Great winter lodges accomplish two paradoxical tasks: ushering guests out the door with the allure of cold-weather fun and welcoming them back in with the promise of warmth and comfort. The region’s best lodges reflect a uniquely Northwest spirit: active, environmentally aware and in full embrace of their surrounding landscapes. The five mountain lodges below encourage visitors to savor both the winter’s cold, snow-filled days and long, cozy nights.
House on Metolius,
CAMP SHERMAN, OR
More than a hundred years ago, the Zehntbauer family, who helped found the Jantzen swimwear brand, retreated to what is now the House on Metolius property for private getaways (metolius.com). Today, guests enjoy that same amount of privacy at this secluded clutch of cabins some 150 miles southeast of Portland. The eight rooms of the Main House book as a unit, ensuring guests have room to stretch out. Four smaller cabins accommodate more intimate gatherings. All feature high ceilings, square beams and stone accents reminiscent of the Arts-and- Crafts movement popular during the resort’s founding. The warm, back-to-nature décor reflects the pine-shaded Metolius River just outside and snow-capped Mount Jefferson beyond.
Snowshoers and Nordic skiers can explore the meadows and glades of the 200-acre property; downhill skiers can schuss sans lift lines at Hoodoo Ski Area a half hour away. Or guests may just find themselves digging into a paperback in front of the stone fireplace, free from the world’s interruptions.
Rates vary by accommodations and dates. A small cabin on a random November date starts at $219/night. A two-night minimum is required.
Sleeping Lady Resort
Walk among the tall pines of Sleeping Lady Resort (sleepinglady.com) in Washington’s Cascades, and it’s easy to forget the Bavarian-holiday bustle of Leavenworth is only minutes away. Everything at the resort is designed to quietly blend in with its surroundings, from the honey-blonde wood décor of the cabins to the hum of electric vehicles (the resort offers electric vehicle owners access to a complimentary charging station). It all serves to highlight the frost-rimmed riffles of Icicle Creek, which flows through a narrow bedrock gorge on the edge of the property and is a constant companion to snowshoers and Nordic skiers along Icicle Creek Road.
Sleeping Lady takes its stewardship of its surroundings seriously, with locally sourced foods and low-waste initiatives. Sipping a local wine at Kingfisher Restaurant or soaking in the woodland pool after an evening sleigh ride, guests savor the results of that effort: pristine forests and pin-drop quiet, a perfect winter reprieve.
Rates vary by dates and package selected; Bed & Breakfast rate for random November dates starts at $182/night.
Western Pleasure Guest Ranch
For four generations, the owners of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch (westernpleasureranch.com), twenty minutes northeast of Sandpoint, have run horses and herds of cattle across their 1100-acre property, all while catering to guests with one of the Northwest’s most authentic ranch experiences. But when the snow falls and the herds retreat to their stalls, wintersports enthusiasts come out and play. An expansive groomed Nordic trail system fans out from the ranch, as do fat biking and snowshoeing routes. Guests looking for a relaxing, rustic experience can take a sleigh ride, draped in blankets as the ranch’s draft horses take them among cedar boughs.
An all-inclusive resort in the summer, Western Pleasure offers á la carte accommodations in the snowy season. Rooms in the Grand Lodge provide bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations; hand-hewn cabins furnish private views of the Cabinet Mountains crowning the ranchland to the east. During the winter, the dining room is open to the public; it’s where the locals come for an après-ski steak and glass of wine, the signature ribeye—from the ranch’s head of cattle— emphasizing that this working ranch works.
Rates vary by type of accommodation and dates. Room rates for random November dates start at $125/night.
Double Arrow Resort
SEELEY LAKE, MT
How much does it snow in the Swan Range, an hour northeast of Missoula? When Missoulians are bemoaning a lack of mid-winter snow, locals in Seeley Lake, on the western edge of the Swans, are riding snowmobiles into town for supplies. Forming the westernmost buttress of the broad swatch of peaks that comprises the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the Swans boast an average annual snowpack of around 10 feet— and some of the state’s best snow-play terrain. For nearly 90 years, the Double Arrow Resort (doublearrowresort.com), south of Seeley Lake, has warmed snow-slaked guests at the stone fireplace in its Great Room after a day on the sled or snowshoes.
Guests can choose from B&B-style rooms in the main lodge or full-sized cabins that can accommodate large groups. The Tamarack Cabins once made up part of a stage station across Morrell Creek before being moved on skids to their current location. The big buffet breakfasts in the Great Lodge fuel guests before a day on a sleigh or some of the area’s 300 miles of trails. A signature Double Arrow Mudslide—Irish cream, coffee liqueur, vodka and vanilla ice cream—from Stirrups Lounge accentuates the fireplace’s warmth after a day in the snow.
Rates depend on dates and accommodation type. Rates for random November dates start at $100/night.
Island Lake Lodge
Southeast British Columbia’s Lizard Range boasts the kind of terrain—steep alpine bowls and cedar-lined alleys— for which serious skiers huddle in drafty huts. Fortunately, they don’t have to at Island Lake Lodge (islandlakecatskiing.com): It’s the rare resort that offers first-class comforts and world-class backcountry skiing.
The lodge owns 7,000 acres of land surrounding the lodge, which overlooks its namesake lake in the Cedar Valley just outside the mountain town of Fernie. Guests must travel 7.5 miles via enclosed snowcat just to reach the lodge complex. This means the terrain is truly exclusive: no snowmobiles buzzing the ridges or skiers poaching the powder. From one of the lodge’s four hot tubs, guests can watch the sun set over the Three Bears, confident that the only ski tracks they see are their own. It’s the reason why many of the lodge’s guests have been booking the same dates each year for decades. Nonskiers can experience the lodge with half-day snowcat and lunch packages, with free time to snowshoe among centuriesold cedars or to book a massage at the spa. Here, the services match the surroundings.
All-inclusive rates vary by accommodation and dates; in December, a 2-day, 2-night package starts at $1,611 (CAN) per person. The resort is closed in November.