We want you to come and share our little piece of Heaven on Top of the World!
We came west for the mountains,” say Frank and Terri Schmitz. The couple, originally from Wisconsin, now own and reside at the White Bird Summit Bed and Breakfast Lodge.
Open since 2000, the Lodge sits a mile east of Highway 95’s White Bird Pass. At about 4,300 feet above sea level, the two-story structure affords the Schmitzs and their guests a breathtaking view of mountains -- and more mountains. Thirty or so years ago, before the current highway between Grangeville and White Bird was straightened and widened, a meandering Highway 95 ran right by where the Schmitzs now live. The lodge was then a residence, and a one-story building closer to the road served as a popular restaurant. Now the long-abandoned restaurant has become a tack room and a gift shop.And with hard work, Frank and Terri have transformed the residence into a spacious, well-appointed lodge.
The Great Room is filled with comfortable furniture, wildlife art and taxidermy displays. Off one side of the room, French doors open to a spacious sun room with windows overlooking the canyon. One wall replicas a rock wall that includes a built in Fish tank. Bringing the outdoors indoors the wall fits right into the wildlife theme. This is another adventure of Frank and Terri's. The manufacture simulated rock panels for building these rock walls. From there you will head into the indoor heated pool and work out room. Off of the other, entry to the Africa room offers an opportunity for quiet conversation or an evening nightcap at the hand crafted bar. Other amenities include an outdoor BBQ and bar garden. Lower level guestrooms – except for the Wisconsin Room that reflects the Schmitzs roots – sport names like ‘World Travel ,’ ‘Buffalo Bill,’ ‘Rodeo’ and ‘Summit.’ Three of the rooms have private patios. All have private baths. “Frank’s had lots of fun with things like putting a stone shower stall with swinging half doors and a ‘rainwater’ shower head in the Buffalo Bill room,” Terri says.
A split-level tiled kitchen and dining area – where full breakfasts are served – separate lower level guestrooms from the ‘Bunkhouse.’ This wing of the lodge offers a private entrance, cozy sitting area, two full baths and two large guest rooms. “The ‘Chief’ room and ‘Warrior’ room,” Terri says, “are decorated to reflect Nez Perce Indian culture, will sleep five each and are ideal for families.” Guests visit the lodge for the fresh mountain air, magnificent views, and the retreat from urban life. But most also arrive with specific recreation in mind. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback trail riding, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, jet boating snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or hunting: the White Bird Summit Lodge offers them all.
In the trail riding department, Frank says, “We have 26 gentle horses for half-day, full day, hourly to overnight trips and now riding lessons. And we work with some great whitewater outfitters to offer combination ‘saddle and paddle’ packages.” That’s where Terri’s skills as a travel and airline agent come in. “I can make air line reservations, set up rafting or fishing charters. All sorts of combinations,” she says with a travel agent’s enthusiasm. “When guests get here and two of them want to go hiking, two want to go horseback riding and two want to go fishing or golfing – we’ve got the diversity to make all those things possible.”
During hunting seasons, the Schmitzs use the lodge as jump-off point for trips into the Gilmore Ranch (up off the South Fork of the Clearwater River) and the Nez Perce Forest beyond. The Gilmore Ranch consists of 450 remotes acres of woods and meadow that was homesteaded at the turn of the 20th century by three Gilmore brothers. From that base camp, Frank, licensed and bonded as LocKey U outfitters, takes hunters out in search of deer, elk, bear and cougar. Record book Mt Lion, trophy elk, whitetail deer and Shiras Moose hunts. Terri acts as camp cook.
“We’re in the work place every day, whether it’s in camp or at the lodge,” Terri says. “Even if we have employees, we’re there with them so we can control the service customers are paying for.” Having traveled extensively and seen the best and the worst of accommodations and services, Frank and Terri say they’re trying to reproduce the best of what they’ve experienced. But both agree that the basis for success is enjoying people.
Comparing this enterprise to his former contracting business, Frank says, “Either way you’re working with people. But when building, they have all the pressures of financing and deadlines. And you’ve got the pressures of trying to get things done despite drawbacks like weather.”
He speaks softly, his words laced with a hint of his Wisconsin past. “Here at the lodge it’s relaxed,” he explains. “People are laid back, away from the pressures of normal life and they’re enjoying their vacations.” For locals, the Schmitzs offer the lodge and its surroundings for outdoor wedding services. And Terri can cordinate a reception right down to the cake and flowers. “The lodge is still kind of secret right now,” Frank says. “But as word gets out, we have many services we’d like to offer guests from close and far.”