THERE ARE NO ROADS TO OREGON'S MINAM RIVER LODGE
Minam River Lodge is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. Up until two years ago, I had no idea such a place existed. Minam is located deep in Oregon’s Wallowa mountains surrounded by the protected lands of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The only way to access Minam is on foot or horseback via an 8.5 mile trail or by flying in via bush plane. Minam is a full-service lodge offering everything from lodge rooms to private cabins, decadent meals prepared by their in-house chef, sauna, hot tub and more. It’s the luxury getaway to the middle of nowhere you never knew you needed. When you arrive and realize you are completely cutoff from the noise of the outside world, your worries quickly fade away.
Recently, because I apparently am the luckiest person ever, I got the chance to return for a second time. Mark was about to walk out the door for work when his client called and backed out of their flight training trip at the last minute. This meant there would be a cabin at Minam that night that was paid for and not occupied. So when his client called back and offered us the cabin for the night, the answer was easy. I quickly wrapped up what I was working on, threw a bag together and we were off to the airport.
Mark’s job as a flight instructor is far more specific than teaching others how to fly. He’s giving already licensed pilots advanced training in order to further their knowledge and proficiency. One aspect of his job is to take students on backcountry flying tours throughout Idaho and parts of Oregon. During these tours they train during the day, flying for hours around the backcountry landing at remote airstrips that are offered in abundance in Idaho, then stay overnight at a backcountry lodge like Minam. Though his job comes with it’s fair share of risk, when you sit down next to the fire at Minam and look out at the Wallowa mountains surrounding you in every direction, it’s hard to believe anyone gets paid to be there. We’d known for years, as Mark craved a new career path, that if we were ever to give up being partners and running a business together like we had for more than a decade, it would have to be for good reason. This was a pretty good reason.
When you get the opportunity to experience a place as rare and magical as Minam, two things happen, at least for me. One, I become extremely present in an effort to be there fully and take it all in. It was well below freezing outside when I woke up at 7:00 that morning at Minam. I hurriedly put on all the clothes I brought and went for a walk. I watched the sunrise, the frost slowly melt and steam rise from the river. I was appalled that Mark was sleeping through all of this until I realized…he knows he gets to come back. Leading me to the second thing that happens when I experience such a place. I begin calculating ways in which I might be able to return.
It turns out you can reserve the entire property for a wedding. I’m a wedding photographer. Do you see where I’m going with this? : )
Specializing in destination weddings in the Colorado Rockies for eons now, I’ve seen my fair share of incredibly unique and wildly gorgeous places to get married. But a wedding at Minam River Lodge is taking the idea of a destination wedding and raising the bar. To be flown in to the middle of the wilderness and left without internet isn’t for everyone, but for a couple looking to spend the weekend with their favorite people in their own little private corner of the world, a Minam River Lodge wedding might be exactly what you’ve been dreaming of. And if you’re reading this, I might know a photographer, that knows a pilot that could get her there ; )
A few photos from my stay at Oregon’s Minam River Lodge…