Mineral, Washington, is a bucolic lake town known for its rich history of logging and mining, yet less than two hours from Seattle and Portland and just a few minutes from the Nisqually (Ashford) entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. Mt. Rainier towers over Mineral Lake, reminding residents and visitors that nature is in charge here — both in the form of the volcanic mountain and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest surrounding the area.
Between April and October, fishing season is in full swing and RVs dot the campground along the lake which is stocked with trout and warm enough for seasonal swimming or non-motorized boating. While the town once boasted 4,000 residents, today there are fewer than 300.
While the population has shrunk, the history hasn’t: Mineral is home to the smallest U.S. post office and a historic B&B. They say this is the town above which pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a UFO in 1947. The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad operates its steam train museum in Mineral, and along “downtown” Front Street you can shop at Mineral Market, grab a beer at The Headquarters, visit The American Legion, or round the corner to the post office. As of 2021, we learned we’ll be getting some new neighbors: The YMCA of Greater Seattle will build its first camp in more than a century along the lake, opening the outdoors to children throughout the state and also sharing the space with the Nisqually Indian Tribe.