On the way home from Mount St Helens in 2004, we planned to check out the area up to Mount Raineer. We hadn’t been there before, or even heard much about it, but the AAA guide book mentioned a couple of Gems so we decided to check it out. I’m glad we did.
We chose to stay at Alder Lake, which is one of four campgrounds run by the Tacoma Public Utilities’ Parks & Recreation department. They run some power dams and provide public access to the resulting lake areas. We picked Alder Lake because it was in-between all the places we wanted to see. Read below for what we did for fun in the area, but first here is our recollection of the campground.
- Recommended Sites:
- 2004 was pre-blogs so we didn’t take notes on all the sites. If any of you readers have, please add your comments.
- We stayed in Main Campground East which was a fairly close walk down to the lake. The campground wasn’t particularly large so I suspect even the furthest away sites wouldn’t require a super long walk either.
- All the sites appeared to be in the open and semi-close together. It wasn’t fully treed like a State Park, but we didn’t feel jammed in like many private campgrounds.
- Campground Highlights
- The lake was nice enough, especially with young kids, and the dam was an interesting feature.
- After a couple of days camping in the deep forest of a state park, it was nice to get out in the sun.
- The grounds were nicely maintained.
- Campground Lowlights
- I wouldn’t go here as destination camping, but have no qualms about a short stay.
- Things to do
- Cool off in the lake.
- Visit the nearby attractions.
- We chose to visit this part of the state to check out the NorthWest Trek WIldlife. The AAA tourbook photos of Elk heards with Mt Raineer in the background looked outstanding! I don’t see those same photos online now, maybe that field is a golf course or something by now. NW Trek’s website does show a zipline park and some other new features that look great!
- We actually never made it to NW Trek because we spent way more time at the Pioneer Farm Museum than we intended. The kids were at an age where the hands-on exhibits were great fun. They milked cows, jumped in piles of hay, made butter, and so on all day long.
- Our son was train obsessed back then, so we ate lunch in a regal, old dining car which is now the Mount Raineer Railroad Dining Company.
If you only have limited time in this neck of the woods, then prioritize Mount St Helens, but if you want to make a longer trip of it then don’t overlook the area up to Mt Raineer as well.