By Vanessa Salvia

Skamania Lodge isn’t just a gorgeous lodge in its own right, offering rooms, suites, and treehouses. It’s also in an incredible natural setting — the Columbia River Gorge. “We were designed and built to be very much a part of that setting,” says general manager Kara Owen. “It really highlights and makes you feel like you’re in a very special place.”

Exploring that place is as much a part of the fun of a stay at Skamania Lodge as being in the comfortable rooms. Owen says she hopes people will stash their stuff in their room and then go out and have some adventures. On-site, that could mean pampering yourself at the Waterleaf Spa, or enjoying the large heated indoor swimming pool or the indoor or outdoor hot tub with incredible views. Guests in fair weather can golf at either a 9-hole short course or 18-hole putting course, play disc golf, or follow the .9-mile-long fitness trail that winds through the property — all with gorgeous gorge views! Of course, dining is easy with the lodge’s three restaurants, along with a takeaway service for fueling your on-the-go adventures.

“If recharge for you is about relaxation and staring at beautiful views, we have that,” says Owen. “Or if your recharge is adventure and a little bit of adrenaline, we have that as well, with axe throwing to zip lining to an aerial park.”

Skamania Lodge is just three hours from Eugene. If you’re entering from the west, you cross the Bridge of the Gods, a dramatic toll bridge ($1.25 per passenger vehicle) that spans the Columbia River, connecting Washington and Oregon. The lodge is about five minutes farther on the Washington side of the bridge. The word “Skamania” derives from a Chinook word meaning “swift waters.”

Venturing off-site leads to an endless array of activities. In summer, the gorge and nearby rivers are a popular place for windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, and rafting. In winter, you can downhill ski, cross-country ski, or snowboard at Mt. Hood Meadows, which is the largest night ski area in the United States. Luckily though, most activities can be done year-round, because the lodge environs rarely get snow.

If you like the coziness of looking at a beautiful tree while a fireplace warms the air, with snow on the Cascade Mountains across the river, Skamania is the right place to be for magical winter holiday moments. “When you visit in December, you get a feeling of being absorbed in what I would call a small-town holiday feel,” says Owen. “The town itself has craft fairs and bazaars for shopping. And then of course, we have a huge decorated tree and fireplace in our Grand Lobby that people come and sit around.”

In summer 2023, the lodge debuted a new glamping experience, a three-bedroom vacation rental villa, and 500-square-foot cabins with a kitchenette, leading to new experiences. “The new glamping tents are incredible,” Owen says. “They’ll have a bathing tent as well as a bedroom tent with a deck that overlooks the forested area.” The new Moonlight Pavilion is an event space for weddings, corporate retreats, and other social gatherings. There will also be three new treehouses added to the property in coming months.

Venture a couple of hours from the lodge to visit Mount St. Helens, or an hour and a half to enter the Indian Heaven Wilderness area. There you will find a volcanic field, subalpine meadows, and more than 16 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The name “Indian Heaven” is a loose translation of the area’s original native name, Sahalee Tyee. The area provided native peoples with huckleberries, and a portion of the berry harvest is still reserved exclusively for Native American use, continuing an important local tradition.