Hike, raft, and ride horses in the shadow of an active volcano near the gateway to Mt. Rainier.
It’s all green forests and blue skies in Ashford, a tiny community in southwestern Washington. In the distance, the snow-covered summit of Mount Rainier rises high above the surrounding peaks. Just 6 miles away, you can enter Mount Rainier National Park through the Nisqually gate. Camping options are plentiful, both in Ashford and the national park. If you’re searching for an RV park with full hookups, check out Alder Lake Park. In the summer, the beach and picnic tables are popular with families. Closer to Ashford, Big Creek Campground has 64 sites with plenty of privacy. During the colder months, book one of Ashford’s heated camping cabins. Are you planning to explore the wilderness on horseback? Tent sites at Sahara Creek horse camp have hitching posts and room for trailers. Inside the national park, Cougar Rock Campground offers plenty of rustic sites. From camp, you can fish the Nisqually River or hike to flowering meadows. With a permit, you can also walk into the backcountry and set up camp in the wild. Try snow camping in the winter—just wait until the snow is 5 feet deep at Paradise. The area around Ashford is ripe with outdoor adventures. Hike 260 miles of trails in the national park; in the winter, explore on skis or snowshoes. Fly-fish the Ohanapecosh River, paddle Mowich Lake, or take a guided rock-climbing trip. Adrenaline-seekers shouldn’t miss a rafting trip on the wild Nisqually River.