Nestled between Mount Rainier National Park, Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mount St. Helens on the Cowlitz River, the cozy town of Packwood offers the perfect mountain getaway experience. As the winter months descend on the Pacific Northwest, snow-seekers can find good beer, warm fires and freshly powdered mountains in Packwood, WA. Easily accessible in about two and a half hours from both the Portland area via highway 12 and Seattle, Packwood is great for those looking to load up the car after work on Friday and make it home to prepare for the work week on Sunday with plenty of fun in between.
Where to Stay
For a true getaway feel, I recommend checking out the abundance of Instagram-perfect A-frame cabins on Airbnb or VRBO. Many of these cabins offer outdoor fire pits, hot tubs, cozy gathering places and cast iron, wood-burning stoves ideal for warming up after a cold day or roasting marshmallows.
For a rustic-chic abode close to town and the wonderful Skate Creek Road, check out the Cowlitz River Lodge. The beautiful lodge-style hotel offers free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, a Great Room and 31 guest suites.
Food & Drink
Every good day starts with coffee and The Mountain Goat will provide that and great bakery items! The Mountain Goat experience begins with the giant, colorful sign out front and continues with the bright, cheery and eclectically decorated interior. The Mountain Goat offers ample indoor seating as well as cute souvenirs and merchandise for purchase. Of course, however, we are here for coffee!
Their regular black coffee is smooth and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser. The Americano, banana nut muffin and pepper-pesto popover did not disappoint! On our next visit, I plan to try one of the chai varieties and buy some coffee beans to take home.
Packwood Brewing Co.
After a day of exploration and adventure, head to Packwood Brewing Co. to unwind with a crisp beverage, hot food and good company in a rustic taproom complete with blankets and a fireplace. Packwood offers a wide ranging tap list including the Cowlitz Kolsch, Tree Line IPA, Butter Peak Porter and rotating seasonal brews; if you have worked up an appetite, a menu of warm dishes including soft pretzels and beer brats awaits you. Grab a seat at the table or snuggle up with a blanket by the fire and enjoy this Packwood gem. Be sure to swing by for live music if you are in town on the weekend!
White Pass Ski Area and Nordic Center
Those who love winter and even those who don’t are sure to fall in love with the tall trees, glistening snow and abundant activities available at White Pass Ski Area. White Pass boasts numerous ski and snowboard runs, a tubing hill, slopeside lodging, multiple dining areas and even on-site childcare. With stunning views of Mt. Rainier and a full spectrum of lessons, rentals and retail, White Pass is great for seasoned skiers and beginners alike.
Interested in exploring the wintery landscape without the chairlift? Check out the Nordic Center at White Pass. The Nordic Center offers rentals, lessons and trails for snowshoeing, classic cross-country skiing, skate skiing, hoks skiing and even fat tire bikes for riding in the snow. The guides at the Nordic Center were very friendly and clearly passionate about Nordic snow sports. We chatted with one of the guides about a good route for our snowshoeing trek and we decided on a loop around the lake with a detour to a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail before connecting back to the original loop. The trails were beautifully groomed and the views unmatched throughout the Nordic Center.
Packwood Spirits and Quilts
Back in town, it’s worth it to step into the only dual liquor and quilts store I have ever seen. Right next to Blanton’s Market, Packwood Spirits and Quilts is home to a great selection of spirits and mixers on one side and quilting materials and fabrics on the other. Pick up one of the Packwood WA decal glasses, a bottle, some fabric and enjoy an evening of creativity and crafts! The perfect end to a weekend in Packwood.