Christie's Blog, Glacier

Story Behind the Listing: Lake Five Resort, West Glacier

Ron Ridenour has led a charmed life on the shores of a sweet-watered, crystalline Montana lake. For the past century, his family has operated the beloved Lake Five Resort in West Glacier. And now, the longtime owners of this legacy property are putting it on market in order to settle into an even quieter pace of life.

Breathtaking views of Glacier National Park and the pristine waters of Lake Five combine for the perfect setting for your exclusive home in the woods on this 17+ acre hideaway. Just minutes to the west entrance of Glacier National Park, this property boasts over 1400+ lineal feet of waterfront on the south shore of Lake Five. It’s rare to have any parcel come to market along this highly desirable lake…take advantage of this exclusive opportunity. The elevation rises as you move from the lake to multiple potential building sites, providing endless options for new construction for the discerning buyer. This legacy property has been with the same family for over 100 years. They have hosted destination vacations, reunions, and weddings, as a place to get-away from the rest of the world! See the listing here.

Ridenour sat down with PureWest to recall the history of this property, and his connection to Lake Five.

I’ve had the best life because of this place. I wouldn’t trade with anybody. It’s been the funnest situation that I’ve ever known of.

Lake Five started as a homestead in 1915. Park visitors would come down and purchase garden produce from my grand parents because they had a nice garden. A couple ladies from Great Falls, Montana—doctor’s wives—were staying up in the park, on the shores of Lake McDonald. One day, they walked on the shores of Lake Five, and saw this pristine beauty. They said to my grandfather, ‘if you build us a couple of log cabins, we’ll rent them.’ Off it went. That was 1920, ’21, when the first cabin-dwellers came. Then they started building more cabins, and a little campsite.

Families would come with their kids, so we had built-in friends all summer. You ride bicycles, and you swim in the lake, you waterski, and you have campfires.

It wasn’t much when I was a kid. But we kept upgrading. Trying to make it nicer. I like to make it nicer but keep the same homey feel of it. I like to say we’re very non-corporate in a corporate world.

Visitors had this place [beach access] for free until the mid-60s, when we started charging a quarter for admission. Before, my grandparents were just hoping that’d sell somebody a hamburger or a coke or a sack of potato chips.

Growing up here, every kid had to be involved. Our parents expected us to pitch in. Early on, I rented swimsuits to people. For a quarter, you got a swimsuit and a tow, and a box with a number on it for your clothes, which would go in a shelving system. I wish I still had one of those bathing suits—they were corny, and baggy, but quite fashionable back in the day.

My two rules are don’t litter, and be nice. I don’t let the tiniest bit of litter accumulate. People come in and say, ‘this place is so clean!’

I love to swim. It’s the best exercise there is, and I’ve never run across nicer waters to swim in. Clear, warm—the lake warms up early. If you get thirsty, you just take a drink. I’ve swam around Lake Five, I’ve swam across it, I’ve swam over to the island. I try to wake up around 7 or 7:30 in the morning. I do a mountain bike ride with my dogs, so they get their exercise, and then I swim to the middle of the lake and back.

Everyone who leaves, says, “Ron, we had the best time.” And, “This is our favorite place we found for our reunion in over 20 years of having reunions all over America. We’re coming back, and we’re telling all our friends.” I don’t even advertise, because we don’t need to.

The beauty and the harmony and the delightfulness of this place is so special that you can’t really put a price tag on it. This place is magic.

If you’re interested in property outside of Glacier National Park, please call our experienced local agents, or browse our statewide listing map. Nearby, you’ll also find exquisite Whitefish Montana real estate, Bigfork real estate, Kalispell real estate, and Lakeside Montana real estate.

PHOTO: Lake Five Resort, 540 Belton Stage Road, West Glacier. For more information, contact Barb Riley at (406) 253-7729 or

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