The Pacific Northwest is full of spooky, beautiful, and downright unusual accommodations. Between historical spooks, haunted hikes, and wacky rentals, there’s something for the whole family.
Dream in a Floating Orb
At Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island, guests stay in giant orbs high in the forest. The spheres are open to guests 16 and older and offer an out-of-this-world adventure.
Sleep in Teepees on Vashon Island
AYH Ranch on Vashon Island lets guests experience the Northwest in an authentic way. With historic teepees and cabins, the ranch is about experiencing the history of the beautiful region. If you’re lucky you might get to see how owner Judy Mulhair makes the teepees.
Search for Sasquatch
Perhaps the Northwest’s most enduring legend, Bigfoot has been seen more times in Washington than anywhere else in the world, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. The Hoh in Olympic National Park is a great place to study up on the Sasquatch sightings that have taken place along its 35 miles.
Visit a Ghost Town
The tiny town of Lester, just south of Snoqualmie Pass, came to be in the late 1800s with the westward expansion of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In its heyday in the 1900s, it boasted a population of about 250. Through the years as logging and railroad jobs moved, people left — but not schoolteacher Gertrude Murphy. She worked to get Lester recognized on the state’s historic registry. Murphy died in 2002 — the last remaining Lester resident. The only way to Lester now is via foot — there isn’t much to see, but so much to imagine.
Book a Rolling Hut
The Rolling Huts in the Methow Valley are strange wooden structures that seem to pop up out of nowhere, and give the comfort of luxury accommodations, with a tiny house feel.
Stay in a Storage Crate
Just across the Snoqualmie River, Tolt MacDonald Park & Campground has upcycled shipping containers ready for families of four to spend the weekend. The containers offer the fun of camping, with a little extra comfort — and weirdness.
Brave the Snoqualmie Tunnel
The Iron Horse Trail tunnel is a dark, damp, 5-mile round-trip adventure. And when we say it is dark, we mean really dark. Bring a strong flashlight (and a backup), or a headlamp, or both. Wear reflective clothing so people on bikes can see you.
Live Like a Lighthouse Keeper
If you’re searching for a dark and stormy night, consider staying in a Washington state lighthouse — but be ready to get into character. “The lighthouse isn’t just a motel,” explains Jim Harnish with the Browns Point lighthouse in Tacoma. “Our guests are honorary lighthouse keepers. We want history buffs and lighthouse nuts.”
Unwind in an Old Rail Car
At Iron Horse Inn in Cle Elum, guests are encouraged to experience Washington’s rich railroad history. Each room at the bed and breakfast is a train car, decked out with historic decorations and artifacts. Owner Mary Pitts is an incredible resource for regional and railroad history alike, but she’s just as happy to sit back and let her guests do the talking. “I love the discussions in the breakfast room,” Pitts said. “Strangers sit down at the table, and after a bit, the connections are amazing — the sixth-degree theory really comes out at the table.”
Hair-raising local lore
The mysterious landscape at the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve near Littlerock is quilted with hundreds of 4-to-6-foot mounds bursting under the earth. Scientists still argue about the original cause of the mounds: Seismic activity? Shrinking and swelling of clay? Glaciations? Some scientists recently blamed the mounds on vegetation spatial patterning.
Mount Rainier UFO
In 1947, while flying from Chehalis to Yakima, pilot Kenneth Arnold saw a group of nine flying objects. He estimated them to be at least 100 feet and moving at 1,700 mph. At least 16 other sightings were reported the same day, and there is still no definitive explanation. Arnold’s description coined the term “flying saucer,” and is one of the most reliable UFO accounts to date.
In 1940, the body of local waitress Hallie Illingsworth surfaced at Lake Crescent, three years after her disappearance. The lakeís minerals, mixed with the fats in Illingsworth’s body, had turned her skin into a jelly that could be scooped away from the bone in handfuls. This bizarre reaction, called “saponification,” captured local and national intrigue. Illingsworth became known as “The Lady of the Lake.”
On Nov. 24, 1971, a Boeing 727 flying from Portland to Seattle was hijacked by a man known only by the name on his ticket: Dan Cooper. Cooper received $200,000 in ransom for the lives of the passengers on the flight, then parachuted into the stormy night. Cooperís identity and whereabouts, as well as the location of the ransom money, are unknown.
This sprawling estate in Lakewood was made from an Elizabethan manor – shipped brick by brick from England. The castle was featured as a set for the Stephen King film Red Rose, and the exterior of the estate can be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film There Will Be Blood. It’s a popular place for ghost hunters as well – and is said to be haunted. – Owen Macleod