Snow-lovers flock to Mountain Springs LodgeWhile some travel destinations see fewer visitors during the winter months in North Central Washington, don’t tell that to Bill Newell, whose Mountain Springs Lodge steps into high gear as soon as the snow begins to fall.
It probably has to do with the Norman Rockwell feel of the place, as families and couples don their winter parkas and cinch up their scarves to hop on a horse-drawn sleigh and then enjoy some hot spiced apple cider by the fire. This is the place for those who embrace winter – who can’t wait for a thick blanket of snow on the ground and the trees to decorate themselves with icicles.
The Mountain Springs Lodge opens up more than 100 acres to winter recreation in an idyllic spot near Plain that is just 20 minutes by car from Leavenworth. Always looking for some fun new activity to offer guests and visitors, the lodge even installed a zip line this past fall, but this time of year it’s all about the snow. The blue skies and sparkling snow at Mountain Springs Lodge are a big attraction not only for residents of North Central Washington, but for big-city folks as well, who think nothing of coming over the pass for the day to the snow that often eludes them in Seattle.
“People get a huge charge out of the snow,” Newell says. “Very often they’ll come over for the day – there might be 100 people on site at the same time. Saturdays are heavy with lots and lots of people on the grounds.”
Newell was originally going to log the property back in the day – but longtime residents will remember the spotted owl controversy and, soon, environmental regulations put an end to that plan. By 1990, Newell had opened the lodge – just a couple of cabins at that time – and it was the beginning of what would become a major enterprise that today employs six of seven Newell sons and daughters. The lodge has expanded and today there are accommodations for up to 80 people on the lodge property, and another 85 off-site.
The biggest draw this time of year is the sleigh riding, which is offered several times a day. The 45-minute ride can be combined with a salmon and filet mignon dinner – which is proving quite popular – but at the very least you’ll be stopping at the barn to enjoy some hot cider by the fire. Bill says it’s a good idea to dress warm.
If motor-powered transportation is more your style, Mountain Springs Lodge offers snowmobile tours from one to five hours in length. These are not the kind of tours where you sit on the back of a sled and hug your driver-guide the entire distance – these are the type that actually let you drive the snowmobile. And no prior riding experience is necessary.
“We have a good talk at the beginning,” Newell explains. “Safety is our biggest concern. But this is a great way of seeing the backcountry in the winter time – it’s really spectacular back there.”
Altogether there are about 300 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the general area. There are cross-country trails as well, including a five-mile (roundtrip) trail that leaves right from the lodge property and takes you through Stonewater Ranch. Skis and other cross-country equipment are available for rental at the Plain hardware store.
If you’re spending the night, the lodge offers a variety of accommodations from grand lodges to cozy cabins. Many cabins and lodges are on the resort’s main grounds with other off-site vacation lodging available if you need to accommodate more people. All of the on-site accommodations offer the classic log cabin feel with new or relatively new construction.
For more information on Mountain Springs Lodge and lodge activities, please go to www.mtsprings.com or phone 800-858-2276.
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Leavenworth lodging
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