Mount Rainier National Park is one of my favorite parks in the US. The park is only a two hour drive from Seattle and it offers endless incredible views. I grew up in the Seattle area and have lived here for most of my life. When hiking is accessible at Mount Rainier, I try to go a few times a month.
I would call myself a part-time weekend warrior and full-time Dental Hygienist! I’m also an avid hiker and beginner backpacker. My love for adventure turned into a passion for photography as I hiked around the Pacific Northwest with my husband and fur babies. I always try to get the perfect shot, whether it be hiking at dusk or dawn for the best colors.
Why Mount Rainier National Park Should be on your Bucket List
Mount Rainier, towering over 14,000 feet, can be seen from Seattle on a clear day. Most take it for granted and only see the snow-capped peak from the horizon. Yet, the best way to experience its glory is up close.
The national park is every nature lovers dream – from the meadows of wildflowers to the extraordinary mountain views. Mount Rainier is also a hikers paradise offering over 260 miles of maintained hiking trails.
Mount Rainier National Park is open year-round and the best hiking can be done in summer. In winter, snowshoeing, skiing and even winter camping is available. My favorite time of the year to visit is when the wildflowers are in full bloom in summer! The wildflower season changes each year depending on various factors. I have hiked many trails and love them all!
Favorite Place at Mount Rainier National Park – Sunrise Visitor Area
Sunrise Visitor Area has to be my favorite area of Mount Rainier National Park. The visitor area is the highest point in the park which can be reached by vehicle. It also offers one of the most scenic and beautiful hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest. If you don’t fancy hiking, Sunrise Visitor Area is best visited early in the morning as the new rising sun illuminates the mountain.
6 Best Things To Do at Mount Rainier National Park
- Visit the Sunrise Visitor Area
- Ride up the Mt. Rainier Gondola
- Drive through the Chinook Byway Pass
- Camp in one of the park’s campgrounds
- Walk one of the trails in the Paradise area during wildflower season
- Hike Mount Fremont Lookout Trail at sunset for breathtaking views.
My Best Experience at the Park
My best experience at Mount Rainier National Park was hiking the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail for sunset. The views from the Sunrise parking lot were already astonishing. It’s also a fairly easy trail for the whole family to enjoy. I went when the wildflowers were in full bloom which was epic!
On the way up, I passed by a meadow full of colorful flowers. I also got views of surrounding mountains such as Mount Adams, Mount Stuart and a dozen other Cascade Peaks. I stopped along the way so many times to take photos as Rainier was standing right next to me the whole time.
At the lookout, I was faced with an epic panoramic view to the north. With Mount Rainier so close in front of me, I watched the color change as the sun set. With an elevation above 7,000 feet, I was lucky to be above the clouds! What better way to experience Mount Rainier in all its glory.
Where to Stay near the Park
There are many lodging options near the park. Some are popular such as Paradise Inn, National Park Inn, Alta Crystal Resort and Wooded Paradise Cabin. Mount Rainier is close to several major cities where you can find hotels. The most known ones are Seattle, Yakima and Tacoma.
If you like smaller towns off the beaten path then you can stay in places like Carbonado, Ashford, Elbe and Enumclaw. Camping enthusiasts will find plenty of options at the following campgrounds: Cougar Rock Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground and White River Campground.
Need to Know Before you Go
Make sure you plan your trip to Mount Rainier properly by booking accommodation in advance, bringing suitable clothing (depending on the season), and also familiarizing yourself with opening hours and parking. The weather forecast, especially, is something you should look at. The weather can change dramatically and without warning. So be prepared!