Mount Rainier’s snowy apex is synonymous with Washington: The active volcano rises 14,410-feet and is the centerpiece of Mountain Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is the country’s most glaciated stateside peak, stretching across six rivers. The Park covers 236,000 acres, revealing unspoiled evergreen forests, rushing rivers, and serene meadows. Opening dates and regional access flux with the seasons and weather, and a single visit can take guests through fleeting snowstorms and fluctuating temperatures. Mountain Rainier is famous for its wildflowers that blossom the brightest from July to August. With over 100 trail options, roaming wildlife, and so much to see and do, Mountain Rainier’s grounds can feel overwhelming, especially for newbies. Tours are helpful, particularly for those short on time and with limited subalpine experience.
I visited Mount Rainier during a press trip in April 2015. I only had three days in Seattle, so I opted for a day-long excursion to Evergreen Escapes. Lunch, snacks, rentals, and entrance fees are included in the tour package, and their shuttles provide early morning pickups/afternoon drop-offs from/to Seattle area hotels. On my trip, it was just myself and another couple. Everything ran on schedule.
Our guide was a true area expert, navigating with ease through rush hour traffic and narrating scenic routes to the National Park: We broke-up the two-hour ride with photo-worthy pit stops.
Upon arrival, we trailed through the dense forest to learn about its unique eco-system and its highly-monitored upkeep. We also spotted wild deer and weaved around fallen trees. At certain openings, one could see the snowline’s dramatic progression. After the light hike, we began our way up to higher ground.
We made a stop at Narada Falls, which is 176 feet high. The taller portion is a 159-foot fall. We followed a swift but slippery path to view the lower part and its pool. Narada is a popular spot for tourist photos, so getting a great shot may require some patience.
After a solid lunch (during which more unfavorable weather came through, pictured above), we did a descending hike: The weather was too unpredictable that day for snowshoeing. We started the hike in the snow, but as we dropped in elevation and the sun emerged, the snow dripped away. The ground was muddy due to the melting, but my boots held up. Layers made the fleeting conditions manageable.
It is cliche to say, but the photos or videos don’t this Park justice. Mount Rainier National Park is a majestic must-see for those traveling to Washington. For those visiting any National Park, please keep the following important notes in mind.
To learn more about visiting Mount Rainer National Park, please visit: