One last thing about the Glacier National Park area: I really liked the entrance halls of the lodges and hotels we visited. It’s not that I’m a huge fan of taxidermy or hanging animal heads (I’m not), but the lobbies all conveyed a very strong sense of place — woodsy, wild, and recognizing the roles played and the traditions created by the native Americans who treated this part of the world as a sacred place.
A favorite of ours was the Lake McDonald Lodge, which is located on the grounds of Glacier National Park itself. Like many of the lodges in the area, it has an exterior that looks like a Swiss chalet, which evidently was part of a campaign to convince rich people back east that the Montana Rockies were like the Swiss Alps. The lobby, though, is a more evocative place, with a vaulted central area open to several floors of the lodge that features stuffed animals and heads everywhere you look and a unique central light fixture with shades that were hand-painted by members of the Blackfeet tribe.
At one end of the lobby there is an enormous, two-tier fireplace decorated with pictograms. The fireplace creates a kind of initial gathering area, complete with rockers, and with an interior fireplace behind. It’s not hard to imagine what it would be like to come in from the cold, shake off the snow, and then sit by that fireplace to be warmed. And it’s got a moose head, too, of course.
I wouldn’t want a moose head in my home, and the lodge decor obviously wouldn’t fit in Columbus, Ohio — but when you are going on vacation and looking to get away from it all, a lobby that physically and tangibly reminds you that you are someplace different really helps. It sure as heck beats the generic lobbies you find in most hotels.