History and Mystery Combine

Discover the colorful 155 year history of our 2,600-acre nature preserve – the ideal playground for families, adventure seekers, or those seeking a peaceful escape.

Did you know?

  • The resort's elevation ranges from 2,200 to 4,365 feet featuring steep slopes and high sandstone escarpments.
  • Mountain Lake is home to unique spruce bogs, underground springs, native trout streams and undisturbed forests full of wildlife.
  • Mountain Lake is one of only two natural fresh-water lakes in Virginia.
  • Mountain Lake sits on a basin made up of four different rock substrates and their corresponding fault lines.
  • We have the highest lake elevation east of the Mississippi, nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.
  • Water has been flowing into this basin for almost 10,000 years, but didn't start accumulating until about 6,000 years ago when earthquakes caused the rocks at the north end of the lake to slide down from the surrounding mountaintop, forming a semi-permeable dam which slowly created a growing pool of water.
  • The lake is fed by cold underground springs, and the water temperature rarely rises above 70 degrees on the surface and 46 degrees at the bottom. 
  • The level of the lake corresponds to the amount of rainfall we have each season: less rain equates to a lower lake, while heavy rain results in higher lake levels.

Mountain Lake’s History:

Mountain Lake has a long history and has seen many visitors for many purposes. In the early 1800’s the property became a stop along the public stage coach line providing lodging for passengers. During the Civil War, General George Crook and his Union solders passed through. Vacationers started visiting Mountain Lake in the mid 1800’s when there was only one small hotel. Many families called Mountain Lake their summer home year after year, building cabins, several of which are still in use today.

Calling Mountain Lake his family’s summer home since 1918, William Lewis Moody Jr. of Galveston acquired the property in 1930, and built the large stone Lodge which still stands today. Stone quarried from the surrounding mountain property was used to construct the Lodge. Lumber and hardware from the original hotel was repurposed and used in construction of several cottages and the car barn in 1937.

Mary Moody Northen developed a love of Mountain Lake as a young girl spending her summers at the resort. Upon her father’s death she purchased Mountain Lake. Upon her death in 1986, trustees of her estate established the Mary Moody Northen Endowment which presently owns and operates the resort. Mrs. Northen’s final wishes were to maintain the Lodge and surrounding land as a place where future generations could connect with nature as she had as a young girl.

In the fall of 2012 the Endowment commenced a renewal of Mountain Lake Lodge, upgrading its lodging facilities and expanding its outdoor recreation programs.

Mountain Lake Timeline