Flowing Wonders

Everyone loves nature, but unfortunately, it’s not always easy for those with ADA needs, limited walking abilities, and other conditions to access the beauty that the South Sound has to offer. Whether you aren’t able to take the hiking path, or simply prefer to let your car’s tires do the walking, we’ve gathered 3 days’ worth of stunning sights—all within mere steps of the parking lot. We’ll swing by the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to, but we’ll also be chasing waterfalls down the highway. Get in, we’re going to see flowing wonders!


Day 1: University Place, Bonney Lake, Buckley

Not your average park.

Chambers Bay Bar and Grill

The Grill at Chambers Bay

You don’t have to be a golfer to dine at The Grill at Chambers Bay. Good thing too, or else we’d miss out on those legendary Bloody Marys and view of the bay! The Grill offers brunch Thursday-Sunday, and their small but smart menu includes avocado toast, a classic 2-egg breakfast with your choice of meat or veggies, banana bread, and a garden scramble; in other words, something for everyone.


Chambers Creek Regional Park

Chambers Creek Regional Park

Chambers Creek Regional park wraps around the Chambers Bay golf course. If you’ve got kids in tow, visit the Playground by the Sound on the north end of the park, and if not, you can sit in the North Meadow nearby and enjoy the view of the saltwater shoreline and forest below. 


Thian Thai

Thian Thai Restaurant

Did the waterfall give you a chill? Head to this local favorite restaurant, serving classic and warming Thai dishes like pad see ew, fried rice, and pad thai. You’ll emerge ready to continue your adventure, and good thing too—it’s time to see another waterfall!


Lower Burnett Waterfalls Trail

Lower Burnett Road Waterfall

We’re headed even further east to Buckley, and our first stop is right off the highway! Pull over and take a look at Lower Burnett Road Waterfall, tumbling just south of the South Prairie Creek. Who knew the Pacific Northwest was so lush with waterfalls? 


Wally's Park

Wally’s Park

Learn about Buckley’s history in lumber and glimpse the past at Wally’s Park. An old steam donkey still stands, which was attached to a yarder for hauling logs from where trees were felled to a central processing area. This is also the site for the annual Buckley Log Show, complete with parade. 


Main Street Bistro

Main Street Bistro

Main Street Bistro is a family-owned restaurant located in downtown Buckley. Come for the dill pickle cheesy bread (trust us) and flatbread pizza, stay for the pool tables and inventive cocktails. After a long day of adventures, you deserve it. 


Buckley Inn

Buckley Inn

After you’ve indulged in a Buckley Sunrise at Main Street Bistro, it’s time to drive the 1 minute to your lodging tonight at the cozy Buckley Inn. With just 13 rooms, you’ll have no trouble getting to sleep in your cheerful room. Sleep well, adventurer!


Day 2: Eatonville, Ashford

Lakes, rivers, and…bears?


Cruiser Cafe

Cruiser Cafe

If it’s a clear day, you might see Mount Rainier while you have your breakfast this morning at Cruiser Cafe, a beloved American restaurant in Eatonville. You could go for the strawberry Belgian waffle, a ham steak and eggs, or maybe chicken fried steak with their popular house-made sausage gravy; it’s a safe bet all around.


Northwest Trek 2022

Northwest Trek

If you ascended the remote hiking trails around Mount Rainier, you might encounter wildlife such as bears, elk, bison, foxes, mountain goats, minks, striped skunks, badgers, and wolverines. We can only imagine the shock of seeing some of these animals in the wild! Thankfully there’s Northwest Trek, a wildlife park in Eatonville along Horseshoe Lake where you are free to safely view all these animals and more from inside your car. Kind of like a Northwest safari, you’ll drive past all manner of animals enjoying snacks and going about their business. Or, you could let an expert do the driving and receive a Keeper Adventure Tour, complete with amazing stories. Note: be sure to check their hours, as Northwest Trek is only open Friday-Sunday during the winter. 


Mill Haus

Mill Haus Cider Company

Families of all ages (and dogs too!) are welcome to Mill Haus, where the food is just as much reason to go as their delicious ciders. We recommend the smoked chicken street tacos, served with sweet peppers and cilantro crema. While you’re there, enjoy the fire pits, board games, cornhole, koi pond, and occasional live music.


Alder Lake

Alder Lake

Just 10 miles south of Eatonville, you’ll find the gloriously stretching and winding Alder Lake—7 miles of bright blue water for kayaking, angling, or sitting to admire the view of Mount Rainier over crystal waters. 


Copper Creek Restaurant

Copper Creek Inn

After a day of multiple lakes and wild animals, you’ll love the hearty homestyle fare at Copper Creek Inn in Ashford. Whatever you do, save room for their famous blackberry pie—à la mode, if that’s your thing. 


The Green Cabin

Green Cabin

Tonight, the flowing wonder to behold will be your hot tub at the Green Cabin in Ashford. Six-eight adults can comfortably stay at this cozy cabin, so bring your whole party. There’s also a fire pit if you’re keen on s’mores, and when night falls, you might see rabbits, deer, and other small wildlife passing through. 


Day 3: Ashford, Paradise, Longmire

So, you want to go chasing waterfalls!


Rise and Grind

Rise and Grind

Good morning! Before we can go on a waterfall tour, it’s time to get caffeinated. Rise and Grind is a humble coffee stand in Ashford, but for many, it’s a ritual: it may be your last chance for a convenient snack before diving into the Mount Rainier wilderness. Order your typical coffee or try one of their rotating specials, and make sure you get at least one of their delicious breakfast sandwiches for the road. 

A note on the Nisqually Entrance and the road from Longmire to Paradise

As we climb around Mount Rainier National Park, be prepared for the high-elevation roads and regular closures. Check the National Park Service site for closure announcements, and be aware that while the Nisqually Entrance is open year-round, the Longmire to Paradise road is open Thursday-Monday only with nightly closures. It is recommended to leave Paradise by 4:30 pm in order to safely drive down the hill and exit the gate at Longmire before it locks for the night. You can read more about this road here


Christine Falls

Christine Falls

First up is Christine Falls, one of the most beautiful and easily-viewable falls in the whole area. The arching stone Christine Falls Bridge crowns the top, and the falls itself drops more than 69 feet. 


Narada Falls

Narada Falls

Next is Narada Falls, a rest stop where you can get a clear view of the top of the falls from the parking lot. The water is crystal clear, as it comes from snowfields rather than glaciers littered with debris. 


Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise

Paradise Camp Deli at Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center has beautiful views, exhibits, information, and some shopping, but first things first—let’s head to the Paradise Camp Deli for some lunch. Choose from pizza, “mountain-size” deli sandwiches, soup, hot dogs, ice cream, coffee, and milkshakes. Get any of your questions answered about the roads and opportunities while you’re there. Who knows, maybe they’ll have another waterfall for you! 


Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

At a gorgeous 72 feet high, Myrtle Falls is our final waterfall stop. A quick walk delivers a stunning view of both Myrtle Falls and Mount Rainier in the background, with a wooden bridge scaling it should you desire to get closer. If you’re getting ready to tuck in, don’t worry—your lodging this evening is less than 12 miles away. Just make sure you start heading that direction before the roads close in the evening!


Visit Rainier Resized Longmire Photo

National Park Inn and Dining Room

You’ll be treated to mountain views, historic buildings, and a classic cabin experience at National Park Inn in Longmire. Stop by the dining room (dinner is served until 7:30pm on weekdays, 8pm on weekends) for humble yet extremely satisfying American classics like meatloaf with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Linger by the fire and recall the sound of multiple rushing waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and even the sound of coffee being poured into your cup over the past few days. We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip through flowing wonders near the Mount Rainier area—because everyone should be able to enjoy the beauty of the South Sound, whether or not they take the hiking path!