Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program near the Hot Springs

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program near the Hot SpringsAs you’ve walked around the thousands of acres that make up Fort Lewis Lodge, or looked down from the overlook, ever noticed all the white poles randomly sticking out of the ground? Wonder what they are?

One thing they are not is random. In fact, in a way, for each pole we stick in the ground, we give back a little something to the land we’ve benefitted from all these years.

It’s all a part of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the largest private-land conservation program in the U.S. It’s administered by the Farm Service Agency.

So what do those white poles do, exactly? Each pole protects a tree sapling. If you look closely, the white poles are all around wetlands. The tree saplings, growing up inside the poles, were planted to help, for lack of a better word, shore up the wetlands.

Fort Lewis Lodge sits just across the mountain from Hot Springs, Va., which “Virginia is for Lovers” describes as a great blend of “resort and rural” because it’s quaint, famous for its natural mineral springs and home to The Homestead Resort. But we’re also part of an incredible natural habitat that includes the Cowpasture River, Lake Moomaw and what seems like endless Shenandoah Valley mountain streams.

Did you know sediment from eroded stream banks can degrade water quality and the habitat of animals living there? Or that forested riparian buffers – which all those trees will create as they grow strong thanks to the white poles – reduce nutrient runoff and erosion?

More trees can slow the flow of water. Leaves can act like filtration systems, capturing runoff. Then there’s shade. Shade helps control water temperature, and some organisms need just the right water temperature to thrive.

This program has helped clean up New York City’s watershed and drinking water, improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and mitigate floods in Washington State.

Let me know if you want to learn more when you’re visiting! The poles, as you might notice, do have a tendency to fall over and need to get stuck back in the ground. Extra hands are always welcome!

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Fort Lewis History

“Col. Charles Lewis, younger brother of Gen. Andrew Lewis, acquired 950 acres of land on the Cowpasture River in June 1750. Nearby, Fort Lewis, a small stockade, initially under the command of then Capt. Charles Lewis, was constructed by 1756 to guard the strategic pass of the Shenandoah Mountain. It was one in a series of forts authorized by the General Assembly to be built on the frontier to protect settlers during the French and Indian War. Fort Lewis existed at least until the end of the ware in 1763. The Lewis manor house is located close to where the fort once stood.”

-Department of Historic Resources

Landscape Fort Lewis LodgeCol. Lewis went on to die a hero’s death fighting the Shawnee, allies of the British, in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, now widely regarded as the first conflict of the American Revolution. His vast 3,200-acre mountain farm, once known as “Fort Lewis Plantation,” has remained relatively unchanged over its 200 year history.

The fort is long gone now. Of course, at certain times of the year, when the grasses are really low, there are areas on the Fort Lewis Lodge property that look settled. The fort’s footprint, perhaps?

We tend to encourage each other to slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Would love for you to smell the ones here, and while you’re slowing down, as you pull onto the Fort Lewis Lodge lane, stop and read the sign. Walk around the property and look for those settled areas.

This place has a great history – even more so than the memories that you make each time you visit.

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Fort Lewis Lodge Photo Contest

Thank you all for taking the time to share images of Fort Lewis Lodge from your trips here over the years during our Facebook contest last month. It’s great to see the place through your eyes. In case you  missed it, here’s a quick look at some of the great images that were submitted. Check out our Facebook page here to see them all!

Fort Lewis Lodge Buck's Bar

Everyone gets a drink at Buck’s Bar!

Fort Lewis Lodge

Arriving at Fort Lewis Lodge!

Cowpasture River at Fort Lewis Lodge

Memories and friends on the Cowpasture River at Fort Lewis Lodge.

Wedding at Fort Lewis Lodge

What a compliment for someone to choose to spend one of their most important days at Fort Lewis Lodge.

Dogs at Fort Lewis Lodge

A full family reunion at Fort Lewis Lodge

Fort Lewis Lodge

And the winning entry, which received the most votes on Facebook! A view of Fort Lewis Lodge from above.

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Fort Lewis Lodge Named Among 2013 Most Welcoming Bed and Breakfasts by Virginia Living Magazine

Best of Virginia 2013 Virginia LivingFort Lewis Lodge is pleased to announce we were named by Virginia Living magazine as one of the most welcoming bed and breakfasts in the state.

We strive to make Fort Lewis Lodge feel welcoming, like you can settle in and truly make the surrounding Shenandoah Valley wilderness your home.

Take a bike for a ride. Hike. Jump in the swimming hole. Go fishing. Listen out for the dinner bell we still ring to welcome everyone to the table. To be recognized for creating that welcoming atmosphere by our guests and friends is an honor.

Virginia Living tells us that more than 25,000 people voted in the 2013 Best of Virginia survey in January. They published their results in the May 2013 annual Best of Virginia special edition.

Thank you to all who voted for Fort Lewis Lodge!

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Swim, Bike, Run…and then Relax at Fort Lewis Lodge

Did you know that Bath County is one of the hidden gems of the Virginia Triathlon Series? Nestled in the western hills of the state, the Bath County Triathlon is hosted by the Bath Fort Lewis Lodge Welcome SignCounty Chamber of Commerce, and the planning committee is chaired by Fort Lewis Lodge’s own John Cowden.

Bath County in itself is a true delight as it is home to natural hot springs – the perfect post race treat for a triathlete’s sore body. But more than that, it’s home to Fort Lewis Lodge, where you can combine participating in the Bath County Triathlon with a return to nature getaway.

The Bath County Triathlon will be held Sunday, June 30 at 8 a.m. at Lake Moomaw.

The swim is unique in that it is wetsuit legal. Most triathlons are not wetsuit legal in the summer. Water temperatures – in water as clear as you’ve ever seen it – rangle from the low to mid 70s.

Not to brag, but Lake Moomaw is about as perfect as place to swim as you’ll find. It’s fed by two pristine rivers, the current is light and there’s hardly any chop or waves.

The bike course is managed by the National Forest Service and is closed to cars during the event. Described as a rolling out and back course, there are small hills early and late in the course. The middle miles remain mostly flat.

The run course is also closed to vehicular traffic and slightly hilly. We assure you, though, that the view from atop the small hills looking out onto Lake Moomaw and the mountain ranges that bank its shores make any pain well worth it.

A catered post race meal and blue grass music greets you at the finish line.

Interested in Moomaw Madness?

Register online now:

And while you’re out this way, come stay at the Fort Lewis Lodge.

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Viewing the International Space Station…from Fort Lewis Lodge

Fort Lewis Lodge Night SkyWe hear it all the time.

From nearly every spot at Fort Lewis Lodge, on a clear night, the sky is alive. The stars shine unlike anything you see in a city, or even small suburban neighborhood.

It’s among the many, many things we love about Fort Lewis Lodge and this slice of land we have here, tucked in away from the hustle and bustle of life.

But there’s something else up there that we love to point out to our guests – the International Space Station.

Did you know that the International Space Station can be spotted with your naked eye alone? No squinting. No telescope. Just you…and looking up at just the right time.

According to the Astro Viewer at, “because of its size, it reflects very much sunlight. The best time to observe the International Space Station is when it is nighttime at your location, but the Space Station is sunlit. Such a situation occurs often in the morning before sunrise or in the evening after sunset.”

Before you arrive at Fort Lewis Lodge, or perhaps while you’re here, check out

You’ll be able to search your location to see when the next sighting opportunity will be. The list you typically get in your search results details “all visible passes of the International Space Station during the next 10 days.”

Look up at the right time while you’re here at Fort Lewis Lodge, and go home and tell your friends and family you saw more than just stars in our clear, night skies.


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When Nature and Kids Teach Us

Nature at Fort Lewis LodgeWilliam Wordsworth encouraged us to let nature be your teacher.

Sometimes, you have to let children be your guide, too.

In “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” author Richard Louv lists the top fishing tips his then 12-year-old son offered to parents.

They seem fitting to also share here. They are, on the surface, fishing tips. But read a little closer and they really feel applicable to even more areas of life, whether you’re fishing, teaching a new skill, taking a hike, swimming…

  1. Fish with your kid.
  2. Let your kids go fishing even if you don’t want to take them.
  3. Let your kids buy tackle and supplies. That’s half the fun of fishing.
  4. If your kids are young, take them to a place where fish are easy to catch and small.
  5. Let kids fish as long as they want. Let them get obsessed.
  6. Let kids go off and do their own thing. It can be incredibly annoying and / or frustrating if there’s an adult standing over them barking orders.
  7. At least pretend to act excited when your kid catches a fish. It can quickly ruin a day of fishing if the kid feels you don’t want to be there, and he’s just dragging you down.
  8. If you know how to fish, don’t give your kid too much unsolicited advice, although it can be helpful if the kid is young.
  9. Let your kid teach you how to fish; participate in the fishing. This can be quality bonding time.
  10. Remember that fishing and spending time with family is just as, or more important, than homework.
  11. Have fun. That’s the entire point of going fishing in the first place.
  12. And whatever you do, don’t let your kid throw rocks in the water.

Important tips, for sure. After all, as Louv states, direct exposure to nature is not only good for childhood development, but also for the physical and emotional health of adults.

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2013 Season Kicks Off April 5

Fort Lewis Lodge Welcome SignFort Lewis Lodge is pleased to announce that we will kick off the 2013 season April 5.

Located near Lexington and Staunton, Fort Lewis Lodge is a 3,200-acre plantation inn that dates back to the 1750s. Our season runs from April to November each year. Reservations for 2013 can be made now here.

Like most country inns and bed, breakfasts and dinners, we trade in a change of pace, romance, and exceptional fare. Over the years we’ve come to understand that Fort Lewis has an asset

Fort Lewis Lodge Moon and Deer

that few others have – our Shenandoah Valley wilderness, the mountains, forests, fields and streams and all the creatures that call this their home.

It’s always a great pleasure when the season opens after a quiet winter and Fort Lewis Lodge’s main lodge, in-the-round silo guest rooms, hand-hewn log cabins with stone fireplaces, and Riverside House fill with guests – old and new.

As we get closer to the season, stay tuned to our Blog and Facebook page for reports from the miles of river trout and bass fishing, nearby classic swimming hole, hiking trails, mountain biking and vistas.

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Fort Lewis Lodge Named Among 2013 Top 10 Most Romantic Inns

Fort Lewis Lodge OverlookFort Lewis Lodge was named among the 2013 Top 10 Romantic Inns by American Historic Inns, publisher of Bed & Breakfasts Guide Books and

Over the years we’ve come to understand that Fort Lewis Lodge has an asset that few others have. Our Shenandoah Valley wilderness – the mountains, forests, fields and streams and all the creatures that call this their home. A getaway to Fort Lewis Lodge means reconnecting to nature and to each other. A true romantic getaway.

“New adventures often bring couples closer together and exploring a new area or town can be both refreshing and romantic,” said American Historic Inns. The 2013 Top 10 Romantic Inns “offer romantic locations and lovingly created environments that deeply touch the hearts of guests.”

In many ways, the urban and technological world around us is taking over. For Fort Lewis Lodge to win this award, it showcases that a return to nature, and a love of the wilderness, is a wonderful way to reconnect not only to Mother Nature, but also to the one you love.

Thank you for the honor.

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March Flyfishing outlook by John Roberts

March Outlook- This is crank up month for flyfishing especially toward the end as water temps warm up to favorable water temps for aquatic insects to start hatching. Greater insect presence always affects trout behavior as they become more active. We usually get a few days with air temps in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s . Beaded nymphs and streamers still carry the load as far as fish takes but this month we are always on the lookout for hatching aquatic insects including midges, BWOs , winter stoneflies and caddis to imitate. Getting off the beaten trail after waters clear from heavy rain events can produce some nice holdover trout in the Special Reg areas. The Category A streams get 2 stockings this month. Lots of these fish have acclimated well and their colors are many times very stunning this time of year. The state of Virginia has stocked last month or will stock most of the Special Reg areas this month. This is one of the big stocking months for the put-n-take waters also. Watch yourself overhead on any of the windy days for any dead tree limbs or trees. There’s no finer sight than a high energy Rainbow, Brown or Brookie keying in on a streamer in the fast greenish water this month. John offers guided fly fishing day trips to Fort Lewis Lodge guests on a number of area stream. He is experienced in guiding everyone from the novice fisherman to the advanced. Check out his web site or give him a call at 800-882-1145

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