This article didn’t get posted in this month’s current issue section so we ar posting it here on the blog:
New Hostel in Kellogg for Skiers, Boarders, and Cyclists
By Estar Holmes
A new hostel that caters to skiers, boarders and cyclists welcomes visitors to the old town section of Kellogg, Idaho—less than a mile from Silver Mountain’s Gondola Village. It accommodates 24 guests, bunk style, six to a room with private baths. Guests have access to free Wi-Fi and a commercial kitchen. The balcony off the upstairs lounge overlooks old Kellogg and the surrounding hills with the gondola in the background. There is a pub and dining room on the ground floor and plans are in the works for a small open mic stage.
“During a visit last summer I looked at the building and the rooms, and the place was a mess,” says Proprietor Pat Ryan, who is originally from Chelan, Wash. “Being a builder, I figured I could fix it.”
He spent last fall repairing the leaky roof, replacing damaged drywall, painting, fixing sections of the floor, and building the hostel-style loft beds. There are also four private rooms for two, for those who prefer their own space.
The historic McKinley Inn attracted a raucous mining crowd complete with dance hall, gambling and bordello services during the Silver Valley’s heyday. It opened as the Connel Hotel in 1928, went through several owners, and was extensively remodeled in the 1990s by Russ Wilbur, who now caters to Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes cyclists at the classic Wild Boar Inn in Harrison. Wilbur says the place was a “complete disaster” when he purchased the building. He gutted it to the studs, turned 18 tiny rooms into eight, added a restaurant, and hired a German master woodworker living in Coeur d’Alene to craft the custom oak fixtures in the bar and lobby. Wilbur also installed the claw foot tubs in some of the bathrooms. “I hauled out ten 10-yard dump truck loads of trash and more than 100 pick-up loads,” Wilbur recalls.
Before he bought the place, the clientele was prone to fights that spilled out onto the street. “One got shot out the back door, somebody else was stabbed in front,” he says. Probably the inn’s most famous guest was actor John Wayne, who relished rubbing shoulders with the local roughnecks. Wilbur says customers who met Wayne when it was called the Deluxe Bar said the actor felt at home there because he enjoyed the company of “real men.”
Nowadays, the inn serves real men and women who prefer to melt their stress away on the surrounding ski hills and cycling trails. Ryan, an avid skier, discovered Kellogg on a family ski trip to Whitefish, Montana. The roads were bad, so they skied Silver Mountain instead, and he became a regular. He has put together ski and board packages with Lookout Pass and Silver Mountain. Lookout offers the better deal at $10 off per guest. Silver Mountain visitors can save $2 per lift ticket. A ski shop is planned for next winter that will stock gear and provide overnight tune-ups with pick-up and delivery in Kellogg. Ryan also wants to add a demo center where people can try out a variety of ski brands.
Visitors who explore uptown Kellogg will find a few collectible shops, clubs and restaurants within a three-block stroll from the inn. The Moose Creek Grill offers fine dining in a cozy setting, and the Wah Hing Chinese restaurant is right across the street. The public is invited to check out the weekly jam sessions with area musicians on Saturday nights in an amazing studio tucked into a room of the Inland Lounge next to the Wah Hing. Dirty Ernie’s bar occasionally books live music, and the Pizza Palace delivers to the inn.
Ghost-loving skiers and cyclists will be delighted that the McKinley Inn is numbered among many old buildings in the Inland Northwest reputed to be haunted. Wilbur had heard the rumors, then one day a couple dining in the restaurant asked him if he realized the place played host to a spirit. “They offered to get rid of it for a fee,” he says. “My brother took them on a tour of the rooms upstairs, which resulted in their affirmation of a presence. I’d slept in every one of those rooms and never noticed any ghosts. I guess they just don’t bother me.”
The McKinley Inn Public House is the only hostel for miles around. A hostel previously operated in Kellogg at the former Bunker Hill office, but that was before thousands of people started flocking to the region’s bike trails each year, and it didn’t last long.
“I like the young crowd, and look forward to providing low budget hospitality for active people,” Ryan says.
Private rooms at the McKinley Inn Public House start at $60 per night and hostel accommodations are $25. Search McKinley Inn Public House on Facebook to find special deals and updates. //
WHEN YOU GO
Take I-90 to Exit #51, Division St./Wardner south. Go past the Kellogg Depot Visitor Center and up the hill to old town. Turn right on McKinley. The inn is next to the timber frame arch on the west end of old Kellogg.