Only a two-hour drive from D.C., River Mountain is a perfect retreat for you and your furry friend.
As much as locals may love D.C., sometimes we have an underlying urge to, well, GTFO. In my case, I needed a break from applying to countless job openings per day after a recent layoff. I was desperate to get away from D.C. (aka LinkedIn: The City) and take advantage of my funemployment while
Between their own jobs and kids, none of my friends could join me on a last-minute mini adventure. As this would be a solo trip with my dog Jack, I had some requirements: I sought a place that was within a reasonable driving distance, dog-friendly and, above all, remote enough that I could see the stars, but not too secluded. Jack is afraid of his own shadow and therefore not a great guard dog, and I didn’t want to be Jane Doe on the next true crime podcast.
Ultimately, I wanted a getaway where I, a solo female traveler with a dog, would feel safe and comfortable. Google brought me to an option that checked all those boxes and more: River Mountain.
“We aimed to create a place where everyone would feel welcome and have access to the great outdoors,” Owner Meghan Gruszynski says. “An accessible and inclusive destination where we hope people are able to grow their relationship to the natural world through time spent with others and in nature.”
Just two hours and 20 minutes away by car, River Mountain is right on the other side of the western Maryland border in Everett, Pennsylvania. It was the perfect amount of seclusion: far enough away to be surrounded by nature, but not so far for a hypothetical axe murderer to handily dispose of my body.
The resort is situated alongside Sweet Root Creek in Buchanan State Forest, with 150 acres of sprawling meadows, trails, springs and woodlands to explore. Gruszynski and her business partner Ryan Tyrrell work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to protect and maintain the land and its natural resources. The foundation’s Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership aims to facilitate the planting of 10 million new trees in priority landscapes in Pennsylvania by the end of 2025.
“Sweet Root Creek is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, so we’re directly connected to our neighbors in the DMV community,” Gruszynski says. “We do bi-annual tree plantings, stream rehabilitation and education.”
The owners put as much thought in guest accommodations as their environmental partnerships. The cabins work with the property’s natural environment and are specifically designed to align with the body’s circadian rhythm: Floor-to-ceiling windows allow guests to wake up with natural light and wind down under the stars when the sun sets. The expansive valley is just outside for you and your pup to traverse.
I recommend packing a long leash so your dog can take advantage of the wide-open-spaces here and along the trail. River Mountain’s hiking trail is a pleasant 1.45-mile loop along the creek, which Jack loved to dip his paws in to cool off. Look for the “Hammock Hideaway,” a spot amongst the trees with swaying hammocks perfect for taking a relaxing nap or reading a good book.
When happy hour rolls around, head to the 1800s-era Old Log Cabin for complimentary drinks and to socialize with other guests. For mealtimes, you are welcome to do your own thing or opt to order fresh meals prepared by resort staff. I can vouch for the chili, which comes with warm homemade cornbread.
Guests can book accommodations in the main lodge, private cabins, glamping yurts or tents. I stayed in a yurt, which included electricity, two queen beds, a large deck, firepit, twinkle lights, parking spot, pellet stove and electric blanket — plus a heater, fan, charcoal grill and outdoor seating. The yurts are just a stone’s throw away from modern restrooms and a shared kitchen area.
Additional amenities include cedar hot soaking tubs, outdoor yoga platforms, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, complimentary coffee and tea and a conference room. You can book excursions like horseback riding or yoga sessions a la carte. The resort has a calendar of events throughout the year and is also available for weddings and group retreats.
If you need a place to escape the city with your dog, River Mountain is a great option that doesn’t break the bank. Depending on the season, rates range from $130 per night in a yurt for four to $580 per night in a cabin that fits a party of 12. Split among a group, that’s a getaway from the LinkedIn Capital of the World for less than the price of a D.C. parking ticket.
Know Before You Go
Be ready to connect differently.
You most likely will not have a cell signal, but walkie-talkies are supplied in case you need any assistance. Wi-Fi is strong throughout the property — great for remote workers.
Protect your pet.
Make sure your dog is on flea and tick preventative. Check them (and yourself) for ticks during and after your stay. Before booking, be sure to read River Mountain’s pet policy to make sure a stay there is the right fit for your pup.
No cash? No problem.
QR codes abound for any and all provisions you may need during your stay. River Mountain is extremely mobile-friendly.
River Mountain is open to guests year-round and is available to host retreats, conferences, weddings and other group events. To learn more and book, visit them online at rivermountain.org or follow on Instagram @rivermountain.
River Mountain: 3600 Black Valley Rd. Everett, PA
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