Standing 14,410 feet tall and located about 2 hours South of Seattle, Mount Rainier stands like a giant in the sky-line. It’s the 5th highest peak and tallest volcano in the lower 48 states and I’m lucky enough to be able to see it everyday that the weather is clear. I love how majestic and mysterious it is. You can be riding a long on a nice day, look over and suddenly you see a very large, breathtaking mountain in the distance, then just as suddenly it appeared, it disappears behind the trees as you’re driving. I love to watch the way it changes through the year, from bare spots showing to almost completely white, the landscape is ever evolving. The only thing better than seeing the mountain from afar is seeing it up close and in person. Mount Rainier has 5 regions, Paradise, Longmire, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh and Carbon River. We’ve always entered from the Snoqualmie entrance to Longmire. It takes a little while before we come across an interesting spot to stop on our drive but the landscape on the way up is beautiful and momentarily changing as you catch glimpses at peaks, valleys and cliffs.
Some of the best photo ops on “The Mountain” are the waterfalls. Christine Falls is always the first spot we come to on our trip up to Paradise. It’s a beautiful 69 foot tiered waterfall with parking nearby so you can get out and take a photo. Next is the beautiful Narada Falls, a 188 foot waterfall. There’s a little bit of a trek to get down to a good picture taking spot but we’ve taken our children along with us down the path and they did fine. Also, remember to bring a water bottle or empty gallon jugs to fill up with fresh water from the spout in the parking lot.
The aptly named Paradise at Mt. Rainier has a new welcome center with clean restrooms, a gift shop, a limited (and pricey) cafeteria along with general information. The Paradise Inn that offers lodging, but closes for the Winter. Also located at Paradise are is a ranger station and the Climbing Information Center where you can obtain climbing permits and hiking and backcountry camping information.
It took a little exploring before we found some of the lakes, the mirror lakes are beautiful and although I haven’t made the hike to Snow Lake, I hear it is spectacular. We didn’t come across Tipsoo lake in our adventures yet but it’s top on my list for next visit. Also be warned that there is no cell signal around the mountain so having a map is a good idea! There are all kinds of hikes and sights if you have time to explore. Every trip to Rainier is different, every day brings different weather and views and snow accumulation, but every trip is spectacular. I would advise to avoid high traffic times like weekends during the Summer and to try to arrive in the morning to avoid afternoon crowds. Whether you live in the Northwest, or just plan on visiting it, you must put Mt. Rainier National Park on your bucket list!
Need help planning your trip to the Mystical Mountain? Check out the official Mt. Rainier site.