SUN MOUNTAIN LODGE IS PARADISE IN EASTERN WASHINGTON
ITINERARY LOCATIONS: Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop, WA, Methow Valley
As this is one of our favorite Washington getaway destinations, we typically visit every other year and sometimes in between. Perhaps the most notable inspiration for trekking across the North Cascades to the Lodge was when our daughter Bella was born. After only one month of being first-time parents we developed cabin fever and decided that we weren’t going to let parenthood keep us homebound. So we booked a room, packed up our newest family member and truck and headed Northeast to Sun Mountain Lodge where we could indulge in beautiful winter scenery, room service and spa treatments! It was just what the doctor ordered. It’s no wonder that Bella began asking for road trips where we “drive far, far away” on a regular basis, beginning at age four!
Any season, for couples, friends or families seeking outdoor adventure in a desert-like wilderness environment.
Nestled at the base of the North Cascade Mountains, the lodge is secluded and sits 3,000 feet high on a foothill and commands beautiful views from almost any place on the property. Panoramic views of the Cascades and Methow Valley can be seen from the pool, hot tub and restaurant. Stand-alone cabins are situated on Patterson Lake below the lodge and feature a large grove of Aspen trees, which glow bright yellow in the fall and offer beautiful black & white sculpture in the winter. With more than 120 miles of trails, the nearby Methow Valley is especially popular for cross-country skiing.
Once you have visited Sun Mountain Lodge, you realize why the developers of Whistler almost settled in this location. The area offers extraordinary experiences during any season. Spring, Summer and Fall offer amazing hiking and mountain biking (more than 100 miles of trails on the property and mountain bike rentals), swimming, horseback riding, stargazing (tip: try and schedule a visit during major astronomical events), fishing and low-speed and non-motorized boating on Patterson Lake and river-rafting on the nearby Skagit River. The wintertime offers world-class cross-country and snowshoe trails, and sleigh rides. The Lodge also features a game room with two pool tables, ping pong and foosball.
Sun Mountain Lodge is perfect for families because there are so many activities to keep everyone busy and at the same time couples can find their own quiet places, as there are 3,000 acres to explore, two restaurants, and two swimming pools/hot tubs. Couples should note that because the resort is so family friendly, there are bound to be kids running down the hallways. The larger dining room is best for those seeking a quieter atmosphere.
Perhaps one of the most unique activities at the lodge is the draft horse-drawn wagon (or sleigh in the winter) rides and cowboy dinners. In the summertime, the Cowboy Dinner location is an old homestead and in the winter it is an old miner’s tent that is heated with a woodstove. The food is always delicious, the hospitality is friendly and the live cowboy guitar music is icing on the cake! If you go, bring your own wine or beer as they do not have a license to serve it.
Cozy, rustic luxury is the theme here. Down comforters, lodge-style furniture, mini-fridges and breathtaking views from every room. Half of the lodge rooms have wood-burning fireplaces. There are also rooms in the Gardner building, which is detached from the hustle and bustle of the main lodge. They are a favorite when we are travelling with Bella because the ground-level rooms open up to patios and a grassy area where kids can run around outside. The upstairs units have private balconies, which I think might be better for couples. The Gardner building units have their own swimming pool and hot tub.
The Patterson Lake cabins are spaced close together and don’t offer much privacy during busy seasons, but are perfect for large groups. They are newly remodeled and feature full-size kitchens. The common space for the cabins include a playground for young kids, fire pits and picnic tables.
IF YOU GO
- ABILITY TO UNPLUG RATING: High! The cell coverage is very spotty here (probably because the lodge is in the middle of beautiful high desert landscape), which forces one to engage in a full-sensory appreciation of outdoor activity, mountain-chic lodge surroundings and face-to-face conversations. For those who require WIFI, there is a place in the lodge where you can connect to a hot spot.
- I've never been in a location with more deer. Watch for them at all hours of the day, but especially dawn, dusk and night. Drive with extreme caution once you leave the town of Winthrop and drive up the mountain to the Lodge.
- In my opinion, Highway 20 is the most-scenic route to reach Sun Mountain Lodge, but it is closed due to snow mid-November – April. Be sure to check the lodge’s website before hitting the road
- Try and make reservations six months in advance, but always call for last-minute availability.
- Call the concierge to make horse-drawn Cowboy Dinner reservations in advance, and take your own wine or beer
- The activity shop at the lodge rents most equipment, including bikes, for adults and children
- This lodge is old-school and does not have televisions
- SURROUNDING AREA: The nearby town center of Winthrop also provides some entertainment. It is small, but charming with its Old West-styled buildings, cafes, shops, restaurants, a mini-golf course (summer), ice skating rink (winter), ice cream shop and wine tasting room. It’s romantic and family-friendly at the same time.
- TRAVEL TIME FROM SEATTLE: 3.5 hours in the spring, summer and fall, via Route 20; 4.5 hours in the winter, via Routes 97-153