Ideas for enjoying the real life of Seattle (that often cost little or nothing).

Monday, February 05, 2007

Weekenders: Mount Hood & Timberline Lodge

This post is part of an intermittent series on weekend getaway destinations that are 1/2 day or less drive from Seattle. There are so many options: seashore, islands, mountains, countryside, neighboring cities and towns. We will take a look at some of the best examples of each.

About an hour east of Portland, Oregon sits Mount Hood, the state's highest mountain. It is to Oregon what Mount Rainier is to Washington: a point of orientation, a comforting icon of home, an outdoor recreationalist's haven. The mountain is almost entirely National Forest land, with much of it designated as wilderness. Climbing, hiking, and skiing are all year-around activities there.

Mount Hood also has a treasure trove of history in Timberline Lodge, a gorgeous hand-built lodge constructed at the height of the 1930s depression by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Forest workers and WPA artists worked long hours to complete the entire project in less than two years, from early 1936 to late 1937, and was dedicated by President Roosevelt.

Above: Outside of Timberline Lodge. Look familiar? The lodge was used for the outside shots in "The Shining."

The lodge, which operates to this day as an inn, was dedicated as a national historic landmark in 1978. It is also a "living" piece of American craft from woodcarving to wrought iron works, from weaving, applique, and painting to mosaic, carved linoleum, and stained glass.

Left: A pelican banister post leads to a stairwell paneled with a carved wood mural and lit by a hand wrought iron lamp.

Left: A mosaic illustration of Mt Hood wildlife is the back splash for the brass water fountain.

Since the mid 1970's the lodge has been maintained and restored by a dedicated group of volunteer artisans, called the Friends of Timberline, who work diligently to preserve, repair and when necessary replace craftwork in the same manner the original pieces were created.
Left: Note the loom next to the ranger's desk. Visitors can often watch artists recreating fabrics to replace worn out draperies and furniture cushions.

Many of the rooms in Timberline are dedicated to the lodge's history, from its creation to its famous visitors to the evolution of Mt. Hood as a destination for outdoor recreation.

Above: Pictures from early-day visitors.
Left: The story of how local Campfire Girls designed the insignia for the lodge. Campfire has long been an icon of Northwest living.

The video clip below provides a glimpse of the Lodge's great room.

How To Get There

From Seattle, take I-5 south to I-205. Continue south on I-205 to I-84 east. Heading east on I-84, take exit 16 and follow signs to US-26. Continue on US-26 to Timberline Highway, which takes you right to the lodge.

Where To Stay

You would be cheating yourself if you stayed anywhere other thanTimberline, especially in the wintertime. Given the beauty and historic significance of the lodge, as well as the ski lifts being right out the door, the prices are very reasonable ($90-$255). However, if you can't get reservations or prefer to camp (summer only) the local chamber of commerce can point you to other places to stay.

Where to Eat

Again, really, the place to be when you visit Timberline is Timberline. The lodge has a fabulous fine-dining room in the Cascade Dining Room. The Ram's Head Bar is great for lunch with a view of the skiers. The Blue Ox Bar is another option.

Down the mountain in Government Camp, the Huckleberry Inn is the place for breakfast. The huckleberry pancakes are a must. Further on, in Welches, is a great little Mexican joint called El Burro Loco.

Above: The view to the slopes from the Ram's Head Bar.

Where to Play

For the snow sports:
Timberline, of course, has a very nice ski area that takes you far up the mountain onto its famous glaciers. The largest (and nicest) area is a bit further east at Mount Hood Meadows
Ski Bowl is the least expensive... for a reason.
Snow Bunny is a long-standing inner tubing site for snow-loving non-skier.

For summer activities, the Mount Hood Information Center has lots of great info and links on camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, festivals and more.

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