In July 2014 we rented a chalet in Packwood, Washington. Packwood is just beyond the border of the Rainier National Park in Washington State. Thinking the mountain was just outside of Seattle, I assumed the trip there would be just a bit a of a drive further than Seattle. It turns out it was nearly a 7 hours from our house in Maple Ridge to Packwood by the time we stocked up on some groceries in Seattle.


There isn’t much to see or do in Packwood itself, but it’s only a 5 minute drive to the park entrance. Once inside the park there are dozens of hikes, scenic overlooks and most of the roads lead to the park headquarters near the top of the mountain.

Packwood is overrun by elk. Elk must outnumber people by a 5 to 1 ratio. The kids brought their mountain bikes and saw herds of elk every time they went for a ride. In fact the first night we were there about a dozen wandering through our yard.


About 19 miles past the park entrance is the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center. In the summer there are dozens of hikes starting here and an excellent place for information and exhibits on the park and the other Pacific Northwest Volcanoes. As you can see below there is still snow here in July.

Snow in July

Our chalet in Packwood…

Chalet in Packwood