Seattle's Child

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A place to stay near Mt. Rainier: Mounthaven Resort

Make your Mount Rainier trip an overnight adventure

If a trip to Mount Rainier is part of your summer plans this year, you’ll need to factor in the new pilot program requiring visitors to make a timed-entry reservation. Staying overnight in or near Mount Rainier National Park can ease your trip planning and give you an edge. A place like Mounthaven Resort is just the ticket to a stress-free outing and a relaxing adventure.

Read more about the timed-entry process.

A short distance from the park

Two summers years ago, my family enjoyed staying at the Mount Rainier Cabins, Mounthaven Resort in Ashford. The Resort is just a half mile from the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Not only does staying overnight near the park entrance provide easier entry (especially if you have early risers and can enter the park before 7 a.m., without a reservation), but it also allows the opportunity for a relaxing visit.

The cabins at Mounthaven Resort

Mounthaven Resort has been around for 102 years and is a popular getaway for Seattle locals. Reservations book up quickly, especially in the summer months. The resort has nine cabins, three vacation homes, 16 RV sites, and some tent sites.

The cost per night ranges from $200-$350 in the summer and is less than some of the in-park options. During peak times, a three-night minimum is required. Cabin capacities range from 2 to 9 people, and even small dogs are allowed to stay at designated cabins.

The cabins are unique, and the aesthetic fits their woodsy setting. All cabins have their own bathrooms and showers, fireplace or wood stove, gas heat, and, at minimum, a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator, toaster, and coffee maker. The basics are provided, but you will want to pack your own food and toiletries.

Maple and Pine Cabins: Glamping near Mt. Rainier

Our family of five stayed in the Maple Cabin, and our extended family stayed across from us in the Pine Cabin. Both are along Tenas Creek and provide a “nature’s playground.” Because we were so close to the park entrance, we spent our mornings leisurely making a hearty breakfast for our little adventurers, mapping out our hikes, and packing lunches for the day.

After a full day in the park, we retreated to this tranquil spot. The adults prepared dinner while the kids caught tadpoles, adventuring across log bridges, and swinging at the resort’s small swing set. We enjoyed the slower cooking pace by the campfire, swinging in our hammock, and gazing at the stars. I loved letting my kids get dirty while having the “luxury” of a clean cabin, private bathroom, and real beds to sleep in—it felt like glamping with less packing.

Family-friendly hikes for multigenerational groups

Before you hit the trails, your children may enjoy participating in the Junior Ranger program. Free activity books can be picked up at any visitor center within the park. We completed the educational activities on rest breaks along the Skyline Trail and traded the books in for badges. If it’s your child’s first Junior Ranger badge, they will be officially sworn in as Junior Ranger.

As far as hikes go, there are many kid-friendly hikes. We challenged our kids on foot while our one-year-old hitched a free ride in the hiking carrier. The views are spectacular no matter how far you go on the Skyline Trail. Some other suitable trails for young children and grandparents include: Narada Falls (.4 mile round trip to viewing spot), Carter Falls (moderately challenging 2.8 miles round-trip hike with a footbridge crossing over water), Myrtle Falls (.8 miles roundtrip), Nisqually Vista Trail (1.2 mile paved loop), Tipsoo Lake Loop (0.7 mile loop), and Trail of the Shadows (0.7 miles loop).

Photo provided by Mill Haus Cider Co.

Eating out

While there aren’t any restaurants or groceries nearby, we stopped at Mill Haus Cider Co. in Eatonville on our way to Mounthaven Resort. This restaurant opened in 2021 and is about 30 minutes from the Resort. The outdoor space is a charming community favorite with the iconic hand-crafted watermill, pond, and streams with koi fish, yard games, and frequent live music. Their seasonal cider flavors, local brews, and gourmet comfort foods like flatbreads, street tacos, and sliders are bound to be a hit. A simple kid’s menu is also available. Mill Haus Cider Co. plans to open a new distillery specializing in apple brandy sometime in 2024.

Photo provided by Northwest Trek

Nearby fun: More than hiking

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, an hour from the Mount Rainier Nisqually entrance, has something for all ages to enjoy. The Kid’s Trek nature-inspired playground is my children’s favorite part of Northwest Trek, so save that for last if you want time to see the animals along the walking paths or take a Wild Drive. At the playground, kids can climb rope webs, slide, and tromp through a realistic river otter’s habitat, complete with flowing water.

Starting in April 2024, all ages can ride the pedal-powered rail bike at Rail Cycle Mt. Rainier starting from Eatonville. If your legs are tired from hiking, sit back and relax on a scenic steam train ride on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. Take your mountain views to greater heights on the Crystal Mountain Resort gondola ride and dine at the Summit House, Washington’s highest-elevation restaurant. If you time it right (usually in July), you can pick blueberries at Rusty Plow Farm.

We plan to return to Mounthaven Resort with my family the next time we visit Mount Rainier to, once again, maximize our enjoyment and exploration of the park and its surrounding areas.

If you go:

  • Vehicles entering Mount Rainier National Park must pay a $30 fee
  • Timed reservations for entry at the Paradise and Sunrise Corridors are required between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. from May 24 to September 2, 2024
  • Fourth graders can receive a free Every Kid Outdoors Pass

Read more

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About the Author

Krista Tsai

Krista is Seattle area mom of three. Since having her third child, she is taking a break from Clinical Social Work to stay home. She is determined to teach her children her love of biking, skiing and the beach. You can follow her family’s adventures, travel tips, and travel hacking on Instagram: @mamabearintheair