Experience the drama of a Mt. Rainier winter on snowshoes. Marvel at the alpine trees encased in snow and ice. Look out onto the clean white mountainsides that seem to go on and on. During the summer months you have to stick to the trail, but once the snow becomes deep enough, the mountain offers much more room to explore. With a little know-how and the right supplies, strap on snowshoes and explore the park’s winter trails. Another option is the popular ranger-guided tour at Paradise offered mid-December through early March. Crystal Mountain also offers a packaged snowshoe tour on Saturdays and White Pass has a well-groomed system of trails at their Nordic Center perfect for snowshoers of all abilities.
Ready, set, slide! Race down the slopes at the popular snowplay area at Paradise. For those who see the snow and feel the need for speed, this is the one place in the park where sleds are welcome – and expected! Squeals and laughter fill the air as people of all ages have a blast careening down the hill. The snowplay area is located north of the upper parking lot at Paradise and will open mid-December and closes near the end of March. Get a map and more info here.
Skiers, riders and foot passengers can all take a ride to the Crystal Mountain summit for captivating mountain views, a delectable meal at the Summit House restaurant or to drop back into the vast terrain that plunges below the ridge line. During the ski season, the Summit House serves up First Tracks Breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, offers lunch daily, along with Aprés and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. The gondola is the first one to be installed at a ski resort in Washington state. For more information, visit Ski Crystal’s Mt. Rainier Gondola.
Recreation on the Mount Tahoma Trails 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. Mount Tahoma Trails is North America’s largest No Fee Hut-to-Hut Trail system with over 50 miles of trails. The trail system provides two huts and one yurt as overnight accommodations that require only a reservation and nominal processing fee. These locations are also available for day trekkers to use as a rest place and lunch facility. This place is a gem, and a snow-lover’s playground.
Dine at the top of the world! Well, it feels that way anyhow… Travel 2500 feet in ten minutes time on the new Mt. Rainier Gondola up to the summit of Crystal Mountain to dine at the newly-remodeled Summit House. Dip bread in a cheesy fondue or savor other sumptuous specialties on the menu. The cuisine is superb, rivaled only by the amazing 360° summit views from the top. Mt. Rainier stands front and center while other volcanic peaks can be seen in the distance. Taking in the view while sitting with a lovely glass of wine and a mouth-watering meal truly is an experience not to be missed. Visit the Summit House Restaurant for all the details.
It’s one of the best locations for elk watching in the entire nation. On Mt. Rainier’s east side, come to the Oak Creek Wildlife Area and view herds of elk gathering in the hundreds for daily winter feedings. Visitors look on and watch as the elk jostle for position at the hay drop stations. The elk are fed daily at 1:30pm and herds of bighorn sheep are fed mid-morning at the Cleman Mountain Feeding site, just a few miles east. The wildlife area is located off SR Highway 12 near Naches. For more information, visit the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.
Maybe you spent the day snowshoeing at Paradise. Or shushing down the ski slopes. Maybe you just spent the day in with a good book and a glass of wine. Whatever your style, avoid a long drive home and instead cozy in from a nice day at the mountain at one of the many lodging properties around Mt. Rainier. Spend a night away, or reserve a vacation rental as your home base for a week of winter activities. Resort rooms, charming cabins, upscale vacation rentals, friendly motels, bed and breakfasts… there’s no need to hurry home from your mountain getaway.
Cross country ski or snowshoe on scenic, well-established trails through wooded areas and around a scenic alpine lake at the White Pass Nordic Center. Meander along 18 kilometers of groomed, double-tracked trails in this trail system; trails for all ages and abilities. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of snow-laden forests where winter seems to slow the clock. In between runs, warm up with coffee or hot chocolate in a friendly yurt. Rental skis and snowshoes are available at across from the Nordic Center Trailhead which sits just behind the Village Inn Condominiums. Lessons are also available.
Take time for yourself with a spa getaway to Mt. Rainier. Leave your worries and stress behind and retreat to the peace and quiet of the mountains for time spent away rejuvenating your body and mind. Indulge with a mountain retreat at one of the three spas located around Mt. Rainier. The spas offer a full array of massage, body treatments and skin care. In addition to the spas, healthy living activities are available including yoga, individualized fitness programs, physical therapy and more. Get all the details about the spas of Mt. Rainier.
Bundle up for a 55-minute tram ride and view native Northwest animals in their lush winter coats at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville. The tram tours the 435 acre free-roaming area of the park. Spot bison, caribous, elk, mountain goats, deer and even moose as you meander through the park. Some animals come right up to the tram for an up, close and personal viewing. Afterwards, take time to walk the forested pathways to view bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and other wetland animals in beautiful natural exhibits. Get more information, directions and details, at Northwest Trek.
For more information on visiting Mt. Rainier, go to visitrainier.com.
Visit Rainier is a not-for-profit, non-membership destination marketing organization that promotes tourism in the gateway communities around Mt. Rainier.