One of the greatest things about traveling with children is their ability to jump into imaginary worlds. Visiting places like Mt. Rainier help to feed their repertoire for ideas, whether it be a stroll through the gigantic ancient Grove of the Patriarchs or the manufactured recycled wonders at Ex-Nihilo.

As you head up to the west entrance of Mt. Rainier, give your kids some runaround exploration time at the Ex-Nihilo Metal Sculpture Park. Located on SR 706, a couple miles past Elbe on the right-hand side of the road, metal artist Dan Klennert has created an amazing world of recycled art and an ideal landscape for a child’s imagination.

Ex-Nihilo is Latin for “something created out of nothing.” But his nothings aren’t nothing at all. They’re pieces of historical trash – junk tossed into a ravine not far from his “gallery” that have become the media for his artistic expression. Old tie-rod ends, rusted- out drums, and lengths of sheet metal welded together with old tools, metal bumpers, and whatever else Klennert can pull together find new life as majestic works of art.

What stories will your children tell from seeing gigantic dinosaurs, seahorses, and eagles, a band of metal musicians gathered and ready to play? Young ones may decide to ride off with the motorcycle-riding skeleton under the watchful eye of a rooster that stands one hundred times taller than the live models he represents. See the horses with their elegant bodies grazing in everlasting grace.

Stop by, enjoy Klennert’s creations, and wonder, what could you make with your junk at home?


Website | Address: 22410 Washington 706,  Ashford, WA 98304


About The Author

Amy Poffenbarger

Amy Poffenbarger has lived in Seattle for the past 20 years and has come to love the Pacific Northwest like a native. When she isn't writing for the Visit Rainier website, she serves as co-editor of Northwest Cyclist magazine. Amy is also author of Mountain Biking Washington, which is in its third edition. She has been a freelance writer since 1993 and her freelance publishing credits include articles in Getaways (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's supplement) Washington CEO, Snow Country, Canoe & Kayak, Mountain Bike Magazine, MTB Magazine, American Bicyclist, Bicycle Dealer Showcase, Bicycle Retailer, Sports Etc., and Earthcare Northwest. Her on-line magazine credits include,, and When Amy isn't writing, she enjoys sharing her favorite trails and adventures with her husband Mark and son Kai and looks forward to bringing her young daughter Tali along for the fun very soon.