Glacier Park Boat Company dates back to 1938, when Mr. Arthur J. Burch, a banker in Kalispell, purchased the contract to provide tour boat services in Glacier National Park from J.W. Swanson. Captain Swanson was a prolific boat builder on Flathead Lake and was one of the first to build and operate boats for transportation and scenic cruises on the lakes in Glacier National Park. He operated his own boat concession and provided boats and assistance for the Glacier Park Hotel Company, the Great Northern Railway’s tourism subsidiary in the park, and the Glacier Park Transport Company on Lake McDonald.
This historic tour boat company, which stemmed from Captain Swanson’s masterfully built tour boats, has remained in the Burch family for more than 75 years. Glacier Park Boat Company, while going through a series of evolutions, has now been passed on to the third generation of the Burch family to keep alive the long tradition of exceptional visitor services on historic tour boats in Glacier National Park.
The boats are part of the family, too. As you can imagine, these classic wooden boats take endless hours of work to maintain their original splendor. Most of this work has to be done in spring and fall in boathouses on Glacier National Park’s lakes. While the scenery is great, spring weather in Montana is often unpredictable, many lakes are more than 5000 feet in elevation and the boathouses are unheated. The amount of pride and determination it has taken for the Burch family to keep our fleet afloat is immense. Experience living history on one of our beautiful historic vessels this summer!