Tag Archive | National Park Inn

Mount Rainier Snowshoeing 2019

In February, Paula and I did a repeat of our snowshoe weekend.  We spent two nights at Mount Rainier over the President’s Day holiday.  It was glorious!

Last year, the road up to Paradise was closed the entire time we were there, due to avalanche danger and rain.  This year, we were able to drive up to Paradise and snowshoe up there!  We got up early and headed up early, driving up just after the road opened.  We were the first ones out on most of the snowshoe trail, and had the opportunity to snowshoe through fresh, unbroken snow!

That morning, we hiked out under a partly cloudy sky, with a spectacular view of Mount Rainier!  It was so beautiful!  We took lots of photos and selfies, because when you grow up around mountains, you know that the mountain isn’t always out, and you take advantage of the view when you can get it.  I love seeing this view!

We snowshoed out a bit further in the fresh snow, and on our way back noticed that Mount Rainier was now obscured by the clouds.  We were lucky to have gotten out there when we did – there is a benefit to being the early bird!

That afternoon, we snowshoed around the Trail of the Shadows, an easy 1 mile flat loop trail. I love it because it takes you by an old turn of the century cabin, originally built by the Longmire family, as well as remnants of the old mineral baths – they were advertised as having healing properties, if you could stand to soak in the sulfur smelling waters.

We renewed our ritual of sitting on the porch to drink spiked hot chocolate and wine, and also had a good time working on a new puzzle in the game room and making new friends.  We had grass-fed burgers and blackberry cobbler.  Both were to die for!

We were sitting on the porch just after they closed the gate to Paradise at 6 pm, and Paula spotted a critter making his way near the road.  We watched him trot across the road and realized it was a fox!  It was too dark and we were too far away for photos, but he was so adorably cute from afar!  This may be the first time I’ve ever seen a fox in the wild too!  Our room this year overlooked the road in the front of the hotel – it is so pretty there!

I certainly hope that we continue this tradition, either just the two of us or with other friends as well!  It was so much fun!

President’s Day Weekend 2018: Rain and Wine

My friend Paula texted me in early February, from the Oregon Coast.  She had had a hard week, as had I.  We talked about life and love and disappointments and new beginnings.  We talked about meeting for a girl’s weekend on President’s Day weekend.  At the time, I was on the computer, so I looked up the National Park Inn at Mount Rainier.  They had one room left – so I asked Paula if she wanted to go snowshoeing!  It was meant to be!!!

As I am sure you guessed, she of course said yes, so a few weekends later, we were making our way to the Inn for the long weekend.  We met outside the park at a friend’s house so we only had to take my car (hers is not suitable for snow).  Driving in, we were both in awe of the scenery, as the wooded lowlands give way to snow.  She had never been to Rainier, and made jokes about how I was taking her to a remote location so I could murder her where the body would never be found…  I have the best, more morbid friends!

When we got up to the Inn, we were able to check in early.  It was raining, and I figured Paula would never want to snowshoe again if I took her out for the first time in that wet slog, so we joined a Ranger tour on the history of Mount Rainier National Park.  It was supposed to be a ranger guided snowshoe but they decided not to go out in the pouring rain either.  Our ranger gave a wonderful talk!

After the talk Paula and I did what any self-respecting young women on a relaxing vacation at a mountain lodge would do.  We got all bundled up for the cold, and filled up wine glasses, and found a couple of chairs on the front porch to hang out, drinking and people watching.  We stayed outside several hours, and yeah, we got tipsy.

Eventually the rain gave way to snow, and we loved watching a trio of guys in their thirties going all out posing in the snow.  They were hilarious!  They were taking off their jackets to pose in just their t-shirts, flexing their muscles, putting their sunglasses on and taking them off.  I swear we thought we were going to see them do the duck lips!

The Inn at night

Once it got dark we went inside to the restaurant for dinner – it was amazing – and then went into the game room and played backgammon and worked on a puzzle.  We had such a good time!  Even though our plan was to snowshoe that day, we still had such a great day!

Mount Rainier 2015: National Park Inn

I finally got the opportunity to stay inside a National Park!  And I didn’t even have to camp!  We stayed at the National Park Inn, which has a long and storied history. James Longmire (for whom the Longmire Historic District is named) was one of the first white settlers to visit the region and establish a business presence.

Longmire homesteaded in Ashford, the closest town outside the park, and began building roads and trails into the area. He transported tourists to the park via a wagon road to bathe in the Longmire District’s mineral waters. Over the next several years, he built a small hotel and expanded the trails in the area up toward Paradise.

A cedar stump showing what was happening at specific points.  This tree was alive when Lewis and Clark visited the Pacific Northwest.

A cedar stump showing what was happening at specific points in history. This tree was alive when Lewis and Clark visited the Pacific Northwest.

In 1906, the Tacoma and Eastern Railroad built the original National Park Inn, across the street from Longmire’s 30 rooms of assorted tents, cabins and hotel rooms. Longmire had died by this time, but his family was operating the business, and were irritated by this, and it soured Longmire’s relationship with the park’s administration. In 1916, the family leased their property to the Longmire Springs Hotel Company, who built another hotel and additional cabins.

A few years later in 1919, park administration achieved a long time goal of having only one concessionaire, and a deal was reached that transferred all the buildings to the Rainier National Park Company, who operated the 1906 National Park Inn. The 1916 hotel building was moved across the street and became the National Park Inn Annex – this building contained 17 guest rooms. The 1890 hotel, and all the tents and cabins that the Longmires had built were demolished, to improve the appearance of the area.

In 1926, the original National Park Inn burned down, leaving only the Annex, which is the current National Park Inn! What stories this old building must have!

The National Park Inn

The National Park Inn

Other historic structures in the Longmire District include:

  • General Store, originally built in 1911 as the Hiker’s Center
  • Museum and Visitor’s Center, built in 1916 as the first administration building
  • The Library, built in 1916 as the Community Kitchen
  • The Community Center, built 1927
  • The Administration Building, built 1928
  • The Service Station, built 1929.
The Administration Building and Visitor's Center at Longmire

The Administration Building and Visitor’s Center at Longmire

We checked in and made a reservation for dinner about 30 minutes later – enough time to change our clothes and refresh a bit. The restaurant in the Inn can be described as fine dining in a casual atmosphere; we were dressed in jeans and hiking shoes and didn’t feel out of place – perfect for a National Park!

The Porch at the National Park Inn

The Porch at the National Park Inn

Jon ordered the Rainbow Trout with a Deschutes IPA. I had the Pork Loin with tea to hydrate. Both of our meals were delicious and the service was excellent; the only disappointment was the price of Jon’s beer. $7.75 for a 12 oz. bottle! That’s sports stadium pricing! I decided to wait for my wine until we went back to the room; we had brought a bottle with us.

Jon's Rainbow Trout at the National Park Inn Dining Room

Jon’s Rainbow Trout at the National Park Inn Dining Room

Our room was simple, neat and clean but small, and the bathroom harkened back to yesteryear. There are no TVs at the National Park Inn, no cell service, no phones in the room and no Wi-Fi. Forced interaction! Jon and I went with the flow and played National Parks Monopoly until we got too tired and declared a draw. What a fantastic day!

The fireplace in the game room at the National Park Inn

The fireplace in the game room at the National Park Inn

The next morning, we woke up and went down to breakfast – our hotel stay included a voucher for their made-to-order breakfast – it was delicious! I had the Country Breakfast with eggs over medium, bacon and a homemade biscuit with tea, and Jon had the Veggie Omelet with an English muffin and coffee. Then we showered, packed our things, checked out and got out for a hike!

My country breakfast at the National Park Inn

My country breakfast at the National Park Inn