Alternatives to Skiing and Snowboarding
Snow Play and Sno-Parks by the cabin in Greenwater, WA and near Mt. Rainier
Note: Always come prepared! Follow the Forest Service to know what roads are open and closed, make sure you have the correct permit, keep a close eye on the local forecast, dress and outfit yourself and the group appropriately, and check with federal, state, and local resources to know if you need a day pass or parking permit for your destination, and always share your plans with a friend.
Winter sports at the cabin run from snowshoe hikes to snowmobiling and almost anything in between. Less than a mile away from Crystal Rainier Retreat in Greenwater, Washington, there are some choice inner tubing and sledding spots at Forest Service Road 73. If you’d like to find inexpensive, less crowded alternatives to skiing at Crystal Mountain, why not book time at the cabin and check out the pockets of play areas right next door?
Here are some pointers by location or by type of activity about snow play activities in the area.
Crystal Mountain Sled and Inner Tube Areas
We searched the Crystal Mountain Resort website but couldn’t find any official designation for sledding or inner tubing.
People tend to pull off Crystal Mountain Boulevard and find a temporarily open slope. People are seen sledding and inner tubing in these “free” spots but many of those are not dedicated. Sledding or tobogganing is prohibited anywhere at the Crystal Mountain Ski area due to safety issues.
Mather Memorial Parkway
Compare that to Mather Memorial Parkway just off Chinook Pass (highway 410). Near the waterfalls, there is a viewpoint pullout. Look around and you’ll see some great little spots to go sledding and tubing.
Another area close by is Camp Sheppard which has unguided winter hiking. The forest landscape coated in thick winter snow will stop you in your tracks. If your group is looking to get out and appreciate the quieter side of winter, this is a fantastic trail filled with frozen waterfalls and ridge after ridge of snow-covered beauty.
Huckleberry Creek Ski Route on Forest Service Road Mile Marker 73
If you want to stick close to the cabin (and that pot roast you can make in the crockpot), just in back of the cabin is Crystal River Ranch Village. The lower level groomed route follows Huckleberry Creek. The first mile or so is ideal for children and beginners.
If you are looking for something fun to do with the family, there is a great spot right by the cabin. Crystal Rainier Retreat is one mile marker away from Forest Service Road 74.
Did you know you can haul your snowmobile up to the cabin? Crystal Rainier Retreat has plenty of parking with areas big enough for your vehicle and your tow-behind! Washington State Parks has over 80 dedicated snowmobile parks, with 112 miles of groomed trails. Keep in mind snow grooming equipment may be on the trail at any time, and schedules can change without notice. Please be aware of potential avalanche danger. Please visit www.nwac.us before going out on the trail. Be sure to get your Sno-Park pass for snowmobiling before your trip.
Visit Rainier has a wealth of information concerning all activities associated with Mt. Rainier. They are a fantastic resource for any season. Check out their dedicated page to Sno-Parks and Snowmobiles.
The Sno-Jammers are located in Puyallup, Washington. They do a great job of keeping each other (and the public) informed of conditions, trail grooming, and other updates, including specific updates for areas near the cabin (Greenwater). They are a club that has membership in the Washington State Snowmobile Association (www.wsso.us).
Here are a few designated snowmobiling Sno-Parks in the Greenwater / Yakima area:
Map excerpt courtesy of Washington State Parks: https://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/10140/PyramidCreek-LittleNaches-Geo-PDF
- Pyramid Creek (shown above)
- Little Naches / 1904
- Kaner Flats
- Crow Creek
- Milk Creek
- Boulder Cave
- Spring Creek
- Upper Rock Creek
- Lower Rock Creek
- Bear Creek
- Bethel Ridge / Soup Creek
- Cold Creek
- Tieton Airstrip
- Fish Creek
- South Fork Tieton
See the full list of all Greewater / Yakima snowmobile parks
Snowshoeing and Winter Hikes
The area directly around Crystal Rainier Retreat is full of beautiful alpine hikes. Avid hiker and blogger Craig Romano gives great tips and descriptions of hikes including his snowshoeing adventures on his blog Hike of the Week. Craig wrote a great description of a hike right by the cabin, White River – Low Country snowshoe adventure within the shadow of Mount Rainier. He provides great details about the environment, access points, permits, elevation, and more.
Highway 410 Trails
The Hiking Project has a comprehensive list of hikes near the cabin you can research by distance, trail type, rating, elevation and many other attributes. Get information about Greenwater Lakes via Greenwater, Snoquera Falls Loop, Echo Lake via Greewater, Suntop Trail #1183 and more.
Types of Sno-Park Permits
There are many different types of passes and permits depending on your use Washington State Parks website. Here are the most common types of passes/permits you’ll need for activities on public land:
Non-Motorized Sno-Park Permits
Sno-Park permits may be purchased online and printed from home for immediate use.
To park in a non-motorized Sno-Park, your vehicle must have a Sno-Park permit. There are three kinds of permits:
The One-Day permit is typically what is used for groups who want to use Forest Service Roads for sledding, inner tubing, snowshoeing, and other activities.
The Seasonal permit is non-transferable between vehicles. Check to see if the Sno-Park destination you want requires day or season parking.
The Special-Groomed Trail permit is required at eight Sno-Parks outside our area.
Snowmobile Sno-Park Permit and Registration
Visit the Washington State Parks website for specific permit and registration details associated with Sno-Park use and your snowmobiling plans.
Annual Northwest Forest Pass for National Forests in Washington and Oregon (h3)
If your destination requires a different kind of pass, it may be the Northwest Forest Pass, so be sure to check first.
Book Some Family Winter Fun at Crystal Rainier Retreat
Crystal Rainier Retreat was built to be close to adventure for families and groups in any season. Book your trip and get out and play!
Hiking Safety Resource:
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