Hike to Sperry Chalet

Hike to Sperry Chalet

2019 Hike to Sperry Chalet

Two years ago today, on August 31, 2017, the main dormitory at Sperry Chalet burned to the ground in the Sprague Fire in Glacier National Park.

The Glacier National Park community was shocked. I personally sat on my porch and cried my heart out at the loss of the old gal. The next morning, seeing the first pictures released by the park service, I felt certain that she would not, could not, be rebuilt.

loss of Sperry Chalet to Sprague Fire

Side view of Sperry Chalet after the Sprague Fire. NPS Photo.

That same morning that I questioned Sperry’s future, Doug Mitchell with the Glacier National Park Conservancy met with Glacier’s superintendent, Jeff Mow, and asked a simple question: How can we help?

And it wasn’t long after that Doug found himself purchasing timber, and the “Viking Ship,” as he referred to Sperry through that long winter of 2017-2018, was born.

Sperry Chalet, AKA The Viking Ship. Winter 2017-2018. Photo courtesy Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Those timbers supported Sperry as the politicians and the bureaucrats bantered about rebuilding her. Consultants and experts were hired, public opinion was sought and heard, hard decisions were made. And in Summer 2018, re-construction commenced.

Sperry Chalet construction, Summer 2018.

Sperry Chalet construction, Summer 2018.

Phase I, as it was called, was successful, and over the winter the National Park Service called for bids for Phase II. In May 2019, it was announced that the same contractor would remain in place for Summer 2019 construction. If construction went well — and to date, it has — a July 2020 reopening is anticipated.

I hiked up to Sperry last summer, to pay my respects to her, and to see that construction for myself. This summer, I haven’t yet had a chance to go, but a backpacking trip of ours went through there last week, and I asked Guide Todd Bauer to take a few photographs for me. Take a look.

rebuild Sperry Chalet

Dick Anderson Construction – crew housing during the Sperry Phase II project. Photo by Guide Todd Bauer.

The 2019 rebuild Sperry Chalet project is going well. Roof is on! Photo by Guide Todd Bauer.

rebuild Sperry Chalet

Sperry from above. Photo by Guide Todd Bauer

Glacier National Park mountain goat in the Sprague Fire burn

Mountain goat at Sperry Chalet, standing in the Sprague Fire burn. Photo by Guide Todd Bauer.

The love people have for Sperry — even people who’ve never been there — touches me. I’d say it touches many of us in the Glacier community. And all of the Glacier National Park Chalets are special — those still standing and those long since lost to us. There were once 9 of them. I encourage you to read about their history here.

Dawn from Swiftcurrent Fire Tower, near Granite Park Chalet.

Dawn from Swiftcurrent Fire Tower, near Granite Park Chalet. Guest Connor Joslin photo.

Want to go see the chalets yourself? We offer 3 day adventures from Granite Park Chalet several times each summer. In the past, we’ve also had the privilege to guide guests on 3 day experiences based out of Sperry and 6 day ultimate chalet tours involving Sperry, Granite, and Belton chalets. We’re hopeful that we’ll again be able to do so again in the future. You can always email courtney@glacierguides.com to get on the first-to-know-dates list! I look forward to hearing from you.

cheers to Sperry Chalet Glacier National Park Montana

The author at Sperry Chalet.

By | 2019-08-31T05:05:14-07:00 August 31st, 2019|

About the Author:

Southern expatriate. Montana devotee since 1989. As Marketing Director for Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, I strive daily to meet our mission of providing exceptional active travel vacations and experiences in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting Glacier's unique ecosystem using the best available ecologically sound practices. Otherwise, you'll find me hiking, backpacking, rafting, skiing, or cleaning up the trail of glitter my kids leave in the wake of their own daily adventures. p.s. I like guest blogging. Shoot me an e-mail for details.


  1. Dr. Harold (Tink) Gamble August 31, 2019 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Courtney, Thanks for doing what you do–I enjoy reading anything about my favorite place in the world: Sperry Chalet. I was the leadman on the Sperry Trail Crew in 1965 & 66. In 1965, my five-man crew lived in the Chalet, lower floor back left corner as one enters the structure. We were provided three meals daily in the dining room, prepared by Kay Ludding and her wonderful crew ( one of the young girls was Polly Peppard, niece of the famous actor George Peppard). Then in 1966 I was again assigned duty at Sperry, but this time I went up a week early with the Trail Crew Forman, Avery Ferguson. The two of us converted a tool shed into a cabin for my crew of four. That cabin appears to still be there, straight ahead of the dining room door, about twenty yards. We found a lot of old pipe and ran a long line down the hill from a stream to the back of the cabin: our jury-rigged shower. I’m 73 years old now, so I’m unsure if I could make the hike to Sperry. However, in a few years I plan to pay for my tw children and four grandchildren to experience the wonder of Sperry as I did so many years ago. Sincerely , Dr. Harold (Tink) Gamble

    • Courtney Stone September 3, 2019 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Dr. Gamble,
      We always enjoy hearing from you, and love your memories of working on the Sperry Trail Crew in the 60s! I vote that you join your children and grandchildren via horseback up to Sperry, if not on foot. My dad is about your same age, and he can still do it, with effort, but with joy. Stay in touch!

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