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4 Adventures to Explore Mount Rainier

​Mount Rainier beckons you in.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Only a couple hours from Seattle yet worlds away, Mount Rainier National Park gets you away from crazy city life. Heed the call and make your way up to the mountain.

Within the Park, you’ll find over 275 miles of maintained trails leading through old-growth forest and right onto the flanks of the most glaciated peak in the lower 48. You’ll also find pristine lakes and rushing waterfalls, perfect for a moment of Zen.

Whether you’re headed up to the mountain for recreation or relaxation, the Paradise Inn makes a great basecamp.

Originally built in 1917, Paradise Inn is a reminder of simpler times. It is the perfect place to unplug and unwind. You won't find telephones, televisions, or internet, but in their stead you'll find the lure of adventure. Paradise is, in fact, a fitting description. You’ll have easy access to all that the Park has to offer, but, at the end of the day you’ll can return home to a tasty meal and a warm bed.

Hike the Snowfield to Camp Muir

Image by Larissa Liu

For a bird’s eye view of the park without strapping on cramp-ons, set your sights on the hike to Camp Muir. This trail follows the main route to the summit of Mount Rainier but stops at the climber’s hut. You’ll travel through wildflower-filled subalpine meadows before starting the snow trek up to 10,080 feet. The trail is 9 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 4,788. Hard, but it the views and the glissading make it all worthwhile.

Explore Roadside Waterfalls

Image by Lorene Voskinarian

The summer months mean plenty of water comes rushing off the glaciers above. Several stunning waterfalls are only a short drive from the Paradise Inn. Heading west down Paradise Road, first you’ll come to Narada Falls, where a short walk will put you face to face with the 176-foot falls. Another four miles on the same road and you’ll come to a parking area for Christine Falls, a two-tiered waterfall named for the daughter of P.B. Van Trump, one of the first to summit Mount Rainier. 

Take a Trip to Sunrise

Image by Whitney James

Not every hike on Mount Rainier needs to burn out your lungs and your legs. For more relaxed—but no less beautiful—hiking opportunities, head to Sunrise Visitor Center. At 6,400 feet elevation, Sunrise is the highest point in the park that you can reach with a vehicle, and offers gorgeous 360-degree views. From there, you can head out on hikes such as the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail (5.6 miles roundtrip) or the Frozen Lake Loop Trail (3 miles).

The Sunrise Visitor Center offers snacks and a small retail shop, but no accommodations. The closest campground is White River, 11 miles away. 

Hunt for Wildflowers

Image by Michael Matti

The short summer season on Rainier makes for spectacular wildflower blooms. Mount Rainier National Park keeps a “Currently Blooming” section updated on their website. You can learn the names of the brightly colored blooms, or just enjoy the show. 

Stand on the Summit

Image by John David Whittington III

Whether going with a guided trip or attempting the climb solo, Paradise Inn makes an ideal starting point for a round trip to the top. Topping out at 14,410 feet, the 5th-highest point in the lower 48, summiting Mount Rainier is a bucket-list achievement. With over 9,000 feet of vertical gain from the Paradise Inn, and crevasse filled glaciers, this climb isn’t for the inexperienced. Standing on the summit will make memories that last a lifetime.

With all that exploring, don’t forget our favorite activity, relaxing. The impressive views from Paradise Inn lobby are a great way to start and end your day, and provide the perfect backdrop for a moment of Zen.

Cover photo by Michael Matti

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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