Elbe’s most unusual accommodations are at the Hobo Inn (360/569-2500, $115 s). You can set your bindles down in one of eight antique cabooses—some date back to 1916—that have been completely reconditioned, with beds and bathrooms added. One even features a hot tub. Rates include breakfast at the Mt. Rainier Dining Company right next door. Make reservations a month ahead in the summer to be assured of your own caboose—there are no stowaways allowed on this train.
You can make Mineral Lake your home base for Rainier expeditions and lazy fishing days from one of two spots along the lake. Families will dig the summer camp vibes at Mineral Lake Resort (148 Mineral Hill Rd., 360/492-5367, www.minerallakeresort.com), where they can borrow boats to explore the waters. Guests can either camp in their RVs or cozy up in one of the cabins on the property. The rustic studio cabins ($90–100) sleep up to six and include kitchenettes, outside barbeques and fire pits, and patios. The only catch is that you’ll have to share the central bathrooms with the campers and there are no showers on the property. For a bit more space and comfort, the bunkhouse ($180) can fit up to eight, includes all of the amenities of the studio cabins, and has a full bathroom.
Couples in search of a romantic getaway may prefer the historic Mineral Lake Lodge (195 Mineral Hill Rd., 360/492-5253, www.minerallakelodge.com, $115–145 s or d), a three-story log lodge built in 1906. The property has over 200 feet of grassy waterfront with the best view of Rainier on the whole lake. There’s a bonfire area, private sauna, sunroom with a view, and an inviting porch swing all on the premises. Rooms are done up in themed Americana decor, and continental breakfast is served each morning.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition