NATIONAL PARKS GUIDE: MOUNT RAINIER

NATIONAL PARKS GUIDE: MOUNT RAINIER

With the Northwest's singular natural icon as its centerpiece, the Mt. Rainier region is comprised of some 2,800 square miles, including one national park as well as portions of seven wilderness areas, three national forest areas, and picturesque mountain communities. Visit Rainier is the official tourism resource for the Mt. Rainier region. The website provides a comprehensive set of activity ideas, accommodations, travel planning tools and much more. Below are the top reasons why Mt. Rainier should be included in the November National Parks issue of Sunset Magazine…

A. Top WOW Spots Around Mount Rainier:

1) Paradise: One of the most popular destinations in the park. Located on the south slope of Mt. Rainier, includes views of Paradise Valley, Paradise Glacier and more. Home to the historic Paradise Inn.
2) Sunrise: Highest point in the park that can be reached by vehicle. 360 degree-view of surrounding area, including Mount Rainier, Emmons Glacier, Mount Adams and more.
3) Spray Park: A well worth it hike to see the northwest side of Mount Rainier. Take the Spray Park Trail, passing Eagle Cliff, Spray Falls and Echo Rock on your journey to Spray Park’s lower meadows.
4) Grove of the Patriarchs: One of the easiest hikes and most memorable. Walk upstream through western red cedars and Douglas fir trees then cross the suspension bridge over Ohanapecosh River to a secluded island, where some trees are more than 25 feet in circumference and over 1,000 years old.
5) The Summit House at Crystal Mountain Resort: Washington’s highest elevation restaurant. Take the Mt. Rainier Gondola to the top of Crystal Mountain for views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker and Mt. Adams. Classic Northwest fare with seasonal menus.
6) Suntop Lookout: Great spot for picnicking and sightseeing, just 10 miles outside the park. One of the last structures of its kind in the old Snoqualmie National Forest. Amazing views of Winthrop Glacier, the Cascade Range, the Olympic Mountains and even Mt. Baker.
7) Mineral Lake: One of the best trout fishing lakes in Western Washington. Offers one of the best views of Mt. Rainier. Just a short drive from the national park.

B. What To Do (Must-See Destinations):

Waterfalls and Glaciers: Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states and is home to over 150 waterfalls. There are also 25 active glaciers in the area.
Best to see by car: Skookum Falls
Best to see by hike: Narada Falls, Christine Falls

SW Nisqually Area: 
- Northwest Trek: A 725-acre wildlife park with 200 North American animals tucked away in the forest near Mt. Rainier. Offers 55-minute tram tour of the free-roaming area. Zipline one of five courses at NW Trek.
- Ski/Snowshoe Mt. Tahoma no fee hut-to-hut trail system
- Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad: An 18-mile ride through the picturesque countryside

NE Sunrise Area: 
- Mt. Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain Resort: open for summer and winter seasons
- Chinook Pass Summit & Tipsoo Lake: Drive under the historic log and stone archway at the summit and see the reflection of Mt. Rainier in Tipsoo Lake

NW Carbon River: 
- The Chase Garden: “One of America’s 10 Most Beautiful Gardens”. The 4.5-acre garden displays plants inspired by the wildflower fields on Mt. Rainier

SE White Pass: 
Ohanapecosh: Lush, dense forest area boasting wonderful hikes and the Grove of Patriarchs. During the winter, feed thousands of elk and big horn sheep as a way to keep them out of orchards. Best time to view the herds is Jan-Feb.

C. Where to Stay (Inside/Outside Park)

There are roughly 3500 pillows in and around the Mt. Rainier area at a variety of accommodations to suit diverse tastes: hotels, resort, cabins, campgrounds ...
Inside the Park:
- Historic Lodging: Paradise Inn, National Park Inn
- Campgrounds: Ohanapecosh, Cougar Rock

Outside the Park:
- Resorts: Crystal Mountain Resort
- Alternative Lodging: Alpine Inn (Bavarian-themed), Wellspring Spa (adult-only treehouses), Cowlitz River Lodge (Teepees)
- Pet Friendly: Alta Crystal Resort, Village Inn at Crystal Hotels, Three Bears Lodge, Rainbows Inn Cabins
- Couples Retreat: Deep Forest Cabins (on Sunset Magazine cover in 1952), John Muir Cabin at Copper Creek Inn, Storm King Cabins & Day Spa
- Eco-Lodging: Cedar Loft Cabin, Hampton Creek Inn, Moon Mountain Lodging

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