Reservations for the new Sperry Chalet In Glacier National Park sold out in a matter minutes, Kevin Warrington of Belton Chalets Inc. said.
Reservations opened on Jan. 13 for the newly-renovated backcountry hotel. Belton operates the backcountry chalet and its sister, Granite Park Chalet, for the National Park Service. Granite is also in the backcountry. Both chalets are perched high in the mountains of the park and are only accessible by trail.
Reservations are taken on a first-come-first-serve basis. About 1,000 people were left out, Warrington noted. The company’s servers survived the onslaught of interest.
“They groaned and moaned a little bit, but weathered the storm as well as hoped,” he quipped.
In a full season, Sperry, which has 17 guest rooms, typically has between 400 and 500 reservations, with about 2,000 guest nights.
The main dormitory of the chalet complex was gutted by the Sprague Fire on Aug. 31, 2017. All that remained was the stone shell of the 105-year-old building.
Over the past two years, Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls has spent the summer and early fall rebuilding the main dormitory where guests stayed. All told, the rebuild, through a contract with the Park Service, cost about $8.81 million.
The chalet this year will open July 18 and close Sept. 13. It’s about 6.5 miles to the chalet by trail, with about 3,300 feet of elevation gain from the Lake McDonald trailhead. It’s even farther — about 13 miles — from Jackson Glacier Overlook, though few people actually hike in from that side.
The chalet still has to be fully furnished — heavier items like bed frames and mattress will be flown in by helicopter. Anderson also has to complete a punchlist of items as well, which explains the later opening.
Prior to the fire, the chalet typically opened in early July.
Warrington said Granite Park Chalet also filled very quickly this year as well.
“It’s heartbreaking we’ll have to say ‘no’ to so many people,” Warrington said.
Reservations don’t transfer to the next year — the proverbial slate is wiped clean for the next round of potential guests each year.
Sperry Chalet offers meals to guests and even day hikers, while Granite is just a hiking shelter. The Sperry hike is a very warm trip in the summer, as the Sprague Fire burned most of the trees and the south-facing slopes on the way up no longer have shade. Folks who decide to make the trip are urged to pack plenty of water, as there’s a two-mile stretch or so that has no streams.