First homesteaded in 1889 by August Snyder, the area around Packwood has undergone many changes.
Recreation is the main attraction, including the White Pass Ski Area and the many back country wildness areas. The East Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park is ten miles away, making Packwood a terminus for a loop via Ohanapecosh, Stevens Canyon and Paradise, then back through scenic Skate Creek Canyon to Packwood. Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens are each about one and a half hours away.
Packwood has several motels and various rental cabins including Air B&B and VRBO. There are four eating establishments, two gas stations, two realty offices, two coffee shops, two hair salons, two sports shops, a discount grocery store, a branch of the Timberland Regional Library, a Senior Citizen’s Center, an impressive Fire Station, an advertising newspaper, a Thrift & Gift shop, a garage, a grocery store, a yarn shop, a tattoo parlor, an Ace hardware store, a Visitor Center and a Historical Museum.
On Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, the community teems with vendors and shoppers at the Annual Flea Markets. Packwood hosts a classic car show the end of July.
In the early 1950’s elk were transplanted into the Mount Rainier National Park. Today, Packwood teems with elk and other wildlife. One can see elk grazing in the fields and yards around the community, but remember these elk are wild animals and as such are unpredictable and can be dangerous if you approach too closely.
The first recorded visit of white men to the Packwood area occurred in March 1861. James Longmire, William Packwood, George Blankenship and Walter DeLacy, accompanied by five Nisqually Indians, trudged up the Nisqually River, across Skate Creek saddle and down to the Cowlitz River near the present site of Packwood. They were looking for a wagon route across the Cascades. For the next twenty-odd years the only white visitors to the area were prospectors and the occasional railroad reconnaissance party.
The first post office in the area was located four miles west of Packwood near the Bevin Lake Rest Area. The Sulphur Springs Post Office was established June 30, 1890. On April 21, 1910 it was moved closer to its present location and the name changed to Lewis on November 4, 1910. After Fort Lewis was opened in 1917, the mail was often misdirected between the community of Lewis and the Army base. Finally, in 1930, at the request of the Postal Service the name was changed to Packwood in honor of Billy Packwood one of the first white men to visit the valley.