Our first visit to Mount Rainier National Park. An hour and eighteen minutes from our house to a national park, yes please! We recently bought a year pass to our National Parks system. This is one of the best ways to spend your hard earned money, guaranteed.
The drive to the Southwest entrance is very pretty and goes through a couple of neat little towns. But the entrance to the park is the real star as you arrive. This entry signage is pure national park style in every sense. It’s very basic in design, but sets the tone for the journey through the park grounds.
Right away there are views of this amazing volcanic mountain. Now, one thing to take note of, the mountain doesn’t look so huge when you’re right there under it. Views from Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle give you a much more dramatic view. But, being right there next to such a massive peak is amazing. From the park, it looks like any other snow capped mountain. But that just isn’t snow, it’s glacier ice, a whole handful of glaciers cover this bubbling cauldron.
Halfway to the Paradise Visitor’s Center you come across Longmire. Some nice classic buildings make up this little settlement. An information building, museum, hotel, restaurant and gift shop make up the area along with employee housing. From here you can get on a handful of park trails and do some serious and not so serious hiking. We’ll definitely be back for a bit of that in the near future.
As we continued up the road to the visitor’s center, we came across a nice big parking and picnic area. This spot has a dramatic view in every direction. The Tatoosh Range to the South, Pyramid Peak to the West and Mount Rainier just above. The peaks of the Tatoosh Range are amazing, the below photo shows just a few of its peaks.
Equally as impressive is Pyramid Peak off the the West. I really like how this photo turned out, even if the sky was very hazy and gross from ridiculous amounts of ongoing airplane trails in the sky. Condensation or chemical, whatever the case, I hate seeing man made coked-out lines in the sky, gross! Back on topic, the mountain peaks in this park are stunning, no doubt.
The Paradise Visitor’s Center was open and popping with visitors. This building has a really nice info center, gift shop, cafeteria and meeting hall. It also has a grand view of the mountain itself and the Tatoosh Range.
Just outside the building at the entrance, something really special is there for all to see. Just look down. Survey markers for each volcanic mountain from California to Washington are implanted in the walkway.
–Lassen Peak, CA 10,457ft.
–Mount Shasta, CA 14,161ft.
–Medicine Lake, CA 7.762ft.
–Mount McLaughlin, OR 9,496ft.
–Crater Lake, OR 8.156ft.
–Newberry, OR 7,985ft.
–Three Sisters, OR 10,085ft.
–Mount Jefferson, OR 10,495ft.
–Mount Hood, OR 11,245ft.
–Mount St. Helens, WA 8,354ft.
–Mount Adams, WA 12,270ft.
–Mount Rainier, WA 14,410ft.
–Glacier Peak, WA 10,541ft.
–Mount Baker, WA 10,781ft.
Most people might not even notice them there, but they’re really cool. I grabbed a photo of each one and put them together in a collage below.
The Paradise Lodge was closed and semi boarded-up for the season unfortunately, so all we could do was walk around the building and explore. Seems like a cool place to stay for a few nights, maybe one day. We headed back down the road towards the entrance and ended up hanging out at Christine Falls Bridge for a while. The waterfall there is really nice and has a stone roadway bridge going over it in dramatic fashion.
As we ended our day trip to this amazing National Park, we already knew we’ll be coming back soon, especially when there’s a bit of snow on the ground throughout the entire park. With a handful of mellow trails, they should be really beautiful and peaceful with a fresh layer of snow coverage.
I’ll leave you with this nice overview of Mount Rainier, taken from a church parking lot view point just East of the town of Yelm. The view of the mountain from this spot is incredible. Even with the gross, hazy sky conditions, this photo actually turned out pretty good. I especially love the wispy little cloud blowing over the top of the mountain.
All photos made with a Canon 5D and Panasonic Lumix LX5