"Welcome to Mount Rainer National Park" Mount Rainier National Park by Ann75
Mount Rainier National Park Travel Guide: 232 reviews and 505 photos
In the summer of 2009 we spent about 5 days (4 nights) near Mount Rainier National Park to visit the different areas and to do some hiking. We booked 4 nights at the Mountain View Lodge in Packwood which is a good place to visit all areas of the park and it's also quite a bit cheaper than staying in the park. We went at the end of July as that would be a good time for the wildflowers that are blooming here around this time of the year.
Here is a condensed trip description of the things we did and saw while visiting Mount Rainier National Park:
Day 1: Traveling from Vancouver, Canada to Packwood, USA. We drove down through Seattle, stopped at a big mall in Auburn and went on through Enumclaw from here to Packwood. This route was partially through Mount Rainier National Park where we got some views of Mount Rainier already...WOW, absolutely gorgeous! After we arrived in Packwood and unpacked some stuff we had some dinner. We wanted to go for a quick drive around 6.00pm to the Paradise area as it's about 40-45 minutes from Packwood and we figured we would have a couple of hours to visit that area. Sadly enough the regular road was closed due to a landslide and we were redirected to go back towards Packwood and take a forest road all the way around. Since this was going to take double the amount of time we decided not to go this evening and have a look around in town. We came across some grazing elk just along the road side.
Day 2: Today would be our first full day in Mount Rainier Park and we were looking forward to it. We were going to the Paradise area which we wanted to see the day before. We got to the park gates around 9.00am where we got our park ticket and a free map of the area. The entrance fee was $15 USD per car (including passengers) and this ticket was valid for 7 days. On our way to Paradise we had a couple of quick stops at a few viewpoints along the way including the beautiful Narada Falls. We wanted to get to the Paradise parking lot first as it can get busy there, so we decided to stop at the Narada Falls again on our way back to walk down the trail for even a better view of the falls. Around 10.00am we arrived at the Paradise area.
First we walked into the Visitor Centre to see what kind of hiking trails we could enjoy up here. We decided to hike the Alta Vista Trail which is about 2.6km (1.6mi) and takes about 1 hour to return and the Nisqually Vista Trail which is about 2km (1.25mi) and takes about 45 minutes to complete. We started hiking around 10.30am and of course we took our time as I had to stop frequently to take some photos. We enjoyed all the amazing views of Mount Rainier and the wonderful carpets of colourful wildflowers. After that it was just after noon already, so we went to get the cooler out of the car and had some lunch with sandwiches we made before we left. Lunch seemed so much more enjoyable with the great views around here. After lunch we made our way down to Reflection Lakes, on the way we stopped here and there at a nice viewpoint. We walked around at Reflection Lakes and after that we were on our way back to Packwood as we were quite tired as it was so hot (abouve 95 F). We made one more stop at the Narada Falls, to walk down the trail to have a better view of the falls. We went to bed again at a decent time, so we could get up around 7.00am the morning after. Thankfully we had air conditioning in our room!
Continue for Day 3, 4 & 5 below here!
Day 3: At 7.00am we got up, made our sandwiches, packed up the cooler and around 7.50am we were on our way. We were going to the Tipsoo Lake area which was about 45-50 minutes driving from our hotel. We did the Tipsoo Lake trail which is about 5.6km (3.5mi), this area is beautiful and there was an abundance of wild flowers again, beautiful views on Mount Rainier and a lovely lake. This area is located at the Chinook Pass at an elevation of 5,430 ft / 1,656m, it seemed a little cooler up here and that was so nice. When we finished our hike we had some lunch. After that we also walked part of the Naches Peak Trail and on the way back we walked partly along the road to get back to the car. We discovered another little lake on the other side of the road from Tipsoo Lake, so we didn’t pass on that one to spend some time at this beautiful small lake. Apparently this lake is Upper Tipsoo Lake and the views from here were so beautiful. We were happy that we bumped into this lake…it’s sooo beautiful.
It was late afternoon when we left this area satisfied from all the gorgeous views and not being that hot we left the area and stopped at the Ohanapecosh area on the way back to Packwood. We visited the Visitor Centre, walked the little loop of the Hot Springs and enjoyed the views over the Ohanapecosh River. After that we headed back to our hotel in Packwood where we had dinner. Later on in the evening we decided to walk to the centre of Packwood from our hotel which was about 1.5km (1mi). We did a little bit of shopping to stock up on a few things for the last days in Mount Rainier NP. We enjoyed an ice cream on the way back to the hotel.
Day 4: We got up again around 7.00am, got our lunch ready to go and stuffed up our cooler for the day. We left the hotel around 8.30am and it would take us about an hour and a bit to drive the Sunrise area in Mount Rainier National Park. We stopped at Sunrise Point just before arriving at the parking lot of the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. From up here you had an amazing view of Mount Rainier and the surrounding area. We could also see Sunrise Lake below and had a 360 degree view here which was very beautiful. This area is located at an elevation of 6,400ft / 1,950m. We drove another 5 minutes from here to arrive at the Sunrise parking lot from where several hikes start. There is a Visitor Centre here, a gift shop and a restaurant. We started hiking around 10.30am and we walked part of the Sunrise Rim Trail which was about 4.8km (3mi) and this took us about 1.5 to 2 hours. This trail provided us with some great views on Mount Rainier and more colourful carpets of wild flowers.
After that we had lunch at one of the picnic areas at Sunrise, too bad that there were so many flies up here bothering us half the time. After lunch we did some more hiking and walked the Sourdough Ridge Trail which was about 1.6km (1 mi) and would take about 1 hour to complete. We enjoyed the views from up here very much, but you couldn’t stand still for too long or the mosquitoes and flies would get you. Around 4.00pm we had enough of the hiking and all the bugs that were bothering us. It was also really getting very hot again even at this elevation, so we decided to go back to our hotel as we still would have to have dinner and pack everything up for tomorrow as we were leaving to go home again.
Day 5: It was time to go home again. We got up around 6.00am so we could get an early start. On the way home we stopped at the Auburn Supermall and at Seattle Premium Outlet mall. We arrived at the border around 2.30pm where we only had to wait for 10 min. We got back into Canada without any problems and were home around 3.00pm. We had an amazing trip!
Mount Rainier NP was established in 1899 and has a size of about 235,625 acres (97% is designated Wilderness) and this includes Mount Rainier (14,410ft/4392m). Mount Rainier is an active volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice. The park contains outstanding examples of old growth forests and subalpine meadows. Whether hiking on its flanks, climbing its summit, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on its slopes, camping along its glacier-fed rivers, photographing wildflower displays in subalpine meadows, or just admiring the view, nearly two million people go here to enjoy the grandeur and beauty of Mount Rainier each year.
The park is devided into 5 areas:
1. Longmire: The Longmire Historic District is located at about 6.5mi/10.5km from the eastern park entrance at an elevation of 2640ft/800m. John Longmire was one of the first men to ever climb Mount Rainier in 1883. After his descend he bumped into an area of hot springs and he was so impressed that he returned a year later with his wife. He built a hotel in this area which was called The Mineral Springs Resort. After 1899 when Mount Rainier and it's surrounding area got the "National Park" status, Longmire was used as the park's headquarters. At the moment this building is a museum, The Longmire Museum which is one of the oldest museums of the National Park Servisce. Other visitor facilities in this area are the Wilderness Information Centre and a hotel.
2. Paradise: Paradise is located further down from Longmire and is one of the most visited areas in the park. Paradise is located at an elevation of 5280ft/1600m and is popular for the beautiful wildflowers in the summer, the enormous amounts of snow in the winter and an amazing view of Mount Rainier. It might be hard to find a parking spot during peak times in this area. There is a visitor centre here (the Jackson Memorial Visitor Centre) and the beautiful Paradise Inn Hotel.
3. Ohanapecosh: The eastside of the park is much dryer and sunnier than the westisde, so this is a good area to visit if it's too wet and foggy at Longmire or Paradise. This Ohanapecosh area is located in a quiet and densly forested area, about 1.9mi/3km north of the park entrance of this side of the park. Near the Ohanapecosh River you can find a visitor centre, a ranger station, the Ohanapecosh campground and picnic area. This area is only open from May until October. State Route 123 is closed during the winter months.
4. Sunrise/White River: This area is found in the north eastern corner of the park and accessibility is only from May until November. In the east a road enters from Chinook Pass (5,430ft/ 1,656m) and a little ways further you can find beautiful Tipsoo Lake which is surrounded by wildflowers in the summer. Via the turn off of the Mather Memorial Parkway you can go to the Sunrise/White River area. There is a turn of to the White River area which offers a Wilderness Information centre. If you continue it will take about 11mi/17km to get to the Sunrise area and parking lot which is located at an elevation of 6,400ft/1,950m. This road is only open from the end of June/beginning of July until the end of September/beginning of October. Sunrise is a busy area due to the beautiful views of Mount Rianier, many different hiking trails and of course the beautiful wildflowers that bloom here. In this area there is also the Sunrise Visitor Centre, The Sunrise Day Lodge where you can have a bit to eat or visit the giftshop.
5. Carbon paper River/Mowich Lake: This area is located in the northwestern part of the park and can be reach from a small place called Wilkeson on Highway 165. Here you can also find a Visitor Centre where you can get permits and information. The highway here turns into a gravel road, so you might need a car with high clearance. The road floods frequently, so check before you go to visit this area. This area has several hiking trails and beautiful lakes, it is also the area with the heaviest rainfall in the park.
- Pros:Amazing scenery especially when the wildflowers are in bloom, not too busy, lots of hiking possibilities
- Cons:Sometimes it can get very hot and there are many bugs around in some places
- In a nutshell:A fantastic area with beautiful views and stunning scenery
This waterfall might perhaps be the most popular one in Mount Rainier National Park. Narada Falls seems to have a... more travel advice
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