A Night at The Overlook: Our Real-Life Experience at Timberline Lodge from The Shining

A dive into our trip to Timberline Lodge from The Shining, located on the slopes of Mount Hood in Oregon.

The Timberline Lodge from The Shining

What would Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining be without the sprawling, isolated visage of The Overlook? My thoughts exactly. Just Jack Nicholson stomping about on a mountain (which, honestly, I’d watch).

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The iconic hotel at the heart of the movie is an integral component, a necessary evil to backdrop Jack Torrance’s descent into madness. While Stephen King based the hotel in his source novel on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the production team for Kubrick’s film selected another historic landmark to stand as the Overlook.

The Timberline Lodge from The Shining is located at Government Camp, Oregon, on the slopes of Mount Hood. As a fan of the film, it was a place we felt we had to visit to try and capture some of the experience Kubrick’s crew recorded during the location scouts. We opted to stay for a night at the Lodge in September 2023, and here’s our full review of the experience. 

A Brief History of Timberline Lodge

Commissioned by the federal government during the Great Depression, its construction from 1936 to 1938 provided jobs to the local community. The lodge, now a National Historic Landmark, was envisioned by its architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, not merely as a mountain retreat, but as a work of art.

When Kubrick sent his original scouting crews out to find locations to stand in for The Overlook, production designer Roy Walker selected the Timberline for that very isolated artistic touch.

Gem and Glenna out back of Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Your Highway to Horror folks, Glenna and Gem, behind the Timberline Lodge.

For more information on the production team’s decision to select the Timberline Lodge, visit our detailed dive into The Shining filming locations which chronicles every real-world shooting locale along with explanations on the Elstree Studios principal photography.

First Impressions

The rear of Timberline Lodge from The Shining

We departed the Seattle area mid-morning and arrived at Timberline around 4pm. For our lunchtime stop, we pulled into the town of Gresham approximately 40 miles outside of Government Camp. We scarfed down two delicious burrito bowls for only $15 at Uly’s Taco Bar. Highly recommend stopping here on your way, the service was speedy, friendly and the food top-notch.

Driving up the mountain towards the Timberline Lodge is a beautiful, arresting journey. The views spill forth, gorgeous vistas at every turn, as you climb higher and higher, pulled as if by that very same ‘shine’ which appeals to young Danny Torrance. That long drive felt like as much a part of the experience as seeing the hotel itself.

Mount Hood on our way to Timberline Lodge, Oregon

Once we spied Mount Hood I began to sing the film’s theme, Wendy Carlos’ reworking of Berlioz’ Dance of the Witches Sabbath from his Symphonie Fantastique. I can only assume it made for a magical experience for my partner who drove this leg of the journey. 

Rounding the last corner on the final approach to the Timberline Lodge itself, I won’t lie, I felt tugs on the ole heart strings, confirming the very reason why I wanted to launch this site in the first place; that undeniable tie we have to the horror movies we love. 

A front view of the Timberline Lodge from The Shining

The exterior of the Timberline looks identical to its onscreen appearance. While it happens to be a bonus for The Shining fans, it’s due to its National Historic Landmark status which is maintained thanks to preservation efforts by R.L.K & Company (that owns the Lodge) and the U.S. Forest Service which owns the land.

The Room Experience

While it’s not essential to enjoying the Timberline experience, we opted for an overnight stay to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible. The only room within our budget was a standard twin and despite the Lodge’s explanations for the room’s rather “rustic charms” they weren’t enough to prepare us for the experience.

The window in our room rattled in the frame all night long from a gentle breeze.

The beds sported mattress toppers that sported about 30 years of lumps and bumps.

The conversations of anyone walking down the hallway sounded as if they were happening in the room

While I understand the Lodge’s desire to abstain from updating to all the latest mod cons – in the name of historic preservation – it didn’t make for a restful evening. Perhaps my earplugs were too well-worn, my temperament old and belligerent. I’d recommend staying at Timberline if you can spring for a more luxurious suite or alternatively, spend the night at a hotel down the hill which costs the same. 

Amenities and Activities

The Timberline Lodge is a ski resort and comes fully equipped with all of the activities you’d expect. Our main purpose was to locate all of The Shining filming locations so this isn’t a thorough assessment of all experiences the place had to offer.

After witnessing scores of people sashaying around with plastic cups outside, we eventually learned that the spot to grab a to-go beverage is the second floor balcony bar, The Ram’s Head Bar & Restaurant. This isn’t signposted anywhere and we had to ask staff. Because the menu didn’t offer any gluten-free options, that evening we ventured down the mountain to the Mt. Hood Brewing Company at Government Camp.

The breakfast buffet at Timberline Lodge, Oregon

The next morning we treated ourselves to breakfast at the Cascade Dining Room inside the Timberline. For $29.75 we each partook in the buffet, most of which I couldn’t eat due to my gluten-free needs. It was very expensive for a distinctly-average buffet. If you aren’t planning to stay another night, venture down the mountain and eat elsewhere. 

Each of the main floors house art, fixtures and textiles curated from the region and you can access the self-guided Timberline Art Tour online to learn more about each piece. One room is set up to represent what the Lodge looked like when Roosevelt opened it. It even features a chair he sat in! But alas, it’s behind glass. 

Tying It to The Shining

Our arrival at the Lodge really took my breath away– I mean, it IS the Overlook Hotel. I half-expected to see Ullman the manager greet us at the door, or for Lloyd the bartender to saunter up with a tray of martinis. Nothing has changed from the time Jan Harlan, Doug Milsome and Roy Walker filmed the exterior sequences there.

Heck, in our video of the rear where Harlan and Milsome shot the Sno-Cat arriving at the Overlook, you can see two of the same trees that are still part of the Lodge’s alpine ambiance.

Gem stood outside Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Gem in front of the Timberline Lodge, not holding an ax.

In terms of movie paraphernalia, there is an axe with “Here’s Johnny” emblazoned on the handle kept behind the front desk. It’s not the one used in the movie because, well, it says “Here’s Johnny” and that would mean someone had defaced a piece of movie history.

Plus, the original is on display at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. As for the one at Timberline, it was unclear when or how we could borrow it — I did see other patrons wielding it later on, but there’s no sign. Perhaps ask staff to borrow it?

For fans who wish to watch the film at the Lodge, Timberline offers special screenings during certain times of the year. Booking is open for Family Fright Night 2024 when you can watch The Shining and participate in a full-lodge Halloween experience.

Nearby Attractions

The Pacific Crest trail  sign behind Timberline Lodge, Oregon

Behind the Lodge is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. From the time we spent there, we saw a few groups arrive at the rear of the building having completed a portion of the iconic hike.

That was one of the most exciting parts of being there, watching excited hikers’ faces as they clomped down the hill toward the back patio, hearing the cheery chatter of those whose bodies were likely aching from the hike but were pleasant nevertheless. This is the very same trail from Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, and its film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon.

Final Word

While we didn’t experience all that Timberline Lodge had to offer – it’s a major ski resort – we were there to breathe in The Shining experience. And because the weather was perfect, the place was not too busy, it lived up to all of my expectations. We were able to romp around the grounds, explore the corridors, and truly get a sense of the place. 

For fans of the movie, I’d recommend staying at a nearby hotel in Government Camp, and plan a day trip to visit Timberline as most of its areas linked to the movie are accessible to the public without having to check in. From the nearby hotels, it’s only a short drive up the mountain. 

If you would prefer to combine your visit with a day-trip to local sites of interest, try a day trip out of Portland where you don’t even have to drive. A shuttle picks you up from one of 57 local spots (including hotels), taking you to the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, Mount Hood Forest before finally arriving at the Timberline Lodge.

Have you visited the Timberline Lodge? Let us know how your experience went. If you’re interested, head on over to our deep-dive into the shooting locales of Kubrick’s film.

Timberline Lodge At A Glance

Address: 27500 E Timberline Road, Government Camp, OR 97028
Contact: 503-272-3311
Booking: Timberline Lodge website
Price Range: $200-250 a night
Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, On-site Dining, Books/Movies/DVD players
Unique Features: Free coffee in the Main Headhouse, 6am-9am.
Check-In/Check-Out Times: 4:00pm / 11:00am, quiet time between 10pm and 9am.
Accessibility: ADA Accessible including several rooms with ADA bathrooms, two bars with ADA lifts.
Pet Policy: Pets are not allowed in the Lodge unless registered in one of the pet-friendly hotel rooms. Service animals are permitted.
Parking: The front lot is reserved for overnight guests. Day visitors must use the two lower lots. 
Librarian by day and scribbler by night, Gem Seddon is a Seattle-based freelance entertainment writer with bylines at Vulture, Digital Spy, TechRadar, Regal Cinemas, Total Film, and more. Gem especially loves writing about horror movies. When not visiting her native England, she enjoys traveling to spooky film locales. Alien and Scream are tied as her all-time favourite movie – please don't make her choose.

10 thoughts on “A Night at The Overlook: Our Real-Life Experience at Timberline Lodge from The Shining”

  1. You should try staying at the hotel that Stephen King actually wrote about in Estes Park the Stanley hotel.
    The one in the first movie was ok but the real Stanley hotel now that’s a sight to see.

    Reply
  2. I used to go here a lot when I lived in Portland. The ski resort up there is open year round. We even surfed at Cape Kiwanda and snow skiied the same day!

    Reply
  3. The Lodge at Crater Lake is also stunning. I had to stay there since seeing photos of the lake as a kid.
    In 2010 the food was awesome. Best buckwheat pancakes with huckleberry syrup I ever had.

    Reply

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