10 Grand Lodges of the Pacific Northwest

Cascadia has timbered villas and chalets aplenty. But what exactly makes a grand lodge? It should breathe an air of epic romance, a place where quotidian worries succumb to wild beauty and creature comforts. These 10 retreats invoke the mythic best of the Northwest. And each has its perfect season.

Winter

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Timberline’s 400-ton fireplace; fire pits ring the lodge; in-room snacks

Timberline Lodge Is a Bastion of American Gumption

Timberline Lodge’s multistory stone hearth—an immense, hexagonal furnace weighing 800,000 pounds—would be at home on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels, along with the rest of this mammoth Mount Hood snow fortress. Dedicated in 1937, Portland’s nearest (dearest?) mountain lodge screams old-fashioned Oregon ingenuity. The Depression-era Works Progress Administration funded its local teams of weavers (who hand-loomed the curtains), artists (who lined its glass mosaics), and carpenters (who hewed beams big enough to hoist sails on the HMS Victory).

All to say that staying at Timberline is like bunking in a super-cozy history museum. But Timberline’s two million annual visitors also know that Hood’s only ski-in, ski-out resort is built 6,000 feet up a mountain with one of the longest seasons in the country—and that when it’s raining at Ski Bowl or Meadows, it’s still snowing on Timberline’s 41 varied runs.

The price of sleeping in this creaky castle is also steep: room prices start around $200 and can run more than double that, plus the cost of lift tickets. Vittles, too, will cost you—expect $40–50 entrées for a Cordon Bleu test-kitchen-level dinner in the Cascade Dining Room. (Timberline’s semi-secret, closet-size Blue Ox Bar normally serves topping-heavy pizza at a lower price point, but it’s not currently open; watch for the seasonal Phlox Point Cabin, known for its midmountain street tacos, to open when ski season hits.)

Still, there’s nothing quite like escaping a high-alpine storm through Timberline’s snow tunnel, then opening those heavy, mosaic-fitted doors to greet a toasty fire. And waking up to Hood’s south face beaming through your window? Timeless. Government Camp, Ore., winter rates from $205–420 —Benjamin Tepler

Idaho’s Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge Is a Mini Ski City for the Stars

Imagine a lodge where silver screen star Tyrone Power rubbed elbows with Henry Ford and Hemingway; where Janet Leigh (and, later, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis) skied while presidents and jazzmen sipped whiskey in leather armchairs snugged up to well-stoked hearths.

Such a gratuitously star-struck lodge exists: Sun Valley Resort, built into the eastern slopes of Idaho’s Sawtooth Range. And all that glamorous legend-making? Hand-spun, one zealously courted celebrity at a time, by New York publicists. The story of Sun Valley has always been a study in power plays (and powder playing), starting in 1936, when W. Averell Harriman, heir to Union Pacific Railroad millions, built what he marketed as America’s first destination ski resort.

Eighty-some years later, the once sorta-rustic lodge has swelled into an opulent, mahogany-paneled luxury complex with facilities capable of training Winter Olympians. Sun Valley is, in fact, its own city, with a dedicated zip code, workforce housing, and a “village” of eateries and tchotchke shops winding just beyond the main lodge parking lot. In 2015, the property’s current owners—the Holding family, heirs to Sinclair Oil millions—financed a massive update of the main lodge: vaster guest rooms, an expanded spa, a snazzier basement bowling alley. Also? Five new “celebrity suites,” each a themed tribute to a Sun Valley heavyweight who helped burnish the legend. (Hello, Papa.) Sun Valley, Idaho, winter rates from $345–1,427 —Ramona DeNies

Spring

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Boathouse restaurant and marina; Suttle Lake; Suttle Lodge in full winter mode

Suttle Lodge Is a Shabby-Chic Mountain Retreat

Loose Trivial Pursuit cards in plastic bags. Ouija boards. DVDs like Encino Man and Cabin Fever. At Suttle Lodge, 37 miles northwest of Bend near Santiam Pass, the entertainments are quirky and well worn.

It’s as if distractible Portland hipsters and the editors of Bon Appétit dreamt up a mountain retreat and brought it to life, complete with a Pinterest–ready Pendleton woolen throw on every bed, a Traeger grill by every cabin. On the menu of the warm-season Boathouse restaurant (in 2022 it closes September 19), a deliberately prismatic plate of crunchy veggies cuddles up with griddled hot dogs. Other details—say, that dog-eared Gil Scott-Heron record—could well be thrift store finds from nearby Sisters.

There’s both charm and occasional frustration here—a laid-back log palace where execution can feel like a run of incomplete sentences. Luckily for the lodge—which reopened in 2016 with new owners affiliated with the Ace Hotel Portland and bars Pépé le Moko and Spirit of ’77—no one’s going to quibble with the setting. From Suttle’s generous deck, lawn games scatter across soft grass toward a beer garden and pastoral dock. Beyond that: calm Suttle Lake and the fragrant conifers of the trail-laced Deschutes National Forest. And within an hour’s drive, guests can access some of the state’s dreamiest hot springs: Belknap, Breitenbush, and Cougar.

Suttle boasts year-round natural thrills—snowshoeing to canoeing—but it’s also a draw for gastrotourism, with foraging treks, winery pop-ups, and a guest chef series. (Portland chefs Peter Cho and Doug Adams are featured September 20, 2022.) For urbane Portlanders, this is where to rough it, without roughing it at all. Sisters, Ore., spring rates for lodge rooms from $155–387, rustic cabins from $85 —RD

A spa tub at Salish Lodge

Salish Lodge Is Your Great Northern Spa

Perched above Snoqualmie Falls and familiar from pancake-mix packages and the dreamy intro to the ’90s TV series Twin Peaks, 106-year-old Salish Lodge & Spa was once a simple, woodsy traveler’s rest. In 2017, the already slicked-up spot, now nearly absorbed by the Seattle metro area, got even more luxe with a “contemporary mountainside concept” renovation, including updated bathrooms and a new VIP lounge.

But it’s still all about the waterfall (pictured at top). While forking through predictable but pleasing Northwest fare (chinook salmon, cedar-roasted wild mushrooms), eaters in the dining room or Attic restaurant can look out over the fantastical drop of the 268-foot falls, drama heightened by a deep wine list packed with Northwest AVAs. (A few guest rooms also offer Snoqualmie Falls glimpses.)

Note: the lodge is wedged between river and roadway. On summer weekends, that means traffic jams to viewpoints and competition for access to the Salish’s crisp, slate-floored spa from Seattle day-trippers on their way back from Mount Si. Visit, instead, in mistier months, when the spa’s soaking tubs (and area hiking trails and golf courses) are less crowded—and when that in-room fireplace extends a welcome worthy of Twin Peaks’ fictional Great Northern Hotel. (A gin-and-cadramom Dale Cooper cocktail helps, too.) Snoqualmie, Wash., spring rates from $409–1,809 —Margaret Seiler

Sun Mountain Lodge’s spring wildflowers

Sun Mountain Lodge Is a Sportsman’s Brigadoon

In Washington’s North Cascades between Winthrop and Twisp, Sun Mountain Lodge commands 360-degree views of the Methow River Valley. At 3,000 feet on an isolated crest, the perch has a king-of-the-world feeling, this fiefdom fully traversable by a trail system that extends well beyond the resort’s 3,400 acres.

In winter, that means groomed Nordic track; fall and summer are hiking, riding, and mountain biking. But come spring, as sunflowers blanket the valley, the lure is fly-fishing: steelhead, smallmouth bass.

Bearing witness to the circle of life is Sun Mountain’s astounding (confounding? distressing?) taxidermy collection. Hunting trophies—a bequest from a fan—throng the lodge, from the bison staring down guests at reception to the Gould’s turkeys, javelinas, and musk ox marching down the main arcade. In one cozy sitting room, four sheep heads flank a TV showing Tucker Carlson’s apoplectic face. In the wine cellar (home to 3,500 bottles stacked floor-to-ceiling), a polar bear looms over private diners.

Yes, Sun Mountain Lodge isn’t exactly a Left Coast oasis. It is, however, a place where local wild game might appear on a fine dining menu. That vast, America-centric wine list spans everything from a $460 Columbia Valley cab to $27 organic bottles from Chile. And unlike older lodges—built back when bunkrooms and shared bathrooms were endured by the well-heeled—this 55-year-old chalet (renovated in 1990) offers guests seriously private amenities: in-room fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, wet bars. For those seeking refuge from Portland preciousness, behold your Big Game Hunter BrigadoonWinthrop, Wash., spring rates from $240–492 —RD

Summer

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Takeoff; Minam’s wood-fired hot tub; garden zucchini; a horse hitch and cabin

Minam River Lodge Is Luxury’s Last Frontier

On warm summer days, Barnes Ellis—a former reporter turned investment adviser and owner of the Minam River Lodge in Eastern Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness—has been known to hop into his Cessna 206 for wine-related emergency flights to Walla Walla. The party he’s refueling could be a wedding, or a lamb roast with guest chef Philippe Boulot. Possibly the lodge ran out of Syrah after a raucous weekend with winemakers from Elk Cove or Walter Scott. Or maybe guests just got extra thirsty on the hike in—nearly nine verdant miles by foot or horseback. The only other entry to this nearly seven-year-old retreat? Private aircraft, landed on a backcountry strip so rugged it can bounce a plane right into its bordering, nationally designated “Wild and Scenic” river. (Not something that intimidates readers of Pilot Getaways magazine, which put Minam on a 2017 cover; the following season, Condé Nast Traveler named it one of world’s top new hotels.)

Minam’s inaccessibility is part of the charm; here, amenities shine with extra luster. The lodge—a neglected hunter’s retreat—took a tight crew of craftspeople six years (and a fortune in helicopter transport) to rebuild. Furniture was milled and hand-built on-site. The now-cushy main lodge is efficiently warmed by one central fireplace; down a trail, a wood-fired hot tub and sauna are tucked near Minam’s more affordable wall tents. Hikes run in all directions. (Consult the lodge’s own guidebook, penned by Pacific Northwest trail junkie Douglas Lorain.) From cabin porches, night skies rain starlight over the snow-dusted Wallowas: isolated splendor that comes with Terminal Gravity on tap and waterfall showers. Cove, Ore., summer rates from $295–595 —RD

Mount Rainier looms over Paradise Inn

Paradise Inn Is an Austere Romance

There’s a lending library tucked into a corner of Paradise Inn’s wraparound mezzanine; its worn titles include a Rock Hudson memoir and what must be the world’s entire catalog of Christmas-themed bodice rippers. Paradise isn’t open in winter—the lodge, built in 1916 just below Mount Rainier’s treeline, is snowbound half of the year. But there’s a crisp chill here even at the height of summer, when tricked-out summiteers and Chinese tour buses clog the parking lots, and the lodge’s yellow cedar–studded bunkrooms are booked solid.

That draft won’t reach the balcony, where guests hole up with schlocky books and complimentary tea and cookies. Below, two roaring fireplaces bookend the great hall; between them, most afternoons, resident pianist (“Bill from Florida,” says the manager) plies the very same ivories tickled by Harry Truman back in 1945.

These comforts aside, Paradise can be, to borrow the manager’s phrase, an austere experience. There’s no pool, fitness center, or spa. And, famously, no Wi-Fi. In the original lodge, only the ADA-accessible ground-floor quarters have private bathrooms—though guests in the lodge’s renovated 79-room annex also enjoy this luxury. The restaurant fare is about what you’d expect for a private concern hawkishly watched by the National Park Service: bland, bulk-sourced, and cooked by kids who’d rather be mountain-climbing.

No, the romance of Paradise stems from the weather god outside: Mount Rainier towering in mist and snow. But that pink in your cheeks lingers indoors, with warm hearths, boozy “campfire cups,” and a good book. (Steamy, of course.) Ashford, Wash., summer rates from $169–417 —RD

FROM LEFT: Rosario Resort; views from Rosario’s townhomes

Rosario Is Where Tired Industrialists Take the Cure

Victorian-era cornflakes purveyor John Harvey Kellogg was something of a hypochondriac; his concerns drove his own buzzy mid-19th-century sanatorium in Michigan, focused on water cures and lots of enemas. Forty years later, another titan of industry—Robert Moran, shipbuilder and onetime Seattle mayor—built a similarly customized health spa, albeit across the nation on an island in the north Salish Sea.

You can still take the cure at Rosario Resort & Spa, with a heated “quiet” pool and two summertime outdoor pools. But where Kellogg focused on quackery, Moran—a fan of environmentalist John Muir—lavished his attention on landscaping: hiring the legendary Olmsted Brothers firm to sculpt the grounds, and donating 5,250 resort-adjacent acres of hushed emerald forests and pocket lakes to form Orcas Island’s Moran State Park. (And yes, there’s also a two-story Aeolian pipe organ in the middle of his mansion.)

More than a century in, it’s fair to say that Rosario has seen some weather—ownership changes, devaluation, wear and tear. The lodge’s old bedrooms are locked up; instead, guests stay in modern cliffside townhomes: by day, cruising the sound in rentable kayaks (or their own sailboats and yachts), and by night, taking in live shows in the townie-friendly Moran Lounge. Orcas Island, Wash., summer rates from $139–299 —RD

Fall

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge; wildflowers on a Carlton Farms pork chop; the lodge and Rogue River in the gloaming

Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge Is for Literary Fly-Fishers

At the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge, cedar cladding and an Arts and Crafts framework tell guests they’re in NorCal-adjacent Southern Oregon. Yet what with the rushing Rogue River, on-site fishing licenses for sale, and talk of the day’s catch, this feels like Norman Maclean country. 

Folded into an evergreen hillside off coastal US 101 eight miles east of Gold Beach, this former locals’ river retreat isn’t a place you just stumble upon. Someone must have told you about it, and those who stay here have the satisfied sense of being in on a secret. Pronounced a bit like “high-falutin’,” the Tu Tu’ Tun does attract well-heeled Bay Area ex-bohemians and moneyed Seattleites. (It survived the decline of Oregon’s fishing and logging industries by pivoting, in the 1990s, into a higher-end retreat.) But you’ll also find Canadian retirees here, and the occasional schoolteacher-turned-cowgirl back for a return visit.

Comprising a small lodge building, a guest wing, and three rentable houses, the Tu Tu’ Tun puts on no airs. It pampers, instead, with friendliness and familiarity. Staff greet guests by name, offering a jacket for jet boat rides, visits to the Adirondack chairs on the gently sloping lawn, or a turn on the bocce court, four-hole pitch and putt, or horseshoe pit. There are luxurious touches here: a lap pool, a seasonal spa tent, and river views for each cozy room, some with wood-burning fireplaces and private patio soaking tubs. An add-on dinner might include orchard apples—if the resident black-tailed deer haven’t munched them all—or a corn-and-pea succotash popping with cherry tomatoes from the flowerringed kitchen garden, halibut or poached rockfish, salads with coastal Face Rock cheese, and the lodge’s “famous” piping-hot popovers. But the Tu Tu’ Tun’s personality is more literary fly-fisher than sybaritic shut-in. Take the surprising number of Glimmer Train issues on the bookshelf, or the fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for guest use—one of Tu Tu’ Tun’s many reminders, along with the framed fish art and folks in waders, that a river runs through it. Gold Beach, Ore., fall rooms from $205 —MS

FROM LEFT: Skamania Lodge’s river-facing Adirondack chairs; the lodge’s skylit saline pool

Skamania Is a Normcore Paradise

Like an airport thriller you can’t stop reading, Skamania Lodge is a warm bath for tired minds. Popular with Christian groups, military reunions, and tech confabs, the sprawling complex—just 45 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge—evokes a corporate Breitenbush, rolling out basics without a drop of hipness. But in its serene blandness, Skamania comforts and still surprises.

Here, things stay interesting while evoking family-vacation vibes, from zip lines to lodge-chartered rafting and painting classes. At one end of the 254-room lodge, toddlers splash in the fitness center’s saline pool. Steps away, wholesome teenagers energetically make out in the hot tub. Out-of-state 50-somethings discreetly inquire about recreational pot. Hikers on Skamania’s trails are warned to watch for the area’s swift and heartless aerial predators: stray golf balls launched from its adjacent golf course. 

Built in the early 1990s as a lodge-themed event space, Skamania is about as transportive as a suburban mall, with Sting on the sound system and food that evokes Costco home cooking at fine dining prices. Yet there are good reasons to visit. The setting, for one—a forest-ringed parkland with 270-degree views of Gorge beauty. Also, there’s just too much to do, from monkeying around the new aerial park (a stealth workout) to serious spa exfoliation. Amid the whir of golf carts, find unexpected catharsis from work and politics in the lodge’s new ax-throwing cage. Come dusk, roast s’mores (gear provided) by the fire pit before retiring to your guest room (or one of the lodge’s four new stilt houses in the trees). Like that airport page-turner, a stay here is a predictable, rock-solid win. Stevenson, Wash., fall rooms from $229–593 —Amy Martin

Destination Relaxation

These plush retreats might not qualify as grand lodges, per se. But their spas are far more than your basic scrub-and-rub.

Allison Inn & Spa

Champagne-oil massages, grape-seed scrubs, and “pinot pedicures”remind Allison guests they’re in wine country. Consider lingering overnight after that facial to get access to the guests-only, infinity-edge pool. Newberg, Ore., treatments from $20 (chin wax) to $310 (seasonal outdoor couples massage), rooms from $525

Salishan Spa & Resort

The spa at oceanfront Salishan is informed by salt water, marine mud, and something called “retinal of the sea.” Gleneden Beach, Ore., treatments from $70 (weekday signature foot treatment) to $275 (weekend CBD infusion massage), rooms from $149

Willows Lodge & Spa

Microderm resurfacing and micro-needling. Swedish effleurage. A treatment all about oxygen. Some Willows services read like medical-grade sandblasting. Others just ... hug you. Woodinville, Wash., treatments from $20 (lip wax) to $350 (120-minute deep tissue massage), rooms from $369

 

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