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Historic lodge remains on the old Emigrant Trail

If walls could talk then historic Rainbow Lodge would have plenty to tell.

Located off Interstate 80, the rustic lodge stands on a part of the old Emigrant Trail which once served as a campground for travelers in the 1800s.

The inn, whose original section was made of hand-hewn timbers and granite, started out as a stagecoach stop for the overland stages.



The lodge changed ownership numerous times, but in 1934 Herschel Jones, the owner at the time, added on to the structure and included a plumbing system.

In the 1960s trout fishing became a popular attraction and guests would trek up to the Yuba River and catch the fish and then have the Rainbow chef cook them on command.




Many colorful stories are attached to the lodge. It’s rumored among guests and staff that a ghost frequents Room 23.

“Her name is Mary and some guests and staff have felt her presence,” said Trudi Baer, general manager. “Another guy was supposedly murdered over a game of craps in the basement.”

Rainbow Lodge was acquired by Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Area in 1987. Under this ownership, the lodge was completely remodeled capturing the romanticism and charm of its past.

Upon entering, the warm glow of the lodge’s papier-mache lamps reflect off the forest green and pine undertones. Old posters of European ski resorts dot the stained walls, reflecting a Tyrolean, old-world atmosphere. A generous fireplace warms guests as they sit on the overstuffed, plaid couches reading a book or just reveling in the serene silence. No computers, televisions or radios are allowed.

Visitors can also warm up with a hot toddy from the cozy Sierra Bar. Old photographs hang on the granite wall offering a visual narrative of the original pioneers of the area to patrons sitting at small, glass tables. Although not in use, an authentic spittoon bides its time underneath the base of the oak bar. Skis similar to those worn by the famous 1800s mail carrier, Snowshoe Thompson, adorn the mirrored wall behind the bar.

With two restaurants, guests are treated to some of the finest California-French cuisine in the area, from menus that have been recognized by many top food critics. A spring also runs underneath the granite rock above the lodge, providing a refreshing drink or bath.

From A to C, the 32 bedrooms vary in size, some with full baths and fireplaces, others with only a sink. All however, have a delicate, romantic touch, representative of a bed and breakfast.

“We provide a high quality of service and maintain a warm, romantic lodge atmosphere,” Baer said. “The people who come through have a love of the outdoors and want to unwind. We can provide that for them.”


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