Added by Lucas Boland
With a relatively painless 1.5 mile hike, you can find yourself in an alpine scene like the ones you see in photos. With slightly more effort, you can camp under the night sky and gaze at one of the nation's most beautiful peaks doused by starlight! All only about two hours from Seattle.
It's always a good idea to check the weather, but when it comes to getting a peak at Mt. Rainier you might be better off just showing up and hoping for a miracle. To do this from Seattle, you'll have a 2 hour 20 minute drive down I-5 and WA-167. After a couple turns here and there (you can follow the directions for the google maps directions) you'll hit Paradise Road E, which will take you directly to paradise, also known as Paradise meadows. Once you get to the end of the road, there will be the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and parking lot.
For an overnight trip you'll want to get a backcountry permit from the visitor center. This is quick and easy, and more importantly, free during the off season! They do require a bear canister be used, so if you already have one I'd recommend you bring it, although the rental too is free during the off season months. They will direct you to the overnight parking area, and from there you will gear up and head over to the Deadhorse Creek Trailhead, which is just at the top of the sledding hill. Once you get on the trail, it's a straightforward hike. There should be a clear path of marks where others have been snowshoeing and skinning up on skis, as well as plenty of hikers out there on the trail with you. It's a fairly easy hike with only around 1000 feet of elevation gain over a gentle slope. Once you arrive at a wide open, snowy expanse you will be able to look to the northwest and see a steep slope where skiers are ascending the face. If Mt. Rainier is out, it'll be right in front of you. Once you're looking at this view, you are at the Glacier Vista. It's a moderately large expanse, and you can take your pick of where you want to camp for the night. Somewhere shielded from the wind is best, as it tends to get windy after sundown.
Once you have found a spot and set up camp, rest easy knowing that you're sleeping in the shadow of Mt. Rainier (even if you can't see it). The cloudy months of winter can be unforgiving to big mountain views, but sometimes...you might just get lucky. The next day, or however long you decide to stay, simply hop on the same trail you came up on to make it back down. Enjoy!
- Site info: visitrainier.com/glacier-vista-snowshoe-2/
- 4 season tent
- 20-degree sleeping bag, minimum
- Sleeping pad
- Snow shovel
- Food for dinner and breakfast
- Snow pants
- Snow jacket
- Insulating layers
- Extra socks
- Liners and gloves
- Eating utensils
- Hot chocolate
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