Timberline Lodge has a long and interesting story. My relationship with the Lodge and surrounding recreation area only goes back the 35 years I have been alive, but it is interesting to see how many times this place has had a part in of my life. I like to think that Timberline Lodge and I go way back.
The year I was born, Timberline Lodge became a National Historic Landmark. I would not visit the Lodge for another half a dozen years or so, but I like how our story starts to intertwine with this significant event. When I was young, we moved up to Welches, Oregon, a short 20-minute drive down Highway 26. I went to school in Welches, and I remember on a few occasions going to Timberline Lodge on field trips. As a child, these were significant memories. The massive building holds a rich history, and we were all told about the Depression Era laborers that created a unique inn, aiming at boosting the new snow sports craze of the 1930s. We got to see and feel the wrought iron fireplaces, elaborate stonework on the outside of the building, carved wooden staircases, and woven wool tapestries.
When family from out of town came to visit, we would take them up for dinner in the Cascade Dining Room. The cozy restaurant was a favorite of our guests because they always got to enjoy the local food that the menu has to offer. Fish, fresh produce, and handcrafted beer and wines give a good Oregon profile.
When I graduated from Welches School in the 8th grade, our commencement ceremonies were held in Timberline Lodge. Our small class lined up for a group photograph in front of a large window with Mt Hood looming in the background. Later, we accepted the first diplomas of our lives and moved on to our next chapters, all under the vaulted ceiling of the Lodge.
In my teens and twenties I spent a lot of time at Timberline snowboarding. My favorite time of the year was late winter and early spring. Nothing beat the fresh snow that still falls overnight during this part of the season under the blue skies. Sitting in the middle of a run in the complete silence, listening to nothing but the occasional snow falling out of the trees… does it get any more peaceful than that?
I also worked at Windell’s Camp in my twenties. Mt Hood is the only mountain in the United States to have year-round skiing and snowboarding, and Windell’s is one of the two camps that use the snowfield to train their campers and host pros alike. In fact, Windell’s has hosted every US snowboard Olympic medalist to date. I drove up to Government Camp and made the 6-mile trek up the winding Timberline Road to the Lodge every day as part of my job. One of the best parts of the job was experiencing firsthand the excitement that the campers felt, and the awe that they expressed stepping out into the parking lot and seeing the huge mountain in front of them — and the idea of being able to snowboard in the summer!
When you are standing out in the front of Timberline Lodge, you can’t help but notice a large window facing out towards the valley below. I had lunch with my husband on our first anniversary in the Rams Head Bar. We sat at a table next to this large window and enjoyed the amazing view of the national forest spread out in front of us. We gazed out at the landscape as if we were gazing out into our future, and I can’t help but think that others that have sat in our seats had the same feeling at some point.
These days I just cannot resist the fantastic photo opportunities that the lodge and its surroundings provide year round. Winter’s massive snowfall. Spring’s blue skies and expansive views. Summer’s wildflowers. Autumn’s changing leaves and striking sunsets. I look forward to continuing my journey with Timberline, eventually bringing my own son up to play in its snow and beginning his relationship with the iconic inn.
Whether you have been to the Lodge many times or never before, now is the best time to make the trip. The roads are usually clear and the snow is still plentiful. The fires are lit in the fireplace and the views are clear and breathtaking. Make a memory of your own. You won’t forget a place like Timberline Lodge.