Not-So-Usual Places to Stay in the Pacific Northwest

free spirit spheres
photo by Carlo Ricci

Tipis, tree houses and fire lookouts for rent

written by Kim Dinan featured photo by Jessica Prince

It’s no surprise that those in the upper-left are looking for accommodations off the beaten path. We’ve curated six places to sleep in the Pacific Northwest for those who combine wanderlust with a pioneering spirit. These aren’t historic B&Bs or glamorous urban hotels. They’re out-of-the way destinations we selected to get you out of your lodging rut and on to new adventures.


Curl up in a Tipi in Oregon’s Mohawk Valley

Just northeast of Eugene, Oregon is an escape from the norm. A secluded woodland setting is the backdrop for the Tipi Village Retreat, a self-described “haven away from the ordinary.” Guests can choose from one of seven tipis tucked into a forested setting. The largest, the thirty-foot Crazy Horse Tipi, is big enough to house up to ten people. If you’re traveling in a smaller group, the more intimate Chief Seattle tipi has a fire pit in the center of the dwelling and sleeps two to five people.

tipi village retreat
photo by Susanne Weiss

Each tipi is furnished in a Zen style, with stunning stone floors, warm rugs and inviting beds. To keep you toasty on cool Oregon nights, the beds are piled with wool blankets and down comforters. If tipis are a bit too rustic for your taste, Tipi Village also offers a cabin in the woods, a garden cottage and two rooms inside of a traditional home. To top it all off, each morning a gourmet breakfast of organic free-range eggs, smoked salmon, breads, fresh fruit and granola is served on the outdoor patio or down by Mill Creek. There are plenty of quiet activities to do on site. Read, catch up with friends and family, or sit still and view the wildlife- elk bulls wandering through in the spring and Chinook salmon swim in the fall. Intrepid travelers can take a day trip west to one of Oregon’s beaches or east to Oregon’s high desert. But whether you choose to roam or stay snuggled up in your tipi, Tipi Village Retreat is the perfect place to relax and escape the rush of modern life, even if just for the night.

Tipi Village Retreat
Marcola, Oregon
Cell service: Yes
Potable Water: Yes


A Bed with a Cascade Peaks View

Located on stilts in mountainous elevations, fire lookouts were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps throughout the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s. They thrived as functional structures before many were abandoned for modern fire prevention technology. Thanks to conservation efforts, the fire lookouts are still around today, and have taken on a new purpose.

gold butte lookout
photo by Kevin Coughlin

Gold Butte Fire Lookout is located about 65-miles SE of Salem, Oregon. The lookout is a rustic single-room dwelling with unparalleled views of Cascade peaks, including Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters. While this is no luxury resort—visitors must bring their own water and the outhouse is detached—you won’t find another place to sleep that beats the solitude and beauty.

Amenities are sparse and simplicity is the reward. On a clear night, Gold Butte Fire Lookout occupants can read by the light of the moon or gaze at the speckling of stars. During the day, rent a boat on nearby Detroit Lake or go hiking in Opal Creek Wilderness Area, Oregon’s largest uncut watershed. No matter how you spend your time at Gold Butte Fire Lookout, you will be plenty entertained by all things natural.

Gold Butte Fire Lookout
Located 65-miles SE of Salem, Oregon
Cell service: Sparse
Potable Water: No



cedar creek treehouse
photo by Jessica Prince
Wake Up in the Clouds Near Mt. Rainier

Who doesn’t dream of waking up among the clouds in a tree house built to fit the wildest of imaginations? At Cedar Creek Treehouse, guests spend the night fifty feet above the ground in a 200-year-old Western Red Cedar.

Located just ten miles from Mt. Rainier National Park and an hour north of Mt. St. Helens in Ashford, Washington, this treehouse has some of the best views in the Pacific Northwest. And if being fifty feet in the air isn’t enough of a bird’s eye view for you, each guest at Cedar Creek Treehouse can tour the 100-foot-high observatory—also built into the trees. To get there, visitors climb an eighty-two-foot spiral staircase to a simple suspension bridge. If you’re bold enough, you can try the newly installed seventy-five-foot swing and take soaring amongst the trees to a whole new level.

Cedar Creek Treehouse is solar-powered and off the grid, so don’t expect to charge your cell phone. In fact, there isn’t a shower, though you can get your blood pumping by taking a dip in Cedar Creek’s swimming hole. Afterward, watch the sun set while swinging in a hammock or gather around the embers for a fireside chat. Topic of conversation: how you never want to leave.

Cedar Creek Treehouse
Ashford, Washington
Cell service: Sparse
Potable Water: Provided


pampered wildnerness, glampingSafari Snoozing Without the Plane Ride

If a South African safari is just not in the budget this year, keep your experience local with a stay in a luxury safari tent inside of Olympia, Washington’s Millersylvania State Park. True, you might not have to fend off leopards and hyenas as they prowl around your tent at night, but what the experience lacks in wildlife it makes up for in relaxation.

The tents in Millersylvania State Park are far from ordinary. Canvas cabins, outfitted with themes such as Safari Suite and Shabby Chic, have been glammed up so that you can sleep in comfort. Each safari tent is equipped with a king-size bed and a memory foam mattress, a fireplace, a barbecue an outdoor fire pit and plenty of candles to set the mood.

During the day, explore the 842-acre state park that has six miles of hiking trails and over 3,000 feet of shoreline where visitors can swim, canoe or fish the day away. The nearby town of Tenino is a great destination for wine tasting, shopping and restaurants. When the sky turns dark, light a fire in the fire pit, cook up some s’mores (ingredients are provided for you) and enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors. You won’t even have to chase the wildebeests away.

Pampered Wilderness
Olympia, WA
Cell service: Yes
Potable water: Yes



Slumber in a Sphere Fit for Fantasy

On Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Free Spirit Spheres offers a place to rest your head unlike any other. Otherworldly globes hang from a grove of cedar and maple trees and dangle like pendulums from rainforest treetops. Overnight guests spend the night in one of four pods, each with their own craftsmanship and ambiance.

free spirit spheres
photo by Carlo Ricci

Accessed by a spiral staircase and a short suspension bridge, the pods are only available for guests sixteen years and older. Fall asleep to the gentle sway of the hanging pod and wake up to the call of songbirds. Visitors are encouraged to explore nearby hiking trails, enjoy the onsite sauna, or browse the shops and restaurants of nearby Qualicum Beach.

You’re sure to feel like you’ve stepped into a land fit for tree gnomes and giants. The effect may be one of fantasy, but the reality is that you won’t be able to forget your time elevated among treetops.

Free Spirit Spheres
Vancouver Island, BC
Cell service: Yes
Potable water: Yes




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