Finn the Fish is present at several of the annual watershed festivals. Visit him to learn more about salmon migration!

The Nisqually Watershed is proud to include the towns of Eatonville, Ashford, Elbe, Yelm, Roy and McKenna. Each of these have their unique charm–Ashford is the gateway to Mount Rainier; Roy offers a biannual rodeo; Eatonville celebrates the return of spawning salmon to the town.  Whether you live in the watershed, or want to come visit, here is a list of fun, educational or relaxing attractions and events you can enjoy!

Scenic Vistas and Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
Mt Rainier Scenic Railway
The name says it all! The Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad is a historical steam trail that takes travelers on daily rides from Elbe to Mineral. These rides last between 90 minutes and an hour, depending on weather conditions. Tickets are available online, and prior purchase is recommended-the trips can sell out fast! The Railroad offers special trips November-December, hot chocolate provided! From there, the regular season begins in May!
Northwest Trek
Northwest Trek gives visitors an unique experience to view wildlife up-close and personal! During the narrated tram tour, humans are in an enclosed tram, while the animals roam free. Or, take a self-guided walk through ADA and stroller friendly trails to see wolves, cougars and more in naturalistic settings. Don’t worry-these ones are in enclosures! There is also a discovery center, a research cabin and more than 5 miles of nature trails for the whole family to enjoy.
NW Trek is open year round, and often has season-specific special events! Special events can also be catered for your needs–take a school group to learn more about Pacific Northwest animals; have your wedding in a gorgeous and unique location; host your next work meeting here! Visit their website to learn more about how your event can happen at NW Trek.
Morse Wildlife Preserve
Located along the headwaters of Muck Creek, in Graham, is the pristine Morse Wildlife Preserve. Although this is a private preserve, it is open to the public to enjoy during special events every year. Between the months of April to October, visit the preserve on the second Saturday between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. The preserve also hosted work parties where visitors can help build trails and restore habitat. Since the preserve is so pristine, it offers excellent opportunities for birding. No pets are allowed and it does not have ADA approved facilities.
The preserve also hosts field trips and offers an excellent opportunity for students to see what the Puget Sound region looked in the past, without travelling too far. Visit the website to learn more!
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge allows visitors to view the junction between the river and the Sound. It is an excellent place to view wildlife and birds. Each season offers the chance to see different species of waterfowl and migratory birds, and much more! The boardwalk trails are ADA approved, vary in length, and allow visitors to get into the heart of the wildlife. Pets are not allowed!
Local farms and wineries
The Nisqually Watershed is home to several local farms and wineries. from Eatonville to Yelm, and everywhere in between! Many of the farms are open to public touring, so that residents and visitors can learn more about organic farming.
Schilter Family Farm
For over 60 years, the Schilter Family Farm has been a source of local products to the Nisqually Valley. Originally a dairy farm, it now provides fresh vegetables and fun family activities year round. Tours are available, along with field trips and special events. Or, visit the farm stand to buy fresh produce. During the fall, the farm has a corn maze and pumpkins to enjoy, while the winter offers a chance to pick up a Christmas tree! The farm is close to Lacey, so access is easy!
Medicine Creek Winery
Located near the mouth of the Nisqually Valley, the Medicine Creek Winery offers a variety of house wines, a tasting room and a dance floor. The winery itself is in a barn that has a lot of history surrounding the watershed. It’s open every weekend during the year, and during the summer months, is often open throughout the week. Live music is a special treat! There is limited availability for hosting special events, so make sure to check in advance.
Yelm Earthworms and Castings Farm
This unique farm has a large diversity of local, organic, and salmon safe products available for sale, including red worms, soil products and worm tea! For almost 2 decades, the Yelm Earthworms and Castings Farm has been working to create rich soil mixtures to produce better gardens and farms. The store is open Monday-Wednesday 10-4, and Saturdays 11-4, although these hours are subject to change.
Wilcox Family Farms
Since 1909, Wilcox Family Farms has provided fresh and local egg products. Since 2005, the farm has been fully dedicated to sustainability. The chickens are all cage free and eat only organic feed, and the farm is Salmon Safe certified. Taking a tour of the farm allows visitors to walk along trails with spawning salmon, see the organic farm practices and view the original farm house. Throughout the year, the farm hosts free family events, like an Easter Egg Hunt and Tractor Show. Even when these events are not going on, tours can be arranged. Visit their website for more information!
Pioneer Farm Living History Museum
Located in the beautiful Ohop Valley, the Pioneer Farm is a living history homestead that allows adults and kids alike to discover what pioneer life was like in Washington. Help out with the daily chores, including churning butter, gathering eggs, milking cows and much more! The Pioneer Farm is open March-Thanksgiving and offers 1.5 hour tours through the facility. From Fathers Day-Labor Day, these tours are offered daily from 11:15am-4pm; the rest of the season, the tours are weekends only!
Across the road from Pioneer Farm is the historical Ohop Indian Village. The tours led through here give you an up-close experience into the lives of Native Americans. You can help chip out a canoe, craft an arrowhead and practice target shooting with a bow and arrow! The Ohop Indian Village is open Fathers Day-Labor Day, Fridays-Sundays. The tours are offered at 1pm and 2:30pm. There’s an admission discount if you choose to take both the Pioneer Farm and Ohop Indian Village tours on the same day!
Stringtown Farms Winery
Located near Eatonville, Stringtown Farm is a winery and lavender farm. Visitors are invited to stroll through the vineyards, enjoy the tasting room or use the picnic tables provided to enjoy a lunch. During different times of the year, the farm has “u-pic” services, including lavender picking and Christmas tree cutting.
Farmers Markets and Town Festivals
From Ashford to Yelm, the communities in the Nisqually Watershed host many annual events to celebrate local food, art, culture and music. Whichever you choose to go to, you are sure to have a great time and meet some wonderful people.
Ashford Area
Rainier Wine and Brew Festival
This biannual festival features local wines and micro-brews. The two events are held around April and November each year, and give attendees the chance to taste delicious wine and beer and eat local food. Check out the website to learn more:
Rainier Independent Film Festival
Ashford is just 6 miles from the main entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, making it the perfect setting to host an independent film festival named after the mountain itself. The films range in length and in topic, but all are guaranteed to inspire you. The festival is held in the spring, but the deadline to submit a film is the winter before.
Eatonville Area
The greater Eatonville Area boasts a large selection on annual events that celebrate the cultures and lifestyles of the town. Visit the Eatonville Chamber of Commerce website for specific dates and a full list of town festivals. Below are a few highlighted events:
Community Day Celebration
Held in May, this festival offers the chance to celebrate the arrival of spring in the mountains. It is held at the high school, and features dances performed by students.
Rod Knockers Show and Shine
Stop by Eatonville to see hundreds of classic and custom cars roll through town. The annual event is held in the summer, and guests can vote for their favorite car!
Garden Tour
Sponsored by the Mountain Community Co-op, the annual garden tour gives pro-gardeners and beginners alike the opportunity to view urban gardens to get more ideas, tips and tricks.
Eatonville Arts Festival
For over 40 years, the annual arts festival has showcased local artists who specialize in everything from windchimes to pottery to jewelry. The festival is 3 days long, has food and a beer garden!
Eatonville Salmon Festival
Hosted by the Nisqually Tribe, the salmon festival celebrates the return of spawning salmon to the Mashel River. The festival features lots of family activities, including fish painting and t-shirt printing. Get delicious food and listen to great music, while watching salmon swim in the river below!
Annual Christmas Parade
Start the holiday season off with a bang by watching floats and Santa Claus parade through downtown Eatonville.
Yelm Area
Between the communities of Yelm, Roy and McKenna, there are a number of fun festivals for the whole family to enjoy! Please visit the Yelm community website for up-to-date information, but here is a list of a few of the events available!
Nisqually Valley Home, Garden and Trade Show
Held on the last Saturday in April, this festival boasts a large number of vendors and speakers with information on gardening, construction and more. To view a list of vendors and see a schedule, visit the website!
Yelm Farmers Market
 The Yelm Farmers Market is held every Sunday, from 10:00-2:00, from June-October. Get fresh and local food, meet great people, and support the community! The market often has special events, so bring the whole family for some fun! To learn more specifics, be sure to visit the website.
Roy Rodeo
The community of Roy hosts a rodeo twice a year, in early June and late August. It has a variety of events, along with a food tent and beer garden. It’s a cash only event, and promises fun for everyone!
Prairie Days
Yelm is called the “pride of the prairie,” and to live up to that name, the annual Prairie Days festival celebrates all the communities in the area. The festival features food, a carnival and a golf tournament!
Nisqually Watershed Festival
Hosted by the Nisqually River Foundation, this annual festival celebrates the land, people and water of the Nisqually watershed. It’s held the last weekend in September, and promises fun for the entire family! Visit the rest of our website for more information.
Christmas in the Park Parade and Celebration
Join the city of Yelm in celebrating the return of winter and the holiday season.
Golf Courses, Casinos and more!
Golf Courses
There are two golf courses in the Nisqually Watershed. The Tahoma Valley Golf and Country Club has an 18-hole course and is located near Yelm. The Eagles Pride Golf Course is run by Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and is open to the public. From March-November, the course features 27 holes; in the winter, it features 18 holes. There’s also a driving range open year round.
Red Wind Casino
The Red Wind Casino is located on the Nisqually Indian Reservation. It has over 200 slot machines along with numerous table games, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. The casino also serves delicious food and has a variety of authentic Native American jewelry for purchase at the gift shop.
City and County Parks
Ashford County Park
The Ashford County park has over a mile of paved trails, a playground and a native plant list. It’s located just outside of Mount Rainier National Park, is ADA approved and free to enjoy!
Eatonville Parks
Eatonville has 4 town or county parks for all to enjoy:
-Town Square features a visitors center and two covered picnic tables. It’s in the heart of the town and offers stunning views of the mountain!
-Glacier View Park is also in the middle of the town. It has a large, covered picnic area with an attached kitchen. This area is available for rent! Please visit the town website for more information!
-Millpond Park has something to offer everyone. There’s a skate park, a playground, a large field, a public restroom, and paved trails that lead to the Mashel River. The park is also the site of the annual Eatonville Salmon Festival.
-Smallwood Park is a largely forested, 26 acre park that has hiking trails, picnic tables and a stocked fishing pond for kids 15 and under.
Lower Watershed Parks
Between the towns of Yelm, McKenna and the Nisqually Tribe, there are several parks to enjoy.
-Yelm City Park has a covered picnic area with a kitchen, a skate park and a playground. It’s large, grassy field is also used to host several of the town’s festivals and events.
-Cochrane Memorial Park, located in Yelm, is a water reclamation facility that uses gardens as a means to filter water so that it is clean enough to use for irrigation purposes, or to be returned safely to the Nisqually River.
-Longmire Community Park is also located in Yelm and is open from March 1 to October 31, dawn til dusk. It has a playground and baseball field that can be reserved for use. Sundays are generally used as a drop-in day. Visit the City of Yelm’s website for information on how to reserve these facilities.
-McKenna Park is operated by Centralia Light as a part of the Yelm Hydroproject. It has a public boat launch, ADA approved facilities, picnic area and playground. It’s free to use!
-Also operated by Centralia Light is the Yelm-Nisqually Park. This is located close to the Red Wind Casino, and is a small park with a nature trail that leads to a boat launch. It also has some picnic tables and is free to use. Future plans are to develop a covered picnic area and a visitor information center.