Cheryl Strayed captivated countless hearts with her New York Times bestseller Wild, the first-person memoir recalling her solo 1,100-mile hike from California's Mojave Desert to the border of Washington state.
The recent movie adaption proved a mega-hit, too, starring Reese Witherspoon and featuring a screenplay by Nick Hornby. The film led to even more Strayed devotees, while also brilliantly showcasing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) – known for its stunning beauty and transformational powers.
Each year, thousands of hikers and equestrians enjoy this treasure, whether traveling only a few miles along the trail or traversing every mile in a single season.
"Wild" fans will no doubt recognize this beautiful gorge bridge — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
The Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada (through California, Oregon and Washington), along the way revealing a beautiful diversity of terrain from the desert and glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada to deep forests and the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range.
Adventurers in Washington can easily make day hikes out of sections of the trail; the portion in this state, however, features several high passes and ridges (the highest being Lakeview Ridge, with an elevation of 7,126 feet, which is located eight miles from the Canadian border).
When visiting the Washington part of the trail in September, visitors enjoy brightly colored patches of western larch, whose deciduous needles turn into an otherworldly, bright yellow hue.
"Skamania" is the Chinook Indian word for "swift water"; the resort overlooks the Columbia River — Photo courtesy of Skamania Lodge / Duo PR
Currently, visitors can enjoy taking advantage of several Wild-themed packages, even some that allow for overnight adventures. For example, Skamania Lodge, A Destination Hotel – located in the Columbia River Gorge just across from Oregon, and about three-and-a half hours from Seattle – offers an experiential package for readers who've fallen in love with Strayed’s emotive tale.
With the resort located only a mile from the Bridge of the Gods, the landmark where Strayed's trek culminates, the package allows readers to follow in the author’s footsteps and to enjoy some of Strayed's favorite treats – like fueling snacks of granola trail mix and pink lemonade – featured in the book and movie.
Skamania is the Chinook Indian word for "swift water," and the appropriately named resort overlooks the Columbia River, with more than 70 waterfalls located nearby. The lodge boasts a Forest Service Information Center in its lobby, meaning guests can easily gather information about hitting the gorge's countless nearby trails.
Visitors also receive a voucher for a post-hiking indulgence: a swirled ice cream cone from nearby East Wind Drive-In. (These cones are a favorite treat among Pacific Crest Trail hikers.)
Built in 1993, Skamania Lodge offers 254 guest rooms, with top-floor options boasting stellar views; a 22,000-square-foot conference and event center; an 18-hole par 70 golf course; a canopy zip line tour; a full-service spa and fitness center, which includes an indoor heated swimming pool and dry saunas, plus indoor and outdoor whirlpools; and tennis, basketball, volleyball and hiking trails.
The al fresco hot tub proves a perfect place to take in a mountain sunset.
Guests relish Skamania Lodge's sensational hot tub with a view — Photo courtesy of Skamania Lodge / Duo PR
Designed as an homage to the charming great lodges of the early 1900s, the four-story Cascadian-style lodge features high-pitched roofs, wood paneling, native stones and ancient timber pieces. (Some of the timber columns in the Gorge Room are 100 years old!)
Guests set up shop to relax and take in stunning views in the soaring lobby and Gorge Room, cozily anchored by an 85-foot tall fireplace; original local artwork, ceramics and petroglyph rubbings depicting Native American history of the Columbia River Gorge add to the welcoming decor.
Diners enjoy on-site culinary options – lighter fare at the River Rock restaurant, or finer meals at the grand Cascade Dining Room, where house specialties include salmon, smoked pork loin, roast prime rib of Washington beef and dishes like elk that has been masterfully braised for six hours.
Diners also savor local wines that complement the regional, seasonal fare, and not-to-be-missed desserts range from the Kahlua mousse to the massive, sharable s'mores skillet.
Hikers will find themselves in paradise around the Columbia River Gorge — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
If all-inclusive day excursions are up your alley, check out EverGreen “Live the Movie” Escapes. Similar to the popular Olympic Peninsula Twilight itinerary offered in the past by the luxury, eco-conscious adventure tour company EverGreen Escapes once again encourages guests to "live" the on-screen action with the new "Wild the Movie: Pacific Crest Trail & Columbia Gorge Tour."
The full-day (six- to eight-hour) escape, for participants 21 and over, includes a naturalist's commentary, as guests explore movie locations from Wild, including the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, 620-foot-high Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and the Bridge of the Gods.
The tour also includes round-trip transfers in adventure-outfitted Mercedes Sprinter vans and a Cascadian safari lunch. Seasonal refreshments on the excursion sweeten the deal, too.