Mt. Rainier Reservation and Beyond: Reservation Requirements and Alternative Adventures

Mt. Rainier Reservation

Planning a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park? Starting soon, visitors will need a Mt. Rainier Reservation to enter the park. This new requirement aims to manage the increasing number of visitors and preserve the park’s natural beauty. Here’s everything you need to know about the new reservation system, along with some fantastic alternative activities and local recommendations if you can’t secure a spot.

New Mt. Rainier Reservation Requirements for Mt. Rainier National Park

To visit Mt. Rainier National Park, you’ll need to secure a Mt. Rainier Reservation.

Key Details:

  • Primary Booking Window: Timed Entry Reservations will be available in block releases 90 days in advance at 8 AM Pacific Time (PT).
  • Secondary Booking Window: Timed entry reservations will also be available at 7 PM PT the day before the arrival date.
  • How to Reserve: Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov
  • Cost: $2.00 for the Mt. Rainier reservation plus the cost of entry to Mt. Rainier National Park.

Missed a Reservation? Explore These Alternatives

If you’re unable to get a reservation for Mt. Rainier, don’t worry! There are plenty of other exciting activities and beautiful places to explore nearby.

Sunrise or Sunset Hike

Reservations are not required before 7:00 am and after 3:00 pm. Book a cabin at Mt. Rainier National Park Cabins so you are rested before your early morning hike!

Hiking Recommendations

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

  • Description: This vast forest offers a diverse range of trails, from easy walks to challenging hikes.
  • Top Trails: High Rock Lookout or Big Creek.

Nisqually State Park

  • Description: A great option for those looking for a mix of forest and river landscapes.
  • Top Trails: The Nisqually River Loop offers stunning views and is perfect for all skill levels.

Mashell River Falls via Bud Blancher Trailhead

  • Description: A hidden gem, this trail leads to the picturesque Mashell River Falls.
  • Hiking Tips: The trail is moderately difficult, so bring proper footwear and plenty of water.

Local Food and Drink Spots

After a day of exploring, you’ll need to refuel. Here are some top local dining spots:

Copper Creek Restaurant

  • Highlights: Famous for their homemade blackberry pie and hearty comfort food.
  • Atmosphere: Cozy, rustic setting that captures the spirit of the Pacific Northwest.

Basecamp Bar and Grill

  • Highlights: A great selection of local beers and classic American fare.
  • Atmosphere: Relaxed vibe, perfect for unwinding after a day of hiking.

Unique Local Attractions

Ashford Creek Pottery

  • Description: Discover beautiful, handcrafted pottery made by local artists.
  • What to Expect: A variety of unique pieces that make for great souvenirs or gifts.

Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park

  • Description: An outdoor gallery featuring stunning sculptures made from recycled materials.
  • What to Expect: Wander through a creative landscape of art and nature combined.

Relax and Unwind

Ashford County Park

  • Description: A perfect spot for a leisurely walk or picnic.
  • Highlights: Well-maintained walking trails, picnic areas, and beautiful natural scenery.

Surrounding Walking Trails

  • Description: Explore the various walking trails around Ashford for a peaceful retreat.
  • Highlights: Trails range from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, offering something for everyone.

Final Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Make sure to check the weather and trail conditions before heading out.
  • Stay Informed: Follow local guidelines and updates regarding reservations and park access.
  • Be Prepared: Always bring essentials like water, snacks, a map, and proper footwear.

Visiting Mt. Rainier and its surrounding areas can be a rewarding experience, whether you secure a reservation for the park or opt for one of the many excellent alternatives. Happy exploring!

Traveling on a Budget to Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier on a Budget

Mount Rainier National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, offering stunning vistas, serene lakes, and countless opportunities for adventure. However, exploring this majestic wilderness doesn’t have to break the bank. With some savvy planning and a few insider tips, you can enjoy an unforgettable trip to Mount Rainier while sticking to a budget.

1. Choose Budget-Friendly Accommodation

Instead of splurging on expensive hotels, opt for a cabin with a kitch. This allows you to prepare your own meals, saving big on dining out expenses. Plus, many cabins offer rustic charm and a cozy atmosphere, adding to the overall experience of your trip. Winco Foods off 176th and Meridian is a great stop for groceries on your way up the mountain.

2. Time Your Park Entrance Wisely

To save on entrance fees and enjoy the tranquility of the park without the crowds, enter Mount Rainier National Park before 7:00 AM. Early mornings offer a magical ambiance and allow you to explore the trails in peace before the rush of visitors arrives

3. Visit Mid-Week for Better Rates

If possible, plan your visit to Mount Rainier mid-week to take advantage of lower lodging rates. Many providers offer discounts for stays during off-peak times, allowing you to stretch your budget further and enjoy a longer getaway,

4. Stay Longer for Added Value

Consider staying for an entire week to maximize your cleaning fee and receive discounts at lodging providers. A longer stay not only gives you more time to explore the park but also ensures you get the most bang for your buck in terms of accommodation costs.

5. Take Advantage of Free Activities

Pack a few floaties and enjoy a relaxing day at Alder Lake. Check with your lodging provider for gear rental options and special rates on equipment. Additionally, explore free activities in the area, such as creating your own photo shoot at the historic Elbe train depot and church, exploring Ashford county park, or embarking on a scenic drive to Packwood on Skate Creek Road.

6. Travel Smart with Pets or Friends

Choose dog-friendly accommodation to avoid boarding expenses, or split the cost of a lodge with another family or group of friends. Sharing accommodation costs can significantly reduce expenses while still allowing you to enjoy comfortable lodging options.

7. Explore Affordable Local Attractions

Discover hidden gems in the surrounding area, such as the Spirits of Recycled Iron Sculpture Park or the pony rides at EZ Times Ranch (offered by donation). Window shop at Elbe Market and Old Calico Workshop for unique souvenirs, wood carvings, and tasty treats, grab a brew and sit out by the fire at Basecamp Bar and Grill, or visit Whittaker’s bunk house for ice cream; our kids love climbing the free boulder wall!

8. Enjoy Outdoor Adventures

Bring along a fishing pole and spend a relaxing afternoon fishing off the dock at Mineral Lake (don’t forget your fishing license). Explore the diverse hiking trails in the area, including those managed by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association (Discovery or Snow Park pass may be required).

By following these budget-friendly tips and embracing the natural beauty and adventure opportunities that Mount Rainier has to offer, you can create lasting memories without breaking the bank.

Happy Travels!

Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt Rainier National Park Hiking

Summit Retreat: A Tribute to Mountaineering Legends

In the chapters of mountaineering history, few names resonate as profoundly as Nawang Gombu and Phursumba Sherpa. Their indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to the mountains left an indelible mark on the climbing world. But beyond their conquests on the world’s highest peaks lies a lesser-known chapter—a story of camaraderie, resilience, and the enduring bond between two extraordinary men.

Nawang Gombu, a Sherpa of remarkable prowess, etched his name in the annals of mountaineering lore by becoming the first person to summit Everest twice. His journey to the summit, laden with challenges and triumphs, symbolized the epitome of human endurance and spirit. From his humble beginnings as a “load carrier” on Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic expedition in 1953 to his ascent alongside Jim Whittaker in 1963, Gombu’s achievements captivated the world and earned him accolades far and wide.

The iconic image of Jim Whittaker unfurling the American flag atop Everest, captured by Gombu himself, remains a poignant reminder of their shared triumph and the unbreakable bond forged amidst the harsh Himalayan landscape. Their encounter with President John F. Kennedy, where Gombu’s strength left an indelible impression, epitomized the admiration and respect garnered by these mountaineering pioneers.

Following their Himalayan exploits, Gombu and Phursumba Sherpa found a new home in the Pacific Northwest, drawn by the allure of Mount Rainier’s towering peaks. Guiding aspiring climbers up Rainier’s slopes, they imparted their wisdom and passion, leaving an enduring legacy that continues to inspire generations of mountaineers.

The “Sherpa Palace,” nestled in the shadow of Rainier, became their sanctuary—a place where tales of adventure mingled with the serenity of mountain life. Here, amidst the towering pines and cascading rivers, they found solace and camaraderie, their home a testament to the enduring spirit of friendship and kinship that transcends borders and cultures.

Today, the legacy of Nawang Gombu and Phursumba Sherpa lives on, not only in the hearts of those they guided up Rainier’s icy slopes but also in the Sherpa Buddhist Association they founded—a beacon of hope for Sherpa families affected by the perils of high-altitude climbing.

As you step into the hallowed halls of the Sherpa Palace, may you feel the echoes of their adventures and the warmth of their spirit. For in this humble abode, amidst the whispers of the wind and the majesty of the mountains, their legend continues to thrive—a testament to the enduring power of friendship, courage, and the unyielding spirit of the mountains.

Rainy Day Bliss: Family-Friendly Activities at Mt Rainier Cabin

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life by retreating to the tranquility of a mountain cabin near the majestic Mt Rainier. While rainy days might seem like a setback for outdoor plans, they offer the perfect opportunity for quality family time indoors. In this blog post, we’ll explore a range of engaging and heartwarming activities that will turn a rainy day at your Mt Rainier Cabin into a cherished memory for the whole family.

Board Games and Puzzles at Mt Rainier Cabin: Gather around the sturdy wooden table in your Mt Rainier Cabin and bring out the classic board games or challenging puzzles. From Monopoly to Scrabble, or a scenic jigsaw puzzle, these activities guarantee hours of fun and bonding for all ages, creating memories as lasting as the mountain views. Checkout one of these 14 fun indoor family games.

Cabin Cooking Adventures near Mt Rainier: Embrace the warmth and aroma of your Mt Rainier Cabin kitchen by engaging the family in a cooking adventure. Choose a simple recipe that everyone can participate in, like homemade pizzas or cookies. Cooking together not only satisfies taste buds but also creates lasting memories of laughter and shared accomplishments against the backdrop of Mt Rainier’s serene beauty.

Storytelling and Reading Time in the Shadow of Mt Rainier: Create a cozy reading nook with blankets and pillows by the fireplace, surrounded by the breathtaking views of Mt Rainier. Encourage each family member to pick a favorite book or take turns reading a story aloud. Rainy days provide the perfect backdrop for transporting everyone to magical worlds through the pages of a good book, with Mt Rainier as a silent witness to your shared adventures.

Art and Craft Extravaganza with Mt Rainier as Inspiration: Unleash creativity by setting up an art and craft station in your Mt Rainier Cabin. Whether it’s painting, drawing, or making DIY crafts, this activity allows family members to express themselves while drawing inspiration from the beauty of Mt Rainier. Display the finished creations around the cabin for a personalized touch and a visual tribute to your mountain retreat.

Movie Marathon with Mt Rainier Views: Transform your Mt Rainier Cabin into a mini theater by selecting a lineup of family-friendly movies. Create a comfy viewing area with blankets and pillows, and let the rain provide the perfect soundtrack to your movie marathon. Don’t forget the popcorn and snacks, making your cinematic experience near Mt Rainier all the more enjoyable.

Indoor Scavenger Hunt amidst Mt Rainier’s Majesty: Craft a list of items or clues for an indoor scavenger hunt, utilizing the rooms and corners of your Mt Rainier Cabin. This activity not only keeps everyone entertained but also adds an element of excitement as family members work together to solve the clues and find hidden treasures, all while surrounded by the beauty of Mt Rainier.

Rainy Day Photography near Mt Rainier: Turn a gloomy day into a photography adventure, capturing the essence of Mt Rainier’s beauty. Equip each family member with a camera or smartphone and challenge them to capture the unique perspectives of the rainy mountain landscape. Later, share and discuss the visual stories each person captured, immortalizing your Mt Rainier Cabin retreat in a series of captivating images.

A rainy day at your Mt Rainier Cabin can be a delightful opportunity for bonding, laughter, and shared experiences against the backdrop of one of nature’s wonders. By embracing these family-friendly activities, you’ll transform your cabin into a haven of warmth and joy, creating memories that will be cherished for years to come. So, the next time rain graces your Mt Rainier retreat, revel in the silver lining of family togetherness that it brings, surrounded by the majesty of Mt Rainier.

Rainy Day Games at Mt. Rainier
Rainy Day Games at Mt. Rainier
Mt Rainier Dining: Mushroom Risotto

Mt Rainier Dining and Culinary Delights: Cooking at Your Cabin

Mt Rainier dining presents a choice: eat out at one of several established restaurants or prepare an intimate meal from the comforts of your cabin’s kitchen. While there is no debate that eating at a restaurant on the mountain can make for a memorable experience; there’s something magical about preparing a delicious meal in the heart of nature, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Mt. Rainier. Our Mt. Rainier cabins with kitchen provide the perfect canvas for culinary exploration, where the aroma of local ingredients mingles with the crisp mountain air. Join us on a gastronomic journey as we share easy-to-follow recipes that allow you to savor the flavors of the wilderness right from the comfort of your Mount Rainier cabin.

Mt Rainier Dining: Embracing Local Flavors

One of the joys of cooking in the wilderness is the access to fresh, local ingredients. Stop by Frey Family Farm, Kumo Tako Ranch, Mountain Community Co-op or Cat and Fiddle Bakery for organic eggs, fresh baked breads, artisan cheeses, and locally sourced meats. Whether it’s wild mushrooms, mountain berries, or fresh herbs, infuse your dishes with the essence of Mt. Rainier’s vibrant surroundings.

Recipe 1: Mountain Berry Pancakes


  • 1 cup fresh mountain berries (blueberries, raspberries, or huckleberries)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and melted butter.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then gently fold in the mountain berries.
  4. Cook spoonfuls of batter on a hot griddle until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup.

Recipe 2: Rainier Risotto with Forest Foraged Mushrooms


  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, kept warm
  • 1 cup wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, or porcini)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Sauté the mushrooms in butter until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. In a separate pan, toast the Arborio rice until lightly golden.
  3. Pour in the white wine and cook until it evaporates.
  4. Begin adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more.
  5. Continue this process until the rice is creamy and al dente.
  6. Stir in the sautéed mushrooms, Parmesan, and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Mt Rainier Dining with a View

Picture yourself savoring these dishes on the cabin porch, surrounded by the majesty of Mount Rainier. The combination of delectable flavors and breathtaking scenery creates a dining experience that transcends the ordinary, turning a meal into a cherished memory. Elevate your Mt Rainier dining experience by indulging in these culinary delights. Our easy-to-follow recipes celebrate the local flavors, allowing you to create memorable meals in the heart of the wilderness.

Mt Rainier Dining: Mountain Berry Pancakes
Mt Rainier Dining: Fresh Mountain ingredients
Mt Rainier Dining: Mushroom Risotto