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“Sleepless in NFL.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of National Forest Lodge

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National Forest Lodge
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9905 National Forest Lodge Road, Isabella, MN 55614   |  
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Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Albert Lea, Minnesota
1 review
“Sleepless in NFL.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2014

NFL knows how to host a group of people like no place I have experienced before. Great food and entertainment along with clean facilities and the opportunity to experience the outdoors. Beds need updating was the only complaint that I heard from my group. Lack of sleep hindered my experience here but I still had a great time.

Room Tip: Bring a fan to drown out those that snore and definately bring something to lay on top of the matres...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, June 28, 2014
Hi "Sleepless." Thanks for all your kind words. Yes, some of the beds in the rustic cabins are definitely in need of upgrading. Since they are typically only used in the winter, we haven't been able to justify the replacement cost yet. Will hope to in the not too distant future. Thanks again, Andy
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56 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    48
    8
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    0
    0
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13
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (19)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Duluth, Minnesota
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2014

This place is the real deal. If you love nature, great cross-country ski trails, solitude, saunas, good home cooking, and a warm lodge with cocoa, wine and good friends, this is for you. Not corporate-feeling at all. Just plain nice people. Rejuvenating in every sense of the word.

Room Tip: If it's cold, call in advance to make sure the heat is turned up sufficiently.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 25, 2014
I'm thinking this could be one of the exceptional musicians that plays here on Saturday nights? Either way, I appreciated your glowing review of our little place in the woods. And good tip about the heat. It was a chilly one this season. Thanks again, Andy
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Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2014

This is not a "hotel" as the review site suggests. It is a wonderful resort with uniquely quaint cabins. The snow and beauty of the Superior National Forest is second to none. Andy takes fabulous care of the resort and even better care of his visitors! With all the meals prepared for us, a wonderful wood-fire sauna, polar plunge in Lake Gegoka, and the huge outdoor hot tub I cannot imagine a better winter outdoor experience. The trails seem endless and are meticulously groomed for skiing. And not to forget the great local music on Saturday night :) I have been here 7 years in a row and have reservations for 2015! NATIONAL FOREST LODGE ROCKS!!

Room Tip: Again, these are CABINS, NOT ROOMS!! Any cabin is a good cabin at the NFL :)
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 25, 2014
Ah, my friend, you are too kind. Always a pleasure to have you guys up here. Thank you so much for your support. Hope to see you again next year. -Andy
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2014

My adult children and I had a great getaway in the north woods. We enjoyed the beautiful serenity of the forest on our classic skis (no skate ski trails are groomed). Also a nice wood fired sauna off Lake Gegoka provided the opportunity for all of us to do a lake plunge through the ice before bed time. When the kids were younger we would go every year. They longed to go back up there...so we did.

Cabins are "rustic" and so when we are not sleeping or skiing we spent time in the lodge where we are fed surprisingly high quality meals or played games or read by the fire. On Saturday night excellent live music - not what you expect up in the remote areas. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a rustic getaway where all meals are provided

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Thanks Dave! Glad you came back and enjoyed again. Hope to see you all soon. -Andy
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2014

When you get to National Forest Lodge you won't have to think about anything but enjoying yourself the entire weekend. The food is made for you, the dishes are done, the sauna is stoked and the cabins are heated. They'll even keep the hot tub going. This place is totally authentic. Yes, the cabins are "rustic." And yes, you have to walk to the bath house. But this is an intimate resort, nothing is more than a 3-minute walk.

And there is always snow - no matter how bad it is in the Cities, or how bad things look on the drive up to NFL, there is always snow. The trails are beautiful and diverse enough for any level skier.

But the best part of NFL is the natural rhythm of the weekend. It's been the same every time -- and I've gone 6 times! On Friday people arrive throughout the afternoon. If there's time and light, you grab a quick ski. If not, you unpack, make your bed and head over the lodge for a delicious meal (always with a vegetarian option!). People are formal, new connections have not yet been made. But Andy - owner and the ultimate host - greets all comers with a hug.

After breakfast on Saturday, you head out for a ski. And at lunch everyone is comparing routes and miles covered. Another ski in the afternoon, or maybe some time reading in the lodge followed by a sauna and the AMAZING polar plunge! That's when things really start to pick up. The atmosphere at Saturday dinner is decidedly more festive. People are milling about, sharing a glass of wine and tales of their day. An incredibly good meal is followed by live entertainment as a crowd of more friends and locals packs into the lodge. The music - added to the experience by Andy - is always a huge hit. And by 11p everyone is heading to bed with a smile on their face.

Sunday morning, a quick breakfast, one more ski (I recommend once around Flathorn Lake) and then everyone is packing up to leave and hugging goodbye.

Go as a couple, go with your family, or go by yourself. You'll leave having done some great skiing, eaten some great food and made some new friends. All for an incredible price.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 26, 2014
Holy cow! This is such a great description of a weekend at the NFL. It should be on our website! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us! -Andy
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Sebeka, Minnesota
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2014

Combination of wilderness-like skiing or snowshoeing , communal meals, open-air hot tubbing and wood-fired sauna (replete with chainsawed hole in the lake) cannot be equaled. Bracing but requisite early morning trips to heated bathroom facility with Sorrels quickly tugged-on, squeaky snow underfoot and countless unbelievably bright stars overhead.Great value. Unforgettable.

Room Tip: All are unique. Cabin #3 has a special history.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Mark who?!? Yes, that cabin has great memories for Lura and I. You just never know what's you're gonna hear at the NFL. Thanks for the review and all those years of polar plunging. -Andy
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Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2014

This is our third escape to the lodge, we love that we can park the car and spend the weekend. Great skiing and snow shoeing, great host and a wonderful cook. We made reservations for next winter already.

Room Tip: Not really a swimming pool, but it is one great hot tub!
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North_Shore_Lodging, Owner at National Forest Lodge, responded to this review, March 21, 2014
Thanks so much for coming up again. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for your support. -Andy
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about National Forest Lodge

Address: 9905 National Forest Lodge Road, Isabella, MN 55614
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Minnesota > Isabella
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Isabella
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cozy, warm cabins with a charm all their own are nestled in the towering pines of the forest and provide the perfect place to settle into after a day on the trails! National Forest Lodge offers a unique all-inclusive Winter get-away of great cross country skiing and snowshoeing, hearty food, and friendly hospitality. In the Spring, Summer or Fall, rent out the Log Home or one of our camper cabins. Great fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking and more. Roast some weenies and marshmallows over your fire pit or get baked in our lakeside Finnish sauna (firewood provided!). ... more   less 

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