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Explore the wilds of Washington

Escape the outside world at Sun Mountain Lodge

Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop is perfect for relaxing and adventuring alike. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

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Washington state is a stunningly beautiful state, filled with natural beauty ranging from the lush evergreens of Western Washington to stark deserts and booming agriculture in Eastern Washington. Driving from Tacoma to Sun Mountain Lodge, you'll get to see a bit of everything - and you receive an amazing vacation at the end of the drive.

Geoff Childs, a long-time Sun Mountain employee, laughs when asked why people would make the drive from Tacoma to Winthrop to stay at the Lodge.

"People forget how astonishingly wild and diverse the Cascades are," he said. "Our guests get to drive right through the heart of it all. Oceans, rain forest, wild rivers, spectacular mountain scenery, a few quaint little hamlets, some very cool places to stop for a cup of coffee, and more than likely an honest-to-God cowboy or two once you make it to the Methow. I like to tell people not to think of the drive in terms of hours. I tell them to think of it more as two right-hand turns and a thousand wows!"

You won't spot the actual lodge until you're pulling into the driveway in front of the main desk. Before that, your attention will be distracted by Patterson Lake and the gorgeous mountains all around. Once you do arrive at the main desk for check-in, you may be tempted to ask - "Why is this property so tucked away?"

The answer from one front desk staff member: "The man who built this, this was his dream. His father owned the land and he rode his horses all around these mountains as a boy."

One thing that sets Sun Mountain Lodge apart is the sheer range of lodging options. The Main Lodge features rooms with views of either the valley or the property. While the rooms are beautiful with the same hand-crafted duvets and luxe bath products you'll find in all of the rooms, the Main Lodge is actually the most affordable place to stay. In the Gardner building next door, you'll have a private deck with a view of the valley below as well as a seating area. If you seek elegance, the Mt. Robinson rooms in a third building near the Main Lodge are the most luxurious - featuring king beds, jetted tubs, canopy beds and private decks.

Alternately, the Patterson Lake cabins are situated by Patterson Lake. The cabins will put you in close proximity to boat and watercraft rentals, and can sleep anywhere from two to 11 people. They're ideal for larger groups, but also couples looking for a quiet retreat.

There are no TVs in the rooms. While there is Wi-Fi so you can connect to the outside world if you really want to, you probably won't. There's plenty to do right at the lodge or nearby, from dining at one of the two restaurants to getting out of your room, which is really the purpose behind the whole lodge experience. Whether that means spending some time by the pool or hot tub (there are two of each at Sun Mountain), hitting the trails or getting out on the water is up to you.

Sun Mountain Lodge has about 40 miles of trails - so many trails, in fact, that it doesn't hurt to pick up a trail map at the front desk. Trails include both fairly level routes as well as plenty of elevation gains (this is a mountain lodge, after all). Be prepared for a workout and bring along some water. There's not a lot of shade on many trails, but if shade is your thing, explore the Patterson Lake trail. For a good warm-up trail, catch the Sunnyside trail right from the parking lot and follow it to View Ridge. View Ridge loops back toward the parking lot, and the entire route is about 2.5 miles.

There are a number of water craft you can rent from the office near the cabins, including row boats, kayaks, canoes and even a small sailboat. Or sign up to take a horseback ride or join in a Cowboy Dinner that combines a horseback ride with a BBQ dinner. Or venture farther afoot to explore the cute town of Winthrop nearby.

If you really miss your alpha waves, there's even a TV room in the Main Lodge, but really, you won't need it.

Sun Mountain Lodge is located at 604 Patterson Lake Road, Winthrop, Washington. For more information, call 509.996.2211 or visit the Sun Mountain Lodge website:

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