By the time you reach the road that the Dancing Bear Lodge, one of the several Three Bears properties, rests on, the anticipation is nearly maxed out. Now, most people would have already visited the website and previewed what was in store for them, but we had remained so far out of the loop in planning this surprise birthday for our friend that we had literally no idea what to expect. Honestly, for how affordable the place was (about 70 dollars per person for two nights) I really didn't think it would be all that impressive... Silly me.
We arrived at 3:15pm to find the owner sweeping the carport. I know that seems like a goofy detail to include, but it speaks volumes for the care they give to their properties. After thirty minutes of wandering the road on foot while they finished cleaning, we returned and let ourselves in. It was like walking into a dream. The living room was huge and cozy, the kitchen was enormous and fully stocked with everything you could ever need for food prep (you bring your own food and drinks), the dining room was in a separate room surrounded on three sides by huge windows and both sides opened to decks. There was a hot tub in the back, a fire pit, a wood burning stove. 6 beds in four bedrooms, four futons in family rooms, two bathrooms (one of which had a dual head shower). There was even a laundry room with two washers and two dryers. I guess I was expecting more of a party style shack or something... again based on affordability... but this place is clearly set up to handle family vacations just as often or more often than weekend retreats for us 'youngins'.
The lodge is located only a few miles from the entrance to Rainier National Park and serves as a fantastic launching point for hikes and whatnot. We never even left the property since we were only there for two days, but I hope we can organize a return trip to span a little more time in the future.