Why should I visit Essex?
Besides the Izaak Walton Inn and the Walton Goat Lick, there isn’t much to see in the town of Essex. But the drive to Essex along Highway 2 is worth the trip.
- Scenic Drive: Along the way to Essex drivers can enjoy wonderful views of Glacier National Park’s peaks to the north and the deep forests of Bob Marshall Wilderness to the south. This is the heart of grizzly country, so you might even see a bear along the road side. Elk, moose and deer are also often seen from Highway 2.
- Great Northern Railroad: In addition to its key location, Essex has a rich history with the Great Northern Railroad. For railroad buffs there are many opportunities to watch the railroad cars on their way up and over Marias Pass.
- Izaak Walton Inn: For a real trip through the Great Northern Railroad’s history, a visit to the Izaak Walton Inn is a must.
Where is Essex?
Located about 50 miles east of Whitefish on Highway 2, Essex is an easy day trip through some of the best scenery in northwest Montana.
From Whitefish, follow Route 93 to Highway 40 in Columbia Falls. In Columbia Falls Highway 40 turns to Highway 2 which winds its way past West Glacier, over the Marias Pass and into Essex.
What sort of Services and Amenities does Essex offer?
Besides the Izaak Walton Inn and the Healthy Haven Café, both located on Highway 2, there isn’t much else in Essex.
For additional accommodation or food options, visitors can head to East Glacier, which is 26 miles east, or travel to West Glacier, 31 miles west.
What can I do or see in Essex?
- Izaak Walton Inn
Now a flagship stop for Amtrak’s Empire Builder line between Chicago and Seattle, the Izaak Walton Inn is like a journey through time.
- Great Northern Railroad
Built in 1939 for personnel working on the Great Northern Railroad, the inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It features a unique view into local history and the construction of the railroad. In addition to standard lodge rooms, the Izaak Walton Inn offers charming accommodations inside one of its three on-premise cabooses.
- Walton Goat Lick
Just outside of Essex along Highway 2, the Walton Goat Lick is a big attraction during the summer months. With a large turnout and parking area, crowds gather from June to September to watch dozens of mountain goats gather along the jagged cliffs to enjoy mineral salt deposit which form from the mountain creek. A photographer’s dream, the Walton Goat Lick affords close vantage point to the goats without having to hike.