Top 20 Washington State Trips

Mt Rainier Railroad

Mt Rainier Railroad

Take a 40-minute steam train ride through the foothills of Washington's Mt Rainier.

The Mt Rainier Railroad train departs from the historic lumber town of Elbe, 1.5 hours south of Seattle.

This tiny town has a handful of fast-food restaurants, and is on the way to Paradisethe most popular destination at Mt Rainier.

The scenic train journey starts at the old train depot at Elbe, home to a gift shop and ticketing office.  It then travels 40-minutes through the foothills of Mt Rainier between Elbe and Mineral Lake, stopping at the Logging Museum before retracing its path home.  

Kids will love the many seasonal events on the Mt Rainier Railroad, including the Pumpkin Express in Fall and Santa Express in December.  

Check tickets & schedules for the Mt Rainier Railroad (operations currently ceased due to COVID). 

10 best things about Mt Rainier Railroad

1. The train departs from the once booming logging town of Elbe, founded in 1890 by German settlers.

The original railway was built in 1904 to transport logs from the foothills of Mt Rainier to Elbe.   

In 1980, a descendant of one of the original logging families, Tom Murray Jr, struck a deal with the Weyerhaeuser Company to preserve a section of the railway between Elbe and Mineral Lake for the Mt Rainier Railroad tourist train.

Board the Mt Rainier Railroad, near the red train depot in Elbe.

2. The train journey begins, passing through the scenic foothills of Mt Rainier.

Travel back in to time to an era when steam trains transported logs from the foothills of Mt Rainier, to the logging town of Elbe, and listen to the ear piercing whistle as the train chugs along the 100 year old track.

3. On a clear day see spectacular views of the southwestern face of Mt Rainier.

4. The Upper Nisqually River cuts a path through the stunning landscape, originating from a glacier on Mt Rainier.

5. The sunny viewing deck on the train is popular with passengers, affording the best views.

6. Mineral Lake soon comes into view, with lakeside cabins for rent, and excellent trout fishing.

7. The train stops at Mineral, south of the Elbe Train Depot.

8. Explore the excellent Logging Museum at Mineral.

See magnificent vintage logging trains at the restoration shop at the Logging Museum, from early 19th century companies like the Simpson Logging Co, Weyerhauser Timber Co, and West Fork Logging Co. This is the most comprehensive collection of logging trains anywhere in the world.

Stroll through an authentic logging camp, and observe a steam donkey in action, once used to drag logs downhill.

9. The Mt Rainier Railroad train returns to Elbe along the same track.

10. Check out the Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche near the Elbe Train Depot, built in 1906 by the original German settlers. 

Not much has changed inside this church, and it still has the original wooden altar, pulpit, and pews. 

Other things to do near the Mt Rainier Railroad

Drive 8-miles east of Elbe to the entrance of the Mt Rainier National Park at Ashford, then continue another 24-miles up the mountain to get to Paradise. Paradise is the most popular destination at the Mt Rainier National Park, and has incredible views of Mt Rainier, a historic lodge, restaurants, trails, and a visitor center.

The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is 9-miles north of Elbe, with a fantastic 40-minute tram tour through the park where you can glimpse animals in the wild, like bison, moose and elk.

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