Sleeping in the Trees

Free Spirit Spheres, photo by Steven Olmstead Photography

The concept sounds like the stuff of a childhood fantasy: A cozy cabin lofted into the canopy, where you can bed down among the squirrels and owls and moss.

Treehouse hotels are increasingly popular twists on your average lodging, as the “glamping” trend proliferates—that magical combination of glamorous camping, where you can enjoy the great outdoors without roughing it too much.

And it’s no wonder the idea has taken off in the Northwest, where we have an abundance of forest in which to perch these charming dwellings. More than your average backyard hideout, these sky-high hotels offer amenities like fireplaces, premium bedding, spa access and more. Plus, you’ll wake up in solitude, surrounded by pristine forest.

Conveniently located just 30 minutes east of Seattle, TreeHouse Point (treehousepoint.com) in Issaquah, Washington, is an ideal escape for city dwellers. If you watch cable TV, you’ve probably seen proprietor Pete Nelson’s program, “Treehouse Masters.” The lodging experience here skews high-end, with six treehouses situated in a dense forest near the Raging River. The treehouses have a whimsical edge to their design, with elements like curving staircases, tree branch railings and elevated walkways. A fireplace roars in the main Lodge, where breakfast is served daily at a common table. The lush, fern-studded property also includes two cedar-lined bathhouses, free Wi-Fi and an events space popular for weddings.

Unleash your inner child at Vertical Horizons Treehouse Paradise (treehouseparadise.com) in Junction, Oregon. The four structures here are each unique, sleeping between two and six people. The larger treehouses include full baths and sleeping arrangements spread over two floors, while others are smaller and don’t have en suite bathrooms—guests have access to shared showers, instead. A common area has cooking facilities, though breakfast is included in your stay. Design elements range from stained glass windows to wrap-around porches to tree branches growing through the rooms.

Whidbey Island’s octagonal Tree Home Suite (airbnb.com/rooms/1062312), near Freeland, sits 14 feet up in a cedar tree. There’s a skylight and plenty of windows to let in that natural light, but enough canopy cover that the space stays cool even on hot summer days. The Airbnb-listed property has a queen bed and a sleeper sofa for two, plus a microwave, refrigerator and television. A large covered deck is outfitted with seating, too. At the tree’s base there’s a fire pit, and a bathhouse sits a short walk away. The owners cook breakfast for their guests daily, too.

The “treehouse” concept takes on a futuristic twist at Free Spirit Spheres (freespiritspheres.com) on Vancouver Island. As the name hints, these treehouses are orbs that float above the forest floor. They’re intended as functional works of art—and naturally offer plenty of Instagram fodder. The spheres—made of wood or fiberglass—are secured via a web of ropes that spread their load securely among three trees. Inside, furniture curves with the walls, and circular windows look out into the forest. The spheres sleep one to three people, and have elements like electric heating, sinks, refrigerators, speaker systems and bathrooms. They’re accessed by exterior staircases that curve elegantly up from the ground.

Consistently rated among the best treehouses in the world, Cedar Creek Treehouse (cedarcreektreehouse.com) in Ashford, Washington, is a perfect base for exploring nearby Mount Rainier National Park. This one is up there; the treehouse is situated 50 feet off the ground. Owner Bill Compher was decidedly ahead of the trend when he built the structure in 1981 and 82, constructing a five-story staircase to access the treehouse. This spot has a traditional cabin feel, with the tree trunk growing through the middle. The property also includes a Treehouse Observatory, a 100-foot-high octagonal tower accessed by a sky bridge and a spiral staircase. From here, views extend to Mount Rainier and beyond.

In the Columbia River Gorge, Skamania Lodge (destinationhotels.com/skamania) in Stevenson, Washington, recently added two treehouses to complement their lodge rooms. These well-appointed structures are built 15 and 20 feet off the ground into Douglas fir trees and include modern amenities like plush bedding, outdoor-facing (yet private) bathrooms, fireplaces, and large windows for enjoying the view. Outside, guests have access to firepits and hammocks and are a short walk from the resort’s various attractions, like the zipline course, Waterleaf Spa, hiking trails, golf course and restaurant. One of the treehouses is even ADA-accessible.

Another Airbnb-listed property, the Treehouse on Lake Pend Oreille (airbnb.com/rooms/14575801) in Sandpoint, Idaho, soars above the lake, with plenty of
windows and skylights for taking in the view. This gorgeous three-story structure includes a living room, kitchenette, master bedroom, full bathroom, deck and a lofted observation room for even better views. The interior includes plenty of wood features, too, like hand carved benches and tree branch railings. Guests can enjoy lake access just steps from their front door.

Near Glacier National Park, the Montana Treehouse Retreat (montanatreehouseretreat.com) sleeps five people inside a stunning structure that covers 500 square feet up in a Douglas fir tree. A striking spiral staircase leads to the two-story treehouse, which has two large branches growing through its interior. The digs are luxurious, with a full kitchen and dishwasher, outdoor decks and master suite. It’s all set on seven acres of private forest with a fire ring and walking/skiing trails.

In British Columbia’s East Kootenays region, Outa-the-Woods (outathewoods.com) is a treehouse rental built 15 feet off the ground in a cluster of seven trees. The large deck is perfect for taking in scenic views, which include the Rocky Mountains, a pond and a forest with frequent wildlife sightings. The treehouse uses plenty of unique pieces of twisted and burled wood, carvings and two handmade spiral staircases. Other amenities include an outdoor barbecue, kitchen, bathroom, a balcony with a double hammock and fireplace. Solar panels provide electricity for the lights and electrical outlets. Guests have access to hiking trails on 320 private acres, with a range of other activities nearby: horseback riding, kayaking, whitewater rafting, golfing and mountain biking.