Established in 1899, Mt. Rainier National Park is a gorgeous state park located around 60 miles south of Seattle. It’s home to the 14,410-foot-tall Mount Rainier, a stratovolcano, and the tallest mountains in the Cascade Range. If you’re in the area of Mount Rainier for the day, here are some of the best ways to spend your time.
Ride the Train
In the nearby town of Elbe, just south of the park, visitors can take a train tour through the Upper Nisqually River all the way to the town of Mineral, Washington. There’s a museum in the town that includes a steam-train collection and features the stories of pioneers in the rail-logging camps of the early and mid-20th century. The Mount Rainier Railroad runs regularly from May through October, with scheduled holiday events throughout the year as well.
Paradise in Winter
You can visit Mount Rainier in all seasons, including winter. The area receives an average of 640 inches of snow annually. Visit the Paradise snow-play area to go tubing or snowboarding. Park rangers also lead snowshoe walks from December to March, starting from the Paradise Visitors Center.
Hike the Sunrise Trails
Located inside Mt. Rainier National Park, the Sunrise Trails stand at a 6,400-foot elevation and feature views of the surrounding valleys and other volcanoes in the Cascade Range, such as Mount Adams. The trails start in the Sunrise picnic area and continue around in a loop for 1.5 miles. You’ll pass through meadows on the trail and take in views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade. There’s also the 1-mile Sunrise Rim Trail where you’ll see views of the Emmons Glacier.
Camp in the Park
Camping in Mount Rainier is great if you want to spend a couple of days in the park. The ideal time to do this is between late June and late September, and the Northeastern section of the park is the best place in which to do this. If you do camp, you’ll enjoy vista views and trail access. This area is also closest to the Sunrise Visitor’s Center — the park’s highest one — and its amenities include fire platforms, flushing toilets, and picnic tables.
Visit the Longmire Museum
Named for James Longmire, the Longmire Museum is a historic attraction in itself, having been there for more than a century. He arrived in 1883 and established the Longmire Medicinal Springs and the Longmire Springs Hotel shortly after arriving. The museum gives out information about the area, and park rangers are on-site too. They can tell you about the best trails to take since the trails are so close by. A gift shop and picnic tables are also available at the museum, so it makes an ideal stop during a trip to the park.
Mt. Rainier National Park is one of the best and most well-known places in the state. It’s proximity to Seattle makes it a good day-trip destination or point of interest while in the area. Take advantage of one or more of these great activities to get the most out of your visit.