Ok....There's a lot to this review, so let me start off by saying Vacations by Rail did a great job with customer service, putting this trip together, and doing everything they said they would do. Great! We enjoyed working with them. The negative part comes from my husband and I discovering we don't like train travel, and the overall vacation itself really isn't worth the $6000-$7000 you fork over in order to do this. First of all, you feel like you spend more time on the train than doing the vacation. If you like train travel, then this is great! But 25-27 hours on a train each way is kinda torture, especially if you are in coach. Not to mention the scenery from Chicago to Glacier is really lackluster for most of the journey. The Amtrak employees are all super nice and wonderful, but the train itself is definitely not a clean or luxurious experience.
Also, I know why you are put in the Glacier Park Lodge for the first and last night (for easy access to the train station), but that lodge is very old and has a lot of issues. First of all, it's an hour away from the entrance to Glacier National Park, so going there on your last day is hard to do. Also, there's no AC, the walls and ceiling are made of paper, and everything creeks. St. Mary's Lodge was a much nicer stay, and had great food. Again, everywhere we went, the people there were super friendly and great. The boat tour on St. Mary's lake was really wonderful, but the bus tour really took the cake on this trip. Our red bus driver Bernie was just fabulous. Such an awesome guy.
So long story short: if you like to travel by train and have the money to upgrade to a sleeper car, like to have people tote you around, don't like exploring on your own, you like everything planned for you, you don't want to go off and hike, and only want 3 full days in the park, this trip is for you.
If not, save your money and do this trip your own way. My suggestion would be to fly to Glacier, rent a car, stay somewhere on either side of the park, then take the National Park Service shuttle to move about inside the park.
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