The Girlfriend's Guide to Glamping | Visit Rainier
Happy Ladies at Sunrise, Photo Courtesy JJ

Girlfriend’s Guide to Glamping Around Mt. Rainier

Interested in glamping, or glamour camping, in the scenic Mt. Rainier region this summer or fall?

Then round up your gal pals for this two day glamping getaway filled with hidden gems around Mt. Rainier. Take a gondola ride at Crystal Mountain, explore an historic mountain inn at Paradise, and visit an impressive iron sculpture park in Ashford. Pick and choose from the itinerary below to create your own fabulous girlfriend getaway.

Your glamping trip begins in Enumclaw, 25 miles northwest of the mountain.

The largest of Mt. Rainier’s gateway communities, Enumclaw is a great place to gas up and grab some snacks for the road. You can also pick up a Discovery Pass in Enumclaw at the Work, Sports & Outdoors store. If you’d like a unique farm stay experience check out the Mason Jar Farm for lodging. And remember to pick up a Discovery Passes it’ll be required at Federation Forest State Park.  

From Enumclaw, head east on SR 410 towards Greenwater. It’s an early September morning outside of Enumclaw when my girlfriends and I pile into our rented minivan. After a quick stop at Tracy’s Roadside Produce to snoop amongst a huge variety of treats, jams, and gift items, we select snacks and “bevies”. Then we head east on SR 410 to our next stop.
Federation Forest State Park
Federation Forest State Park has shady trails.

Located eight miles from Enumclaw, pause at Federation Forest State Park

This is an opportunity to explore 619 acres of old-growth evergreens and home to over 100 species of birds. The park offers hiking trails, picnic benches, and an interpretive center. Pull on your tennies or hiking shoes and enjoy an easy lowland hike along the scenic White River with sounds of twittering birds and musical waters. Note: A Discovery Pass is required to park.

From here continue east on SR 410 and stop at the small town of Greenwater, located 5 miles from Federation Forest. Pull off and park at Wapiti Outdoors and check out the ski gear, warm sweaters, fabulous selection of gift items and their famous huckleberry shakes. There’s seating behind the store on the patio. You and the gals can also grab a tasty espresso and pastry from the café-coffee bar before you continue east on SR 410. Note: This is also the last place to get gas on this side of Mt. Rainier.

Crystal Mountain Resort is the next stop in our glamping getaway.

Continue east on SR 410 until you reach Crystal Mountain Boulevard. Turn left and wind up six miles to the 4,440 ft. base resort. Park in the large upper parking lot, just steps away from Crystal Mountain’s main lodge, the Alpine Inn restaurant, hiking trails, and the Mt. Rainier Gondola. This is another option for overnight lodging at Crystal Mountain Hotels or nearby funished condos. 

Take the gondola for a scenic 10-minute ride up to the 6,872 ft. summit. The gondola is open daily peak summer season (JULY 2-SEPT 12), weather permitting. When you reach the summit, disembark from the gondola and pause for a moment to take in the spectacular panoramic view of Mt. Rainier’s 14,410 ft. summit and the surrounding peaks. Head to the Summit House, the highest elevation restaurant in Washington and enjoy gourmet meals in a casual atmosphere. If the Summit House is full and you can’t get a table try getting a to-go order from Tower 16 located at the base of the gondola on the top of Crystal Mountain. At Tower 16 you’ll find a selection of cocktails, beers, snacks and a limited to-go menu. After riding the gondola back down to the base of Crystal Mountain there’s more to explore. Consider a guided trail ride led by Chinook Pass Outfitters. There are also miles of trails for hiking at Crystal Mountain. 

The next stop on our glamping getaway is a trip to Mount Rainier National Park to see the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Continue east on SR 410 to SR 123 south, to Stevens Canyon Road, and across the Ohanapecosh River Bridge to the trailhead parking area. After a short hike, about a mile, you’ll cross a suspension bridge over emerald green waters into an ancient forest of both downed and towering, old-growth Douglas firs and Western red cedars. Some of these giants are over a thousand years old.

Now it’s onto Paradise.

Head west on Stevens Canyon Road to Paradise Valley Road and travel two miles up to the historic Paradise Inn. Park in the large upper parking lot. Plan time to explore the splendid Inn perched at 5,400-ft. elevation with Mt. Rainier towering in the background. Built in 1917, the Inn is beautifully renovated with cozy rooms and a spacious fireplace lobby. After a delicious weekend brunch in the Paradise Inn Dining Room you and your girlfriends can find a quiet corner to curl up and chat while marveling at the Inn’s exposed wooden beams, rustic furniture, and hand-painted lampshades. 

If time permits, (and the visitor center is open) walk to the nearby Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center and explore the interactive exhibits, browse the gift shop, or join a free ranger-led hike. Hike themes change often, depending upon the leading ranger’s expertise and usually run from late June until Labor Day. No sign up is required and all ages are welcome.

A woman poses by iron sculpturesThe last stop in our glamping getaway is the Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park in Ashford.

Go back down Paradise Valley Road to SR 706 west and drive 30 miles to Elbe. The Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park will be on your left. Created by artist Daniel Klennert, with new pieces by the current resident artist Jay Bechtold. The sculpture park is an amazing collection of recycled iron and natural driftwood pieces. Marvel at the dozens of sculptures, including life-sized iron horses frolicking in the grass, an enormous steam train, and a four-man band. And be sure to check out the smaller iron artwork and knickknacks available in the small gift shop.

Getting around

For maps and more information on visiting Mt. Rainier, go here.

When to go: July- through early October

Start/End: Enumclaw, WA – End in Ashford

Crystal Mountain offers several lodging options, including the Alpine Inn and group-friendly condos. Another great option is the charming Alta Crystal Resort, located at the bottom of Crystal Mountain Blvd. For cozy sleeps inside Mt. Rainier National Park, you can’t beat the Paradise Inn. For something more low-key, try the cozy National Park Inn, a few miles down the road from Paradise in Longmire. For lodging between Paradise and Elbe, Ashford offers several great options, including Wellspring Spa and Alexander’s Lodge. And for a list of lodging that specializes in glamping check out this list of 5 places to go glamping in the region. 

From mid-June to mid-September, the Summit House is open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations are highly recommended. Or take the gondola back down to the Bavarian-themed Alpine Inn, located right next to the upper parking lot. From mid-June through September, the Alpine Inn’s restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Paradise Inn, the National Park Inn.