By Ron Engeldinger
The Pacific Northwest and Intermountain regions are home to some of the country’s finest national parks. Wonderful experiences and spectacular scenery await visitors to these national treasures. For meeting and event planners, the areas near these parks offer the opportunity to host a successful event in a special locale. Many of the hotels and resorts near the parks offer excellent meeting facilities and they are accustomed to serving groups. The proximity to a park provides unique opportunities to make the event a memorable occasion. Here is a selection of meeting and event venues that are near our national parks.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
Often referred to as the crown jewel of the North American continent, Glacier National Park is a mountain wonderland. From meadows filled with colorful wildflowers and pristine mountain lakes to soaring glacier-clad peaks, Glacier National Park offers a wealth of breathtaking scenery and appealing recreational opportunities. A drive along Going-To-The-Sun Road takes visitors deep into the park with up-close views of glaciers, mountains and wildlife. The communities surrounding the park offer a variety of meeting and event alternatives and offer an unlimited array of team building sessions, post-conference activities and leisurely sightseeing. The area is easily accessible by air to the Glacier Park International Airport, with daily service to major Northwest cities. Regular rail service by AMTRAK and modern highways make traveling to the region a pleasant experience.
Situated at the southeast corner of the park, the Glacier Park Lodge is wrapped in history and set in the shadow of lofty snow-clad peaks. Stepping into the grand lobby, surrounded by the towering trunks of Douglas fir trees, is like stepping back into the early 1900s. With four meeting rooms accommodating from 80 to 350, the lodge is suitable for any gathering from a large multi-day conference to an intimate board retreat. The nine-hole golf course, swimming pool and spa offer an abundance of activities for guests at the lodge, and excursions into the national park are easily arranged.
The Grouse Mountain Lodge is located west of the park only steps from downtown Whitefish, Montana. With nine meeting rooms comprising 11,000 square feet of meeting space, the lodge can accommodate up to 300 guests. The lodge is ideal for gatherings from large corporate seminars to more intimate retreats or planning sessions. A full-service day spa, onsite catering, full audiovisual support and complimentary WiFi provide all the services your meeting attendees will need. Whitefish offers a multitude of recreation activities, perfect for team building or post-conference enjoyment. Golf, watersports, winter skiing and summer hiking offer activities that range from fast-paced to leisurely. Whether it is shopping or dining in Whitefish or sightseeing in the national park, the region is ideal for any group.
Located just east of the park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, the Glacier Peaks Hotel and Casino is a full-service lodging and gaming venue. The facility has three conference rooms that together can accommodate up to 100 meeting attendees. The facility offers onsite catering, complimentary WiFi and free parking. Nearby attractions include the Museum of the Plains Indian, displaying the rich history and art of the Northern Plains tribal peoples, and the Blackfeet Nation Bison Reserve. The lakes and streams of the area offer world-class trout fishing and excursions into the national park offer sightseeing opportunities galore.
A short drive west of the park, Kalispell, Montana, is a bustling community full of Old West charm and modern amenities. Conference and event planners will appreciate the convenient location of the Red Lion Hotel Kalispell. All of Kalispell’s shopping, dining, arts and museums lies a few minutes away, the peaks of Glacier National Park country loom on the horizon. The hotel offers 12,000 square feet of meeting space and can accommodate as many as 900 guests for a reception. While the hotel is ideal for a medium-size conference, smaller rooms offer intimate spaces for corporate board meetings, planning retreats or seminars. The venue has free parking, complimentary WiFi and offers full-service onsite catering. Shuttle service is available from the nearby Glacier Park International Airport serving guests arriving by air.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON
Waves crashing on Pacific Ocean beaches, moss dripping from tree limbs in the ancient rainforest and mountain goats scampering among the high rocky crags exemplify the diverse range of landscape in the Olympic National Park. Only two to three hours from the Seattle area, the park offers a quiet escape from the city. A variety of hotels and lodges are scattered around the edge of the sprawling park offering several options for meetings and events in picturesque locales.
Surrounded by woodland rainforest on the shores of a tranquil lake on the western edge of the park, the Lake Quinault Lodge exudes classic Olympic Peninsula style. The timbered walls and cathedral ceiling of the Quillayute Ballroom provide a dramatic setting for a meeting or event. The rustic charm and privacy can accommodate up to 100 guests and offer just the right environment for a productive conference or retreat. Group activities include lawn games, kayak and canoe excursions on the lake and interpretive hikes through the rainforest. The lodge offers complimentary WiFi in the public areas, free parking, in-house catering and 91 modern guest rooms.
Built in 1916, the Lake Crescent Lodge sits amid majestic fir and hemlock trees along the shore of a peaceful lake at the north edge of the park. The main lodge guest rooms evoke an early turn-of-the-century elegance while additional cabins and motel rooms offer a variety of overnight experiences. The quiet seclusion of Lake Crescent Lodge makes it appropriate for an intimate retreat. The lodge’s 2,000-square-foot dining room can accommodate up to 100 guests for a meeting, reception or banquet. An enclosed sunporch faces the lake, rewarding guests with spectacular sunset views. Guests can explore the crystal-clear waters of the glacier-carved lake on canoe, kayak or standup paddleboard. Hiking and biking through the moss-draped forest is a favorite activity. Complimentary WiFi is available in the main lodge, and parking is free.
Overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Red Lion Port Angeles is a few blocks from the town center and minutes away from the park entrance. Windows overlooking the water provide a bright cheerful ambience to the Ballroom. Accommodating 250 in a theater-style setup, the hotel offers one of the largest meeting and event spaces on the Olympic Peninsula. Additional rooms of varying sizes provide space for breakout sessions and smaller groups. Groups will appreciate the full-service amenities from complimentary WiFi and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to the full catering menu. The Port Angeles area offers a variety of team building and post-conference activities. Beach combing, kayaking and whale watching excursions are at the hotel’s doorstep. The national park, a short drive away, offers sightseeing, wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities. For a leisurely afternoon, guests can explore the shops, restaurants and art galleries in town.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA AND WYOMING
With geysers spouting hundreds of feet in the air and rainbow-hued pools of boiling water, the earth’s powerful natural forces are on full display at Yellowstone. Combined with more than two million acres of lush Rocky Mountain forests, clear mountain streams and a profusion of native wildlife, the nation’s oldest national park delivers an unforgettable experience. Groups meeting in the area should plan a few extra days into their schedule to enjoy the variety of activities the area offers.
Located only minutes from the park, West Yellowstone, Montana, can be an exceptional location for your next meeting or event. “We can host anything from a 15-person corporate retreat to a conference for 1,800,” says Audi Butler, marketing director for the West Yellowstone Tourism Business Improvement District. The town has the facilities and support for groups that are usually only found in larger cities.
The historic Union Pacific Dining Lodge was built in 1925 to serve railroad passengers traveling to the Yellowstone region by train. The native materials used in constructing the lodge and the solid, rustic-style architecture impart a connection to the region’s natural surroundings. Immense rock fireplaces and windows with wide-open views provide a picturesque setting for any meeting or event. The expansive Mammoth Room provides a mountain-resort setting and the Firehole Room can accommodate a smaller event or breakout space. A fully-equipped professional kitchen is available for your caterer’s, use and free parking is available.
Built around a historic 1903 executive railroad car, the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone offers more than 10,000 square feet of space in its conference center for meetings and banquets. Wood and stone trim, accented by bright chandeliers, give the hotel a natural-setting ambience fitting with the natural beauty of the region. Two large ballrooms are suitable for conference-style gatherings or banquets for as many as 600 guests. Additional rooms can accommodate smaller gatherings and breakout sessions. With onsite catering, complete audiovisual support, free parking and complimentary WiFi, the facility can meet the needs of any group.
Located only three blocks from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone Lodge is a convenient location for a small meeting or event. The 800 square-foot meeting space seats as many as 60 for a conference or retreat. Free parking and complimentary WiFi are available. The lodge offers activity packages for guest to combine a stay at the lodge with excursions to explore the wonders of Yellowstone.
Recycled and salvaged materials are the hallmark of the newly re-constructed Three Bear Lodge. Originally built in 1932, the modern lodge emerged from the ruins after a 2008 fire. By re-using much of the stone from the original structure and incorporating natural materials, the owners of the lodge have retained the character of the original facility while adding modern amenities. With meeting space for up to 125 in three rooms, the lodge is suitable for a conference, retreat, seminar or banquet. Ample free parking, complimentary WiFi, audiovisual support and a generous catering menu provide support for any group function.
The Madison Crossing Building, the home of the West Yellowstone School for several decades, has been transformed into the Madison Crossing Event Center. The 1,650-square-foot main room, featuring the original wood-beamed ceiling, can accommodate as many as 150 in a theater-style setting. With a large stage, the room is ideal for a seminar or presentation. The center offers free parking and on-site catering for groups.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Glacier Park Lodge
Corinna Ceballos, regional sales manager
|Glacier Peaks Hotel and Casino
Jenn Kipp, building and catering coordinator
|Grouse Mountain Lodge
Corinna Ceballos, regional sales manager
|Red Lion Hotel Kalispell
Mylissa Thompson, sales manager
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau
|Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles
Lynn Merry, director of sales
|Lake Quinault Lodge
Paula Beck, director of sales and marketing
Lake Crescent Lodge
- 55 guest rooms
- 2,000 square feet of meeting space
Paula Beck, director of sales and marketing
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
West Yellowstone TBID
|Holiday Inn West Yellowstone
Shellie Georgio, director of sales
Crystal Marie Devita, general manager
|Three Bear Lodge
Megan Smith, group sales
|Madison Crossing Event Center
Andi Withner, general manager
|Union Pacific Dining Lodge
Kaitlin Johnson, manager