We see it as soon as the sky is clear, and we live next to it. But you cannot stop there! We must go! Mount Rainier was named Tahoma by the Native Americans. It is the highest summit of the Cascade mountain range : 14,410 ft. tall, it is an active volcano that is very closely monitored.
Today Rainier is the primary objective of mountain enthusiasts. Those who are luckiest with the weather can reach the summit — with a mountain guide because the ascent is dangerous (two organizations: Alpine Ascents and RMI Expeditions).
Skiers go down the slopes of Crystal, one of the biggest ski resorts near Seattle. You can get there during the day (it’s only a 2-hour drive from the city).
In summer, the volcano’s slopes are covered with meadows and wildflowers (see Spray Park-lien), primary forests cover the inner slopes. Except in cases of force majeure, the roads allow you to reach the sites of Paradise and Crystal all year round (with chains if necessary). On the other hand, the road to the southeast, which leads to the Sunrise site, is only open from the end of May to the beginning of October.
This is the highest point in the park that can be reached by car, at 6,400 ft, and along the way you can stop at the various parking lots to contemplate unforgettable views of Mount Rainier.
A hike at the site is a must! Park rangers are there to provide information, they are always attentive and give good advice. Depending on snow level and the weather, they will suggest the best hiking paths. And even if you don’t intend to go walking you’ll have an enjoyable time at the Visitor Center.
The site is superb, and, whether you intend to walk or not, a visit is highly recommended. You can visit year-round as long as weather conditions allow.
The hotel, the Paradise Inn, built in 1916 in these beautiful surroundings, is a nice idea for a weekend getaway. It is the only place you can stay. From mid-May to the beginning of October you can have lunch there. You can stop by the gift shop, the bookstore and, especially, the Visitor Center to enjoy the exhibits of the flora and fauna of the mountains and learn how these species survive in such a harsh and snowy environment. Visit the mountaineering and geology exhibit and watch the short film about the park.
This is the departure point of experienced hikers for the ascent of Mount Rainier or the first base camp called Camp Muir, which can be reached in 4 hours, if you are well-trained. A hike to tick off your list!
In summer, walks among the wildflowers are sublime. When Martha, the daughter-in-law of James Longmire, the mountaineer and initiator of the park’s development, first saw this site, she exclaimed, “Oh, what a paradise!” The site found its name.
About the Parks and Mont Rainier: https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm
About Spray Park: https://iciseattle.com/en/spray-park-hike-mount-rainier/
Translated by Laura