INFORMATION ABOUT OUR AREAASHFORD/Mt. RAINIERWinter updates: November through the 1st of May, Mt. Rainier National Park requires all cars (even 4-wheel drives) to carry chains in the vehicle. You can rent chains in town at the general store and Whittaker Mountaineering. No Chains required May – October. You will only be asked to chain up in very snowy, or icy conditions, but you must carry a set that fits your tires in the vehicle.
2023-24 winter update the road to Paradise will be open 5 days a week, Thursday - Monday. If there is an active snow storm they may also close the road. Longmire is almost always open, which is about 15 minutes into the park. At Longmire there is a year round restaurant, a small museum, and a gift shop. There are also various hiking trails at Longmire.
In the winter at Paradise expect many feet of snow, rent snow shoes in town (Whittaker Mountaineering), or bring cletes for your snow boot. You can also Alpine ski. No sledding is allowed inside the park unless the rangers open the sledding aread at Paradise.
Great Day Hikes in Mt. Rainier National ParkDirections to all hikes can be found online by searching the name or looking that the Mt. Rainier National Park Website. Most hikes are accessible only June – October. Snowshoes or crampons for your boots are recommended November – July 1st. We still have some snow up high in June.Paradise Area:Bench and Snow Lakes:This 2.6-mile (round trip) hike is moderate and perfect for kids. It culminates in a gorgeous alpine lake you can jump in if you are brave. It’s so clear you can see the trout swimming from the rocks above.The Skyline Trail at Paradise: You can hike all or parts of this trail, and it affords a beautiful look at the mountain and the alpine area all year! This 5.5-mile trail is for those in moderate hiking condition. The views are worth the hike! You can see the cascades in all their glory from the vista of this trail. I have seen more wildlife on this trail than any other from bears to mountain goats to whistling marmots. A great family hike. This starts at Paradise Visitor Center where the trail is paved and easy for strolling, remember you can turn around anytime, so this is a great place to just go for a walk if you’re not up for a big hike.Near Sunrise Visitor Center:Palisades Lakes trail. You hit 7 alpine lakes on this trip. All your ascending is done at the very end of the hike, so save some energy. If you want to shorten the hike, there is a great place to picnic or jump in at the 4th lake. Don’t miss Tom, Dick, and hairy lakes off to your left as your hiking. You could go 7 miles round trip, but you can catch 4 lakes just by going 3.5 miles. We saw a Momma bear and her cub on this hike summer of 2018....very special. In the fall you are very likely to hear Elk calling in the mornings and evenings.The Freemont Peek Hike is also a favorite. We tend to see a lot of wildlife in this area, squirrels, deer, mountain goats, and whistling marmots primarily. This can be done with the Burroughs Mountain hike as well, or in a loop back to the visitors center. Dege Peak: For the very best views, this short easy hike at Paradise will lead you to the top of a peak that offers 360 view of Mt. Rainier, Paladades Lakes, and Mt. Adams. Amazing near sunset or sunrise. Listen for Bugling Elk in the Fall.Grand Park Via Lake Eleanor: For those who want a quieter hike with less traffic look this up online. Starts in the National Forest off of HW 410 (outside of Enumclaw, Greenwater area). Quickly crosses the Mt. Rainier National Park boundary and goes up to Lake Eleanor (bear country). Pass the lake, and end up in a vast high alpine meadow that goes on for miles. This hike is an 8 mile round trip, but can also be hiked from paradise as a 13 mile hike.Ohanapacosh Area:Grove of the Patriarchs:CURRENTLY CLOSED DUE TO FLOOD DAMAGE. This is a short 1-mile hike where you can see incredible giants of the forest. Perfect for kids. Lots of shade. THIS IS THE BUSIEST TRAIL IN THE PARK. Go early to avoid crowds and lines.Silver Falls Hike: Opens earlier than other hikes, AKA snow free in the late spring. This starts at Ohanapacosh Campground. Walks a 3-mile loop along the Ohanapacosh River to the gorgeous Silver Falls. Best in spring or early summer as the falls will be impressing. Easy for families. Very pretty any time of year. Parking lot fills up, so go early or take an evening hike. Can be accessed by several routes before the park roads open in summer. You can get there from Packwood, via HW 12 or Skate Creek Road. Packwood is a cool little town wiPET FRIENDLY HIKES, OUTSIDE THE PARKNear Ashford there are some great hikes in the National Forest where you can bring your pet.Cora Lake: 1.5 miles, 400-foot elevation gain (easy to moderate). The highest point is 3,800 feet, so you can hike this earlier in the season when the snow makes it hard to hike higher up. Beautiful mountain lake. High Rock Lookout: 3.2 miles, 1,300-foot elevation gain. A little harder hike begins around 4,000 feet, so only accessible in the summer months unless you want to snowshoe. Gorgeous views! Sheep Lake: (2 hour drive) Off HW 410 near the top of Chinook pass, this hike is a drive from our area, but a beautiful one. Easy hike. To make it longer continue the PCT to Crystal Lakes. William O Douglas Wilderness and Norse Peak Wilderness areas are beautiful places here, just outside the park to explore. Summer only, as the road is closed all winter. OTHER AREA ACTIVITIES:Swimming at Alder Lake, near the town of Elbe. There are several public beaches along the lake. Perfect for a hot day. Drive past Elbe on HW, West toward Tacoma. The lake and several parks to enjoy it will be on your left.Northwest Trek Wildlife Park: This is about 40 minutes from the cabin, near Eatonville. It features wildlife native to the Pacific Northwest. Tram tours and walking areas. From owls to wolves this is a wonderful experience for any age. Great for families! In the Winter they are only open on Weekends (possibly Fridays as well). Summer open every day.Ashford County Park: right in the town of Ashford has an amazing playground & paved walking trail. It is located across from the gas station. Even when the gates are closed midweek (in the winter) you can park to the side, walk in, and enjoy the park. There is unofficial sledding in this park in the winter months.Snowshoeing: The MTTA trail system, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and Mount Rainier all offer many locations to snowshoe. The Mount Rainier Visitors Association in Ashford (next to Whittaker Mountaineering) can help you find trails and gear to rent. I recommend the Paradise Visitors Center at Mt. Rainier if you are looking for easy to find trails. On the weekend there will be Rangers inside to tell you where to go. RESTAURANT GUIDE:The Copper Creek Inn: It is on HW 706 about 2 miles before the park entrance. I can highly recommend the food and service based on many, many visits! It does get crazy busy in the summer months, so a wait can be expected during the dinner hours in July and August. They will also pack you a picnic lunch to take on a hike. Breakfast is great as well. Right now they are closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Scale Burgers: in Elbe is open only in the summer and is good for a delicious burger and fries.
Wild Berry: Open in the summer months only. This place is clean and friendly with good food. They have a range from burgers to Himalayan foods. They have several options for Vegans, which is a wonderful find for this area! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Whittaker Mountaineering: There is a year-round coffee shop here great espresso and muffins. They also have ice cream.
Basecamp Bar & Grill: Located behind Whittaker Mountaineering. Great outdoor venue and dine out options. Also seasonal May – mid September.
Paradise Village: This is just East of Ashford on HW 706. Very good food. Open all year.
Longmire Inn: Year round National Park dining, breakfast, lunch and dinner. ExcellentEATONVILLE DINING OPTIONS: If you are willing to drive about 30 minutes you will have more options for restaurants here.
Mill House Cider Company: A very cool cider/beer/wine venue with some great food. Sometimes has live music, very pretty outdoor space. I highly recommend this place!! Amazing space, people and food!
Bruno’s: Great food with a huge selection. We stop here often for dinners after working on the cabins. Makes everyone happy, but not many vegan options.
Cruiser Café: Basic (but delicious) burgers and fries.
Shaken: A fancier dinner option that sometimes has live music!
Gypsy Wagon Espresso: Excellent coffee house that has been doing a great job of getting me through the day for 20 years😊!
ASHFORD STORES:There are two stores in town, generally open until 9pm. They sell a little of everything, but not fresh meat and produce. To stock up on groceries you should stop on your way in or visit the nearby towns of Morton or Eatonville for full-service grocery stores. This town closes up quickly in the winter, so be sure to grab what you need by 7 or 8 pm. There is no gas in the park, so the Ashford gas station is the last gas station on the HW.
Other Necessities:Post office: located next to the General Store in townEatonville or Morton are the closest towns if you need a liqueur store, drug store or fresh groceries, or laundromat.There is a hospital in Morton