A tiny church in a tiny town
An antique steam locomotive to take you on a scenic ride
A horse camp & trails, an ORV camp & trails, & Alder Lake access
On the Road to Rainier Scenic Byway, Elbe is 13 miles before the main entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.
On your way to the park, you’ll come to Elbe whether you take the Eatonville or Highway 7 portions of the scenic byway loop. Those sections join shortly before Elbe. From Elbe, you can take a short spur of our byway to visit historic Mineral.
Elbe is the site of a state-run rest area as you enter town.
The Little White Church retains all its charms from 1906 when it was built. This Evangelical Lutheran Church is only 18′ x 24′ and still uses its original altar and elevated pulpit for services. The bellows organ from that time is played for worship and weddings. Above the front door is the inscription Ev. Luth. KIRCHE (Evangelische Lutherische Kirche) that tells of the German ancestry of its founders.
Mount Rainier Railroad & Logging Museum This rail line, once the early 1900s Tacoma Eastern RR, is the longest continuously operating steam train in the Pacific Northwest. Hop aboard at the depot in Elbe and ride a vintage locomotive to Mineral and the railroad’s logging museum. There you’ll see a comprehensive collection of steam logging locomotives. Learn about life in logging camps in the early 1900s. Museum admission is included in the cost of the train ride. For information on driving directly to the museum, please visit their website.
The railroad’s regular runs are from late spring through fall. Special, event-themed runs include Santa Express, Pumpkin Express, Washington Wine Express, and others.
Alder Lake Park is west of Elbe and is part of Tacoma Power Parks. Swimming, watersports, and fishing are popular activities, and facilities include campsites and RV hookups. Alder Lake Park is in the community of Alder. A boat launch is also at Rocky Point, and watersports access is also at Sunny Beach Point. Both of these sites are also run by Tacoma Power Parks and are on SR7 East past Alder toward Elbe.
Enjoy 22,000-acre Elbe Hills State Forest, a favorite for ORV and horseback riders. Elbe Hills ORV Campground has a 20-site camp and access to 13 miles of trails for motorized, off-road fun. Elbe Hills Nicholson Horse Trail System and Sahara Horse Camp offer scenic trails and 20 wooded campsites with hitching posts. A state Discover Pass, available locally, is required for vehicle entry to Elbe Hills.
Travelers who want to explore the byway’s scenic beauty on horseback but don’t have their own horses can ride at privately-run EZ Times Guided Horse Trails on the east end of Elbe.
Also in Elbe is a historic general store with local crafts and artisanal food items, a seasonal drive-in, a convenience store selling gas, fish tackle, and hardware, an espresso stand, tavern, and post office.
Mount Rainier Visitor Association serves the areas of Elbe, Mineral, and Ashford with listings for lodging, dining, shopping, and events.
Elbe first had the name Brown’s Junction as a settlement in the 1890s. In 1904, the Tacoma Eastern Railroad laid tracks through here and created a logging boomtown. The town’s name later became Elbe to honor an early settler, Henry C. Lutkens, who came from the Elbe River valley in Germany. When the Tacoma Eastern Railroad ended passenger service from Tacoma to Ashford in 1924, Elbe started losing residents and shrunk to the approximate size it is today.