Izaak Walton Inn and Train Museum

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Linda Kaye on May 20, 2005

Located in Essex at the southern tip of Glacier National Park, the Izaak Walton Inn and Train Museum is a well-kept secret.

We would not have know about this hotel had it not been for a friendly couple we met at the Café at Glacier Park, West Entrance. They told us about the Izaak Walton Inn, an interesting place, especially for train buffs. They gave us precise directions and some hints about the unique accommodations the Walton offers. Without their help, we would have bypassed this historical treasure.

Because the Going to the Sun Road was closed at the center section, we had already planned to drive around the perimeter of the park to the East Entrance so that we could drive that section of the Sun Road. And the Izaak Walton Inn was right on our way.

We left the park and drove south on Highway 2. At mile marker 179, we started looking for the sign directing us to Essex.

The Walton is a historic railroad inn, built in 1939 for the Great Northern Railway workers. There is a beautiful lobby with a fireplace, which was burning when we arrived, and beautifully decorated guest rooms. But the real reason we were there was to check out some very unique accommodations.

The Walton Inn has taken four authentic railroad caboose cars and turned them into living spaces for guests. They sit high on a bluff above the hotel in a densely wooded area. We were so excited and ready to sign the registration when we discovered one small problem. There was a three-night minimum stay at the total cost of $595. Ouch!! This price is not negotiable, nor is the minimum stay. Believe me, I tried, and if we had the time (and the money), we would have stayed--utterly irresistible.

The clerk did, however, offer to let us tour them since none were occupied. We gladly took her up on the offer. We hiked across the bridge over the working railyard and made our way to the caboose cottages, as they are called. Each is very distinctive; some have bunk beds, and some have queen-sized beds. All have a kitchen, dining area, bathroom with shower, and even a deck outside to enjoy the outdoors. I think these are quite popular during the winter as there is a cross-country skiing area directly behind them. Sadly, we returned to the main hotel and surrendered the keys.

We toured the museum in the basement of the Inn that has been kept just as it was in the 1940s. A long bar occupies most of the space, but there is also a lounge area for those tired train workers (or exhausted guests) to relax. There is also the Dining Car serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Walton Inn has a great website where you can research some unique packages, including the Caboose Cabins, Honeymoon Weekends, and skiing packages.

Izaak Walton Inn & Resort
290 Izaak Walton Inn Road
Essex, Montana, 59916
(406) 888-5700


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