Whittaker’s Historic Motel and Bunkhouse

There are a handful of places that we consider ‘classic’ destinations for winter travel: Whittaker’s Bunkhouse is one of those places. We go every winter, without fail, and we often go more than once each winter.

Why? For the simple reason that it’s an awesome place to stay of course! If you still need a little convincing keep reading to find out more:

Room 12 at Whittaker’s Bunkhouse

This might be a great opportunity to point out that the bunkhouse is open all year. It doesn’t have to be your winter stop, though that’s our favorite time to visit. Winter is often the time we all coup ourselves up at home and suffer the winter blues, but Whittaker’s offers a wonderful respite!

Whittaker’s Cafe

You have the pick between small or large rooms, a cottage, or a bed in the bunkhouse. All of the rooms have WI-FI, and, let’s be honest, after a long day playing on the mountain it can be nice to let the kiddos veg out on their devices a bit. It’s a nice deal for parents too.

Additionally, these rooms come with a full bathroom. That’s right; you can get the hiker stink off the right way with a long hot shower and ample time to sit on the john…. or is that just me? (note: beds in the bunkhouse have a shared bathroom).

Hot Tub! 
(No time machine included)

Also, lets not forget there’s a HOT TUB. You might not be into that, but if you are it’s a sweet perk. It’s always well-maintained and a really nice feature to have.

If you don’t feel like packing food, or if you’d like some good old coffee, there is a Cafe located at the front of the building. They sell breakfast options, coffee, and ice cream. In the summer you can walk over to the Basecamp Grill for more options too.


Below are the room prices as per the Bunkhouse Website on 01.31.19

Room StyleSummerWinter
Bunkhouse Bed$40$40
Small Rooms$95$70
Large Rooms$125$95

Reasons we love Whitaker’s:

  • Free Wifi
  • Hot Tub
  • Cafe
  • Historic
  • Close to Mt. Rainier
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Great Staff and Clean Rooms

By the way, the Northwest Quest is in no way endorsed by Whittaker’s Bunkhouse. It is simply one of our favorite places to visit and we wanted to share it with our readers!

Happy Trails!


The Northwest Quest is supported by donations from our readers. If you found something useful or interesting, please consider donating!



Whittaker’s Bunkhouse Website

Whittaker’s Cafe Menu

Mount Rainier Webcams

Ashford Weather Forecast

Nearby Hiking Trails:

Kautz Creek

Trail of Shadows


Kautz Creek

Kautz Creek is a good low-elevation hike for those wishing to “get their feet wet” (not literally, though) with a short, easy hike within Mount Rainier National Park. For those hikers looking for a more strenuous hike, this is the first leg of the trail to Indian Henery’s Hunting Grounds, which will be featured in another post.

PDF clip

Above is a clipping from the Longmire area information guide given out by Mount Rainier National Park. A PDF of this guide can be found in the resources section below. On this guide, Kautz Creek is located under Moderate hikes, but this is taking the Indian Henery’s section into account as well.

The hike to Kautz Creek Bridge, which is featured in this article, is quite easy and very flat.

Location: Mount Rainier, Longmire area
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 200 ft.

Trail Map

Kautz Creek itself is named for the first known person to attempt to summit the mountain in 1857, Army Lieutenant August V. Kautz.

Lieutenant Kautz was unsuccessful in this attempt but has been honored with a creek of his namesake.


Kautz Creek itself has experienced a number of flooding events. The outbursts originate from the Kautz Glacier; the latest large outburst was in 2006. This event changed the landscape and took out the old bridge, which has since been rebuilt.


You can learn more about this process by venturing 100 feet to the viewpoint before returning to turn onto the remainder of the trail. Along with this short, accessible trail you’ll find interpretive signs to enjoy. If you’re lucky enough to have clear weather at the time of the visit there is a beautiful view of the mountaintop from the viewpoint as well!

Photo taken at Kautz Creek viewpoint Aug. 17, 2017

While this viewpoint is not technically part of the trail, it is still well worth a quick visit.

The trail itself wanders through the forest very near the creek. At times it even hugs the edge of the water basin. You’ll also encounter a few good views of Tum Tum Peek along the way, weather permitting of course. This peek is featured in the thumbnail of the video posted above.

The very last section of this trail ventures into the water basin before reaching the Kautz Creek Bridge, which is the turnaround point if you don’t intend to continue on to Indian Henery’s Hunting Grounds.

The bridge itself is a small log spanning the water with one wooden handrail attached. Use caution when crossing!

Please Note: This trail is one you can enjoy even if the bridge to Paradise is closed. 


Are There Toilets? : Yes! There are vault toilets located at the trailhead parking.

How about Picnic Tables? : Yes. There are plenty of picnic tables located at the trailhead parking area as well.

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : You will need a National Park Pass. These may be purchased at the Nisqually entrance, which you will pass through to enter this side of the park.

Are Dogs Allowed? : No. Pets are not permitted on trails within National Parks – including Mount Rainier.

Can We Camp Here? : Cougar Rock is located a few miles north just beyond Longmire. There are also a handful of state campgrounds in the Ashford area; all of which are open seasonally.

When is the Best Time to Visit? : This portion of the park is accessible year-round, with the very rare exception that the Nisqually entrance is closed due to weather.


If you have any questions about this trail don’t hesitate to ask via the contact link located above! If you have an experience you’d like to share about this, or any other, trail please include it in the comments below!


Happy Trails!


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Mount Rainier National Park Official Website

Mount Rainier Twitter (Road status is updated daily in winter)

Area Weather Forecast

Longmire and Cougar Rock Area Information (PDF)

Trail of Shadows (Nearby Trail)

Shutdown Cleanup

McLane Nature Trail

The McLane Nature Trail is a wonderful option if you want to get a little time outdoors on an otherwise busy weekend. It is located within the Capital State Forest and offers a nice dose of Washington’s native flora and fauna.

Location: Southwest WA, Capitol Forest
Roundtrip: 1.5 mi.
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 50 ft.
Rating: ★★★

IMG_7540(Area map as shown at trailhead)

A good portion of the trail is accessible by wheelchair, with assistance, as much of the trail consists of a boardwalk. There are plenty of platforms in which you can turn around, but doing so on the boardwalk would be a tight squeeze, so do keep that in mind if you have mobility concerns.

IMG_7554(Salmon swimming upstream to spawn)

If you happen upon this trail at the right time of year you’ll be able to watch chum salmon swim up the creek to spawn. Do note that the natural life cycle of the salmon involves it perishing after breeding. That being said, if you catch it at the wrong time of year the viewpoints along the creek may be rather stinky.

IMG_7575(Scars from logging activities)

There are a few good examples of old logging operations along the trail as well. Pictured above are post holes for springboards that loggers carved into the tree before cutting it down with a hand saw. This highlights some of our state’s history while also reminding us what a lasting impact our actions may have on the environment.

IMG_7588(A view from the trail)


Are There Toilets? : Yes! There are accessible vault toilets available near the second parking area

 How about Picnic Tables? : Yes. There is a group shelter with two picnic tables located near the second parking area

 Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes- use a discover pass. There is no pay station to purchase a pass so you’ll have to bring one.

 Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes!

Can We Camp Here? : This area is best used for day hiking (no camping allowed)

 When is the Best Time to Visit? : Anytime! As long as the weather cooperates, of course.


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McLane Nature Trail Co-ordinates: 47.0008, -123.0042

Washington Trail’s Association; McLane Nature Trail

Capitol Forest Weather Forecast

Trail of Shadows

The Trail of Shadows is a beautiful, short interpretive trail located just across the street from the main hub of Longmire. While it is only .7 miles in length, this trail is packed with neat sights to see and plenty of interpretive signs to read through. 

Location: Mount Rainier, Longmire area
Roundtrip: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 20 ft.

ToS map.png

The map pictured above shows only a small portion of the area around Longmire. Most notably, the Trail of Shadows has been highlighted. There are many other trails in the area to explore for almost all skill levels (from beginner to strenuous hikes). If you would like to see the full version of this map check the Resources below to find a printable PDF version!

If you hike the trail counter-clockwise, not long after departing Longmire you’ll come across a very short spur trail to the left. This short section leads to a nice view of the top of the mountain (if weather permits) as well as a glimpse of some evidence that Mount Rainier is, indeed, a live volcano. 

Take a few minutes to read the interpretive signs here and you’ll learn about this phenomenon. It was the bubbling waters in the area that made the Longmire hot springs possible!

There are a few other remnants of the past along the trail as well (which is why it’s called the “Trail of Shadows”!). Among these treasures, you’ll see what is left of a few of the stone fixtures located within the Longmire’s original hot springs as well as a small cabin from the same time period. 

IMG_8120 (1).png

If you have any questions about this trail don’t hesitate to ask via the contact link located above! If you have an experience you’d like to share about this, or any other, trail please include it in the comments below!

Happy Trails!


Are There Toilets? : Restrooms can be found just across the street, in Longmire.

How about Picnic Tables? : There are a few picnic tables located in Longmire. They can be found near the General Store.

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : To gain access to Mount Rainier National Park you will either need a National Park Pass or a week-long pass. Both can be purchased at the Nisqually entrance. 

Are Dogs Allowed? : No. The National Park does not allow pets on trails within the Park’s boundaries. There is a small exception of leashed pets being allowed within Longmire itself, but it is likely best to leave pets at home. 

Can We Camp Here? : Cougar Rock Campground is located a few miles outside of Longmire. However, it is open only during the summer months. There are also a few campgrounds located in the area just outside the park’s entrance. 

When is the Best Time to Visit? : This trail is accessable year-round with very few exceptions. The main Nisqually gate and road to Longmire is almost always open (unless extreme winter weather interferes). 




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Longmire and Cougar Rock Area Map and Trail Descriptions PDF (NPS)

Mount Rainier NPS Website

Rainier Guest Services (National Park Inn)

10-Day Weather Forecast; Longmire

Leave No Trace!

Throughout the past few weeks of the government shutdown, our National Parks have been left to the good graces of their visitors. Unfortunately, we’ve had many reports of overflowing trash bins, toxic bathrooms, and, most egregious of all, the destruction of the land and resources themselves.

In hindsight of such news, it has become even more important to spread the ideals of Leave No Trace.

What exactly is “Leave No Trace”?

Leave No Trace is a national center for outdoor ethics that teaches individuals how to enjoy the outdoors in responsible and sustainable ways. Much of their work is founded in the following 7 principles:


Be PREPARED! Don’t forget clothes to protect you from the elements, maps to show you the way, and knowledge about the area you’re visiting. Try reading books or talking to others before you go.


Stay on the MAIN TRAIL and don’t wander off by yourself. Make sure to avoid damaging flowers or small trees as they may not recover. Use existing camp areas – ones that are at least 100 wide steps from roads, trails, or water sources.


If you pack it in, PACK IT OUT. Ensure that you’re carrying all litter (including crumbs) home. Use bathrooms or outhouses whenever they’re available; when this isn’t possible use a cat hole to bury bathroom waste between 4 and 8 inches deep. Store the toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag and throw it away in a garbage can.

Also, take care around water sources. To keep water clean avoid contaminating it with soap, food, or human waste.


DO NOT take plants, rocks, leaves, or historical items so that the next visitor may enjoy them. Pulling or chopping at leaves and branches can kill plants; please treat them with respect.

When looking for a place to camp remember that good campsites are FOUND, NOT MADE. Refrain from digging trenches or building structures around your campsite.


Use a camp stove for cooking. This will make it both easier to cook on and clean up when you’re done. If you do start a campfire be sure it is permitted in the area you’re visiting and always use an existing fire ring.

When building a campfire make sure to use sticks from the ground rather than breaking branches from trees and always make sure the fire is DEAD OUT before you leave.



Observe animals from a distance and make sure to NEVER APPROACH, FEED, OR FOLLOW them. Human food is unhealthy and can even be harmful to wildlife. Protect these animals by storing your food and trash properly. If you can not control pets they’re better left at home.


Have respect for others that are out enjoying nature as well. Remember that every visitor has a right to enjoy the outdoors.

Listen to nature rather than playing music, making loud noises, or yelling. (Besides, you’ll see more animals if you are quiet!)


Thank you for reading! If you’d like to find out more about Leave No Trace Ethics please follow the link in the resources listed below.

Happy Trails!


Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!




Leave No Trace; Website

Leave No Trace; Blog


Harvesting a Christmas Tree

Have you ever thought about heading into the woods and cutting your own Christmas tree? If you haven’t considered it, you should!

This was our first year cutting our own tree, and it was a great learning experience!

How Much Does it Cost?

A tree permit costs $5 in all of the forests listed below EXCEPT Snoqualmie-Baker – tree permits there are $10.

Do you happen to have a 4th grader? Then your tree permit is FREE! This is made possible by the Every Kid in a Park Initiative, which you can learn more about here.

Gifford Pinchot NF dusted in snow

Where to Harvest:

Forest locations:

Ranger Stations:

Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters 
1501 E. Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661
Hours: Tues-Sat 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (360) 891-5001
Mt. Adams Ranger District 
2455 Highway 141, Trout Lake, WA  98650
Office Hours: Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch) (509) 395-3400
Cowlitz Valley Ranger District
10024 US Hwy 12 – PO Box 670, Randle, WA  98377
Office Hours:  Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch) (360) 497-1100
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument  
42218 NE Yale Bridge Rd., Amboy, WA  98607
Office Hours:  Mon to Fri 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (360) 449-7800

Tree Permit 2.png
Christmas Tree Permit 

Buy Your Tree Permit:

You can buy tree permits from either a ranger station located within the forest you’ll get your tree from (they’re location specific and nonrefundable) or you can pick one up at one of the vendors listed below:

  • Amboy: Amboy Market (360) 247-5421
    • Chelatchie Prairie General Store (360) 247-5529
  • Ashford: Ashford General Store (360) 569-2377
    • Ashford Valley Grocery (360) 569-2560
  • Carson: Wind River Market (509) 427-5565
    • Lakeside Country Store (360) 238-5202
  • Cougar: Cougar Store (360) 238-5228
    • Lone Fir Resort (360) 283-5210
  • Elbe: Elbe Mall (360) 569-2772
    • Elbe Junction (360) 524-7707
  • Home Valley: Home Valley Store (509) 427-4015
  • Kalama: Kalama Spirits and Tobacco (360) 673-4991
  • Kelso: Sportsman’s Warehouse (360) 423-2600
  • Packwood: Blanton’s Market (360) 494-6101
  • Randle: Fischer’s Market (360) 497-5355
    • Randle One Stop (360) 497-3261
  • Stevenson: Main St. Convenience Store (open 24 hours) (509) 427-5653
  • Trout Lake: Little Mountain (True Value) Hardware (509) 395-2773
  • Vancouver: Sportsman’s Warehouse (360) 604-8000

Our tree!

Picking a Tree

  • Search for your tree at least 150 feet from lakes, streams, ponds, or any wetland area
  • Avoid developed areas such as campsites or buildings
  • Choose a tree under 12 feet in height, and less than 6 inches in diameter
  • Try to find your tree in a crowded area, so one area does not become void of trees
  • Leave as short of a stump as possible (no more than 6 inches above the ground)
  • If you dig your tree out of the ground please remember to fill up the hole

Anything Else?

Yes! Be prepared for snowy conditions! Chances are that you’ll be encountering snow while on the hunt for the perfect tree. As always, this means you’ll want to take some precautions:

  • Tell someone where you are going
    • There is often no cellular service in these areas
  • Bring plenty of warm, water resistant, and snow specific clothes
  • Check that you have the 10 Essentials
  • Double check the weather and leave early to maximize daylight
  • Bring a vehicle that is capable of handling snowy conditions
    • Chains and a shovel are always a good precaution
  • Don’t forget warm drinks and extra food!

Drive with Caution


Northwest Avalanche Center: Check the avalanche conditions

USDA Forest Service Guide to Cutting a Christmas Tree

USDA Guide [PDF]

NOAA: Check the weather



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Little Mashel Falls

“Little Mashel Falls” is actually three different waterfalls in one area. They are all located within the Pack Forest and, fortunately, there are no passes or fees required to enjoy this trail!

Location: Southwest WA, Eatonville
Roundtrip: 5 mi.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Gain: 500 ft
Rating: ★★★


  1. Once you arrive at the Pack Forest park in the designated parking area (located between the trailhead and the greenhouse).
  2. Begin by walking down “1000 RD North”
    – You’ll pass a gate that includes signage stating the only further access for visitors is “hike in only”
    – Don’t be confused by the fact that this road does not appear to actually head North. Eventually, it does a loop around to the North, but you’ll turn off before then.
  3. Watch for the “1050” sign the right and the “1060” directly to the left of 1050. The next intersection (1070) is the one you will take – it’s a Y junction and unmarked. Head left onto road 1070 once you get there.
  4. Continue on until you see a rock on the left-hand side of the road with the word “Falls” and an arrow painted on it.
  5. Continue through the forest and down a hill to the tree with 2 yellow diamonds. These will point you in the directions to the Upper and Lower Falls.
  6. Explore the Falls before hiking back out the way you came.

Map v.2.png

The Pack Forest is located about 10 minutes outside of Eatonville. Thus, you can typically get cell phone reception here. Still, it may be a good idea to take a screenshot or print directions to the falls as the trails here can be a bit confusing without guidance.

IMG_7305.jpgPictured Above: Rd 1000 North

That being said, it is a rather easy hike that’s perfect for a cool autumn or winter day (the trail is open all year). You won’t need to pay to access the trail and you’re welcome to bring a leashed pet along, but please be respectful of the land and pack out any trash you bring in.

Pictured Above: Upper Mashel Falls

There is generally a porta-potty located at the trailhead for public use, but you may wish to make a stop in town to take care of your bathroom break as there are no other public facilities here. This is true for water as well. Bring some with you!

Pictured Above: Middle Mashel Falls

A good portion of this trail does follow a forest road, but it is an enjoyable hike none the less. Once you turn off of Rd 1000 North you’ll pass through some lovely meadows before descending into a more traditional hiking area near the falls.

Snapseed (3).jpg
Pictured Above: Meadows on Rd 1070


It is imperative that you wear proper footwear here. The hills around the falls are steep and can be slippery.


Are There Toilets? : There is one porta-potty located at the trailhead.

 How about Picnic Tables? : No.

 Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Nope!

 Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes. All dogs are required to be on a leash.

Can We Camp Here? : There are some campgrounds in the general area, but we suggest you make this a day hike from home.

 When is the Best Time to Visit? : The trail is open all year. In spring the spray from the falls may obscure pictures and in the fall and winter, the hills and inclines can be especially slippery.

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to send us a message via the contact tab on the main menu!



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Eureka! Survivor 2 Backpacking Tent

This was my first experience with using a Eureka! product, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I was slightly familiar with the name when I purchased this tent, but the main reason I made the purchase was simply that it seemed to fit my needs at a reasonable price.

quick specks.png

Best Used:

This is a two person tent. It’s for that reason that this tent is a great option for backpackers simply looking for some extra interior room. This could be helpful if you enjoy rolling around in your tent, if you need extra space for an adventure pup, or, of course, if you have two people that plan on sleeping in the same tent.

If you are backpacking with two full grown adults the fact that there is only one vestibule might pose a bit of a problem. Nevermind having to crawl over each other to get out – you won’t really have enough room for both packs.

On the upside, you can split the weight between the packs and only have to tote around about 2 pounds per person. Not ultra lightweight, but not bad!

Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for a two-person tent to start out with (that isn’t hundreds of dollars) this would be a good option, but if you plan on regularly backpacking with two adults you should consider something with 2 vestibules.

This tent is best used by backpackers that want extra room and don’t mind the extra weight they carry for it. Likewise, if you’re traveling with a dog or child this is a great option.


Happy trails!



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Cape Disappointment Campground

Cape Disappointment Campground is the most popular campground along the Washington coastline- and for good reason. It’s large, open year-round, within walking distance of the ocean, well-maintained, has a small general goods store, and it isn’t far away from many other fun beach activities. Need I say more?

Rating: ★★★★★
Extra Parking:  $10 per vehicle
Online Reservations:  Yes!
Max Length:  45 ft. (Limited Availability)
Hookups: Yes
Restrooms:  Flush Toilets + Showers
Potable Water: Yes

With over 200 campsites (in addition to the yurts and cabins) there’s a lot to choose from when visiting this campground. You can make online reservations, but be aware that you’ll likely have to plan ahead during the warmer months- this is a popular park after all!

If you catch a weekend with good weather (or even if you don’t) this is a great place to visit. The campground has its own beach access and the sites are all comfortable. You can see an example of one of the campground’s loops pictured below, but many of the sites within the campground are more private than the ones pictured.


Along with the hookup and tent camping sites, there are also cabins and yurts avalible. These are a perfect option if you’re planning on going during the offseason when the chance of rain is much higher than in the summer. 

You can make a cabin/yurt reservation in much the same way as you reserve other sites; simply navigate to the Washington State Park’s reservation website (link) and select the site you’d like to reserve!


Each loop has potable water, flushing toilets, and pay to use showers (you’ll buy shower tokens to use them). The restrooms are well maintained, and when we visited in October they even had a fresh coat of paint!

You can see an example of one of the restroom blocks pictures below.



Washington State Parks: Cape Disappointment

NOAA Weather Forcast


WA State Parks: Rules and Regulations


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Thanksgiving Giveaway

We’re showing our followers how thankful we are for their support with our First Annual Thanksgiving Giveaway! 

How does it work?

If you follow our Facebook page you’ll automatically be entered to win!

At 3:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2018) we’ll stream a drawing via Facebook Live and announce a winner (note: Only the first name of the winner will be announced via the live stream)! 

We’ll reach out to the winner within 24 hours of the drawing and they’ll have 1 week to respond. If the winner does not accept the prize within that time they will be considered to have forfeited the prize and we will draw another winner.

What are the prizes?

We’ll be giving away a one-month gift subscription for a Carin Adventure Box! 

Carin Boxes contain products from the five categories shown below. What is sent is always a surprise, but it’s sure to delight any outdoor enthusiast. 

You can learn more about Carin by visiting their website, www.getcarin.com.



It’s the donations we receive from our supporters that make The Northwest Quest possible. Please consider donating so that we can continue to bring you breakdowns and articles about this amazing region! 




Help support The Northwest Quest by donating today!


Additionally, if there is something you would like to find out more about, or if you have some cool ideas for the site, please send us a message! It’s our goal to tailor this site to suit the needs of our readers, and your input is always appreciated!!

Anything else?

  • There is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY to enter or win this giveaway. We are asking that you consider donating, but doing so will not increase your chances of winning. 
  • Only followers located in Washington and Oregon will be available to win the prize this year. If you don’t live in one of those states be sure to check in on our next giveaway!
  • Participants must be at least 18 years of age or older to enter. 

If you’d like to take a peek at the official rules and documents feel free to read them here: Thanksgiving Giveaway – OFFICIAL RULES
If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask via the Contact tab on the menu located at the top of this page.

Good luck and Happy Trails!!

We have a winner!