12 Ways to Experience Winter at Mt. Rainier


1. Go Snowshoeing!
Strap on snowshoes (rentals available) for a ranger-guided tour at Paradise on on weekends in December in Mount Rainier National Park or a packaged tour on Saturdays at Crystal Mountain.

2. Bring the kids to Paradise’s Snow Play Area
Wax those runners on a Flexible Flyer and race down the slopes at the snowplay area at Paradise, opening in December, given sufficient snowfall. For details, go to Mt. Rainier National Park.

3. Ride Crystal’s Northway Lift
Be among the first to access 1,000 acres of backcountry terrain from Crystal Mountain’s Northway lift. For more information, please access Ski Crystal’s Northway Lift.

4. Go Hut to Hut Nordic Skiing and More!
The Mt. Tahoma Trails are used in a wide variety of ways. Recreation comes in all forms, from cross country skiing and snowshoeing to snowboarding and skate skiing, as well as an occasional sled dog team. This is a great alternative to the Paradise area, without worrying about winter road closures or timing of the gate opening at Longmire.

5. Take a Scenic Train Ride
Climb aboard Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and see Mt. Rainier in full winter glory while chugging along in a steam engine-powered passenger train. Trains depart from Mineral Lake, twice daily, for three-hour round trip runs. For tickets, schedules and more information, please access Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.

6. Take in the view while dining on fondue
Ride chairlifts to the newly-remodeled Summit House Bistro at Crystal Mountain and dip bread in a cheesy fondue while enjoying the amazing view: 6 famous volcanic peaks. Visit the Summit House Bistro for details.

7. Watch elk herds & big horn sheep gather for winter feeding

On Mt. Rainier’s east side, watch herds of elk gather for daily winter feedings at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area off of Hwy. 12 in Naches (18 miles NW of Yakima). Elk are fed daily at 1:30 pm and the bighorn sheep are fed mid-morning at the Cleman Mountain Feeding site. More information can be found here: Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

8. Watch the winter weather from your lodging at Rainier

Cozy in from a snowstorm or view a spectacularly starry night from your window at the historic National Park Inn at Longmire. The Inn in Mount Rainier National Park remains open year-round. For reservations, please access Guest Services or call 360.569.2275.

9. Nordic Ski at White Pass

Cross country ski on well-established trails through wooded areas and around a lake at the Nordic Center at White Pass. Visit Ski White Pass for details. Afterwards, warm up with coffee or hot chocolate in a friendly yurt. Lessons and ski rentals are available.

10. Indulge yourself at a spa
Indulge in a solo pre- or post-holiday retreat at one of three spas in Ashford. They include Alexander’s Day Spa at Alexander’s Country Inn, StormKing Cabins and Day Spa and Wellspring Spa and Retreat Center (Phone: 360-569-2514).

11. Take a tram ride through a wildlife park
Bundle up for a tram ride and see native Northwest animals in their lush winter coats at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Eatonville. Afterwards, warm up by a roaring fire or at one of the park’s heated discovery centers. For special events, location and more details, please access Northwest Trek.

12. U-Cut Christmas Trees

Share a traditional family outing to find, cut and carry home the perfect Christmas tree. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest sells $5 u-cut permits.