Mt. Rainier
Featured Outdoor Activities Washington

Recreation experiences abound on Mt. Rainier

Caption: Mt. Rainier photo by Ed Book,

Mt. Rainier offers a multitude of recreational opportunities.

Visitors to the region can create many different vacation experiences combining leisurely sightseeing with hiking or more extreme adventures such as intense guided climbs to Mt. Rainier’s 14,410-foot summit and multi-day treks on its Wonderland Trail. Some of the finest cross-country and downhill skiing in the Pacific Northwest, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding draw people to snow-covered slopes from November through April. Snow enthusiasts can play even longer at Crystal Mountain Resort thanks to the Mt. Rainier Gondola.

In the summer, wide mountain meadows are blanketed in wildflowers, reflections of snowy mountain peaks can be seen in crystal clear lakes, moss-laden old-growth forests come to life with light play, bird song, and the babble of streams. Rides on board the Mt. Rainier Railroad & Museum, horseback adventures, a 715-acre wildlife park – Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, and interpretive centers within the national park can add more to a memorable visit.

Myrtle Falls on Mt. Rainier. Photo credit:

Wildlife viewing is popular year-round.

Deer and elk can often be seen grazing along the roadsides. Marmots are spotted scampering on sub-alpine slopes and mountain goats high on rock outcroppings. Other small mammals and hundreds of species of birds also inhabit the area’s varied ecosystems.

Overnight guests can choose from a range of lodging and dining options including the Mount Rainier National Parks two historic inns, one at Paradise and the other at Longmire. Mountain vacation homes, cozy cabins, inns, lodges, and rejuvenating spas can be found in surrounding mountain communities including Ashford, Carbonado, Crystal Mountain, Enumclaw and Greenwater.

On weekends during the summer, visitors to the Sunrise/Greenwater area can enjoy spectacular views at an elevation of 6,872 feet while dining at Crystal Mountain’s Summit House Restaurant. Other favorite restaurants include the Alpine Inn Restaurant at Crystal Mountain, Alexander’s Restaurant, and Copper Creek Restaurant, both in Ashford, as well as the dining rooms at the historic inns within the national park.

Mt. Rainier — the Northwest’s signature natural icon — was preserved by the creation of Mount Rainier National Park in 1899, a short ten years after Washington received statehood. It is one of the country’s first five national parks. The Mt. Rainier region encompasses some 2,800 square miles including the Park, the mountain hamlets of Ashford, Carbonado, Crystal Mountain, Elbe, Enumclaw, Greenwater, and Wilkeson.

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