We don’t often stay at commercial campgrounds, but when we do, we always choose KOA. They’re the most interesting campgrounds in the world! And sure, they’re pricier than most, but because you get so much for that higher price – large, clean and well-stocked restrooms, spacious sites, often a refreshing pool and hot tub, creative and beautiful landscaping (try the KOA in Missoula, MT for incredible landscaping), super-friendly staff, a value-priced restaurant of some sort (usually pancake breakfasts), and lovely landscaping and grounds – it’s not costly, it’s just great value.
I wish we could say that held true at our stay 7/30 & 7/31 at the St. Mary’s KOA near Glacier. We had actually planned to stay in the Park, but campgrounds there fill up early, and there were no vacancies the afternoon we arrived. But – no problem – because there was a KOA just outside the Park. We’d switch gears and enjoy a little KOA “resort” camping.
But our stay was a definite disappointment. The tent site was smaller than most KOA’s we’ve stayed at and the edges of the site were littered with napkins and tissues. Not a big problem, really, but not up to KOA standards. The worst situation, however, was the state of the restrooms. As stated in other reviews, there doesn't seem to be enough restroom capacity for the size of the campground, so the restrooms were always full. Worse than that, though, was the fact that the first night we were there, two out of three stalls in the women’s room had run out of toilet paper, and the one towel dispenser was empty. The toilet paper situation should not have occurred, because the restroom stalls each had a large-capacity, double-roll dispenser. If these had been checked, even once a day, this should not have occurred. And the men’s restroom was flooded due to a constantly overflowing urinal the two nights we stayed. My husband had to pull up his pants legs to keep them from getting soaked whenever he used the restroom. Of course, his shoes did get soaked. I would suggest that in the down season, this KOA add more restroom capacity – and, until then, rent a few Porta-Potties to be placed around the grounds.
The other little minor thing that really stood out for us – simply because it was a KOA – was the weediness of the grounds. There was quite a bit of noxious knapweed throughout the campground, and we know that it’s rampant in the area, and difficult to keep at bay, so tried not to be too critical about that. But, more than the knapweed problem was the graveled area around the pool which was full of dandelions and other weeds. It just looked …… unkempt ….. and uncared-for.
Now, none of these issues would be a problem if we’d spent $10 at a Forest Service campground, but the almost $40/night that we spent for a small tent site was simply not good value and definitely not up to KOA standards. And oh – at that price – the promised internet access was never available, either.
On a positive note, the employees were all super friendly and helpful, the camp store was clean and well-stocked, and the campground has great views. We hope that it can be brought up to KOA standards for future visits, whether for us or for other Kampers.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This campground resort is perfectly located for quick and easy access to Glacier National Park. Panoramic views from your campsite provide a backdrop of towering glacial carved valleys and peaks. Those in the "know" will tell you the best hiking and sightseeing are on the east side so pick up lunch fixings at the KOA grocery store and gift shop, then board a Glacier tour bus at the campground entrance or hit the trails to the remote backcountry. If you want to give your dog a day off while you explore, your hosts offer pet sitting. Put your feet up and enjoy this relaxing resort atmosphere while you hone your putting skills, play bocce or enjoy the new swimming pool and hot tub complex. Rent a kayak and explore the wilds of Lower St. Mary Lake and River. The AOK Grill serves up breakfasts, pizzas and dinners daily from mid-June to September. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- St Mary / East Glacier Koa Hotel Saint Mary
- St Mary / East Glacier KOA Saint Mary, Montana