A private walkout lower level of a beautiful log home near Whitefish, Montana, is the perfect getaway rental for relaxation or enjoying the great outdoors.

My arrival is met with smiles. The front porch of this custom Montana Log Homes crafted VRBO is decked out in wreaths, red ribbons, and winter nostalgia. Sunshine reflects off the fresh snow lighting up the faces of my hosts. I recognize Linda as soon as I see her; she’s my favorite aunt, my dear friend, and my sister all rolled up in one. I adore her husband, Ted, within minutes. He’s the salt to her pepper. Together they’re eclectic, vibrant, and warm like the retreat they purvey. Clearly smitten with one another, and life in general, Linda and Ted Valentiner are quintessential hosts of “The Old Wagon Wheel”. In the private-entry, walkout lower level of their log home, the Valentiners offer a luxuriously rustic 1,000 square foot studio haven to travelers. I feel at home before I even enter.

The lower level walkout studio offers a private Hideaway Getaway at The Old Wagon Wheel

The flat-faced hewn and chinked logs of the upper story give way to reclaimed board and bat style siding as I descend the outer steps to the rear porch. Stacked timber posts frame the lower plank floored porch and support the deck above. Rusted corrugated metal wainscoting contrasts the lichen dotted siding. There’s an outdoor claw foot tub I will soon put to use. Stepping inside the lower level apartment is a trip back in time. The copper-colored stamped ceiling and barn wood wall compliment the king-sized oak bed, antique English armoire, and the velvet tufted-back sofa and armchairs. I lay on the bed, sit in the chairs, then lounge on the sofa. I’m Goldilocks and everything is just right. Every piece is chosen and placed for comfort and beauty. I’m fascinated with the saucy off-shoulder vintage cocktail dress on a wicker mannequin but resist the urge to try it on and twirl around. The studio is comprised of four rooms; the great room, which includes the kitchen, sitting, and sleeping areas, a Movie Room, an office, and a bathroom with tile shower. Though Linda calls each guest in advance to introduce herself, answer questions and ask for food and wine preferences, it’s still a surprise when you actually see the extent to which the Valentiners have gone to welcome you. I find fresh baked bread (gluten free for me), peanut butter, huckleberry jam, as well as a tray of fruit. My red wine preference was noted and delivered, along with bottled water and milk (coconut for me). They’ve left cashews, eggs, and chips for me to graze upon. Linda, a nutritionist and localvore, strives to provide exceptional items from area farmers, bakers, and artisans. Daily, she brings me gluten and dairy free delights from Red Poppy Bakery and provides locally sourced honey, jams, soaps, and lotions. Wheat eating guests can expect something different every day from the “absolutely divine” Fleur Bake Shop.

The copper topped kitchen counter mirrors the stamped ceiling. Hand woven rugs soften the stained concrete floor throughout the lower level studio.

The custom carved bed faces a beckoning mountain view. Stoke the fire and sit with tea in this vintage haven.

Eight miles outside of Whitefish, MT, The Old Wagon Wheel is close to everything but far enough away to relax in peace, tucked inside a horseshoe ring of National Forest. As I sit on “my” back porch watching the moonrise, I feel rooted in this new “old” homestead. The lodgepole pines from which this log home was hewn may as well have come from across the field.

I live in a 110-year old home in town, which I love, yet I discover that my escape to this relatively new log, timber, and reclaimed wood refuge in the forest somehow feels older and allows me a deeper connection to my surroundings. After a sip of merlot I plot the next day’s adventure.

After a day out in the saddle or skis settle into cozy leather recliners for Movie Night. A retro popcorn maker, radio, and movie posters add to the ambiance.

Perched at the edge of a slope, the glowing log home invites guests to come on in after a day out on the slopes or in the woods.

A hand painted aspen forest scene covers the office wall to remind guests of their peaceful setting even if there’s bit of inside work to attend to between outdoor adventures.

Guests enjoy easy access to 42 miles of The Whitefish Trails System through the nearby Beaver Lake Trailhead. Over the years, via hike, bike, and skis, I’ve explored all the loops and points to which these trails lead, from multiple lakes to downtown Whitefish to Big Mountain (Whitefish Mountain Resort). This is an all-season all-reason place to visit and recharge. There’s a litany of “bucket list” things to do and explore from and near The Old Wagon Wheel; Glacier National Park, backcountry and downhill skiing, hot air balloon rides, skydiving, world class golf, horseback riding, fine dining, art galleries, or simply logs to burn in the wood stove while you read.

Sit in the sleigh, lounge in the chairs or soak in the tub (privacy screen provided for those modest in front of passing deer). The porch offers seclusion, and relaxation amidst the forest surroundings.

Each afternoon I return to my accommodations to find them serviced with fresh linens, new treats, another chocolate on my pillow, and more thoughtful touches. Every evening I walk the property, pet the horses, sit on the porch, and sometimes hang out with the Valentiners. Linda offers a “5 Star Camp Cooking Dinner” at the fire pit below the house. I hold out until Ted, the guitar playing Renaissance Cowboy, agrees to sing. The whole experience is as comfortable and natural as a warm sweater on a winter night. I’m at “home” being serenaded under the stars…and I don’t have to do the dishes. Jeez. I don’t ever want to leave.

For more information about staying at The Old Wagon Wheel, go to vrbo.com/714602.