Timberline Lodge is Oregon’s Most Famous Building, And a Decent Hotel

As ski lodges go, our experience was a little, uh, rustic.

(Mackenzey Johnson)

When you're an icon, amenities are negotiable.

Timberline Lodge is definitely an icon—the richly appointed ski lodge is the most famous building in the state, and probably would be even if Stanley Kubrick never made The Shining.

Perched just below the glaciers that provide the nation's only late-summer skiing, it's a 40,000-square-foot curio cabinet filled with tiny pieces from the artists and artisans towed up this mountain for steady work during the Great Depression.

We're still between Depressions, so you plunk down $250 for a small wood-paneled room and plunk yourself in front of the stone fireplaces that feed the massive chimney that climbs nearly 100 feet. Look in any direction, and you're in an adjunct art museum with a huge collection of works by C.S. Price, who the state historical society has said "may be Oregon's most important and influential painter." There's also a watercolor and several statues by late, great local Tom Hardy, who made the bronze eagle seal on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. It's all interspersed with functional folk art, like the hand-carved stair rails emblazoned with animal forms. Soak it in at the heated outdoor pool with some hot cocoa or a $60 bottle of Argyle brut.

As ski lodges go, our experience was a little, uh, rustic. The steam-heat system, original to the vintage lodge, broke down in our room, causing much folly. The food is fine for German tourists, but not the Swiss. A random fire alarm went off just after breakfast—not trivial when you're in an old wooden building with fireplaces and it's 10 degrees outside. An Old Fashioned made with Pendleton was watery and larded up with candied orange. The aggressively casual front desk sent me sliding down to the day lodge for another lift-ticket wicket because "they only give me so many."

But you should, at least once, wake up at 6,000 feet and look through the frosted panes inside the walls of the state's most impressive building.

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