Use Ashford as a gateway to Mount Rainier National Park, which features snowcapped mountains, glacier-fed waterfalls and spectacular douglas fir and cedar forests.
Explore the wild surrounds of Ashford, a forest-bound township in central Washington state. Situated just west of Mount Rainier National Park, this settlement of just over 200 people provides access to the walking trails, mountain meadows and climbing routes of the Cascade Range.
Ashford was founded in 1888 along the Nisqually River. The township, though small, offers a number of shopping and accommodation facilities. Make it your base for adventures farther afield.
Before venturing into the wilderness, go to the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. Just a 40-minute drive east from town, the visitor center is a meeting point located between the Mount Rainier National Park to the north and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the southeast. Plan activities using the center's maps and brochures.
Stay a while in the National Park Inn’s communal wooden lodge warmed by a stone fireplace. Dine at its in-house restaurant with views of Mount Rainier. Before you leave, browse the inn’s general store and purchase gifts and souvenirs crafted by local artisans.
Set out on long day and overnight hikes through dense forests of fir and cedar. Over 240 miles (386 kilometers) of trails allow hikers and climbers to access scenic vistas.
In winter, trails can be traversed on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Go sledding with sweeping views of snowcapped mountains beyond. Challenge yourself with a guided climb to the summit of Mount Rainier.
Enjoy the visits along the Nisqually River, fish at Mineral Lake or swim at Alder Lake Park. Alternatively, take the strain off your legs with a forest horseback tour.
For an incredible wake-up, book a stay in the Cedar Creek Treehouse. This remarkable cabin is built in a 200-year-old cedar tree over 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground.
Ashford is a 70-minute drive southeast from Tacoma. Get between major destinations in Mount Rainier National park using tour operators or a rented car.
After your visit to Ashford, take a daytrip to Eatonville, about 30 minutes’ drive west, to see the Pioneer Farm Museum and Ohop Indian Village to learn about Washington’s heritage.