What's behind the idea of more lodges?

The historic highway loop through the Gorge and around Mount Hood was once lined with hotels, lodges and roadhouses catering to early twentieth century tourists. The roadhouses that remain have largely been converted to private homes, with the exception of a few that operate today as a bed-and-breakfast. Four of the lodges and hotels remain, and are familiar landmarks: the Multnomah Falls Lodge, Columbia Gorge Hotel (pictured below), Cloud Cap Inn and Timberline Lodge. Sadly, some of the most beautiful structures have been lost over the years, such as the Battle Axe Inn, pictured in the title image, above.

The Mount Hood National Park proposal calls for restoring the tradition of lodges, with several new facilities that would serve as hubs for recreation, and a place for visitors to spend the night or enjoy meals in view of the scenery that surrounds the mountain. Six new lodges are proposed over time, each anchoring a network of trails, scenic drives and other recreation activities.

Lodges can be a great friend of the environment, if planned thoughfully. Lodges bring new visitors to the mountains that might never have visited otherwise, thus introducing new allies to the conservation movement.

Lodge visitors also see the landscape in ways that daytrippers cannot. From a lodge, you can watch the sun set or rise, and truly appreciate the natural and human history that is the legacy of Mount Hood and the Gorge. Lodges allow new visitors to become comfortable in the outdoors, and can thus open the door to other nature activities, like hiking and camping.

The new lodges proposed here would also be located on environmentally compromised sites, with the goal of restoring these sites in conjunction with adding the new lodge developments. The following are highlights of the proposed lodges:

Lost Lake Lodge: while the lake already has a small summer lodge and rental cabins, the proposal would add a new year-round lodge on the site of the west parking lot, on the west side of the outlet stream, where there is a commanding view of the lake and Mount Hood. The lodge theme would focus on family hiking and catering to visitors with limited mobility, thus building on the system of barrier-free trails that already exist here.

Lookout Mountain Lodge: this lodge would be located above the Dufur Mill Road, just off Lookout Mountain Road, on a bluff that overlooks the East Fork valley and the awesome east face of Mount Hood. This year-round lodge would be located at the center of a logged area, with restoration of the clearcut occurring as part of developing the site. The lodge theme would be on mountain biking, horseback riding and animal packing, with an adjacent stable complex and network of new trails exploring the north slopes of Lookout Mountain and connecting to the Badger Creek Wilderness trail system. In winter, the lodge theme would focus on nordic skiing and snowshoeing.

Lolo Pass Lodge: the area around Lolo Pass has suffered more abuse than most places in the Mount Hood region, but also happens to include some of the most spectacular views of the mountain. This new, year-round lodge would be located in the clearcut that spans the pass, proper, north of the BPA transmission lines. In addition to mountain-watching for less active visitors and sightseers, this lodge would be a hub for hiking and bicyling in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. It would also be an important new supply stop on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Last Chance Lodge: just west of Lolo Pass, little-known Last Chance Mountain provides one of the most stunning views of Mount Hood and the upper Sandy River valley. A logged area on the shoulder of the mountain would be the site of a small, rustic lodge with an active theme of hiking and horseback riding in summer. The lodge would be accessible only by skis or snowshoes in winter.

Meadows Lodge: the sprawling ski resort at Mount Hood Meadows has long sought overnight lodging as part of their commercial permit, with much opposition from environmentalists, fearing more damage to this highly developed area. The national park concept would call for replacing the unsightly, poorly built day lodge that exists at the resort today with a high-quality, rustic structure that includes overnight lodging. The goal of redevelopment would be to provide year-round recreation in the area, including summer hiking and biking.

But the redevelopment would also include removal of a portion of the massive parking lot that exists today, and redevelopment of the remaining lot to provide for zero runoff, and less visual impact on the surrounding area. Lift structures at the resort would also be redesigned as part of this proposal, replacing eyesore industrial buildings with rustic structures, and re-designing lifts to better blend with the landscape. The overall goal would be a general improvement in the quality and appearance of the resort, in addition to a year-round operation.

High Rock Lodge: in the 1930s, High Rock was the site of a large Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, and a portion of the original site would host a new year-round lodge under the national park proposal. The lodge site is at the base of the peak, overlooking Mount Hood and the vast Salmon River back country. The lodge theme would focus on hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. In winter, the lodge would provide new access for skiing and snowshoeing into the spectacular high country of the Roaring River and Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness areas.

The High Rock proposal would also include a restored lookout tower at the former lookout site on top of the peak, with the purpose of providing a living history interpretive opportunity where visitors could explore a working lookout. The main lodge at High Rock would also include a CCC interpretive theme under the proposal.