Treehouse resort takes visitors high off the beaten path
The Swiss Family complex at Michael Garnier's Out 'n' About Treesort
(CNN) -- For the past four years, Sarah Ebel, her husband and their five kids have been branching out on their vacations. No prosaic trips to Disney or the Grand Canyon for this Seattle-area family: It heads to southwest Oregon for a week in the cool green confines of a treehouse resort.
Out 'n' About Treesort is a bed and breakfast in Takilma, nestled in the Siskiyou Mountains. It boasts 14 treehouses, lessons in treehouse-making, arts-and-crafts courses and horseback-riding, among other activities.
It also features tree climbing, a big hit among the kids, Ebel says.
"They have a 51-foot (16-meter) rope-climbing tree up to a platform and a pool, which is made from river rocks and is fed by the river through a series of canals."
For the adults, the leafy resort offers an escape from the urban bustle.
"Everything is natural around here," she adds. "Nothing out of place."
Six of the treehouses are overnight accommodations. The newest addition, which opened earlier this month, is the Treezebo (combination treehouse/gazebo). It sits 37 feet (11 meters) above the ground.
Pack light, because getting to your room is tricky. Guests must climb several staircases, a ladder and two bridges, said Michael Garnier, owner, proprietor and builder.
One of those bridges is a 90-foot (27-meter) suspension bridge that took more than a year to build. Construction could get scary at times, he said.
"That one, I got scared, hanging out there 40 feet (12 meters) off the ground," he said. "But it's all built to code and there's no way you can fall out of it unless you climb over stuff."
Crews managed to outfit the treezebo with a toilet, sink, queen-sized bed and two single beds. Guests can rent it for $100 a night.
Other accommodations include the Tree Room Schoolhouse Suite, which sleeps four. It has its own bathroom, with a cast-iron claw-foot tub; a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and toaster; master bedroom; sitting area and loft. That runs $150 a night.
In the The Swiss Family Complex, a swinging bridge connects the adults' and children's units. Kids can reach the yard area by sliding down a fire pole or flying down on a rope swing -- fireman- or Tarzan-style, in other words. The complex costs $120 and fits four.
The Peacock Perch, sitting 20 feet (six meters) off the ground, is Garnier's original treehouse. It has a double bed, sink and chamber pot. There's a half-bath at the base of the stairs.
A swinging bridge connects the Peacock to the Treeplex. The Treeplex consists of a tepee, which sleeps four to six, has a double bed, firepit and electricity. The Treepee, located eight feet (two meters) off the ground, can fit a couple or three kids. And the Caveltree Fort is often used as an extra bedroom for two children.
Both the Peacock and Treeplex cost $85 a night.
For those who prefer to feel more grounded, there's also the two-story Cabintree. That includes a queen bed upstairs, a double futon and single rollaway downstairs. It also has a bathroom with shower and a kitchenette as well as a day-use treehouse.
Garnier said he has had "thousands and thousands" of visitors, since he opened in 1990. But that doesn't mean business has been always been smooth.
For nine years, he said he battled Josephine County officials over building permits. During that time, both sides were in and out of court, dealing with cease-and-desist orders, contempt-of-court complaints, various injunctions, subpoenas and hearings. It wasn't until 1999 that Garnier said he finally got all the permits.
Other places in the U.S. have been more welcoming. Garnier built a treehouse for a music theme park in Live Oak, Florida, as well as a rental property in Hawaii.
His international ventures include treehouses in Mexico, China and one under construction in Costa Rica. His motto: "Have trees, will travel." But only in the off-season, he cautions.
While Garnier's company can help people design and build their own treehouses, the Ebels won't be hiring any contractors soon.
"We've considered it," Sarah Ebel said. "We just don't have the right trees."
For now, her kids will have to be content, lodged in the limbs of the Douglas firs at Out 'n' About.
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