have a nearby campground, contact the National Park Service for backcountry camping permits.
When do we need to make reservations to make sure we get the nights we want?
Reservations are accepted first come first serve. We will begin accepting reservations for the following season in January. We will post the details and schedule in the fall.
When can I make reservations for the year after this one?
We begin accepting reservations for the following season in January. The exact date will be published on our website as soon as we know what it will be.
What does "Limited Vacancy" mean?
When our availability calendar shows limited vacancy that means we are very nearly sold out. There are usually only one or two rooms left and we may not have enough space for a large party. If you are interested in reserving one of these dates please call the reservation office to make sure we can accommodate you.
The reservation policy states "no second party reservations." What does this mean?
We do not accept reservations from travel agents, tour organizers or other middle men. If you are reserving with the intent to re-sell the booking to another party, we will not accept your reservation.
We are coming to the Chalets to enjoy the beautiful scenery, can we get a refund if the weather is rainy or foggy?
No. We are not responsible for the weather. Refunds are only available according to the terms of our cancellation policy. Your fare only covers lodging at the chalet; the trails, the wildlife, the mountains and the weather are all free of charge and cannot be refunded if they do not live up to your expectations.
Trails and Hiking
Do I need to do anything before I start the hike?
You do not need to check with our reservation office. The chalet staff will be expecting you, go get on the trail.
Here are a few things it helps to be mindful of:
- Double check your reservation before you start hiking. Reservation problems are always easier to correct before you set out for the chalet.
- Check today's weather forecast and make sure your equipment is right for the conditions.
- Make sure a friend or family member knows your itinerary and check in with them when you return from the wilderness.
Can you tell me about the Sperry Trail?
The Sperry Trail starts at Lake McDonald Lodge, it is 6.7 miles long and climbs 3300 feet. It is a strenuous hike that takes about 4.5 hours on average. You will start off in lush cedar and hemlock forests, your climb will take you around the base of Mt. Edwards and up the Sprauge drainage. Enjoy the scenic vistas increasing as you go. About 1/3 of the way up you will pass trail junctions to Mt. Brown lookout, Snyder lakes, and Fish Lake. The trail is well marked, follow the signs to continue on to Sperry Chalet.
Horses also use this trail, so be prepared. If a horse string passes you, hikers are advised to step off the trail on the downhill side.
Can you tell me about the Gunsight Pass trail?
The Gunsight Pass trail starts on the east side of the park at the Jackson Glacier Overlook on Going to the Sun Road. You will encounter a wide variety of terrain including forest walks, lakes and streams, and alpine climbs. On your way to Sperry Chalet you will hike past Gunsight Lake, cross the continental divide at Gunsight Pass, overlook lake Ellen Wilson, and climb over Lincoln Pass. The trail is 13.5 miles long, climbs 3300 feet, and can take 8 to 10 hours to complete.
Expect to find treacherous snow crossings early to mid July on Gunsite Pass as well as difficult water crossings. Ice axes, crampons and hiking poles can be useful at this time of the year. Please be safe and hike within your abilities.
I heard that the Gunsight Pass trail is better, is this true?
Not necessarily. The Gunsight Pass trail takes you through some different areas of the park and provides a different variety of scenery. However the trail is over twice the distance of the Sperry trail and there is just as much uphill, climbing over two mountain passes. The Gunsight Pass trail is best for strong, ambitious and experienced hikers.
Can you tell me about the Sperry Glacier trail?
Starting from Sperry Chalet, the Sperry Glacier trail has been describe as one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the park. Entirely above tree line, it is about 3.5 miles and climbs about 2000 feet up to Comeau Pass. You will pass some amazing waterfalls and small alpine lakes. At Comeau pass you will find a stone stairway in the cliff face and the top will show you even more fantastic vistas of the park. Don't stop there though, follow the stone cairns across the snow fields for another half mile to view Sperry Glacier. Plan on taking around three hours for a one way trip. Bring your sack lunch, take your time and make a day of this hike.
I have a fear of heights, are there any cliffs or scary drop-offs on these trails?
On the Sperry Trail there are a couple of places where you will find yourself on a hillside, but there are no precipices. The trail is wide and easy to follow, it is unlikely you will have any problems.
On the Gunsight Pass trail there are some cliffs and drop offs between Gunsight Lake and Gunsight Pass. Watch your step.
On the Sperry Glacier trail you might find the stone stairway at Comeau Pass to be exciting. This is a narrow crevice with a steep stairway blasted into the rock. There is a rope or cable handrail installed for most of the summer.
I want to hike in on one trail and hike out on another, how do I get back to my car?
Use a shuttle. Glacier National Park is operating a free shuttle along Going to the Sun Road with a regular schedule and stops at all trailheads. There is more information here.
Where can I get trail maps?
Most of Montana's sporting goods stores can sell detailed topo maps as well.
Will we encounter any bears on the trail?
Possibly. Any time you are inside Glacier National Park, at any place, on any road or trail there is a chance of encountering a bear. Information on being safe in bear country is available at park entrance stations and visitor centers.
Have you seen any bears? What have the bears been doing?
Yes, we have seen bears recently. They have been behaving like bears.
We understand that you want to be reassured about bears and their potential dangers, but the truth is that previous bear sightings are not very good indicators if you will see a bear or how one will behave should you encounter it. Visiting bear country safely depends more on you and your actions, and less on what the bears are doing.
If you are worried about bear encounters the best thing you can do is to educate yourself about bears and how you should behave while in their habitat. A good place to start is this web page from the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/bears.htm
If you want still more information about bears, there are many good books and resources available through the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Many of these books are also available through Glacier National Park gift shops and visitor centers.
As you learn about bears you will discover that they are fascinating and wonderful animals, and Glacier National Park is one of the worlds' premier sites for studying them. Visiting bear country can be done safely, but your safety depends on you, your behavior, and your willingness to learn.
What can I do to avoid meeting a bear on the trail?
Only hike on marked trails in daylight hours.
Hike in groups.
Talk, yell or sing while hiking, especially when going around blind corners.
Can you tell me about the trail from Logan Pass.
No. There is no trail to Sperry Chalet from Logan Pass.
Yeah, but my friend told me about a great route to Sperry from Logan Pass, can you tell me about that?
No. We are aware of that route and the only advice we can give is DO NOT ATTEMPT IT. People have been injured, lost, or killed while attempting this route. It is long, difficult, unmarked and dangerous.