Get to know our area's native Northwest animals at Northwest Trek. This 725-acre wildlife park is tucked away in the forest near Mt. Rainier just outside the community of Eatonville. Along its beautiful, winding walking trails you can view over 200 North American animals, representing over 30 species. The varied habitats of Northwest Trek create a scenic landscape with lakes, meadows, forests and streams. A fan favorite is the 55-minute tram tour of the 435-acre free-roaming area of the park. Spot bison, woodland caribou, moose, Roosevelt elk and others, grazing in fields, wandering in the forest, and possibly right outside your seat on the tram. Exciting wildlife encounters happen every day at Northwest Trek.
Journey back to the 1880's and experience homesteading in Washington state. Pioneer Farm is a "hands on" homestead built in 1887 with a multitude of activities for adults and children, including overnight programs. Take a farm tour where children can do the chores that pioneer children would have done in the log activity cabin including grinding grains, churning cream, scrubbing laundry, and carding wool. They can dress up like pioneers; have their hair curled with an antique curling iron or shave with an old-fashioned dulled straight razor. Located just north of Eatonville, Pioneer Farm is open on weekends from mid-March through mid-June, and after Labor Day to the day before Thanksgiving. During summer it's open all week.
It's scenic. It's historical. It's a great experience for train fanatics and anyone who appreciates a beautiful ride through the foothills. Board the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Elbe and take an 18-mile picturesque ride on a vintage logging locomotive into the countryside near the mountain. Not to be confused with a luxurious rail line, this train offers a friendly and fun atmosphere, with plenty of room for children in the group to walk around and see the sights. The train is complete with a snack bar and several bathrooms. Kind conductors give a brief history lesson of the area. And the view of the great mountain as the train crosses the Nisqually River is breathtaking. All aboard!
The museum project is being constructed in three phases over the next several years; Phase I will open to the public sometime Summer 2013. Then, the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad excursion trains will run from Elbe directly to the museum site rather than downtown Mineral. When passengers disembark they will be able to take a tour that will include the restoration/maintenance shop, two buildings where the steam locomotive collection is stored and other pieces of logging equipment on display about the museum grounds. Other railroad equipment you will see includes cranes, equipment cars, speeders, logging donkeys and literally tons of other items.
In a word, this Sculpture Park is astonishing - there is no place like it. You may feel as though you've walked into the studio of a surrealist when you see a giant sea horse fashioned from horseshoes, deer fashioned from "found" wood, a metallic bird just hatched from a giant egg, as well as many other characters. The park is a random collection of animals, monsters, motorcycle riders and structures - all wrought from the imagination and materials found by the artist, Dan Klennert. His material is anything he finds ranging from incomprehensible shapes of rusty metal to animal skulls. Find the Sculpture Park just outside the community of Ashford, near the Nisqually Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park on SR 706.
One of the most picturesque hamlets in the Mt. Rainier area, Mineral Lake sits at the base of the mountain creating a perfect backdrop to what might be an award-winning photo. The lake is famous for its sizable rainbow and brown trout, a fisherman's dream come true. Pontoon boats, row boats and paddle boats are available for rent. And don't leave until you have found the smallest Post Office in the United States. It's just up the road from the 100 year old Historic Mineral Lake Lodge which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. This is arguably one of the best hideaways near Mt. Rainier and certainly a "Gem of the Northwest." Mineral Lake is located off Highway 7 near the Elbe junction.
The Mount Tahoma Trails Association operates and manages the largest no fee Hut-to-Hut Trail System in North America for cross country skiing and snowshoeing as well as summer hiking. Approximately 50 miles of trails, 20 miles of which are groomed, provide safe and easy access to 3 ski huts and a yurt. Trails vary from novice to expert, are well-signed and are patrolled by an all volunteer ski patrol. Enjoy the trek for a day or overnight destination in the Ashford area. In the summer, over 20 miles of trails make this a popular mountain biking and hiking destination.
Trek on skis or snowshoes along the trails in Mt. Tahoma Trails Association's expanded North District, off Forest Service Road 92, at Hwy. 706 one mile west of the Ashford. The north district includes Copper Hut which is an excellent day or overnight destination trip of 4 miles from the 92 Road Sno Park. World Class views abound on the Rainier Vista Trail above Copper Hut.
The South District includes the magnificent scenery of Mt. Rainier from High Hut 4 miles from the #1 Road Sno Park, and the quiet seclusion of the Yurt located 6 miles from the same Sno Park.
In the gateway community of Ashford you'll find Rainier Mountaineering, Inc and Whittaker Mountaineering sporting equipment. Stop in at the Mount Rainier Visitor Information Center located inside Whittaker Mountaineering if you have any questions before entering the park. Just beyond you'll find Ashford Creek Pottery, featuring hand-thrown pottery and stained glass by local artisans, paintings by Dee Molenaar, historical photographs, and other memorabilia. On the left side of the road is the Western Art Gallery, with local art and souvenirs. A new addition to the community in 2010 is Ashford Community Park located on Highway 706. This 30 acre park offers a children's play area, accessible trails, and a restroom facility.
Longmire and Paradise are accessed year-round from the Nisqually entrance of the park and in summer from the Stevens Canyon Road.
Mount Rainier National Park's first visitor center and park entrance station, Longmire has been welcoming visitors since the 1880s. Located in the southwest corner of the park in magnificent old-growth forest along the Nisqually River, Longmire is not far from the Nisqually Entrance, just 16 miles east of Ashford. However, when it was founded by intrepid Northwest emigrant James Longmire in 1883, it was quite remote and far removed from any population centers.
With the establishment of the park in 1899, Longmire became park headquarters. Although park headquarters are no longer at Longmire, the original headquarters building houses a museum that tells the story of the early days of the park. The museum is open daily, year-round. All of Longmire is now designated a national historic district.
Also located at Longmire is the Wilderness Information Center, open seasonally from late May to early October. Visitors here can obtain wilderness permits and hiking and backcountry camping information. The National Park Inn is a must see and is open year-round. This historic lodge offers lodging, dining at the National Park Inn Dining Room and a gift shop.
A short nature trail offering historic perspective of the area is "Trail of the Shadows." It starts across the road from the National Park Inn and is less than a mile long. The trail explores a mineral hot springs that was discovered by James Longmire. Other popular trails departing the Longmire area include Eagle Peak, Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, Rampart Ridge and the Wonderland Trail.
Mount Rainier National Park's busiest and most dramatic visitor center, the aptly named Paradise is rightfully the park's classic showcase. It was back in the late 1800s when park pioneer James Longmire's daughter-in-law, Martha, proclaimed upon reaching this mile high flower-studded valley, "Oh, what a paradise!"
The road to Paradise is open year-round. Click on the Paradise Mountain Cam for a view of Paradise and Mt. Rainier to give you a visual idea of the conditions before you set out. Remodeled in 2010, the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise is open year-round; daily from May to early October and weekends only from October through April. Here you will find general information, a gift shop and the Jackson Grill cafeteria. Watch the dramatic new park video and experience exciting nature displays and hands-on exhibits.
The Paradise Guide House is home to the Paradise Climbing Information Center. Here visitors can obtain climbing permits as well as hiking and backcountry camping information. The Guide House closes for the season in late September for the winter. When it is closed, permits for climbing or backcountry campsites are available at the Longmire Museum or self-register at Paradise.
Situated next to the visitor center sits the historic Paradise Inn, offering lodging and dining in a truly superb setting. This beautiful 121 room lodge contains many structural and furnishing delights such as a great hall, big stone fireplaces, a grandfather clock, and furniture constructed from local materials. The inn's piano was detailed with peeled heavy log corner-posts with whittled ends. The inn is open from mid-May through early October.
At Paradise you'll find some of the park's most popular hiking trails. The wildflower saturated meadows surrounding the visitor center are legendary, and folks come from all over the world to delight in their splendor. Popular trails include Alta Vista and Nisqually Vista flower trails, Paradise Glacier, Paradise River/Narada Falls, Skyline Trail and the challenging Camp Muir Trail.
The mountain community of Morton is nestled between Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. A small city with a big history, Morton once relied on logging, harvesting of cascara bark and mercury mining for revenue. In 1910, the Tacoma Eastern Railway brought the first train into town. This opened Morton and surrounding areas to commerce. The result was a boom in logging, shingle mills and sawmills. Even today the economy still relies on logging, though logging activity has decreased.
Many descendants of Morton's pioneers live in Morton and celebrate their heritage the second week in August with the "Morton Loggers' Jubilee". It's a lively affair with a parade, logging competitions and displays. Morton is undergoing a renaissance with restoration of the Historic Morton Train Depot as well as the Roxy Theater, an active performing arts community. Most recently the Tiller Arts Center has opened after an extensive historic renovation. The Fire Mt. Arts Council calendar lists many events and activities in this small mountain community.
The town offers full commercial services and is located near a wealth of recreational activities. These include hang-gliding, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. You'll find a walk-in information booth (open in the summer) near junction of State Route 7 and US Highway 12.
Packwood is said to be the "heart of volcano country" given its proximity to Mount St. Helens, its remote location and warm small-town ambiance. This small hamlet is located just nine miles south of Mount Rainier National Park and 30 miles northeast of Mount St. Helens on the White Pass Scenic Byway. It is surrounded by the northern area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Outdoor activities abound including hiking, hunting, fishing, birding, watching wildlife, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and camping.
During the summer months, Packwood enjoys quite a few sunny days and offers several events including its Memorial Day and Labor Day flea market extravaganza, the Rainier Arts Festival, the Packwood Summer Rod Run, the Rainier Mountain Festival and several community barbeques throughout the year.
Located just 20 minutes from White Pass Ski Area(www.skiwhitepass), Packwood also enjoys a busy winter season full of bustling snow enthusiasts who come to town for the skiing and boarding at White Pass, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country fun in the adjacent national forests.
Nestled in a setting of pristine old-growth forests, Ohanapecosh is situated in the southeast corner of Mt. Rainier National Park. At only 1,900 feet elevation, this area of the park offers a stark contrast to other high altitude areas of the park. This area offers lush, emerald forests and a rushing, crystal clear river by the same name.
Ohanapecosh Campground is the busiest campground within the park and offers family fun programs as well as the campground amphitheater; the site of special programs, walks and lectures during the summer. The Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, located at the entrance of the campground, offers hiking information as well as hiking guides, books and maps. The visitor center and campground are both closed during winter.
Some wonderful hikes depart from the Ohanapecosh area. Grove of the Patriarchs, a 1.3-mile loop is one of the most popular in the park. This easy walk takes only about an hour to complete as it explores a large island surrounded by the Ohanapecosh River. Here visitors often speak in whispers as the grove feels like an outdoor church with towering Douglas firs and western red cedars, some over 1,000 years old. Other popular hikes include Cowlitz Divide Trail, Laughingwater Creek Trail, Shriner Peak and Silver Falls.
White Pass is a kicked-back, slightly off the beaten path ski area, highly acclaimed by hard-core snow enthusiasts as well as the skiing or snowboarding family. It boasts nearly 1,500 acres of terrain for skiers and riders of all abilities.
New in 2010, was the long anticipated opening of the Paradise Basin Expansion area offering 767 additional acres of terrain served by two quads and the High Camp Lodge. From here just beneath the summit of Hogback Mountain in the craggy Goat Rocks peaks, you'll have access to some of the finest cruising runs and glades skiing in the Cascades; and all with mouth-gaping views of Mount Rainier hovering before you.
White Pass also offers Nordic skiing. Across from the downhill slopes on the north side of US 12, you can kick-and-glide on over 18 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails through lovely old-growth forest and around Leech Lake.
With its kids' clinic; and events like Hope on the Slopes 24 hour Slide for the Cure, and the annual Winter Carnival in March; White Pass has long been touted as a family resort. And now with the addition of Paradise Basin this season, White Pass has even more to offer to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities.
Known as the gateway to recreation in the Central Cascades, the natural and pristine White Pass Scenic Byway winds through the forests of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier National Park before ascending to the arid landscape of Eastern Washington. This diverse geographic range offers visitors an unlimited playground for camping, fishing, hiking, skiing, boating and wildlife watching. In the summertime, this area buzzes with activity as visitors enjoy the rivers, lakes, forests, and trails from their basecamps. Early fall can be the best season for hiking, as trails are snow-free and sub-alpine vegetation begins to change color. Winter time brings visitors to the byway to enjoy the White Pass Ski Area, snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing.
The White River Wilderness Information Center is located at the White River Entrance on the road to Sunrise, just west of Hwy. 410. The center offers general information and an accessible restroom, as well as wilderness camping permits and climbing permits for the park's north and east side climbing routes. It is closed in the winter.
Known as the highest drivable point within the national park, Sunrise is situated in the high alpine meadows of Yakima Park with stunning, close-up views of the massive Emmons Glacier and expansive fields of wildflowers that carpet the meadows during Sunrise's short summer season. The scenic splendor of Sunrise easily rivals the well-known Paradise area. And as its name suggests is also one of the first places in the park to capture morning's early light. Sunrise is open seasonally from early June - late September.
The park offers an excellent Visitor Center at Sunrise with exhibits that tell the story of the Sunrise--the volcanic forces that created the mountain, the glaciers that mold the landscape, the plant and animal life of the subalpine meadows, and the tribes that are tied to the area. During the summer, special programs are offered including guided walks and talks on a variety of topics.
Although there is no lodging at Sunrise, a snack bar and grill serving hot meals is available. You will also find a gift shop and restrooms.
At Sunrise, be sure to experience one of the many trails departing from the area. Family friendly trails include the trek along Sourdough Ridge with its horizon sweeping views beyond the park; Frozen Lake with its perpetual snow and ice; the Mount Fremont fire tower with its resident mountain goat herds; and Shadow Lake with its spectacular reflections and flower-lined shores. These trails are ideal too, for folks new to hiking, and they don't get as crowded as Paradise's trails. Experienced hikers can explore trails leading to the alpine tundra of Burroughs Mountain; the lofty heights of Skyscraper Mountain; the flower gardens of Berkeley Park; and the remote basin cradling Forest Lake.
A winter playground and summer oasis, Crystal Mountain Resort lies on the sunny side of Mt Rainier, just six miles from the Northeast entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. Nestled amid stunning forests, wildflower-filled meadows and pure Washington wilderness, Crystal is a fun and relaxing escape any time of the year.
The brand new Mt. Rainier Gondola, open November - September, is a scenic 10-minute ride to breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and far beyond. Washington's highest restaurant, the Summit House, is next to the gondola and open for lunch on all days the gondola is operating, and offers weekend dinners and Sunday brunches during the summer.
Miles of hiking and biking trails wind through alpine lakes, along epic ridge lines and through evergreen forests during the summer. Set out on your own or take a guided hike with Ridge Explorations. Guided horseback rides with Chinook Pass Outfitters showcase the best this area has to offer in a relaxing, safe atmosphere. An 18-hole disc golf course spans the mountain top-to-bottom, and frequent weekend events bring live music to the hillsides.
Winter's first snows signal the opening of Washington's largest ski resort. The sprawling expanse of the ski terrain flows over half a dozen peaks and basins and lends itself to seemingly limitless variations. 2,600 acres of gentle groomed runs for beginners to challenging steeps, glades, chutes, bowls and expansive backcountry for the more adventurous take care of skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
This 619-acre park, located near Greenwater on the Chinook Scenic Byway, is a testament to the forward thinking of some women who, in the 1940s, decided it was important to preserve some old-growth timber during the rush towards logging. Today this cathedral of trees beckons to visitors year-round offering a network of interpretive trails, a picnic area, and a garden highlighting edible and poisonous native plants from different regions of Washington. The Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center offers interpretive displays that elaborate on the differences in ecosystems ranging from the east side to the west side of the mountains. Take time to appreciate the rich understory of native shrubs and woodland flowers and watch the White River flowing through the park.
On a clear day, the views are simply stunning. Perched on a 5,271 foot peak, Suntop Lookout is one of the last structures of its kind remaining in the old Snoqualmie National Forest. It's a gravel drive or hike to the summit, which offers commanding 360 degree views. Dominating the scene, Mt. Rainier is just ten miles away to the south. See majestic vistas of Winthrop Glacier, the Cascade Range, the Olympic Mountains and even Mt. Baker, over 150 miles away. The ungroomed Suntop Sno-Park is the entry point for those on skis, snowshoes, horseback, motorbike or mountain bike.
To reach Suntop, turn right off SR 410 on Forest Road (FR) 73. Travel FR 73 for 1.2 miles and turn left on FR 7315. Travel FR 7315 for 6.1 miles to the lookout. The road is gravel surfaced and is best suited for four-wheel drive vehicles.
As you travel along the Chinook Scenic Byway, drive under the dramatic and historic log and stone archway marking the summit of Chinook Pass. This archway also serves as a pedestrian bridge for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. This stretch of roadway is also named the Mather Memorial Parkway, honoring Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service.
Just a few hundred meters from the summit, discover stunning Tipsoo Lake. The view of Mt. Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake is one of the most photographed landscapes in the country. And, many photographers remark that the wildflowers at Tipsoo Lake rival anything found at Paradise. This little alpine gem is a breathtaking sight to behold. Hike the short nature trail around the lake and witness the outstanding views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountains. Another great idea; pack a lunch and enjoy the picnic area.
Recognized as a premier driving tour in Washington State, the Chinook Scenic Byway travels through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park. Experience the diverse landscape of the Central Cascades, from Enumclaw and the glacier-fed White River Valley to the west, up and over 5,430' Chinook Pass, to the fertile valley of Naches to the east. Spectacular views of Mount Rainier, dense forests, towering peaks, rocky ridges and river canyons dominate this journey. Pass by the unique basalt flows of the Columbia Plateau, old growth forests, lush subalpine meadows, a world-class ski area and numerous streams, lakes and waterfalls. Not only will you find breathtaking scenery, but endless opportunities for outdoor fun and recreation await.
Noted as "One of America's Ten Most Beautiful Gardens," Chase Garden stands out as one of the finest examples of a Pacific Northwest garden. Meander through this 4 1/2 acre garden displaying plants inspired by the wildflower fields on Mt. Rainier. The park-like setting features expanses of groundcovers and perennials accented with Japanese maples, rhododendrons, and conifers. Meandering pea gravel pathways wind their way along a gentle slope providing views through an open vista into the forested foothills overlooking the Puyallup River Valley and an impressive view of Mt. Rainier. The garden is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from April through October, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Coal was discovered in the hills and canyons of the Carbon River valley in the 1800s. For the purposes of mining this find, the Northern Pacific Railroad built a rail line to Wilkeson. Today, a trip to this community offers visitors a rare opportunity to take an authentic step back in time to the rich heritage and culture of the 19th century Pacific Northwest. Once known as the roughest mining town west of Butte, Montana, Wilkeson offers attractions including a look at the historic Wilkeson Elementary School, the coke ovens and the Wilkeson Sandstone Quarry. Walk the town's side streets to see fine examples of 19th century architecture, most notably a handsome building signed "Holy Trinity Orthodox Church" and the Wilkeson Town Hall, both listed in the National Historic Registry.
The Carbon River entrance to the Park offers tremendous beauty and yet another unique area of Mt. Rainier. This area allows visitors the experience a unique ecosystem within the park-an inland temperate rainforest. Here processions of moisture-laden clouds deposit copious amounts of precipitation-between 70 and 90 inches of rainfall annually upon this deep canyon embracing the roaring, glacier-fed Carbon River.
With its low elevation of 1,900-feet and mild winter temperatures, snow is rare in the Carbon River Valley. While most of the park is shrouded in white for over half of the year, the Carbon River Valley remains verdant and snow free. Hikers can roam the trails of the Carbon Valley all winter long. And hiking is the main activity in this part of the park, as visitor facilities are minimal and the Carbon River Road is no longer open to vehicles. Closed at the Carbon River Ranger Station, the Carbon River Road is one of the few places mountain bikes are allowed within the national park. Park officials will be putting bike racks in place at the trailheads along the Carbon River Road, which will allow for the unique experience of bike and hike outings. And since the 5.0-mile Carbon River Road is virtually level, it'll be perfect for children, adults towing children and folks looking for an easy bike ride.
Several lovely hikes radiate from the Carbon River Road including the 3.4 mile roundtrip (9.6 mile roundtrip from ranger station) to Ranger Falls and Green Lake; and the 0.4 mile roundtrip (8.0 mile roundtrip from ranger station) to Chenuis Falls. Beginning right from the ranger station and making a wonderful kid-friendly jaunt is the 0.3 mile Rainforest Loop Trail. This interpretive trail introduces you to the complexities and dynamics of this interior rainforest. Marvel at the Sitka spruce growing here; a tree common along the Olympic Coast and extremely rare in the Cascades.
Another option for exploring the northwest corner of the Park is to drive the Mowich Lake Road to the pristine waters of Mowich Lake. It's the largest and deepest lake in the park. During the summer months it is home to fields overflowing with colorful wildflowers as well as a bustling campground. In the winter, it is the destination of snowshoers and winter campers who make their way to the lake on foot. Near the lake, discover old-growth trees, fabulous meadows, bubbling creeks, and dramatic cliffs. The road is unpaved after the first three miles and may be rough. In the winter this road is closed 10 miles from the lake and opens each summer in early July.