You know when you cross over the McKenzie on the 165-foot-long Goodpasture Covered Bridge (circa 1938), the most photographed bridge in Oregon, that you’re headed for someplace interesting.
A great place for families, including pets, and those who want to get away from the noise of the McKenzie highway is the Wayfarer Resort (46725 Goodpasture Rd., Vida, 541/896-3613 www.wayfarerresort.com, $105 and up), featuring over a dozen cabins on the McKenzie and glacier-fed Marten Creek. Accommodating 1–6 people, the cabins have porches with barbecues overlooking the water, full kitchens, and lots of wood paneling. Two larger units can sleep eight and are equipped with all the amenities. Children can enjoy fishing privileges in the resort’s private trout pond while the folks play on the resort’s tennis court. All guests are welcome to supplement their menus with pickings from the Wayfarer’s organic gardens and berry patch. In the summer, advance reservations are a must for this popular retreat.
Heaven’s Gate Cottages (50055 McKenzie Hwy., Vida, 541/822-3214, www.heavensgaterivercottages.com, $105 and up) offers housekeeping cabins right on the McKenzie. Although the cabins are sandwiched between the highway and the river, the unspoiled riverside view more than compensates for the traffic (which drops off considerably by nightfall). One cabin is right over a good fishing hole, and night lights illuminate the rapids for your contemplation. A fireplace adds an additional romantic touch. These cabins may be old, small, and semirustic, but their riverside location helps overcome a multitude of issues.
The former Blue River ranger station has been repurposed as the lodge for the McKenzie River Mountain Resort (51668 Blue River Dr., Blue River, 541/822-6272, www.rivermountainresort.com, $50 lodge room, $160 and up cabin); vacation cabins used to house the rangers. The bunkhouse-style lodge rooms are fairly Spartan but very clean and OK for someone who is planning to spend the day fishing or hiking; it’s common for groups to rent the entire lodge.
Although Harbick’s Country Inn (54791 Rte. 126, Blue River, 541/822-3805, $70 and up) may not be as charming as some of the other lodgings along the McKenzie, it is located within walking distance of one of the finest public golf courses in the country, Tokatee. Because of this, it’s quite popular—reserve in advance.
The Cedarwood Lodge (56535 McKenzie Hwy./Rte. 126, McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-3351, www.cedarwoodlodge.com, Apr.–Oct., $105 and up) is tucked away in a grove of old cedars just outside the town of McKenzie Bridge. The lodge has nine vacation housekeeping cottages that feature fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms (with showers), fireplaces (wood provided), and portable barbecues. This is a sweet place to spend a couple of nights, particularly in those units with decks on the river.
Unfortunately, fire claimed the historic lodge at the Log Cabin Inn (Rte. 126, McKenzie Bridge, www.logcabininn.com) in spring of 2006. The beautiful 100-year-old lodge had hosted President Hoover, Clark Gable, the Duke of Windsor, and a host of Oregon families over the years. The lodge is being rebuilt and is supposed to be open for business by summer 2010. It’s worth checking into this! The inn is located at mile marker 51 near the intersection of Route 126 and Route 242.
Across the road from the Log Cabin Inn, spacious and attractive modern cabins at Inn at the Bridge (56393 McKenzie Hwy., McKenzie Bridge, 541/743-2012, www.mckenzie-river-cabins.com, $175) are open year-round.
Belknap Lodge and Hot Springs (59296 Belknap Springs Rd., McKenzie Bridge, 541/822-3512, www.belknaphotsprings.com) offers lodge rooms, cabins, camping, and access to two hot springs swimming pools. The lodge rooms range $100–185 per couple; bathtubs are plumbed with hot springs water. The five cabins range $65–400; the least expensive are very rustic but pet-friendly. Campsites are $25–30. The main attraction on the property is Belknap Springs. The water, which contains 26 different minerals, is gently filtered piping hot into a swimming pool on the south bank of the McKenzie.
The property is clean, the scenery is beautiful, and the price is right. For $7, drop-in visitors can use the lower pool for an hour; a day pass is $12 and just what the doctor ordered to ease the aching muscles from that killer hike or the ski marathon. But don’t wait too long to fill this prescription—the pool closes at 9 p.m. If you forget your towel, you can rent one.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel