Last Updated on July 9, 2016
When first considering Mount Rainier as a destination, we loved how much there was to do in the gateway communities as well as around the National Park. Not only was Mount Rainier the outdoor lovers paradise, there were a ton of other unique experiences to be had, especially if you found that the Mount Rainier view was shrouded in clouds during your visit.
Among our favourite experiences during our visit to Mount Rainier were:
Sleeping In A Rustic Caboose at the Hobo Inn
We always look for unique accommodations and were thrilled when we saw you could sleep in a converted caboose at the Hobo Inn in Elbe, WA. They were a lot more spacious inside than we expected and we had a ton of fun disconnecting from the outside world and enjoying some family time. We especially loved that there was a tv inside with an old school VHS player attached, including Disney movies for the kids. It really was a unique experience, one that we would highly recommend for those who like a little more adventure instead of your typical big-chain hotel.
Riding The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad
The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad gives you a wonderfully unique way to experience a part of history. Today, it is the only and longest Northwest tourist railroad experience that operates just like it did in the 1940’s. They take you on a two hour round-trip train ride from Elbe to Mineral, WA where you can explore their museum and view historic locomotives and authentic logging camp buildings that show you exactly what life may have been like back then. It was a rainy day so we didn’t get to see the million-dollar view of Mount Rainier during the train ride, but it was wonderfully enjoyable even without the view. The staff was absolutely incredible. We cannot sing the praises of the staff enough. It has been a long time since we have witnessed customer service like that, including staff offering to take photos, making rounds to talk to the passengers and answering the myriad of questions we all had. The customer service also extends to the wonderful above and beyond assistance we were given when booking our excursion with additional suggestions for our itinerary.
Driving Around Mount Rainier National Park
We were happy we chose to drive as much as we could around Mount Rainier the day we arrived as it is when Mother Nature gave us the nicest weather. We were able to get some breath-taking views of Mount Rainier as we drove around Mount Rainier National Park, take in a stunning sunset, spot deer grazing on the side of the road (and nearly jumping out right in front of the car!) and take in all the beautiful surroundings you drive through when making your way around the National Park. The views from Paradise were absolutely beautiful!
Exploring Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
We loved that we could spend the day learning about animals that are native to the northwest. The open-air tram lost felt like you were on a safari as you were chauffeured around sections of the 435 acres of meadows, lakes and woods. We loved that there was no glass between you and the animals hindering your view or camera shot. Walking to the viewpoints of the more exotic animals, it was a relaxing stroll through old growth forests. We found the Wildlife Park to be a great place for both kids and adults to get up close to many incredible animals in a controlled natural habitat.
Even thought the weather didn’t cooperate with us and we did not get to see the million-dollar Mount Rainier that Crystal Mountain is able to boast about having, we still really enjoyed our visit to the mountain. The gondola ride was a fun experience, with beautiful views around and below as we made our ascent up the mountain. We even saw deer grazing below, which was exciting and enjoyed watching how excited Madison was to wave at the other people in gondola’s that were passing by and point at the surroundings. We hope to make it back to Crystal Mountain on a day where we will be able to see the view. However, we are happy we still took part in the experience because if we hadn’t, we feel that we will would have missed on on something great.
Bonus: Eating Blackberry Pie at the Copper Creek Inn
This one really isn’t an excursion, but we feel it needs to be mentioned. It was absolutely pouring rain and we figured what better way to pass the time other than trying some of the famous Blackberry pie from the Copper Creek Inn? We were skeptical that it would be as delicious as we were told it was, but left feeling like it was possibly the best pie we have ever tasted. It was delicious!
Have you ever visited Mount Rainier? What are your favourite things to do in the gateway communities?