Take a Scenic Side Trip to Polebridge Mercantile, Montana
If you're visiting Glacier National Park, don't miss a scenic side trip to Polebridge and its social hub, the Polebridge Mercantile, a 1914 general store/post office that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Few people visit the Merc because not many know about it. Moreover, it's a long drive from the park's west entrance on a partially paved and gravel road.
But the store's fresh bakery alone is worth the trip. I loved the cinnamon rolls! You can also purchase gas and groceries here and rent a rustic cabin for an overnight stay ($30 to $35 a night for two adults).
North of Polebridge and inside the park, you'll find mirror-like Bowman and Kintla Lakes, two of the most beautiful crystal-clear lakes I've ever seen.
While you're there, be sure to take a hike on the surrounding backcountry trails; public campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Polebridge is just outside the park's western border, about 35 miles north of Columbia Falls, Montana on County Highway 486 (also known as the Outside North Fork Road). From the park's Camas Creek Entrance, take the North Fork Road and follow the signs; it's about a 15-mile drive.
The store is generally open 7 days a week, but it shuts down for a few weeks in late winter, so be sure to call ahead before visiting. For more information call 1-466-888-5105.
I visited the Polebridge Merc on Sat. Aug. 15th, 2010 in the early afternoon. I noticed a really cute pair of earrings on display in the glass cabinet. I wanted to see the price and check them out. The place was so darn busy, with only one clerk who was rapidly using the cash register for each customer in line. I waited and waited. She was so busy that she never noticed me, nor did anyone else. Eventually I had to leave, disappointed, without my souvenier. (They were a pair of sterling silver bears with Indian markings on them. The bears were about the size of a nickle, maybe a bit smaller. They were attached to a paper card) Really cute. They had 2 pair left on that day. Can you tell me the cost of one pair if they're still there? Perhaps I can still buy them and you can mail them out to me. I checked in every other gift shop in Glacier and never saw another pair like them.
By the way, the odor of the deli sandwiches and onions combined with the baked goods didn't smell very good while I waited in that stuffy old store. Ugh. I didn't buy anything.....what a waste, after the rough road to get there.