Hardy visitors to Mount Rainier National Park come to climb and summit the 14,410-foot volcano that towers over the state of Washington. But climbing Mount Rainier—a technical ascent meant for experienced mountaineers—isn’t the only thing to do in this Northwest gem. You can hike to glacier-fed waterfalls, old fire lookout towers, high-alpine lakes, and through old-growth forests. Post up near either Nisqually or Stevens Canyon entrance, which, of the park’s four total gates, lead to the park’s most popular draws.
Stevens Canyon Entrance
The Stevens Canyon entrance in the southeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park is open from late May until early October. It offers easy access to the popular Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, a short hike through old-growth firs and cedars, as well as the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center and Ohanapecosh Campground. Take a scenic drive up the Stevens Canyon Road to spot the narrow slot canyon known as Box Canyon and Reflection Lakes, which show a mirrored image of Mount Rainier on the surface. Here’s where to post up.
Those who love A-frames will adore this newly built, one-bedroom A-frame cabin (from $313) in Packwood, Washington, less than 20 minutes from the Stevens Canyon entrance into Mount Rainier National Park. The place sleeps up to six in a sleeping loft and pull-out couch and the kitchen is spacious and well stocked. At night, soak in the built-in cedar hot tub on the back deck, roast marshmallows in the firepit, or gaze at constellations from the front deck.
Cozy River Cabin
Want more A-frames? This charming 1960s-era A-frame (from $308) is right alongside the Cowlitz River and allows dogs. Your Airbnb host is a chef and furniture builder named Cedar, so the kitchen is supplied with everything you need and many of the furnishings are handmade and unique.
Baker Road Cabin
Also near the Stevens Canyon is this new two-bedroom, creekside cabin (from $330) on two acres of land near Packwood. The open-concept, sleekly-designed cabin sleeps up to five and has a hot tub, fire pit, and electric vehicle charging station out front. It comes with coffee supplies and spare toothbrushes, in case you forgot yours.
For larger groups, this modern, Swedish-style cabin (from $318) has three bedrooms and sleeps up to eight. Pets are permitted here, too. It’s a perfect spot to unplug, though there is high-speed WiFi if you need to check in, as well as Sonos speakers in each room to play your tunes. After a day of hiking in the park, enjoy the hot tub and outdoor shower.
The Nisqually entrance is open year-round and is the main starting point for climbing Rainier. This is the gateway to the Longmire and Paradise areas of the park. You can learn about the history of the park and its Native American cultures at the Longmire Museum or stop for brunch or dinner at the Paradise Inn. Here’s where to stay.
You can’t get closer to the entrance than this quaint, one-bedroom cabin (from $178), a mile from the park’s gate. You’ll share a hot tub, cold plunge, and outdoor shower with an adjacent cabin. Also on the same property is a spacious 24-foot yurt (from $184) that sleeps two and has hiking trails out the door.
You’ll feel like you’re sleeping in a treehouse in this tiny one-bedroom place (from $246), five miles from the park’s entrance. The cabin has a lofted sleeping area and a sleeping hole nearby. Cell service isn’t great here, but there is WiFi.
Mt. Rainier Getaway
Near the town of Ashford, which is six miles from the entrance, you’ll find this cozy, remodeled two-bedroom cottage (from $159), which has comfy beds, a hot tub lined by cedar planks, and a clean, contemporary design. Ashford’s coffee shops and stores are nearby.