The Washington State Cascade Mountain market is made up of several destinations that are drivable from the Seattle/Tacoma Metro areas. The primary STR community in this market is called Suncadia. Suncadia is a resort destination just outside of the town on Cle Elem featuring high-end, luxury homes with resort amenities such as a central lodge, restaurants, two golf courses, a spa, and numerous outdoor activities. The location of Suncadia in proximity to Seattle is key. Suncadia is a one-hour drive from the Seattle area crossing over the Cascade Mountain Range to the eastern side of Washington. Within one hour, Seattleites go from rain to sun in the spring and summer or from rain to snow in the winter. Combining more favorable weather with a beautiful mountain landscape makes this location extremely desirable for a drive to get away.
While Suncadia is owned and operated by Hyatt who will try and sell their management program with a 40% commission, owners may choose to self-manage a short-term rental property in Suncadia. Home prices currently range from $1.5 million and up. Rental rates currently range from $400-$1000+ per night depending on the property and season. Gross revenue in Suncadia can be lucrative for self-managers with some owners seeing upwards of $250k a year. Suncadia is very popular for weddings because of more predictable weather than Seattle, beautiful mountain surroundings, and availability of lodging for extended families. It has also become a popular weekly stay destination for remote workers that live in the Seattle area. Within minutes of Suncadia are activities such as hiking, river rafting, fly fishing, ATV and Jeep trails, horseback riding, snowshoeing, snowmobile trails, and skiing.
There are several communities outside of the Suncadia Resort that is also favorable for short-term rentals. These areas offer the same mountain recreation experiences without resort amenities. The surrounding towns and areas such as Cle Elum, Roslyn, Ronald, and Kittitas County present wonderful opportunities to find a property at a slightly lower price point that will generate income as well. Short-term rental restrictions vary in these areas depending on Homeowner’s Associations and municipalities, but the right property can be found and successfully rented. The entire area is a strong weekend market year around with the summer months from June to September being extremely busy.
In addition to the greater Cle Elum and Suncadia areas, the Washington State Cascade Mountain market also contains several smaller “micro markets” that are drivable from the Seattle/Tacoma Metro corridor. Washington State features one of the most beautiful and iconic volcanic mountains in the world; Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and hosts an average of 2 million visitors a year. The entrance to the national park is a 2-hour drive from the Seattle area. Until the emergence of short-term rental platforms, there were not a lot of options for overnight lodging near the park. Communities near the park entrances are quickly becoming very lucrative and desirable in the pockets where short-term rentals are unrestricted. These communities include the small towns of Ashford and Packwood. These communities consist mostly of smaller, 1–3-bedroom, rustic cabins. The entry price point for these cabins is currently $450-700k. Larger properties in these areas are few but fetch much higher prices when available. Ashford is located about 5 miles from the National Park entrance. Packwood allows for access to the park in about 20 minutes in the summer, with park access being more restricted in the winter. Packwood is 25 minutes from the White Pass Ski Area in the winter. Ashford allows for year-round national park access. Packwood is split between summer national park access and winter ski area access. Packwood also allows for access to Mt. St. Helens National Park in less than an hour. Both areas are strong weekend markets year-round with stronger rental activity in the summer months from June to October.