In 2015, I cast my eyes upon Mount Rainier for the first time. What a majestic mountain! Mount Rainier rises 9,000 feet right in front of your very eyes… a dormant volcano that demands your attention.
Because we were touring many sites throughout Washington, we were only able to spend one day here. We started the day early, arriving via the Nisqually entrance. We stopped for a quick visit to the Longmire Museum and found this giant slice of a Douglas Fir that began growing in 1293 and was cut down in 1963. It was very cool to see important dates in history marked on this tree.
When we continued to drive further into the park, I was anxious to see my first close up of the mountain. When I did, I was amazed at its size. Standing at 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier makes its own weather. Incoming air masses are forced upwards as they hit the mountain. As the air rises, it cools, forming clouds and precipitation. (gorp.com) Clouds constantly seem to come out of the mountain, and are always in motion.
After touring the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, we snagged a picnic bench outside for an epic picnic. What an amazing view for lunch! The weather was so pleasant and the absence of bugs made it that much better.
After lunch, we started out toward the Nisqually Glacier on a 1.2 mile path. Along the way, we saw a sign for a closed trail. Park rangers told us bears had been spotted eating a deer carcass near the trail.
When we reached the end of the path, we were rewarded with the view of Nisqually Glacier. Although it is difficult to see because it blends in with the rocks, the glacier can be found near the end of the snow trail. It is grey in color, has a slight arch at the bottom of it (from melt), and has water cascading from its end. It’s so neat to see the moraines left by the melting glacier. You can definitely get a feel for how big the glacier once was.
It was also impressive to see the many glaciers higher up the mountain. We watched tiny dots of climbers in the distance, slowly making their way up the surface.
After returning to the trailhead, we headed along the one mile Skyline Trail that meets Myrtle Falls. Along both the Nisqually Glacier trail and Skyline Trail there was an abundance of wildflowers. The meadows around Paradise were covered in colors during our late June visit.
The Skyline Trail was extremely scenic, with wonderful views. I got excited when I stumbled upon this marmot warming itself in the sun.
The Skyline Trail provides a wonderful opportunity for a scenic photo, with the meadows and Rainier behind you. The area was just beautiful – clean, crisp air, a clear sky, and majestic scenery.
When we reached Myrtle Falls, it was truly paradise. Since it was midday, the lighting wasn’t ideal with the harsh shadows, but it was still stunning.
On our way out of the park, we stopped by Narada Falls and took a hike to a viewpoint to capture this shot.
Even though we only scratched the surface with what Mount Rainier National Park has to offer, we were still captivated by the park’s beauty. I would have loved to visit Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, and White River, but we only had one day in the park. That gives me more reasons to come back.
Here are a few tips when traveling to Mount Rainier NP:
- If you are traveling here in the summer, arrive at Paradise early. The parking is limited and fills quickly.
- Pack your own food and drinks into the park, as options are limited in the few places to eat. The prices are also quite high.
- Bring your own refillable water bottle. There are plenty of places to refill bottles around the Paradise Visitor’s Center.
- Talk to the park rangers. If you see any on the trails, they’ll be happy to talk to you and tell you about recent animal sightings or explain closed trails. They are a great source of information.
- Hike! Get out of the main areas and hit the trails. Just walking a mile can give you a completely different view of Mount Rainier, in addition to quiet solitude.