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About Us

Nestled in a scenic river valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Fort Lewis Lodge & Farm is a country getaway located on a 3,300-acre estate first carved from the wilderness in the 1750’s. The Lodge has been family owned and operated since opening in 1989, with loyal visitors coming back year after year for the refreshing retreat of nature, outdoor adventure, and seasonally-inspired cuisine. Here you’ll find a rare combination of unpretentious elegance and unique lodging choices where every room has a view. The presentation is authentic, the atmosphere informal, and the concern for your comfort and enjoyment genuine.

Fort Lewis offers visitors an array of outdoor activities including miles of hiking trails, wood-fired sauna, bikes and helmets for rides, and 3-miles of private river access for fly fishing, kayaking, swimming, tubing, or simply relaxing in a hammock. Days are highlighted by farm-fresh meals served at breakfast and dinner in the restored 1850’s Lewis Mill restaurant. Come evening, enjoy a fire in the timber-framed pavilion and a blanket of stars awaits you on the Star Deck.

Fort Lewis is a working farm where produce is grown and the pastureland is used for a grass-fed cattle herd. Chickens, pigs, goats, and horses are all cared for here and can be met at the farmstead. Visitors are always wondering “What is farming really like?” Fort Lewis provides a real glance at a family-run, hands-on farming operation, where we strive to educate and share our honest experiences – the joys and the challenges. It’s our hope that guests walk away with a better understanding of where their food comes from and get a small taste for the farming traditions that make this property so unique.

At the heart of Fort Lewis, you will find a family connected to the land they call home and eager to welcome you into it. The Fort Lewis Family, including the Cowdens and our team members, is dedicated to providing you with an unforgettable stay.

The History

In the 1740’s Virginia frontiersmen found herds of buffalo roaming in fertile grounds of the Cowpasture River Valley. The Shawnee had long since cleared these fields and regarded them as sacred hunting grounds. Early settlers introduced domestic livestock and small grains, but found hemp to be the most valuable crop.

The richness and sheer beauty of the land led Colonel Charles Lewis to settle here more than two centuries ago. Commisioned by George Washington, in 1750 Col. Lewis built a small stockade (Fort Lewis) to protect the southern pass of Shenandoah Mountain from Native American raids. Col. Lewis later died fighting in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, now widely regarded as the first conflict of the American Revolution. His vast mountain farm has remained relatively unchanged over its 200 year history.

Descendants of Col. Lewis managed the property for over a century. By 1850 the Lewis family had diverted water from the river and built a gristmill to service the estate and neighboring farms. It not only served as a gristmill, but was also a post office, voting station, and community gathering space. Today, the Lewis Mill building is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being a Virginia Historical Landmark. The Lewis Mill has been faithfully reconstructed and now serves as the Lodge’s bar and dining room.

The Cowden family purchased Fort Lewis in 1959 and brought a herd of registered Black Angus cattle to the valley. Three generations later, the Cowden family still farms and cares for this land, focusing on sharing its beauty with visitors, protecting biodiversity, and providing for the natural wildlife.

Click any of the photos below for an enlarged slideshow.

“Hiking boots, biking shoes, paddleing sandals, chest-waders – if you visit Virginia’s Fort Lewis Lodge, your biggest problems might be packing all the footgear you’ll need.” -Eddie Nickens | 
Washingtonian

“Fort Lewis Lodge is one of those rare and wonderful places that celebrates life’s simple pleasures.”
 -Cassandra VanHooser | Southern Living

“This western-size spread has fly-fishing, mountain biking, and hiking–less than four hours from Washington, D.C.” -Eddie Nickens | Men’s Journal

“Furnished with country-style antiques and quilts, the Lodge’s 19 rooms look bright and cheery. On my visits I spend a lot of time bobbing around in the old fashioned swimming hole, carved at the base of a towering rock wall.” -Jim Yenckel | Budget Travel

“We didn’t bring much – old bathing suits, sensible shoes, tons to read and expand-waist pants to accommodate fresh-from-the-garden cooking. Eating is a recreational activity here. Believe me.” – Krys Stefansky | Travel Editor, Virginian Pilot

“When was the last time you had 3,000 acres of Virginia’s finest in our own backyard?” -Eddie Nickens | 
Washingtonian

“…the Fort Lewis Lodge is a true escape, an idyllic hideaway where all there is to do is relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this pristine 3,200 acres of meadows, forest and rivers amid the Allegheny Mountains.” -Andie Gibson | SmithMountainLaker.com

“It’s my Shangri-la, a unique place that I recommend enthusiastically. My dictionary defines Shangri-la as a remote, idyllic hideaway where life approaches perfection. For me, that’s Fort Lewis Lodge.” -Jim Yenckel | Travel editor 
Washington Post

“A country inn for guests seeking the outdoors and an opportunity for some ‘natural’ relaxation, hiking, fishing , mountain biking and swimming.” -Matt Sampson
 | Virginia Wildlife