Each year, hundreds of thousands of hikers, backpackers and tourists flock to Washington’s Mountain Loop to enjoy the area’s unique history and national attractions. While Highway 7 is teeming with camp sites, the majority of them have two seasons—too busy and closed. The area’s only farm stay, Paca Pride Guest Ranch, offers an alternative to the busy confines of a campground. Established in 2007 and located at the very beginning of the Mountain Loop Highway, Paca Pride Guest Ranch provides hikers, backpackers or area visitors with a relaxing stay away from the bustle of the campground crowds. I came to this farm stay as a backpacker who’s been kept up late one too many times at loud campgrounds. I left the property feeling that I’d had an experience more organic than any conventional campground could offer.
Located a mere 55 minutes from Seattle, Paca Pride is a unique permaculture farm. The farm rests on an unlikely location, 17 acres of what is essentially a gravel pit. Through natural means, the owners are meticulously restoring the land to its natural meadow habitat. In the words of the owner, David, they seek to “manifest the change they want to see in the world” by implementing sustainable practices that actually engineer the land back to health. The farm features a heard of alpaca, heralded by one very regal llama, all of which are free range. Hens wander throughout the expansive pastures and gardens, hunting for snacks among the flower beds. Paca Pride is proud to call itself a farmstay—that is, a working farm that allows guests the unique experience of staying within the same picturesque locale as the animals. It is one of only a handful of farm stays in Washington.
Breaking the Tradition of Camping
So why would someone choose Paca Pride over a traditional campsite? First, the security. The Mountain Loop Highway has an unfortunate reputation for car break-ins and campsite prowls. Paca Pride is private property, and is the only hosted campground in the area, offering a safe sanctuary for your items. Second, the amenities. Aside from the picturesque location, the homestead campground features two clean bathrooms equipped with private toilets and showers, several barbeques located throughout the property and an outdoor kitchen featuring a full gas range. Any camper can enjoy the luxury of morning tea and coffee service—from 8:00am to 9:00am—and a picturesque log cabin lounge in the central building. I was personally delighted by the campground’s quiet hours, starting at 10:00 pm, which allows guests to enjoy the relaxing silence of the open air or get to bed early before a long hike.
Paca Pride offers travelers a variety of sophisticated accommodations at reasonable prices. The farm features a solution for any comfort level. Guests who are interested in staying outside can camp on the meadow, while those interested in getting out of the rain can choose from one of two covered, lofted tent platforms, which can comfortably fit up to three tents. Visitors seeking a luxurious indoor stay can take advantage of the lodge room. Unique to the area are yurts—one large four-person yurt and one two-person yurt. The yurts are equipped with heaters, lights and are completely wired to charge your electronic devices. Yurts aren’t currently an accommodation option at the various campgrounds along the Mountain Loop Highway, meaning that Paca Pride is the go-to locale for this unique camping option. No matter which accommodation you choose, all guests are welcome to share the large, central campfire.
The Farm— When I started on this trip, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was utterly charmed by David’s wonderful character, and his eagerness and openness to explain the farm’s permaculture practices. He provided an expansive tour of the farm—free to all guests and visitors—and even allowed access to the alpaca pen. His hospitality alone drove home the fact that Paca Pride is much more than a campground that offers yurt and tent spaces—it is a hosted farm stay.
The Amenities—I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the property and all the amenities. The private bathrooms and showers were spotless, unlike most campgrounds. I found the full gas range and outdoor kitchen exceeded my expectations, providing guests with the opportunity to cook a luxurious alternative to camping cuisine. The kitchen is attached to a covered patio that offers convenient dining and a scenic view of the property. Finally, there was the silence. That’s a huge amenity in my book. Most campsites I’ve visited have a constant rumble of generators and RVs. However, for the comfort of camping guests, Paca Pride doesn’t allow RVs unless there is a private ranch rental (an available option).
The Yurt— During my visit I was provided with a complimentary yurt stay. Unlike most park yurts, this was fully furnished with a hotel-quality bed, fresh linens, lounge chairs and overhead lighting. No sleeping bags necessary. The propane heater was a comforting amenity at the end of a drizzly Pacific Northwest evening while sitting on the covered patio.
The Price Tag—Because I’m a backpacker and used to free overnight stays in the wilderness, I always try to find the best deal when I’m camping. Surprisingly, Paca Pride’s yurt and campsite prices were comparable to or less expensive than a typical summertime rate at a State or National Park. That is a big win in my book. Paca Pride offers all the perks of a private farm stay without the sticker shock.
For up-to-date prices, please visit Paca Pride Rates, Reservations and Policies.
For more information please visit Paca Pride’s website. (http://www.pacaprideguestranch.com/) or call (360) 6910-3395.360-691-3395