Packwood is one of Washington’s best kept secrets, and there’s no better place to spend our wedding anniversary than in this little mountain town at Packwood Mountain House, a beautiful cabin with a lot of history and heart.
Packwood, Washington is just 2 1/2 hours from both Seattle and Portland, located by Mt. Rainier National Park and White Pass. It’s named after William Packwood, a pioneer who explored Oregon and Washington.
But Packwood is more than a quiet town, as owner Jennifer shares how special people that make up Packwood are: This community went through a lot in the last half of 2022 and the way everyone came together was truly remarkable. As an example, when the Goat Rocks fire blew up on the outskirts of town in the fall of 2022, people lined up with trucks and trailers to start helping people evacuate. No questions, no need to provide something in return, just selfless community care. We've experienced countless acts like this over the years and it reaffirms why we fell in love with this area in the first place.
Packwood Mountain House
The owners, Jennifer and Chis, have put a lot of love into this cabin and take hospitality seriously. We had a welcome basket with goodies for both humans and pups, and a bottle of wine wishing us happy anniversary.
The cedar hot tub was a dream (especially after a day of skiing) and they provide wonderful fluffy robes. This cabin is perfect for foodies and chefs - Gozney Dome pizza oven, the Vitamix, and the KitchenAid mixer, and the Moccamaster Thermal Coffee Brewers are some highlights. We lounged on the hammock reading and used the indoor wood burning stove for s’mores.
There’s plenty of entertainment with a big collection of board games and books, a Samsung Frame TV cleverly disguised as a mountain painting when not in use, and a vinyl record player. This cabin is great for a romantic getaway, friends’ hangout, or family vacation.
Things to Do
- White Pass: a must. We had an amazing bluebird ski day with fresh powder. We love skiing here because it’s one of the most affordable places to ski ($80 for an adult day pass and an amazing $5 day pass for a child!). It’s also not nearly as crowded as many other ski resorts. Even with multiple ski/snowboard events over the weekend, we never had to wait more than 5 minutes.
- Local gems: Mountain Goat Coffee for coffee and scones (tip: get there early as the scones do sell out by the morning!) Packwood Mercantile for the best souvenirs and a very cute shop dog. The famous Packwood Brewing Co. for original craft brews.
- Packwood Lake Trail – a beautiful lake view and dog friendly. We have hiked here previously, although currently it is closed due to the Goat Rocks Fire.
- Mount Rainier – note that most of Mount Rainier's roads, and Stevens Canyon Entrance (the closest Mount Rainier entrance from Packwood) are closed for winter. But a wonderful place to hike the rest of the year.
- Elk watching – we saw SO much elk. They are majestic creatures but drive carefully!
Interviewing Jennifer from Packwood Mountain House @packwoodmountainhouse
Tell us about yourself (and Roxie) and what inspired you to build Packwood Mountain House.
Everything about this place has been a long held dream! We found Packwood by accident looking for a last minute place to go camping many years ago. We had reached the summit of Goat Rocks with our dog Roxie and were met with a thunderclap that materialized out of clear blue skies. We ended up trapped under some trees trying to escape the massive hailstones that left some serious bruises. As we drove back to our campground laughing about our recent adventure, we stopped for some much needed coffee at Mountain Goat. Mt Rainier was out, hanging over the horizon, and we thought to ourselves, "wouldn't it be amazing to own a cabin in a place like this?" A lot of dreams, hard work, and a little luck and we finally have our dream.
We grew up in the PNW, bounced around the world a bit, and came back home to the upper left. Over time, our adventure buddy Roxie began to age. We started to look for camping alternatives and realized that there weren't a lot of short term rentals that are dog friendly. We decided that we'd create a place where pet parents could bring their entire family.
When we're not helping Roxie live her best life, we're either paddleboarding, cheering on the Seahawks, or at work. My day job is now in marketing, but Chris and I are vets of the hospitality industry with just over three decades of experience between us, which means we absolutely love creating great experiences for people! We're almost obsessive about it and hope that it comes through in some of the details we've added to the space.
Describe the DIY/decorating/renovation and any fun (or hair pulling) stories during the process
I feel like I need a bit of bourbon to answer this! Renovations are the third leading cause of divorce, and now that we're done, I completely believe it. Make sure you give each other grace and practice your creative problem-solving skills because you will absolutely need them.
Replacing the old fiberglass tub and bear shower curtain with a walk-in shower was one of the first projects we tackled. It wasn't really the best move due to how little we knew about tiling and the size of the project we were about to accomplish, but it was worth it. Trying to learn a new skill via YouTube with time sensitive materials and nearly 800 4"x4" tiles (did we mention we'd never tiled before) was not easy, especially when we were trying to work around our incompatible work schedules. The process of building it was pretty hellacious, but it's still a project that we're both completely in love with.
The cabin has amazing interior design - tell us about your decorating style?
Jess from Smith Studio, who's an incredibly talented interior designer, worked with us for our three goals
- We wanted a space that felt bright and inviting while promoting rest and brain health.
- Chris is a classically trained professional chef and the kitchen is a big focal point, which meant it was the single biggest design challenge.
Sourcing from as many small, local, or women owned businesses was another big priority and it is shockingly difficult to find. We found Clare paint to freshen up our walls, Edloe Finch for that amazing Ron Swanson chair, and incredible art from local artists like Natalie Minerva and Momo. We were even able to score some of our big items like our kitchen countertops, wood stove, and hot tub from small businesses based in Washington state.
What's the hardest park about running a cabin airbnb?
It’s hard to understand how different a true cabin is in comparison to a traditional home or apartment. Cabins are organic structures, largely due to the environments that they're located in. Each one has its own quirks and personality based on how it was built, what they're made of, and how to operate them. Our cabin was built by a millworker with trees from the lot the cabin sits on. There's a lot of character you won't find anywhere else, so we do our best to communicate not only how our cabin and its features function, but what may be missing given its small town location.
What do you want your guests to know about Packwood Mountain House?
This is a place to make memories. It's our hope that those who stay with us create stories of their own that are as memorable and meaningful as our own hail storm adventure.
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