Skamania Lodge, less than an hour from Portland, Oregon, was constructed in the style of the grand park lodges. Centered on a 175-acre wooded setting with an expansive Columbia Gorge view, the lodge has become a Pacific Northwest destination. When you are there, you'll feel far away from the burdens of the city yet enjoy the conveniences and services expected of a resort hotel. For me, a recent stay at Skamania Lodge needed just one amenity… the view of the Columbia River Gorge. Every thing else is now just icing on the cake.
You’ll start your journey to relaxation by driving from the Portland, Oregon area via Washington Highway 14. Douglas Fir forest, stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge, and a bit of Lewis and Clark History dot the route. It’s a winding road in parts so you’ll be forced to slow down. The stunning natural beauty on a winter day will lead you to your destination… Skamania Lodge in Stevenson.
As you drive up the entrance road, past the new Tree Houses, past the well-manicured golf course and walking paths, you’ll encounter the impressive architecture of the four story stone and wood lodge. Park in front to unload and enter the lobby. You’ll be welcomed by a 12-foot carved bear and the massive three-story high river rock fireplace. Off to the side, check in and then be drawn to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Columbia Gorge. Of course you’ll make a mental note to return and surrender to the relaxing effect of lodge rocking chairs and the ever-burning wood fire.
Rooms with a View
While all rooms offer a view, some of the forest, I can’t encourage you enough to choose a room facing the Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge, carved from the earth by ice-age flooding, is one of the wonders of the natural world. The shadows, cloud formations and beauty of the river are worth seeing, not only from the lobby and outdoor patios, but from the comfort of your room.
The lodge’s rooms, recently renovated, have very comfortable beds, attractive décor with Native American accents and technological conveniences. Once it is dark and you can no longer marvel at the view, enjoy the large flat screen TV.
One morning I woke up early, before dawn, and drew open the curtains. A soft grey was filling the town and river below the property. It didn’t take long and I saw a orange slit of light to the east between the clouds and the walls of the Columbia Gorge. As the sunrise progressed, the land was filled with light and brilliant color. The colors reflected on the clouds, even to the south.
It was to be a cloudy day so when the sun reached a certain point, it was obscured by a cloud layer. Just as quickly as the brilliant dawn had come, it all disappeared into winter greyness.
Recreation and Relaxation
On my last visit, I enjoyed the hiking paths through the woods, along a creek and to the ponds, all bordering the resort’s challenging 18-hole, par-70 golf course. I don’t play golf but I did notice the beauty of the rolling course as play continued on holes tucked into wooded areas and out in the open with expansive views.
After a round of golf, a hike or a Zip Line tour, head for the beautiful on-site Waterleaf Spa. The spa includes an indoor swimming pool and amazing outdoor hot tub with, of course, a view.
While you may not want to leave the resort during your stay, there are waterfalls to explore on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the river, wines to be tasted in the Gorge Wine Country to the east and sightseeing in places like the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery.
Skamania Lodge’s new executive chef, Matt Hale, brings innovation to traditional lodge food. Farm to table cuisine is his forte. While growing up in Sierra City, California, Hale learned to grow large vegetable gardens and small fruit orchards. This, paired with an inherited family interest in cooking, led to a passion for always sourcing locally that he has continued to carry with him throughout his culinary career.
The cuisine we sampled at Skamania Lodge’s two dining rooms was distinctively Pacific Northwest, hearty enough for the active appetite yet appealing to most all who dine there. On Sunday nights a Prime Rib special is offered in the beautiful Cascade Dining Room. And the new chef has maintained the tradition of a delightful Sunday Champagne Brunch.
Salmon is available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can’t get more local than that. The Cascade Smoked Salmon Hash, offered at breakfast for $16 was a surprise. A hearty piece of house-smoked salmon was served atop roasted red potatoes, poached eggs, onions and peppers with a jalapeno cilantro crème.
Both the Cascade Dining Room and River Rock, with a full bar and outdoor patio, offer excellent food, a full wine list featuring Washington wines and the always- present Columbia River Gorge view. No need to dress up. Feel free to be comfortable and casual in both dining rooms.
Meet and Celebrate
Walking down the long hallway past the resort’s extensive Pacific Northwest art collection, you’ll find two ballrooms (one with a stone fireplace) and a variety of smaller meeting rooms.
Skamania Lodge features 23 state-of-the-art meeting rooms with over 22,000 square feet of dedicated conference and meeting facilities, including exhibit and banquet space. The meeting spaces range in size from 250 square feet for intimate gatherings to 7,000 square feet, accommodating food and beverage functions for up to 500 people.
The 40,000 square feet of seasonal, open-air courtyards and venue spaces offer the great sites for summer barbecues, team-building activities or just relaxing. The beauty of the spaces is the setting. Many areas bring the outdoors in and that just helps participants relax and be more productive.
They do over 60 weddings a year with the number increasing. I can’t think of a more beautiful natural setting for a large, catered event.
Skamania Lodge is a Place that Draws You Back
Of course for me, the sunrise viewed from my bed in my fourth-floor room is a memorable experience that will draw me back. But you may want to return to attend some of the seasonal special events that Skamania Lodge offers, to bring your work group on a Zip Line Tour, to experience the new Tree Houses or just to relax with your family over dinner with the view of the Gorge.
Nature created the Columbia River Gorge, but the builders of Skamania Lodge knew best how to make people comfortable and how to take advantage of that view.
When You Go
Skamania Lodge can be reached via I-84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River (cross the small Bridge of the Gods from Cascade Locks to Stevenson) or drive via Hwy 14 on the Washington side. The closest airport is Portland, Oregon (PDX).
1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way
Stevenson, WA 98648
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accomodations and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.