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Tree House Island: A New Vacation Spot Between Portland and Seattle

In 2007, I went to Silver Lake, Washington, looking for good deals on property. I had been running a company specializing in stamped, decorative concrete, but the economy hit my business hard and I wanted to take on a project. In the middle of the lake, an island full of huge fir and cedar caught my attention. I immediately envisioned a park-like atmosphere with tree houses, a place where people could get away from their day-to-day and be a kid again.

My friend James Misner, whose painting company was not doing well, decided to invest with me and we bought the 25 acre island. We wanted to focus on the possibilities of a recreational and vacation spotfor the community rather than on how the economy affected our construction businesses. We built one tree house and six zip lines and called it Tree House Island. We plan to open the zip line park in May or June of 2013, but we have six more tree houses to build.

Silver Lake is seven minutes from Interstate 5, bordered by the Spirit Lake Highway, leading to Mt. St. Helens. Seattle is an hour and a half drive to the north and Portland is one hour to the south. Nearby Mt. Rainier, the Columbia River Gorge receives five million visitors every year. Mt. St. Helens, on the other hand, only gets 250,000 visitors annually.

This is a huge untapped resource in tourism, and anyone who has not seen Mt. St. Helens is truly missing it. We think that when the tree houses are all built, it will be a really great place for families to stay. The winding trails, canoeing, fishing, and zip lines could bring in around three to five thousand patrons each year. This is just a drop in the bucket towards maximizing the tourism potential, but it is at least making a dent and could bring growth to surrounding businesses. We see Tree House Island as an opportunity to build up our community. Support our Kickstarter project if you'd like to visit us one day.

This project was featured on GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

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