On Portland’s clearest days, Mount Rainier can be glimpsed from the city’s overlooks, reminding us that this treasured national park is only a 2.5-hour drive from Portland.
Base your family in nearby Ashford, the gateway town to the park’s southwestern entrance. From there, you can spend a day exploring in and around the park — stroller-friendly trails include the Nisqually Vista trail at Paradise Lodge, and Trail of the Shadowsat the Longmire base. Kids ages 3 and older can try their hands at the Junior Ranger program — drawing pictures and answering questions about the park to earn a stamp in their National Parks passport. Or head west about 8 miles from Ashford to find the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which wends its way across the upper Nisqually River and to the train museum at Mineral, Wash., which houses old, logging, steam locomotives.
For food, check out Wildberry Restaurant, which has plenty of kid-friendly standbys, but also a menu of Himalayan sherpa-inspired foods, like momo dumplings and thali bowls. Book a family-friendly cabin at Stone Creek Lodge, where guests gather around a communal campfire to make s’mores on summer evenings.
Gear Guide All gear available at Next Adventure or online at nextadventure.net. Click on the image for more details.
Child carrier: Lightweight and supportive carrier to transport tired tots.
Youth backpack: Built with extra room for long weekend trips backpacking.
Binoculars: Spot flora and fauna with clear viewing binoculars.
Puffy blanket: Akin to a sleeping bag, these blankets were made to snuggle.
Seat: Equally great for movies in the park or nights around the campfire.