History

The Hostel in the Forest, started by Tom Dennard, opened its doors to travelers from around the world on July 4, 1975. The first 15 to 20 years we had the reputation of being the favorite youth hostel in America for international travelers because of our natural setting in a forest with a minimum of trappings from the outside world. Two geodesic domes and tree houses provided the accommodations for these globetrotters, and hostellers from other countries contributed their varied talents to this beautiful oasis. In the mid-nineties, we were forced to withdraw from the International Youth Hostel Association because of our inability to meet their liability insurance requirements.

For the next few years we became more popular with Americans who used the hostel as a destination for their vacation. Many of them gave tirelessly of their time, energy, creative efforts and love, and they visited frequently to bathe in the hostel’s comforting spirit.

In recent times the hostel has evolved into a spiritual retreat center and educational facility, not only for tired travelers, but for those in the working world who need a place of tranquility and serenity to escape. We are now an official 501©(3) non-profit entity. Our emphasis is on nature, serenity, and peaceful surroundings for our members to enjoy. We do not present any programs or hand out any literature to tell you what to believe. We do not allow any “religious groups” to use the hostel nor do we permit anyone to attempt to convince you that their spiritual path is the right one to follow. We have no answers to help you find spiritual enlightenment. What we do offer is an environment for you to find your own path through retreats, workshops, and the daily life of a community focusing on sustainable and ecological science, alternative building, organic gardening, and holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi.

If you require central heating and air-conditioning, private baths or anything that resembles luxurious accommodations, you may be disappointed. Instead we offer you a bed in a safe environment where your tranquility will be disturbed only by the roosters crowing in the early morning hours. We have composting toilets, outdoor hot showers, and while you will have a roof over your head and screens to protect you from insects, the air inside your room will be subject to the whims of Mother Nature.

If you spend your time walking the trails, canoeing around the lake, swimming in the pool or just chatting with others on the front deck, you will find that your mind will be quieted, thoughts of the outside world will be eliminated, and you will find the hostel spirit that dwells there. Countless travelers have expressed this spirit through art, music, writings, crafts, organic gardening and creative buildings.

If this sounds like a place you’d like to visit, we’ll be happy to discuss our hostel in more detail with you and answer whatever questions you may have.