MT. RAINIER, Wash. – Cutting the family Christmas tree, wrapping presents fireside in a cozy cabin, snowshoeing, skiing, tubing, and riding a train with Santa are just a few of the activities folks can enjoy this winter and holiday season around Mt. Rainier.
Holiday Activities for the Entire Family
Head for the Hills to Cut Christmas Trees
Bundle up the family and head for the hills to cut a custom Christmas tree in the National Forest, (tree cutting is not allowed in the National Park). Christmas tree permits are issued by the Forest Service and are $10 each. Permits can be obtained in Enumclaw at the Forest Service office on Roosevelt Ave., at Blanton's Market in Packwood, Fischer's Market in Randle, Elbe Grocery in Elbe and at other locations. Why not make a full day of it, and enjoy dinner at one of the many area restaurants, or pick up Christmas gifts from a local gift shop in one of the mountain communities? If U-cut Christmas tree farms are more appealing, there are dozens of options around Mt. Rainier.
Santa Express Takes Over at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad
Roll through the foothills of Mt. Rainier aboard Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad's Santa Express. This 90-minute ride is a festive way to enjoy the holidays. Each trip includes hot chocolate, cookies and of course, a visit with Santa. Rides run Saturdays and Sundays through December 22nd. For more information, visit www.mrsr.com.
Enjoy a Small Town Christmas in Enumclaw and Eatonville
Enjoy small town Christmas parades on December 6 in Enumclaw and Eatonville. In Enumclaw, merchants will have sales, kids can have breakfast and photos with Santa, and the parade itself boasts over 75 entries. Starting at 6 p.m.in check out logging trucks adorned with Christmas lights, local marching bands, Scottish bagpipers, animals on parade, and kids collecting candy galore! Christmas concerts are held December 5, 6, 7 and 13-14. For more information visit www.enumclawchamber.com In Eatonville, kids can visit Santa the Visitor Center starting at 3 p.m., with the Christmas parade starting at 5 p.m. www.eatonvillechamber.com.
Tracy's Roadside Produce in Enumclaw will hold its annual holiday festival, Annabelle's Wish on December 13, featuring a dairy calf (Annabelle) with reindeer antlers. A photographer will be on hand to take family photos with Annabelle. There is also a wine tasting for adults, candy for the kids, a live band, and holiday specials. .
Christmas in the Mountains in Morton
Enjoy bazaars, caroling, hayrides, hot chocolate and cookies, and watch a living nativity at Christmas in the Mountains in Morton, December 12-14. The Roxy Theater will also be showing a free Little Rascals movie at 6 p.m. on the 13th. Gust Backstrom Park offers a lighted display drive tour, December 13-26. For more information, go to www.visitrainier.com.
International Women's Ski Day, Avalanche Safety and Winterhook Beer's Dirty 30 Birthday Party at Crystal Mountain Resort
Grab some girls and join a host of top female athletes for International Women's Ski Day, presented by K2, or the Women's Intro to Avalanche Safety and FUNdraiser on December 13. To celebrate International Women's Ski Day Crystal Mountain Resort is offering ticket and lesson discounts to women. The Women's Intro to Avalanche Safety and FUNdraiser offers classroom instruction, on-snow training, and morning yoga at the resort. Space is limited to 30 people, ages 14 and older. Participants are asked to provide their own beacon, shovel, probe and backpack. The session includes yoga, classroom and small group on-snow instruction, and skiing/snowboarding lift ticket (if not a season pass holder), plus lunch & après snack. Later that night, folks can don an ugly sweater and meet at The Bullwheel for appetizers, beer tasting, tunes by a live DJ, and a drink luge to celebrate the 30th birthday of Winterhook beer. Also, try Crystal Mountain Resort's Saturday snowshoe and fondue trips, or save the date to check out the fireworks at the resort on New Year's Eve! For more information, visit www.crystalmountainresort.com.
Northwest Trek Spreads Post-Christmas Cheer
Swing into Northwest Trek's Winter Wildland after Christmas, December 26-28 to see animals throughout the park enjoy winter-themed gifts such as fruit, evergreen trees decorated with treats, ice piles, and snowmen. These special gifts are part of Northwest Trek's animal husbandry program to help enrich the lives of the animals, encourage natural animal behavior and keep the animals mentally stimulated. After watching critters explore their treats, enjoy a narrated tour of the park's free-roaming area from the comfort of a heated tram or learn how animals adapt to winter at the indoor Cheney Family Discovery Center. For more information visit, www.nwtrek.org.
Cross country ski the backcountry
The Mt. Tahoma Trails Association manages 50 miles of beautiful cross country ski terrain, (20 miles of groomed trails), and a series of huts that can be rented for overnight use. For more information, visit www.skimtta.com.
View hundreds of elk at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area
It's one of the best locations for elk watching in the nation. Come to the Oak Creek Wildlife Area on Mt. Rainier's east side and view herds of elk gathering in the hundreds for daily winter feedings. Visitors watch as the elk jostle for position at the hay drop stations. Starting in January, elk are fed daily at 1:30 p.m. and herds of bighorn sheep are fed mid-morning at the Cleman Mountain Feeding site, just a few miles east. The wildlife area is located off Highway 12 near Naches. For more information, visit the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. Check here for updates on when this winter's feeding will begin.
Venture inside Mt. Rainier's Nisqually entrance and enjoy a Christmas buffet at the National Park Inn at Longmire. The Inn's Christmas Buffet is offered on Thursday, December 25, from noon to 6 p.m. and is $21.95 for adults and $12.50 for children, 10 and under. Among the items on the buffet: New York Strip Loin with lemon-thyme buttered mushrooms; maple-glazed pork rack; braised corn; baked spaghetti squash and smashed brown sugar sweet potatoes. Salad, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages are included. Reservations are required, so contact the National Park Inn at: 360-569-2411. Feeling full and want to spend some time outdoors? Take advantage of the National Park Inn's buy two get one free room nights going on now through April 29, 2015. For complete details, visit, www.mtrainierguestservices.com.
Cozy Cabins and Wilderness Retreats
Alta Crystal Resort's specials include International Women's Ski Weekend, and early winter packages. Let the resort know in advance, and they will pick up a Christmas tree permit from the Forest Service, so guests can go out and cut their own Christmas tree! Fridays are movie nights and Saturdays feature s'mores around the bonfire. Check out all specials at www.altacrystalresort.com.
Book two nights and get the third free at Rainier Cottages. For more information visit, www.rainiercottages.com.
Hunker down and enjoy a classic Mt. Rainier lodging experience at Jasmer's in Ashford. Book three nights any time between now and December 22 in their Songbird or Wildbird rooms, or the Creekside cabin, and get the fourth night free. For more information, visit www.jasmers.com.
For a complete list of lodging around the mountain, weather and road updates, as well as complete information on vacationing around Mt. Rainier, visit www.visitrainier.com.
Visit Rainier is a nonprofit, 501c6 organization that continues to be a leader in destination marketing. As a collaborative partner with the National Park Service, the organization offers vital travel information to local, national, and international visitors by promoting tourism to Mt. Rainier National Park and the gateway communities surrounding it.