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How to plan a 3-day adventure in Mt. Rainier National Park

Explore stunning Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington with me with the help of Gerber Gear's More Than Ready Collection!

By: Tanner Price + Save to a List

Presented in partnership with Gerber Gear.

Mt. Rainier National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States and a cornerstone of the Washington State Wilderness. Mt. Rainier towers over its surroundings and looks like something out of a dream! 

While hiking here, it felt like there was a breathtaking view around every corner. Here are my recommendations for how to spend a three-day adventure in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Day 1: Hike in paradise

10a.m. - Check in at the visitor center

Arrive at the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center in Paradise. The parking lot fills up quickly (by 9 a.m.), especially during summer weekends, so come early! Ask park rangers for current events or things to look out for on the hike, like wildlife or blooming wildflowers. 

11a.m. - Explore Myrtle Falls Overlook

A series of thin waterfalls cascade over a rock face surrounded by pine trees. A snow-covered mountain rises out of green fields in the distance.
Photo: Tanner Price

For your first taste of Mt. Rainier National Park, take the short 1-mile trail to Myrtle Falls and enjoy one of the park's most beautiful lookouts. This unique trail leads to a vista where you can see the nearly 80-foot falls with Mt. Rainier in the background! The falls flow the most in the spring, but the view here is worth the short hike any time of year!

12p.m. - Hike Skyline Trail

A close-up of someone standing sideways with their right hip toward the photographer. They have a blue shirt and black pants and a Gerber Gear multitool is clipped onto their waistband.
Tanner with the Gerber Armbar Scout Multi-tool (Photo: Tanner Price)

Continue from Myrtle Falls on one of the most famous trails in the park, the Skyline Trail. This nearly 5.7-mile route has 1,722 feet of elevation gain and amazing views of Nisqually Glacier above. Summer visitors love the wildflowers and cool air! 

The first half a mile is especially strenuous as you quickly gain elevation, but the trail is asphalt, which makes it a little easier to navigate. This is one of my favorite hikes in the park and gets you up close and personal to Mt. Rainier.

Before heading off on this longer hike, I made sure to clip on the Gerber Gear Armbar Scout multi-tool to stay prepared for emergencies! I'm confident the knife, saw, bottle/can opener, pry bar, hammer, & scissors will come in handy outside of cutting into tricky snack packaging!

4p.m. - Check in at White River Campground

A green tent sits on gravel among pine trees at a campsite.
Camp for the night. Photo: Tanner Price

Head to White River Campground and find a first-come, first-serve campsite for the night. There are 112 campsites here for tents, vehicles, and RVs. Picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, and drinking water are available on-site, and leashed pets are allowed.

White River Campground is the highest campground in the park at 4,232 feet. It's the last to open (it stays snowy the longest) and the first to close (it gets snowy first). Keep that in mind when scheduling your Mt Rainier National Park adventure!

This campground can fill up quickly during the summer, so head here in the morning before hiking or doing other activities to ensure you have a spot to stay for the night.

A person with long hair sitting on the back of an SUV using a knife to cut into a dehydrated backpacking meal.
Using the Gerber Gear Zilch to open lunch! Photo: Tanner Price

After checking in to your campground, enjoy a relaxing afternoon setting up camp and preparing for an early morning tomorrow. 

For dinner, I broke into my dehydrated meal with my Gerber Zilch Knife, which is slim and easy to open and close, making it the perfect no-fuss knife for camping and everyday use!

I used the Gerber Devour Multi-Fork to enjoy my warm meal. It has a kickstand so you can set the utensil on a table or even the ground without the part you eat off getting dirty. Plus, the kickstand is a bottle opener!

I absolutely LOVED how lightweight both of these tools are! They're great for backpacking when every ounce counts.

A person with long blond hair is sitting in a vehicle tailgate using a long spork to eat out of a bag of rehydrated backpacking food.
Tanner enjoying his dehydrated meal with the Gerber Gear Devour tools. Photo: Tanner Price

Day 2: Sunrise delight

5a.m. - Take in an alpine lake sunrise

Wake up an hour before sunrise and head from the White River Campground to Tipsoo Lake to watch the sun come up from one of the most beautiful spots in the park. Bring snacks if you're hungry right after waking up, or pack a thermos of coffee or tea to help start the day!

7a.m. - Go on a magical hike

A person in a baseball hat, teal jacket, black pants, and boots stands on a fire tower overlooking Mt. Rainier.
Tanner at the Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout. Photo: Tanner Price)

After watching the sunrise, head to the Sunrise Visitor Center and decide between two of my favorite hikes in the park:

Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout Trail, which is 5.7 miles and has 1,108 feet of elevation gain, is one of the most iconic hikes in the park. This out-and-back route is often less crowded than trails near Paradise but still has amazing views. 

There may be snow here into the summer, so consider bringing gaiters to attach to your hiking boots. The tower is closed to the public, but you may get lucky and take a peak inside if there is a ranger on-site. It's the perfect place to spend the morning during your Mt. Rainier National Park adventure! 

Pro tip: There is a wilderness toilet north of the lookout tower.

The sun is setting over rocky mountains. The sky is purple, pink, and light orange.
Dege Peak sunset. Photo by Tanner Price

Dege Peak Trail is 3.5 miles and has 600 feet of elevation gain with 360-degree views of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier. On a clear day, you can also spot Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mount Adams. Hikers often start at the Sunrise Visitor Center and head east to get closer to Mt. Rainier, but heading west on this route means fewer people and equally stunning vistas! This route is one of the most underrated hikes in the park. 

Before heading out on my hike, I attached the Gerber Stake Out Multi-tool and Pack Hatchet to my bag because I love always being prepared in the outdoors!

You might need the Stake Out on the trail for removing a splinter with the tweezers or the scissors for snipping off unruly hiking boot laces. The stake puller is critical in-camp, and the Ferro rod striker makes it a breeze to start a fire in a designated campfire area.

11a.m. - Take a lunch break

A close-up of a person wearing a backpacking pack with a hatchet and multitool clipped to the hip belt.
Tanner with the Gerber Stake Out Multi-tool and the Pack Hatchet. Photo: Tanner Price

Head down from the Sunrise Visitor Center to Packwood and stop at the Packwood Brewing Company to enjoy a delicious lunch after a couple active days in the park. Their menu includes quesadillas, tacos, nachos, and more, plus locally brewed favorites like the Old Snowy Strong Ale and White Pass Pale.

1p.m. - Drive to High Rock Lookout

A vehicle drives away from the camera toward snowy mountains in the distance.
Roadside views at Mt. Rainier. Photo: Tanner Price

After lunch, drive to the High Rock Lookout Trailhead, where you will spend the night and preparing for another early morning.

2p.m. - Afternoon relaxation

Arrive at the High Rock Trailhead and set up camping chairs or relax in your vehicle for the afternoon before deciding whether you are going to hike the trail for sunset or sunrise the following day. Bring a book, cards, or a boardgame to make the most of this precious downtime!

6p.m. - To hike or to rest?

At this point, you will probably be tired from an adventurous couple of days. If you have it in you, I recommend hiking to High Rock Lookout for sunset, which is a 3.2-mile walk with 1,365 feet of elevation gain. 

The out-and-back trail leads to a 1929 fire lookout tower built on rock at 5,685 feet above sea level. The hike quickly gains elevation as you climb a ridge line through old-growth trees and along a rocky ridge. 

On calm days, Lake Cora (1,800 feet below the tower) reflects the mountains and trees around it, creating a beautiful mirror effect. Bring a headlamp and stay for sunset to catch the red, orange, and yellow glow in the sky and on the water.

If you decide to do the hike for sunset, enjoy sleeping in and having a slow, relaxing morning the next day.

I decided to rest for the night and test out some of my new Gerber tools at camp before going to sleep early for an even earlier wake-up!

A close-up of a person with a yellow shirt and pink pants holding a fixed blade knife partially out of the sheath so the blade is visible.
Tanner testing the Gerber Ultimate which has a fire starter and a whistle! Photo: Tanner Price
A short-handled hatchet rests with the tip in a log in a forest.
Testing the awesome chopping power of the Gerber Pack Hatchet. Photo: Tanner Price

Day 3: End your trip with a dip

4:30a.m. - Take a sunrise hike

If you decided to relax on night two, wake up an hour and a half before sunrise and begin hiking the High Rock Lookout Trail. Watching the sunrise from the top of this lookout is one of the most magical things to do around Mt. Rainier. 

If you're here on a clear day, this will be one of the highlights of your trip! There is nothing quite like hiking in the dark, only for the sun to shine on one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see.

9a.m. - Eat a breakfast of champions

After enjoying your sunrise hike or relaxing morning, drive to Charlie’s Cafe in Enumclaw for one of the most rewarding breakfasts you can imagine! I highly recommend the waffles, as they were some of the best I’ve ever had.

12p.m. - Drive to Tolmie Peak trailhead and take a dip

After enjoying an awesome meal, head to the Tolmie Peak Trailhead. Grab a parking spot before taking a dip in Mowich Lake, a beautiful alpine lake at the base of Mt. Rainier. The water will be cold and refreshing after all the hiking you’ve done on this trip.

3p.m. - Relax and eat

After enjoying the lake, consider taking a nap or eating a small meal before hiking to the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout.

5pm - Take a sunset hike to Tolmie Peak!

Begin the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout Trail, which is 5.74 miles with 1,250 feet of elevation gain. Although this isn’t an easy trail, watching the sunset at the top is worth it. 

This is one of the best sunset hikes in all of Washington, and I highly recommend it. Bring a headlamp and flashlight so you can return to the trailhead after sunset. If you are uncomfortable hiking back in the dark, leave the fire lookout just before sunset.

A perfectly calm lake is surrounded by tall mountains with snowy Mt. Rainier in the distance. The sun is setting behind the photographer, so a shadow crosses the bottom half of the image.
Sunset Views at Tolmie Peak. Photo: Tanner Price

Check out Gerber Gear's incredible More Than Ready Collection so you can be prepared at camp, on the trails, and beyond!

A variety of multitools, knives, and a hatchet laid out on a grey rock.
These are some of my favorite tools from the awesome Gerber More Than Ready Collection! Photo: Tanner Price

I hope you found this article helpful for planning the perfect adventure to Mt. Rainier National Park!!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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