Adventure & leisure in the trees

Try the zip line at Skamania Lodge or stay in one of the tree houses

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The fun at Skamania Lodge expands into the trees surrounding the 175-acre authentic, inspired and rejuvenating resort in Stevenson.

Two new 500-square-foot tree houses are just a few months away from being available to visitors. Reservations are already being accepted for September.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in offering guests an authentic, Pacific Northwest experience,” said general manager Ken Daugherty. “These tree houses will allow our guests to get even closer to the Columbia River Gorge — to sleep in the forest, amongst the trees, with all of the comforts and luxuries of the lodge still at their fingertips.”

The houses are elevated 15 to 20 feet off the ground, and designed with large windows and openings to make guests feel like they are one with the trees. The top floor features a deck with a revolving fireplace and television. There will also be fire pits on the ground next to each house.

“It’s an ideal place for weddings, family reunions and couples in search of romance and relaxation,” said Todd Gillispie, director of sales and marketing.

If these first two tree houses are successful, plans are in place to build five more nearby. Daugherty and Gillispie envision a series of walking paths and suspension bridges to keep the tree house community connected.

“You are going to have your own little village out here,” Daugherty said.

MG2, an architectural firm in Seattle, designed these houses with the idea to connect guests with the beauty of nature. Construction is being done by In Vision Design, of Stevenson. The “rustic elegance” furniture will be provided by Ankrom Moisan Architects, in Portland.

“This will kind of take you back to your youth,” Gillispie said. “It will be magical because it’s new, and you’re up here with the Douglas firs. The lodge has 254 rooms. Out here, you are going to have your own detached spot in paradise.”

Zip Line Tour begins fourth summer

For those in search of adventure in the trees, the Skamania Lodge Zip Line Tour provides seven different sections, three sky bridges and some light trail walking.

Each line ranges from 100 to 900 feet in length. The final three take your breath away at 630, 925 and 420.

“Most tours have two guides, but not all of them have a braking system and not all of them have progression,” said operations manager Shayne Large. “We start with the little zips, and then it goes faster and faster. People who are usually the most afraid end up having the most fun. They’re trembling after the first two, but by the sixth and seventh one, they’re running up there to go first.”

The tour opened in May 2013. Large said they are zipping 10,000 people a year now.

“Not everybody is a golfer, and can affording wind surfing or kite boarding lessons, but I can take a family with 6- to 96-year-olds and go zip,” he said. “This brings people together in amazing ways. With the advent of social media, it’s important for folk to get out and interact with our people, and this is the perfect outlet to do it. You are all sharing the same anxieties and fears, and you are overcoming them together.”

Large also has ideas to expand upwards by adding an adventure park with zip lines, suspension bridges and other unique obstacles for friends and family members to tackle.

“If you see a new fad like tree houses and zip lines, you better get on it. This is the perfect place to do it,” Large said. “Our biggest competitor is not other activities, it’s the couch. I want people to know there are ways to access nature and have fun. It’s an experience to help you overcome your fears and have a feeling of accomplishment.”

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