CLE ELUM, Wash. -- When golfers cross the Cascade Range leaving Seattle for the Wenatchee Washington National Forest heading toward the Suncadia Resort, they ditch one unique climate for another.
Rain clouds coming off the Pacific Ocean stack up against the Cascade's mountainous peaks, leaving the east side of the range high and dry and windy. Seattle golfers would gladly trade gloomy and wet for bright and blowing any day.
Great weather, coupled with three excellent golf courses, make Suncadia the premier golf resort in the state and one of the best in the entire Pacific Northwest. The 6,400-acre, master-planned community blends seamlessly into its secluded natural settings.
Bob Hall of Richland and his wife and son enjoyed a three-day golf weekend at Suncadia in July.
"The accommodations are excellent," he said. "There are a lot of families here because there are lots of things to do. The golf courses are excellent options. There's a good 36 holes of golf."
Suncadia Resort: Plenty of golf options
There are actually 54 holes of golf, but the premier course, Tumble Creek by Tom Doak, remains private. Guests aren't starving for quality choices, though, with the 7,112-yard Prospector Course and the 7,271-yard Rope Rider Course.
Arnold Palmer's Prospector Course was the resort's first course, opening in 2005. There are some tricky greens out there and one stunning view from atop the 10th tee. The 412-yard par-4 ninth hole and 540-yard par-5 18th hole share the same pond. Golfweek ranks the Prospector Course no. 10 among the state's top public courses for 2013.
Built along the site of historic Roslyn Mines no. 9 and no. 10, Rope Rider, a Peter Jacobsen-Jim Hardy design that fully opened in 2011, is named in honor of the miners who precariously balanced themselves on the roped coal cars that maneuvered the steep mine shafts.
Its most impressive feature is the towering Tipple Hill, a 120-foot pile of coal tailings between the seventh and eighth holes. The Rope Rider accommodates families with youth tees on every hole and shorter three- and six-hole loops. There's also a three-hole short course available.
Both the Prospector and the Rope Rider play resort friendly, but when the breeze kicks up as it often does, they give good players all they can handle.
Suncadia Resort: Plenty to do besides golf
Despite constant improvements over the past five years, Suncadia Resort continues to stay committed to its environment. The planning and design guidelines require preservation of 80 percent open space, extensive use of native vegetation and miles of pedestrian and bike trails, earning Suncadia the highest three-star certification from Built Green.
The 2008 construction of the Lodge at Suncadia and the Glade Springs Spa, plus a separate fitness center with outdoor and indoor pools and two indoor water slides, created a full-service, four-season recreation destination. In 2010, the completion of the luxurious Swiftwater Cellars added a destination winery, home to fine dining at the Hoist House, room for banquets or weddings and a pro shop for the Rope Rider.
Set on a ridge, the Lodge at Suncadia, a stirring mountain retreat of 254 suites and penthouses, delivers panoramic vistas of the countryside and the Cle Elum River. The largest suites include full kitchens, a fireplace, washer and dryer. Its two restaurants, Fifty 6 Degrees and Portals, serve good foods and views.
Guests who go kayaking, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, horseback riding and hiking interact with the rugged outdoors. The tiny village of Roslyn, Wash., the setting for the 1990s TV series "Northern Exposure," might be worth a visit as well.
There's no shortage of fun -- and sun -- at this special place.