Discover the ultimate outdoor retreat in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and the center of a 2,600 acre nature preserve. This winter, Mountain Lake completed renovation of many of our guestrooms and cabins, added new recreational activities including an Aerial & Zip Line Adventure Course and Kids KAMP, and increased our special events! Mountain Lake Lodge is the ideal place for families, friends, couples and groups to recreate and relax amidst nature’s bounty. Arrive to an unhurried pace in a place faithful to the outdoors, where friendly service prevails.
Consider our mountain wilderness the gateway to the ultimate experience in Southwest Virginia, featuring:
• A serene setting of breathtaking natural beauty, where your experience is centered around a 2,600-acre nature preserve
• A fully-immersive experience for the adventure-seeker and relaxation enthusiast alike
• Comfortable mountain lodging , including newly-renovated rooms and cottages to accommodate the whole family
• Convenient location in the heart of Southwest Virginia, ideal for a weekend away or a longer retreat
• Extraordinary event venues , offering unique settings for events, weddings, meetings and reunions
• HARVEST , our signature restaurant with seasonal menus incorporating our region’s rich supply of fresh produce and meats raised on small scale farms
• Stony Creek Tavern , a great place to meet friends at after a day exploring
• Unique Kids KAMP , featuring special activities ranging from arts and crafts to outdoor adventures
• Exciting cultural events , celebrating local musicians, micro brews and our fame as the setting for the movie Dirty Dancing
Mountain Lake is one of two natural lakes in the state surrounded by private land and a hotel and has been called "The Silver Gem of the Alleghenies." When at full pond the lake is about 50 acres in surface area. However, recent droughts have reduced the lake to 51' below full pond as of July 2008. The private property covers 2,600 acres and adjoins an 8,253 acre wilderness area.
The Virginia Geological Survey says the head of the lake is shallow and gradually increases to a depth of 100 feet. The lake is estimated to be about 10,000 years old and geologists believe it must have been formed along an active fault line by rockslides and damming during several earthquakes. Cold underground springs that rarely allow the temperature to rise about 70 degrees on the surface and 46 degrees on the surface feed the lake. Due to narrow channels and openings in the lake bottom, the level has a history of changing dramatically depending on the water flow through these channels.
The resort's elevation ranges from 2,200 to 4,365 feet and the area has steep slopes and high sandstone escarpments. Also located at Mountain Lake are unique spruce bogs, native trout streams, and undisturbed forests. Christopher Gist, a surveyor and frontiersman, is credited with the first sighting of Mountain Lake on May 11, 1751.
During the Revolutionary War, the lake became a
hiding place for outlaws. With its springs of pure water, buffalo, and deer, it was a perfect hideout. Following the war a man named Samuel McGraw became the owner, and the earliest land grants were given to James Swann and George Chambers in 1789 and 1796. In the early 1800s, Henley Chapman purchased the lake and surrounding tracts of land. After looking at the resort nearby at Eggleston and others similar to it in other parts of the region, he saw the potential of Mountain Lake to be the same if not even better. With this idea, public lodging began.
In the mid-1800s Mountain Lake became a public stagecoach line and the Virginia Legislature incorporated the Mountain Lake Company. The company constructed buildings at the lake and operated saw and other mills and entertained guests – Mountain Lake Resort was born. The first account of the hotel is around 1857 when Mr. Edward Beyer, a German Artist wrote, "There is a fine carriage road (now Rt. 613) from the New River Sulfur Springs to the top of Salt Pond Mountain near which there is a large hotel. There are boats on the lake for amusement. A Mr. John Lybrook is managing and operating the hotel."
The first hotel was actually built from wood. It accommodated mostly stagecoach travelers so it was considered a stagecoach stop rather than a hotel. Hundreds of people began coming to the resort prior to the Civil War. Mountain Lake was not used as a military hospital or encampment during the Civil War. In 1864, General George Crook and his Union soldiers spent one night at the lake while making their difficult trip over the mountain. Hungry and tired, the soldiers found the hotel, but the building was deserted and without food.
During the war, General Herman Haupt of Philadelphia had heard about Mountain Lake. As president of several railways, he became very wealthy, but it is not clear how he became owner of the land and hotel. After the war, visitors began to pour in. So many came to stay for such long periods of time that Haupt decided to build the second hotel, which was completed in 1875 or 1876. He made an addition to the east end in 1887 and also built additional cottages, dormitories, stables, and mills. Cottages were given names like Cecilia Cottage, Thompson Cottage, and the list goes on. His wife changed the resort's first name of "Salt Pond Hotel" to "Mountain Lake Hotel."
The resort prospered and the Haupts ran Mountain Lake from 1870 to 1890 during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. In 1890, the Haupts ceased to operate the resort. Frank Woodsman of Charleston, West Virginia purchased the property the following year. Shortly afterwards, the Porterfield family became the owner of Mountain Lake. This family owned the lake for more than thirty years in the early 1900s and made great improvements to the resort's food and warmth.
In the early 1930's, William Lewis Moody, a previous guest, became the manager of Mountain Lake and began to build the present hotel out of native stone at an elevation of 4000 feet, and upon its completion in 1936, tore down the old one. The wood from the old hotel was used to build new cottages. Roads were also improved while he was making improvements to the resort, which in turn helped the resort's business. After Mr. Moody's death, the hotel was passed on to his daughter, Mary Moody Northen. When she died in 1986, the Mary Moody Northen Endowment took over the hotel.