Residents of Seattle enjoy access to a wide variety of landscapes all within a day trip of the city. There are few places with such a diverse landscape in the continental U.S. A few hours by car places residents of Seattle within reach of snow-capped mountains, the Pacific Ocean, temperate rain forest or even desert in central Washington. Depending on your sense of adventure, style, and tastes, the Pacific Northwest offers a unique opportunity to its residents and visitors that isn’t easily found elsewhere.
This time of year is an excellent time to spend a day exploring Mount Rainier National Park. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier appears deceptively close to Seattle even though it takes a couple of hours to reach the park’s entrance. While the drive to Mount Rainier may have ordinary beginnings on I-5, the boredom of the highway is quickly replaced with curving country roads that offer stunning glimpses of the mountain as you approach.
One of the more popular areas of the park is the Reflection Lakes area. This area tends to be somewhat less crowded than Paradise, which is overrun with visitors this time of year. One of the more popular hikes in Mount Rainier National Park isn’t far from the Nisqually entrance and offers easy access to the Wonderland Trail. To reach the Reflection Lakes hike at Mount Rainier, proceed 15.6 miles beyond the Nisqually entrance on Longmire-Paradise Road to the Stevens Canyon turnoff. Here you will turn right and continue another 1.7 miles on Stevens Canyon Road where there is a long parking area near Reflection Lakes.
The parking lot sits at an elevation of 4,865 feet and visitors can begin their hike at either end of the parking lot on the Wonderland Trail. While visitors can begin their hike at either end, many people choose to take the trail in a clockwise direction so that they can enjoy the most stunning views offered at Faraway Rock towards the end of the hike.
No matter which part of Mount Rainier National Park you choose to visit, breathtaking views and nature at its best will greet you.
Entrance to the park is $15 for non-commercial vehicles or $5 for each visitor over the age of 16 entering the park by bicycle, on foot, or motorcycle. Be aware that there have been some vehicle break-ins this summer and it’s best to lock your vehicle and remove any valuables from sight.
Source: Personal Experience
Mount Rainier National Park
Olympic National Park