When traveling along Highway 12, it is not likely you could miss the rustic and historic Hotel Packwood along your route. Established in 1912, Hotel Packwood continues to be a hot spot for travelers all year long. Located in the heart of the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, guests can find over 1.3 million acres of wilderness, river valleys, waterfalls, volcanoes and of course the beautiful mountains that grace the Pacific Northwest.
“It is not a party place, it is mainly a sleep place,” explains Marilyn, who takes great pride in her little piece of history. Sometimes visitors passing through will stop for just a peek inside. Two of the rooms have their own private bathroom, while the others share the use of two spacious bathrooms.
The lobby feels personal, like a living room around a large wood-burning fireplace. It tends to resemble a quaint house of treasures, rather than a known piece of history. There are antiques, books, catalogs and tourism brochures set around. Outside of the building, guests can enjoy the park-like setting beside the local library. The park is one of the many places throughout Packwood where the town’s wildlife tend to gravitate to. There’s a verandah where guests can sit and enjoy views of Mount Rainier in the distance, too.
Most certainly at some point during your stay, you will see some of nature’s largest land mammals in North America – elk. The local elk like to graze the grass off the veranda of the hotel, in nearby yards, businesses and along the sides of Highway 12 throughout the year. These graceful creatures remain one of the town’s most iconic features.
The 103-year-old building is known as the oldest in the small town of Packwood, which has an estimated population of around 342 residents. The charming little town remains a known pit stop for bathroom and food breaks for those traveling to the mountains, and Hotel Packwood often serves as a jumping-off point for local adventures and events.
Summer is by far the busiest season for guests, as the hotel is likely booked every day of the week, Marilyn says. It is not hard to understand why. With the competitive pricing for hotel stays in most areas these days, Marilyn strives to consistently keep her rates affordable. The rooms range between $30 and $50 a night. And although you cannot expect a stay at the Hilton for a price like that, you are sure to be comfortable and cozy in this homey and historic hotel.
While Packwood is often a quiet little town, Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends attract visitors from all over seeking to check out the town’s annual flea markets. These massive flea markets flood the highway through town with bargain deals and refreshments not unlike what you’d find at a fair. Weekends such as this leave the hotel booked well in advance.
Packwood is located just nine miles south of Mt. Rainier National Park, and approximately 30 miles southeast of Mt. St. Helens National Monument. This makes it an ideal place to bunker down for the evenings after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, fishing, hunting, exploring or just passing through.
Traveling 20 more miles to the east, travelers can ski, snowboard, sled and even snowmobile at the top of White Pass. Winter easily brings the second busiest season of the year for Marilyn and Hotel Packwood. However, weekends tend to be the peak times for mountain goers playing in the snow, allowing a little more vacancy on weekdays for winter travelers.
In order to keep the hotel up and operating throughout the last 20 years, general renovations have had to take place periodically. But Marilyn insists, “Despite the maintenance of Hotel Packwood, it will never lose sight of its historic state.”
This charming little place remains true to its time, and can only be referred to as a little piece of paradise.
104 Main Street
Packwood, WA 98361