Skamania Lodge is tucked into a particularly scenic spot in the ridiculously scenic Colombia River Gorge, and is the perfect place to stay whether you want to relax with a view or whether you want a base for exploring this beautiful region. During our most recent trip, we visited with our toddler, but we’ve been before and it’s equally perfect as a romantic or adventure or family destination.
I love Skamania Lodge for its natural appeal, its wide-open spaces, and its beauty. As soon as you step past the lobby, you’re greeted by a large living room space with ginormous floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a view of the Gorge. This is the perfect spot to relax. Sit by the giant fireplace or take one of the rocking chairs by the giant window and ponder your day away (this happened before this last visit with a toddler…there was no pondering my day away this trip). There are also two paintings that I love in this sitting space of some wolves and some deer staring intently and almost comically at each other, but in a good way. I also enjoyed my toddler pointing between the two paintings and shouting, “Deers! Dogs! Deers! Dogs!”
The giant living room is one of the best things about Skamania. The backyard area – which you can reach via a door from the giant living room – is the second best thing about the lodge and largely why I decided a trip here with our toddler was a good thing to do. She needs to run free and explore and pick up all the pine cones (and goose poop that looked like grass clumps until far too late…ew-wuh). In the wrong setting, toddlers running free can be a hazard or a stressor or any other number of negative things. At Skamania, she could run free and it was exactly the right thing for her to do.
I am sure the hotel doesn’t call the giant open grassy area outside its backyard, but that’s what it felt like. There are Adirondack chairs where you can sit and take in the view, a firepit with yet more Adirondack chairs surrounding it, and a big box of outdoor toys for everyone to enjoy. The evening we were there, several families were playing in the grass. It felt like a community even though we didn’t know anyone else.
Rooms and Amenities
We have stayed at Skamania Lodge twice and enjoyed it both times, even though our experiences were fairly different. The first time, we stayed in a Premier River Fireside Room, which means we were on the top floor with a stellar river view and a fireplace. Oh yeah. That was awesome. The room was more spacious and had a couch and table.
This more recent time, we stayed in a standard forest-view room, officially called a Superior Room. Forest views are not nearly as thrilling as river views, but the price is a whole lot better so choose your own adventure. Between those two types of rooms are a variety of others, with and without fireplaces and in a few different sizes. The basic rooms are just fine if not a little small if you have a small child with you (and there’s no great place to put a Pack N Play). There are also some treehouses that you’ll see driving into the property. If you don’t want to share walls with anyone, these should do the trick.
However, we didn’t spend the bulk of our time in our room. We were there to explore!
The lodge has a great pool area with an indoor pool, an indoor hot tub, and an outdoor hot tub. There’s a spa and fitness center, a few restaurants (the main restaurant just off the lobby is a lovely place for dinner with a view), an 18-hole golf course, several sports courts, four miles of paths and light hiking trails, and a zip line tour and aerial park. In short, if you don’t want to leave the lodge property, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Many of these activities do have a cost of admission.
Things to Do Nearby
The Columbia River Gorge is a lot of fun to explore and Skamania Lodge puts you right in the center of the Gorge so you can easily branch out in any direction. Be aware that if you branch out across the Columbia River, the Bridge of the Gods is right next to the lodge and it does have a toll. The toll was only $2 at the time of this writing so we crossed back and forth with wild abandon.
Nearby activities and attractions include:
The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler river tour
The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center (those are two separate places), where you can delve into the local history from pre-history on up.
The Bonneville Dam where you can learn about the dam as well as view a fish ladder up close, as well as the Bonneville Fish Hatchery where you can spot some baby fish, feed some very hungry trout in ponds, and see some huge sturgeon up close.
Take the Mt. Hood Railroad for a different view on the region.
Visit Portland, which is about 45 minutes away.
Hikes galore, from Beacon Rock State Park to the Pacific Crest Trail to the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park to beyond, there are a whole lot of places to hike in the Columbia River Gorge. Mt. Hood and the national forest that surrounds it is also within a reasonable drive.
There are many waterfalls to see nearby, including Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
Drive the Historic Columbia River Highway, which is a 75-mile stretch of highway between Troutdale and The Dalles, Oregon, that’s was the first planned scenic highway in the US and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Skamania Lodge’s website has an expanded list of nearby things to do.