MT. RAINIER, Wash. – Now that the first snow has fallen on the mountain, ski bums and the like are counting the days until they can don their coats, boots and gloves and hit the hill. The Mt. Rainier area offers so much more than downhill skiing and snowboarding; they offer a variety of activities to please the winter enthusiasts as well as those who’d rather stay where it’s warm. Visit Rainier has compiled the Top 10 Ways to Experience Mt. Rainier this winter:
Strap on your snowshoes and spend the day marveling at the clean white mountainsides and snow-covered trees along the park's winter trails. If you’d like to go with a group, take the popular ranger-guided tour at Paradiseoffered mid-December through early March. Crystal Mountain also offers a packaged snowshoe tour on Saturdays and White Pass has a well-groomed system of trails at their Nordic Center, perfect for snowshoers of all abilities.
Bring the Kids (of all ages) to Paradise’s Snow Play Area
For those who see the snow and feel the need for speed, this is the one place in the park where sleds are welcome - and expected! Squeals and laughter fill the air as people of all ages have a blast careening down the hill. The snow play area is located north of the upper parking lot at Paradise and opens mid-December and closes near the end of March.
Ride Crystal’s Mt. Rainier Gondola
Skiers, riders and foot passengers can all take a ride to the Crystal Mountain summit for captivating mountain views, a delectable meal at the Summit House restaurant or to drop back into the vast terrain that plunges below the ridgeline. This gondola was the first one to be installed at a ski resort in Washington State.
Go Hut to Hut Nordic Skiing
Recreation on the Mount Tahoma Trails comes in all forms, from cross country skiing and snowshoeing to snowboarding and skate skiing, as well as an occasional sled dog team. Mount Tahoma Trails is North America's largest No Fee Hut-to-Hut Trail system with over 50 miles of trails. These locations are also available for day trekkers to use as a rest place and lunch facility.
Take in the View While Dining on Fondue
Travel 2500 feet in ten minutes time on the Mt. Rainier Gondola up to the top of Crystal Mountain to dine at the Summit House. Dip bread in a cheesy fondue or savor other sumptuous specialties on the menu. Take in the 360° view while sipping a lovely glass of wine and nibbling on a mouth-watering meal – truly is an experience not to be missed.
Watch Elk and Big Horn Sheep Gather for Winter Feeding
Come to the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, one of the best locations for elk watching in the entire nation, where you can see herds of elk gathering by the hundreds for daily winter feedings. The elk are fed daily at 1:30pm and herds of bighorn sheep are fed mid-morning at the Cleman Mountain Feeding site, just a few miles east.
Spend a Cozy Night at Mt. Rainier
Instead of making the long drive home after a fun-filled day of playing in the show, opt to stay in one of the many lodging properties around Mt. Rainier. Spend a night away, or reserve a vacation rental as your home base for a week of winter activities. Resort rooms, charming cabins, upscale vacation rentals, friendly motels, bed and breakfasts... there's no need to hurry home from your mountain getaway!
Nordic Ski at White Pass
Cross country ski or snowshoe on scenic, well-established trails through wooded areas and around a scenic alpine lake at the White Pass Nordic Center. Meander along 18 kilometers of groomed, double-tracked trails, with trails for all ages and abilities. In between runs, warm up with coffee or hot chocolate in a friendly yurt. Rental skis and snowshoes are available at across from the Nordic Center Trailhead. Lessons are also available.
Indulge Yourself at the Spa
Leave your worries and stress behind, and retreat to the peace and quiet of the mountains. Indulge yourself with a spa getaway at one of the three spas located around Mt. Rainier. The spas offer a full array of massage, body treatments and skin care. In addition to the spas, healthy living activities are available including yoga, individualized fitness programs, physical therapy and more.
Take a Tram Ride Through a Wildlife Park
Bundle up for a 55-minute tram ride around 435 acres to see native Northwest animals in their thick winter coats, roaming around Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville. Spot bison, caribous, elk, mountain goats, deer and even moose as you meander through the park. Afterward, walk along the forested pathways to view bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and other wetland animals in beautiful natural exhibits.
Checkout the new video: Winter Experience at Mt. Rainier
Visit Rainier is the official resource for tourism information in the Mount Rainier area. Go to www.visitrainier.comfor more information.