Bear Mountain Lodge has had many lives since it was first built in 1928. Back then, it was a school for unruly boys from the East Coast; later it became a country club and hotel for the well-heeled; and before artist-turned-innkeeper Linda Brewer bought the property five years ago and turned it into a 10-room lodge, it was owned by the Nature Conservancy. It’s fitting, then, that nature is the main attraction at the lodge, which sits on 178 acres and has horses, cows, and chickens, plus birds and butterflies and a pond that’s home to the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog. The Gila National Forest—at 2.7 million acres, the largest wilderness area in the Southwest—is the lodge’s back yard. If you find yourself missing civilization, Silver City is just over three miles away, but escape is really the point here. And while there is Wi-Fi, there aren’t any televisions.
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On the edge of Gila National Forest, Bear Mountain Lodge feels like the middle of nowhere, but it’s just 3.4 miles from the town of Silver City, with its Victorian homes, art galleries, and shockingly good food scene. Foodies fly into town just to eat at the modernist Curious Kumquat, helmed by 2014 James Beard semifinalist Rob Connoley. Also worth noting are the Southwestern 1Zero6 and the Mediterranean Shevek & Co., both the brainchild of ex-Brooklynites. The Western New Mexico University Museum houses one of the country’s best collections of Mimbres pottery. And, every August, the city hosts the Clay Festival, a celebration of handmade tiles and clay arts.
Need to Know
Rooms:10 rooms (6 Main Lodge, 4 Myra’s Retreat), 2 casitas. From $160. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Breakfast, which includes housemade granola, fruit, and yogurt, plus hot entrées like frittatas, French toast, and waffles, is served in Café Oso Azul in the Main Lodge and is included in the rate. If you want to have lunch or dinner on property, you’ll need to make a reservation the night before. The menu is local, seasonal, and, in the words of the innkeeper, heavy on butter, though the lodge will cater to any dietary restrictions. Spa and gym details: While there isn’t a spa or fitness center, well-groomed nature trails crisscross the property, and in-room massages are available upon request.
Who's it for: Nature-seeking leisure travelers, especially bird watchers and hikers (the Continental Divide Trail is three miles away), plus art lovers (there’s an on-site gallery), and the occasional business exec. Our favorite rooms: The two-room casitas—the Coop, and the Wren’s Nest—offer the most privacy—and they’re pet friendly. For views of Cooke's Peak, W Mountain, Kneeling Nun, and Gomez Peak, book the Emory or the Leopold, both in the Main Lodge. Local highlight: While the area attracts birders who come for the 13 species of hummingbirds, the Pinyon jay, and the Montezuma quail, the area’s butterflies—monarchs, queens, yellows, swallowtails—are equally spectacular.