Historic Hotel Packwood: elk, no extra charge
Hotel Packwood, which marks its 100th year in 2012, is a bargain hostelry on the road to White Pass with lots of charm.
Seattle Times travel staff
PACKWOOD, Lewis County — It's not every hotel where your spouse looks out and states matter-of-factly: "Uh, darling, there's an elk outside our window."
Yep. Right out there, on the big back lawn at historic Hotel Packwood, an elk was grazing, just as if it were a horse or a cow.
It's a common sight here — 50 or so of the big animals wander around this little town just downhill from White Pass and within an elk's bugle of Tatoosh Wilderness. In fact, that evening, our landlady had to shoo a bull elk away from the begonia basket hanging on the front veranda of the hotel, which soon marks its 100th year.
The posies were right next to the chain-saw sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt, who's said to have slept here on a 1912 visit, when the place was brand new.
Beyond modernization such as plumbing and lights, the nine-room inn hasn't changed much, and that's half its charm. Rocking chairs still line the front stoop. On our visit, guests shared evening ice cream in the tiny lobby, where wall décor includes a bearskin, a deer head and an old Regulator clock.
Many furnishings are original. In the morning, Marilyn Linder, the effusive landlady, cranked up the vintage Edison Amberola, a phonograph in an intricately carved oak cabinet that still plays cylinders that go around and 'round. Linder, in a pink muumuu, did a little dance to the tinny music.
"I think that tune played when Teddy was here! Isn't that a fun machine?"
She and husband David Linder took over the place, comfortably set back just off Highway 12, 15 years ago. They haven't raised rates since, and it was a bargain to begin with. A room with shared bath costs $29 a night for one person ($35 for two). Rooms are clean and comfortable, but don't expect fancy — ours wasn't much bigger than its double brass bed. The dresser matched one my grandmother owned when she homesteaded the South Dakota prairie.
Hikers and overseas travelers are regulars here. We met an Israeli who had trekked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border. In winter, the location suits skiers headed to White Pass.
Or, with Mount Rainier National Park just seven miles up the road, make it part of a drive to see autumn colors. A cup of hot cocoa is just the thing for that veranda on a cool fall morning, and we found fresh blackberry muffins at the coffee shop across the road.
"It's fun to sit out here on the rocking chairs and watch the elk go by!" Linder said.
• Hotel Packwood, 104 Main St., Packwood; 360-494-5431 or www.packwoodwa.com/Hotel%20Packwood.htm. Double room with private bath, $49.