by Joan Larsen
It was years ago when we first stepped outside our comfort zone while mountain climbing at Jackson Hole, Wyoming – finding ourselves following a very tempting sign that promised hidden lodging high among the treetops of a forest. The stairs upward? Many more than you would believe. But the experience of sleeping in the treetops was incomparable. . . a childhood dream come true.
Our travels — forever after — involved searching out places in the trees that had breathtaking bird’s eye views – and finding that most still had the creature comforts of home. The memories of those sky-high nights – the closeness we felt – have left us with everlasting memories that truly will never be beat. EVER!
In the last decade though, vacation treehouse designers the world over have taken “a night in the trees” to mind-blowing levels in their dramatic and creative design for treehouse resorts. And so naturally, we have taken a few byways in some of our favorite countries to climb the series of rope walkways . . . or a few sturdy ladders to reach our destinations. One most special time, our treehouse haven was situated 90 feet above the ground! Exhilarating . . . and yes, more fun than you could ever believe.
Were the treehouses the frosting on the cake of any trip? Absolutely.
I really don’t believe you can go wrong with going with just a select few treehouses in the United States I have chosen– as well the best in other wonderful countries throughout our world – that happen to be in my “all-time favorites” category:
Sweden itself just must be seen, but not without a stop at Treehotel in Harads, northern Sweden, which has the most extreme variety of treehouses to choose from that we have ever seen. We chose the gigantic Birds’ Nest (above) – with branches encircling it and hiding a very liveable pod within, big enough for four. Oh – did I say it has a retractable staircase??? Rare. It wasn’t to be forgotten!
Closer to home if you live in the States, is the spectacular Free Spirit Spheres Treehotel in Canada’s Vancouver Island forest, where creator Tom Chudleigh has built a series of delicate wood and fiberglass spheres, complete with luxuriously large wonderful beds, and suspended them from pine trees for a relaxing night’s stay. Incredible experience!
Perched 50 feet up in a 200-year-old Western Cedar near Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, this treehouse comes with fabulous forest and mountain views. Powered by solar panels so you won’t be roughing it, you can climb down to spend your days trout fishing, hiking great trails, or swimming. In a nearby fir tree you can climb to an observation platform 100 feet high, seeing large birds seldom seen so close up.
When we think of Peru, our goal is the mind-boggling ruins of Machu Picchu . . . but we couldn’t pass up Peru’s Inkaterra Canopy Treehouse, 90 feet above the Amazonian rainforest near Puerto Maldonado. It sleeps two, comes with a “treehouse butler” to serve dinner and drinks on your lofty perch. But its piece de resistance is your chance to watch birds and other fauna indigenous to Peru that will absolutely blow your mind!!!
I return to the country of Chile as often as I can, believing still it is the unsung wonder of our world. The Nothofagus Hotel and Spa is a wonderfully quirky tree house hotel in Patagonian Huilo Huilo Reserve in southern Chile, built it in the shape of the local southern beech tree. Rooms can be accessed via a gently winding circular ramp – but never fear(!), there is an irresistible panoramic lift as well for those whose energy has been spent on hiking the gorgeous wildlife trails and seeing unnamed waterfalls. I call the tree hotel simply “not to be missed”.
My final thoughts: My story may be about the wondrous treehouses of the world (and yes, I have more on my list to share another time). But it is truly about a longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape . . . for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wishful, it is about how people with dreams create structure in ways that consider the earth and sky and our place in them.
Tree houses are structures people build to fulfill our own dreams of escape . . . a temporary respite from our world, a renewal of body and spirit.
In all of that and more, they have succeeded in a way that surpasses our fondest dreams.
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”