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Skamania Lodge: Best location on the Gorge
By CARY ORDWAY
If Lewis and Clark had their pick of the entire 1Columbia River Gorge for a spot to build a luxury hotel—and they did, although luxury hotels probably weren’t at the top of their to-do list—they could not have done better than the spot chosen for the Skamania Lodge. It’s amazing, therefore, that this spot was still available when the hotel was built in the early 1990’s.

The location, about 45 miles from Portland on the Washington side of the river, boasts spectacular views upriver and is quite close to one of the spots Lewis and Clark actually camped. The hotel’s 175 acres of forest have been turned into a paradise for golfers, hikers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.

The hotel and the Gorge seem to be one with each other, and it’s like they are part of the same eco-system. Designed to look just like those lodges built by the National Park Service at major tourist destinations around the country, the Skamania Lodge is what they call a Cascadian-style lodge that has Pacific Northwest written all over it with its three-story stone fireplace and sweeping river views from the main lobby. Upstairs the views are even more spectacular from many of the 254 rooms available for an overnight stay.

The hotel was put in this spot to celebrate the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, an 85-mile-long stretch of incredible scenery that has been preserved through its designation as a scenic area. The Gorge, which serves as the border between Washington and Oregon, is up to 4,000 feet deep in places and a visual wonder that makes it hard for you to keep your eyes on the road as you take in the overwhelming scenery along this stretch of highway. Visitors can 1travel the Gorge on the Washington side – mostly two-lane highway – and on the interstate highway that was built along the Oregon side.

There are several luxury hotels and resorts in the area as well as museums, shopping and a variety of towns such as Hood River, the Dalles, Goldendale, White Salmon and -- the location of the Skamania Lodge -- Stevenson, Washington. The Skamania Lodge ranks as one of the best choices for lodging.

During our brief stay, we enjoyed spending time hiking the grounds – there are three hiking trails for guests – and relaxing on the patio overlooking the Gorge. Fellow guests were busy on the golf course and some were trying out the resort’s new zip lines that, for $99 a person, let you experience a phenomena that has been growing in popularity over the past few years. Guests are attached to zip line cables that are strung through the forest canopy in such a way as to use gravity to propel guests from one station to the next – there are five altogether. It’s a thrill for all ages and completely safe.
 
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