Saturday, October 9, 2021

Leavenworth Getaway: Sleeping Well at Sleeping Lady


Sleeping Lady Mountain
Fall color in October around Leavenworth, Washington, is nothing short of magical. Compared to what we see over on "the Coast" (western Washington), the mountains and canyons glow crimson and gold. 

With a short window during the work week to avoid the Oktoberfest crowds, last week my sister and I dashed over Stevens Pass for a getaway. While I've spent lots of time in the Leavenworth area staying with friends, this trip we decided to stay at Sleeping Lady Resort south of town on Icicle Creek.

This resort/conference center site was originally built as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that operated from 1934 to 1942. After also serving as a dude ranch and Catholic camp, in the 1990s Northwest arts and environmental philanthropist Harriet Bullit developed it as Sleeping Lady Resort.


Many of the cabins at the resort were repurposed from the old camp but upgraded. The compound features walkways that were constructed using recycled wood materials. With arts venues, a pub, office/conference facilities, a mercantile, cafe, and restaurant interspersed around the site, along with art and sculpture from Northwest artists, it feels like a charmed mountain village.

Waterfalls beside the outdoor patio at the Grotto Bar.

We arrived after dark and and then walked along the lit pathway through open pine forest to our comfortable and cozy cabin (no driving up to your cabin, it's pedestrian-friendly and car-free). On such a dark and quiet mountain night, I had one of the best night's of sleep I've had in months.

I was up and out shortly after sunrise, camera in hand, to snap some of the shots here. No one else was up and about yet on this Friday morning.

The sculpture above is one of many artworks scattered around the compound. (Apologies to the artist for not checking the name or title, but I think it might be Richard Beyer.)

Since we were going to a friend's home for a visit, we were up and out pretty early. Due to the pandemic and related staffing shortages, indoor breakfast wasn't being served at Sleeping Lady's O'Grady's Pantry, but we grabbed hot tea and fresh, delicious scones for breakfast.

O'Grady's Pantry courtyard

While I don't have any more shots of the onsite art, we were fortunate to visit one of the artists whose gorgeous wildlife sculptures are featured there. Longtime family friend and artist Gretchen Daiber lives nearby and has several of her sculptures scattered around her garden.

Ptarmigan sculpture by Gretchen Daiber

On such a glorious autumn morning, we walked with Gretchen through forest near her home above Sleeping Lady. She enthusiastically talked about the Icicle Fund's Artist-In-Residence program celebrating the conservation, history, and arts of North Central Washington. The goal of the residencies is to honor, celebrate, and record the unique environmental aspects of the Wenatchee River/Valley watershed. She is one of the 10 selected Watershed Artists this year. 

Aspen Grove

Later in the day we drove up Icicle Creek Canyon and walked the Icicle Gorge Trail, an easy warm-up hike that has very little elevation gain and winds over and along Icicle Creek for a little over 4 miles.

Icicle Creek

 Since crowds of people were arriving for the first weekend of Oktoberfest, we didn't want to deal with trying to drive and park in the center of town for dinner. Instead, we grabbed a thoroughly typical Bavarian grilled bratwurst topped with sauerkraut at longtime local burger shack Heidelburger, which sits right off the highway at the edge of town.

Then we snuck up into Tumwater Canyon to snap some of the fall brilliance.

 All in all, our sister road trip was a great success. I highly recommend a loop over one of our passes here in Washington to see the eastern side of the Cascades soon, while the colors are still aglow. And if you get to Leavenworth, I also highly recommend Sleeping Lady.

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 When You Go

Icicle Creek

 Sleeping Lady is not a budget lodging destination, but their cabins can accommodate from two up to eight people, plus they allow pets (my sister's beagle Zelda joined us). Prices vary by season and time of week, but our room was $224 per night and could accommodate four.

Our cabin had a mini-fridge and a hot pot with tea and coffee provided for us to brew hot drinks ourselves.

 Part of the proceeds from the resort goes toward the Icicle Fund, a non-profit co-founded by Harriet Bullit that supports the arts, environment, and cultural and natural history of the North-Central Washington region.