After getting a few things done this past Monday morning, BJ and I decided to take a little jaunt for relaxation and exploration. We do that as frequently as possible as a kind of recharging of the creative batteries. One of the things we also do is drive along a road that we’ve not explored.
We knew that we wanted to go up to Goat Lick, which is a spot just outside the southern boundary of Glacier Park where Rocky Mountain Goats congregate on a regular basis. We also knew that the little town of Essex came before Goat Lick. Our tentative plan fell into place.
Gas, food, sunshine, and a road to lead us. What more could a person want?
Tourists are moving out. The steady stream of outgoing adventurers makes way for those who come from closer locations, as well as those who wish to see parks like Yellowstone and Glacier in the autumn. Meeting visitors is inevitable and the only requirement for successfully dealing with the situation is to take the time to proudly bestow one’s local knowledge to those looking for it. It saves nerves and patience supplies.
The Essex entrance on the south side of Hwy. 2 tends to sneak up on a driver. We were looking for it and had no trouble, though. The winding, forested road took us past mountain homes of all descriptions, some very elaborate. At the end of the main road we entered the parking lots of Izaak Walton Hotel and Resort (formally Izaak Walton Inn) and came to an abrupt halt.
The Tudor style Hotel on our right commanded our attention and admiration. Until that moment we’d not known that such a place existed. Color us delighted.
Delight expanded our horizons when we looked to the left and saw train cars ready for perusal. A caboose, freshly painted red with the Great Northern Railroad logo on the side sat at the edge of the parking lot, tempting the visitor to come see.
Straight ahead stood a pavilion to shade and welcome those who simply wanted to rest and socialize outdoors. To its left loomed an engine, painted blue and white with entrance deck platforms at either end.
They were, in short, a railroad enthusiast’s playground.
Never let it be said that we don’t take advantage of an opportunity when we find it. BJ pulled in, parked, and grabbed camera before we’d seen half of it from the street. She’d guessed what I had. Those rail cars and engines were guest accommodations. What a treat for a visitor staying for a few days.
The active rail lines pass behind the hotel. The town’s history boasts of being a railhead with accommodation for travelers and Glacier park visitors moving from coast to coast along the nation’s highline. If original Inn gave half the amenities as the current one, those were blissfully fortunate travelers.
Dotted among the trees across the tracks to the south and up the mountainside are cabins for families and larger groups. The log cabins come with everything needed for a stay but the human component. They certainly looked comfy.
We finished exploring the small town and moved on to Goat Lick. No goats were visible. The afternoon had turned too warm for them to be anywhere but in the shade. We did meet a couple from Washington State, though, who’d just come from Yellowstone. They were driving on to East Glacier and the Many Lakes area for that night. BJ was the one who recommended Many Glacier as a destination for their desired uses of camping and hiking, as well as photography.
As we turned back toward home, photos in the camera, excitement about new knowledge and a new haunt, we had to congratulate ourselves again for choosing to travel a road we’d not explored before. We’d learned, enjoyed, and come away refreshed.
For anyone who’d like to stay near the park in luxury with lots of amenities, check out Izaak Walton (Hotel) Inn and Resort. You can find all the necessary information at: www.izaakwaltoninn.com/