Holiday and Hotels
RECHARGE WITH A GETAWAY TO SKAMANIA LODGE, WASHINGTON
Once again I flew through the forest with the greatest of ease. Only this time, I was on a zipline course at Skamania Lodge, Washington, a well-known resort in Columbia Gorge country.
Surrounded by natural beauty, the lodge is an idyllic place to stay, with inviting guest rooms and common areas, and an impressive collection of Northwest art.
Amenities include award-winning restaurants, spa and fitness center, pool, hot tubs, championship golf and disc golf, and many other outdoor activities to satisfy adrenaline junkies. Do whatever you want in this all-ages playground where you can recharge, refresh and renew yourself.
WASHINGTON’S SKAMANIA LODGE HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The zipline tour I was on included seven different lines with a good variety of distances, heights, and speeds. In addition, there are three air bridges and an automatic protection station.
As you soar through the Tarzan- or Jane-fashion forest, be sure to keep your eyes peeled, because the views from above in this Pacific Northwest rainforest are magical.
The guides are cheerful and entertaining and add fun banter throughout the well planned course. They encourage you every step of the way and show you how to use the bar in different positions to lift if you like.
For example, lean back, go hands-free, try spinning or pushing the slingshot out of the tree. And definitely hire a cannonball for speed.
LET’S IMITATE THE NINJA CHANNEL PAUL BUNYAN
There’s also an on-site air park where you can test your strength, balance and agility as you fly through challenges of varying degrees of difficulty. You are attached with a carabiner so you can really let go and have your best ninja journey yet.
While you’re at it, add ax throwing to your repertoire. Channel your inner competitive Paul Bunyan as you hurl your ax at a wooden target to score points. And experience this powerful, primal release when you reach for the Eye of the Bull.
TRAIN WITH FITNESS FUEL
Although the cabin has an indoor fitness center with all the bells and whistles, I decided on a full body workout on the Gorge Loop Fitness Trail. This trail combines walking with challenges at five fitness centers.
You can use the accompanying equipment to perform your own treatment or follow the recommended exercises listed at each location. There are adjustments for different levels, which I appreciate. And being immersed in the area’s lush natural beauty is a bonus.
COLLECT with FOREST baths
As if that weren’t enough, the lodge has two other hiking trails that criss-cross the wooded landscape. They start near the golf shop and go 1.5 to 2.75 miles.
Forest bathing along the way. And if you’re not familiar with this activity, there’s an in-cab guide for you to follow. It’s about soaking up the atmosphere, touching nature, paying attention and embracing the senses.
Studies have shown that such a practice has significant health benefits, leading to lower blood pressure and reduced stress. And no, you don’t need to take an actual bath.
SPRING AND THEN SPA
Continue the relaxing vibe by soaking in the indoor or outdoor hot tubs. Then book a rejuvenating massage or rejuvenating facial at the Waterleaf Spa.
I had a fantastic facial with Laurie who incorporated several elements into my session including an anti-aging mask, hot stone massage and ice spheres. It felt like my skin had been brought back to life.
FOOD, DELICIOUS FOOD
Of course you will be hungry during your stay. Just know that you are in good hands with the chefs at Skamania. At the Cascade Dining Room, the menu emphasizes fresh, in season, and local whenever possible.
One night I started with a cup of creamy and flavorful Steelhead Soup followed by Pan Roasted Steelhead with Vegetable Hash.
Another night I had the hearty NW Seafood Stew, filled with clams, shrimp and Pacific fish in a tomato fennel broth. My husband enjoyed the Seafood Lodge Salad with clams, poached shrimp and smoked steelhead.
For a relaxed, pub-style atmosphere, head to the neighboring River Rock Lounge, which offers small plates and shareables, as well as local beers, creative produce and mocktails, and fine wines. Weather permitting, sit out on the deck and enjoy the never-before-seen view or watch a game of Frisbee on the large lawn.
Later, head to the fire pit to enjoy some old-fashioned smores. Grab a pack of smores from the gift shop and fry marshmallows until golden brown. Then you know the drill: sandwich them between two graham crackers with a chocolate chip for their delicious (and gooey) campfire treat.
STAY IN A WOODEN ROOM for a RUSTIC CREATION
The accommodations at Skamania Lodge, Washington are spacious and comfortable, with fireplaces and views of the Columbia River or ancient forest. If you are looking for rustic hospitality, choose to stay in one of the Tree Houses.
These secluded condos are adorned with expansive decks, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, king-sized beds, and full baths. Each room has an outdoor dining and recreation area with a fire pit below.
They are six meters high and have large windows that give you the feeling that you are sleeping in the canopy.
THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE IS AN OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND
While there’s more than enough to do in Skamania, outside the doors of your lodge you’ll find a world-class leisure haven ready to be explored.
The Columbia River Gorge, a Nationally Protected Landscape Area, spans Washington and Oregon and covers nearly 300,000 acres. It has the largest concentration of towering waterfalls in North America, including the awe-inspiring Multnomah Falls, the grand dame of them all.
GO to the top of BEACON Rock for inspiring views
If you’re a hiker, this area is nirvana, with 57 trails that add up to over 350 miles. For unforgettable panoramic views (and a good heart), climb Beacon Rock, the second largest monolith in the Northern Hemisphere at 250 meters high.
It shares its significance with geological features such as El Capitan in California, Stone Mountain in Georgia, and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Beacon was once the core of an ancient volcano and is named after Lewis and Clark who encountered this behemoth on their way west to the Pacific Ocean.
Reaching the top of Beacon Rock requires an almost continuous series of 54 switchbacks, many less than twenty feet long, and numerous concrete and wooden bridges.
However, the path is not too steep and is limited by handrails. Most importantly, your work will be rewarded with inspiring views of the mighty Columbia River and the surrounding area.
SEE ALL THINGS COLUMBIA GORGE AT THIS MUSEUM
To learn more about the history and culture of this special area, visit the nearby Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center.
There are thirteen exhibit areas that focus on topics such as early man, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the development of Columbia’s pioneer communities, the railroad, highway, and tailwheel eras, Bonneville Dam, and canyon geology.
The larger gallery focuses on logging and fishing in the canyon. Features a waterfall, replica 1882 fishing wheel, 1921 Mack support truck loaded with cedar, stationary 1895 steam engine and 1917 ceiling-suspended ‘Jenny’ biplane typical of the first aircraft carrying airmail brought to the gorge. .
FIND WATERFRONT COMFORT AND GOOD FISH AND CHIPS IN STEVENSON
Another “off-campus” destination is the town of Stevenson, a quaint waterfront community with a variety of shops, galleries, local restaurants, and an award-winning brewery. I enjoyed tasty fish and chips at Clark and Lewie’s while sitting on the outdoor patio overlooking the river.
Then I walked to the pier and watched the riverboats go by and the surfers glide across the water. This area offers some of the best spots to catch waves, as the Columbia acts as a funnel for the wind blowing through the river corridor.