Treehouses still stand tall as we grow up

Our love for living among the trees is as old as nature.

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The Cinder Cone treehouses are located in Skamania County, Washington, above the Columbia River Gorge. Photo: Courtesy thecindercone.com
The Cinder Cone treehouses are located in Skamania County, Washington, above the Columbia River Gorge. Photo: Courtesy thecindercone.com

SAN DIEGO, March 16, 2016 – Remember when you were young and your backyard was truly an oasis of adventure? Hedges became prime hiding spots for an ambush of friendly enemies from down the street. A tent set up on the grass was a fort held strong by brave young soldiers. If you were lucky enough, maybe you had a treehouse, or you knew someone who did.

My neighborhood buddies and I spend endless hours in the backyard building forts and planning brave escapades in the canyon in our backyard. Yes, it was in the days before smartphones and videogames. I like to think I still would have played in the backyard as a kid today. While we didn’t have a treehouse, I always envied those kids who did.

Today, some of those same kids who couldn’t shake the idea of living in a treehouse are building them for adults. This is one circumstance where being a little bit childish is a great thing. From pods and cocoons to fully furnished, amenity-complete homes, the idea of living in a treehouse has become reality for some people, Swiss Family Robinson turned real.

Who hasn't dreamed of sleeping in the treetops, surrounded by nature?
Who hasn’t dreamed of sleeping in the treetops, surrounded by nature?

The world’s largest concentration of treehouses can be found at the Out ‘n’ About Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon. Builder Michael Garnier has built a treehouse metropolis for those who want the full experience of living up high. It isn’t the Ritz Carlton, but that’s not what a real treehouse fan wants. We want a five-star treesort and Michael delivers. It is complete with the must-have treehouse feature these days, the zipline. There is a 10-cable zipline course on the property plus a tree climb, a rock wall, and a Tarzan swing.


There are plenty of other treehouses around the world, many of them built specifically for visitors to enjoy. They are all over the United States, in Africa, Australia, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, England, and quite a few in Sweden. You can find them on the website Odd Inns.

This beautiful treehouse is called the Geronimo Creek Retreat. It is located in Seguin, Texas. Photo: Courtesy geronimocreekretreat.com
This beautiful treehouse is called the Geronimo Creek Retreat. It is located in Seguin, Texas. Photo: Courtesy geronimocreekretreat.com

Living among the trees is as old as nature. Archaeologists believe that millions of years ago, early man came down from home in the trees to live on the savannas of Africa. Using natural materials and sustainable resources, several architects have designed treehouse homes with all the modern comforts.

Using carefully resourced products like woods and stone can make an eco-friendly dwelling complete with a view. Kenya has some fantastic treehouse hotels so that after your safari adventure you can climb stairs into your own nest and fall asleep listening to the birds and monkeys talk to each other.

The great thing about most treehouses is that they can use the surrounding resources as a frame for building. In parts of Asia where bamboo is plentiful, stalks of it can be used for building materials. Ask anyone who has a bamboo floor. It’s lovely, durable and sustainable.

In the South Pacific, treehouse living has been a way of life for centuries. Captain Cook was rumored to have toured treehouses during his travels. Quite practical really. The treehouse is the perfect solution to raising your living space off a jungle floor full of insects and things like sand fleas. In heavy rain, you stay high and dry. In the event of threats from animal or human predators, a lookout high in a tree can see danger approaching and buy time to prepare or flee.

The Treehouse Cafe at the San Diego Zoo is as close as I get to a treehouse these days. Photo: San Diego Zoo
The Treehouse Cafe at the San Diego Zoo is as close as I get to a treehouse these days. Photo: San Diego Zoo

The closest treehouse fix I get these days is San Diego’s TreeHouse Café at the San Diego Zoo or the children’s garden at the Botanical Garden in Encinitas. You can look over the plants, people or animals and enjoy dinner in comfort while watching the sun go down.

If you had a treehouse growing up, or you have built one yourself, let us know in the Comments section. Post a photo to the Communities Digital News Facebook page or send one to me at [email protected] and I’ll post it. Share your own treehouse memories.

Jim Mumford, GRP, CLP is the owner of Good Earth Plant Company and GreenScaped Buildings, San Diego, California. Find Good Earth Plants on Facebook and Twitter.

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