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This Rural Virginia Hotel Is a Luxury Spin on a Classic Summer Camp — With Log Cabins, Wood-fired Saunas, and Home-cooked Meals

Bath County, Virginia, is undeniably far from almost everywhere. Located in a quiet corner of the Allegheny Mountains, west of Shenandoah National Park, the county claims just 4,000 residents and a landmass that is 89 percent covered by forests. It’s home to a naturally occurring mineral warm spring, the cleanest river in the state, small art galleries, charming cafes, an organic cidery, and most importantly, a rural hotel that makes you feel that you can go home again — if home is your memory of summer camp.

Spread across 3,300 acres of a working cattle farm and the Cowpasture riverfront, Fort Lewis Lodge might be Virginia’s best-kept secret. A family-run hotel for over 35 years, the lodge is a nostalgic, luxury spin on a classic summer camp. And like all summer camps, it’s only open for a few months of the year.

Jumping Rocks Photography/Courtesy of Fort Lewis Lodge

Jumping Rocks Photography/Courtesy of Fort Lewis Lodge

The May-to-November season is largely overseen by the third-generation millennial owners and farmers, David and Erin Cowden.

During COVID lockdowns, the Cowdens infused new life into the property, adding two new luxurious cottages, complete with wood-burning fireplaces, waterfall showers, and rocking chair porches with sweeping views of the surrounding pastures and mountains. Today, these cabins are the lodge’s most sought-after places to lay one’s head.

Other lodging options include comfortable historic log cabins, rooms in a restored gristmill and silo, as well as full farmhouse rentals.

Jumping Rocks Photography/Courtesy of Fort Lewis Lodge

The preserved natural beauty of the land — its forests, fields, mountains, and streams — is all in the hands of guests and the lodge is set up to be very much a rural choose-your-own adventure. Here it’s camp without supervision and that means kayaking, canoeing, and tubing down a stretch of the Cowpasture River so serene you’re unlikely to see another soul, hiking in the woods, trying your fly fishing cast on the trout-rich river, sweating during an instructor-led yoga or fitness class, or, the best option, moving between the wood-fired sauna and swims in the river. 

Although more modern farmhouse than bunkbed rustic, it’s easy to feel as sentimental about Fort Lewis Lodge as you do about your childhood summer camp thanks to the fact that the days begin and end with a gong signaling breakfast and dinner. Both meals, which are included in each stay, are home-cooked and feature farm-to-table menus whipped up by the Cowden family matriarch and served buffet style to the 50 or so guests.

Like the most memorable nights of summer camp, the best days at Fort Lewis Lodge stretch far into the night and are dotted with s’mores, country rambles, and star gazing. (The latter is best done at the lodge’s star-viewing platform in the woods.) This is summer camp without bedtimes, but it gives the impression that if a guest were to organize a rousing game of color wars, there would be no problem finding participants.

You can learn more or book your stay at Fort Lewis Lodge at

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