Mount Rainier National Park, WA
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Mount Rainier stands as a majestic icon in the State of Washington that can be seen from many miles away. This unique National Park allows visitors to get up close to an active volcano and glaciers, as well as breathtaking hikes that include beautiful wildlife, waterfalls and wildflowers all around.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy MODERATE Hard Very Hard
(various hikes range from very easy to very hard)
Distance: Short to long, depending on what you are doing.
Elevation Gain: Flat to steep
Terrain: Dirt, rocks, bridges, glaciers, trails, waterfalls.
Time: A few hours to drive through to several days.
When to Go: Summer
$30 entrance fee
Free if you have a 4th grader with you through the Every Kid Outdoors program.
Additional fee for camping
Water and bathrooms at visitor’s centers and campgrounds
THINGS TO BRING
Good hiking shoes
Mount Rainier National Park was our last stop on our two week road trip through Oregon and Washington. We spent just under 2 days in the park. It was definitely not enough time to see it in entirety, but we did get a good taste. My 4th grader had one goal at this park --- to touch a glacier --- which we did.
Mount Rainier hasn’t erupted since the 1800s, but it is still considered an active volcano. We enjoyed learning more about volcanos in the parks visitor’s centers and googling info on our drive. The views of Mount Rainier were stunning as you drive through the park.
We stayed two nights at Cougar Rock Campground and enjoyed the Junior Ranger park programs at the amphitheater nearby. I booked our site about 3 months ahead of time. There were still several sites available at that point.
For our one full day that we spent in the park we decided to go on the Mount Rainier Skyline Trail to get as near to the glacier as possible. The trailhead is located at the Henry M Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise area of the park.
The visitors center was large and had lots of interactive exhibits.
There are several trail options ranging from short to long from the Paradise area. The shorter hikes are paved and are great for strollers. There is also a short easy 1 mile round trip hike to the Myrtle Falls that the Skyline trail hooks into.
The skyline trail is a steep 6 mile loop trail that takes you to the base of Mount Rainier's Glacier's. It provides gorgeous views of the volcano, surrounding cascade mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, streams and meadows filled with wildflowers. This is one of the most scenic hikes I have been on. The pictures just don’t do it justice.
This is a hard hike for kids, but I was so proud of my little hikers for sticking it through. They were super motivated to be able to see a volcano up close and to touch a glacier.
There are many scenic viewpoints along the drive through the park. We entered the southwest entrance and exited on the southeast side. The southeast exit/entrance has a small visitor's center in the Ohanapecosh area. My girls were able to get their Junior Ranger badges here. We try to do this at every national park. The kids actually love it and it gives them something to do as we travel and see sites.
PROS & CONS
Hiking available for all skill levels
Opportunities for learning at Junior Ranger programs
Longer, harder hike to get up close to glaciers
Mount Rainier National Park is located among the Cascade Mountain Range and is two hours south and slightly east of Seattle. It is two and a half hours northeast of Portland.
Here is a map to the Mount Rainier Visitor Center in the south central area of the park. This is where the trailhead of the Skyline Trail is.
Mount Rainier National Park official site.
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Seattle (2 hours)
Mount St. Helens (2 hours)
Portland (2.5 hours)
Olympic National Park (3 hours)
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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