From a short nature walk, to a scenic chairlift ride, families choose their own adventure at Mt. Rainier. It’s a place for making memories of a lifetime. Maybe it’s watching your four-year old play hide and seek with a chipmunk, or coming back to visit the place where Dad proposed to Mom… It could be watching your kids as they take in the sights and sounds of the forest. Or just the simple need to disconnect from all of life’s obligations and distractions getting back to spending some good, quality time together.
There’s magic in the air at the mountain. It’s beauty and magnitude somehow pull people together. It’s fun. It’s freeing. It’s even educational! Don’t miss the chance to introduce the wonder of Mt. Rainier to your family.
Mt. Rainier is the perfect place to instill in your children an appreciation for nature and the outdoors. It may influence who they become, change what they believe or what they want to do someday. Don’t underestimate these opportunities. A child that experiences the thrill of family outings or the fun of a special trip with someone special can create memories that will mold and shape their future. A child is richer for an experience at Mt. Rainier.
Attend a festival and try rock or ice climbing
Every September, the Rainier Mountain Festival features a variety of kids games, from an inflatable bounce house to ice and rock climbing walls. Combine that with food and music and you’ve got a great family outing.
Crystal Mountain’s seasonal 18 hole course is a great way for families to enjoy their day on the mountain while getting some exercise. New in 2010, the Disc Golf Course has been expanded and now features the full vertical of Crystal Mountain. Great fun and unbeatable views! More information at the Crystal Hotels website.
Adventure Portraits at Mt. Rainier by Chris Watkins
Adventure Portraits are for lovers of the outdoors. The most beautiful backgrounds are NOT found inside a studio with a fake background, they are waiting to be discovered in the great outdoors. “The WORLD is your studio!” Become part of the art as you travel with Chris to your favorite Mt. Rainier destination to have him create your own unique and inspiring portrait. More information at AdventurePortraits.com.
Visit a working farm, established in 1887
Pioneer Farm Museum is a “hands on” homestead built in 1887 with a multitude of activities for adults and children, including overnight programs. It’s open on weekends from mid-March through mid-June, and after Labor Day to the day before Thanksgiving. During summer it is open all week. The Museum and Ohop Indian Village are located just north of Eatonville. More info here.
Check out metal sculptures inspired by science fiction
On SR 706, a couple miles past Elbe, you’ll pass an amazing sight (on the right hand side of the road) — metal sculptures by artist Dan Klennert that at first glance may resemble something out of a science fiction novel. The name of the park is “Ex-Nihilo,” which is Latin for “something created out of nothing”. You’ll want to pause and admire his skill and imagination!
Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad
Take the kids for a ride on a vintage logging locomotive. The loading platform is located in Elbe. Check out their website for their ride schedule as well as special events held year round.
Mount Rainier’s Let’s Move Outside Junior Ranger program offers kids and parents the chance to hike with a park ranger on one of the park’s beautiful trails. The Skyscraper Saddle Hike goes through alpine meadows with stunning views of the mountain.
Special programs for Junior Rangers age 6-11 are offered throughout the park in summer. Ask for a Junior Ranger Activity Book. It’s free and available at visitor centers from July 1-Sept 1. Complete it and you’ll earn a badge and certificate. Daily ranger presentations of songs, stories, games, and walks add meaning to the surroundings for parents and children alike. Look for them at the Longmire, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise/White River and Paradise campgrounds.
Explore a nature trail (a short one)
“Trail of the Shadows” is a short nature trail that begins at Longmire. It starts across the road from the National Park Inn, is less than a mile long and takes about 30 minutes to complete. The trail explores a mineral hot springs that was discovered by James Longmire, an early settler in the region. This trail also displays an early homestead cabin and a variety of plants and animals. It is a fascinating blend of human and natural history.
Ride the chairlift at Crystal Mountain
Scenic chairlift rides are now available on Sundays in addition to Saturdays! Ride up to the top of the mountain where, on a clear day, you can see north to Mount Baker and south to Mount Adams, and of course, the brilliant views of Mt. Rainier. Dates: June 25-Sept 6, 10:30am-2pm (Saturdays & Sundays only). Get more information here: Crystal Mountain Website.
Ride bikes to Packwood Lake for a picnic lunch
This 8.6 mile out and back ride on the pipeline trail (no. 74) is mostly flat and follows a dirt road and wide singletrack that is open to hikers, horses, mountain bikes, ATVs and motorcycles. Soak up the views of Rainier and the Goat Rocks Wilderness as you picnic at the lake (4.3 miles in).
The month of September is the best month to find huckleberries. Two quarts per person per day of huckleberries may be gathered within the National Park, and just outside the park’s southern boundaries, East Lewis County near Packwood and Randle is well known for these delightful and tasty fruits. Huckleberries grow in open areas at elevations over 4000 feet. More information can be found at Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Near Eatonville, the Wildlife Park is a treasure for families and wildlife enthusiasts. The signature tram tour through the 435-acre free roaming area offers the opportunity to spot animals as they wander through forests, wetlands and meadows. Including the core area — with cats, bears, wolves, owls and more — the park is home to 200 animals representing 30 species. For more information, visit http://www.nwtrek.org.