Being able to see a place like Mount Reiner is a really special opportunity. Although the United States has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, this one will leave you speechless. If you are looking for things to do in Mount Rainier has so much to offer. Some trails are even good for families with small kids. And you can enjoy a picnic with amazing panoramic views around you.
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1. Myrtle Falls
A view of Myrtle Falls with wonderful Mount Rainier in the background is so stunning that a hike to these falls is well worth your while. The falls are 72 feet high, and the mountain behind them is the 14,410-foot volcano.
The falls are located within the Paradise area. This is the busiest part of the national park with many tourists coming from Seattle on day trips.
The shortest trail to the falls starts at the entrance of Paradise Inn and is only 0.3 miles long. The road is paved and it is great for families with little ones. It takes approximately half an hour to walk to the falls and you can use strollers.
If the day is clear you will see the snowy peak of Mount Rainier. And also some scenic surroundings along the way. From this trail, you can go on other trails in the area, and see Sluiskin Falls or the Nisqually Glacier.
To get to Myrtle Falls, cross a small bridge over Edith Creek Basin. Turn left off the route, aiming for the Myrtle Falls viewpoint, which is one of the trail’s most beautiful views.
After taking some shots, you may either continue for a longer stroll or rejoin the route and return to the parking area, where you will find the Paradise parking lot a half-mile later, close to the Paradise Inn.
Address: Ashford, WA 98304
2. Reflection Lakes
If you are looking for outstanding things to do Mount Rainier offers several great natural landmarks, like these magnificent Reflection Lakes.
Don’t forget cameras because you will want to take as many photos as possible when you see a gorgeous mountain reflecting in a crystal clear lake.
This is over 3 miles long trail, located near Paradise Inn, Washington. It takes an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes to accomplish this fairly difficult course. Some parts of the trail are steep and can be really wet, so be careful when walking.
It is a very popular trail and in the spring and summer seasons, it gets very crowded. Although the trial is available year-round most people visit from April through November.
Located along Stevens Canyon Road, during the summer months of June through September you can drive close to the lakes, which is one of the best scenic drives in the area.
Boating and fishing are not permitted in Reflection Lakes. Snowshoers and hikers may still reach the region in the winter and winter camp around the frozen lake.
Three major trails to get to the lake are Lakes Trail, Pinnacle Peak Trail, and Wonderland Trail. The Lakes Trail is a three-mile loop trail that begins at either end of the parking lots near the lakes and loops back.
The route begins on the west side of the lake. It climbs to the ridge above it, then follows the ridge to Faraway Rock before returning to the lake. Faraway Rock provides great views of the lakes.
3. Narada Falls
Narada Falls is open to visitors year-round, with parking and resting areas being available as well. But be aware that during the winter, the trail is covered in snow and dangerous.
Narada Falls is located east of the park’s southwest gate, while Paradise is northeast. It is approximately 150 feet from the road to Paradise. It’s the park’s largest and most magnificent waterfall accessible by automobile.
A parking lot with a perspective, picnic tables, restrooms, a stone-faced bridge spanning the top of the Narada Falls, and a walk leading to a picturesque overlook make up the area.
To go to the facilities and a steep route to the foot of the waterfall, cross the bridge. The path may be damp and slick. The route is 0.2 miles long (0.4 miles round trip) and features a sharp 200-foot dip and rise.
To the south, the route links to the 97-mile Wonderland Trail, which rounds the mountain. Take the route north to reach the Lakes Trail. It goes to the east to Reflection Lakes and the north to Paradise.
The entire waterfall is seen after the short trial. The view is not just of the stunning falling water, but also of the rock that forms the steep drop. The Paradise River is fascinating because it flows across a recent flow of hard andesite lava.
The waterfall cascades in two levels, altogether 188 feet tall. of 168 feet and 20 feet. The upper tier is a horsetail 168 feet high that cascades down a fairly vertical rock into a canyon that runs perpendicular to it in numerous strands.
In wintertime, the upper falls freeze and they are a popular destination for ice climbers. The lower tier which is 20 feet tall is a considerably more gentle descent.
4. The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail
This short trail is suitable for everyone, including children. They will especially enjoy crossing the suspension bridge over the river, to a little island of massive old-growth trees.
The Grove of the Patriarchs is a magical place filled with ancient growth trees and a thriving forest floor. While weaving among centuries-old trees, go along trails with boardwalks, bridges, and dirt roads.
Hundreds of thousands of hikers visit this trail each year. The Grove of the Patriarchs is a self-guided nature walk that runs for 1.1 miles round way.
Standing next to one of the cedars, hemlocks, or giant Douglas-firs, some of the trees are 40 feet wide. If you look up you will feel very small standing by the trees that are over 300 feet tall.
Follow a wooden boardwalk as it winds among these huge trees, and read information about forest ecology via interpretive signage along the way.
The trail starts at the Grove of the Patriarchs trailhead, which is located near the Stevens Canyon Entrance. The trailhead has a parking area and facilities like restrooms and picnic tables.
This trailhead is connected to several other trails. The Eastside Trail is immediately before the suspension bridge that spans the Ohanapecosh River.
Hikers may also reach the Silver Falls Trail by crossing Stevens Canyon Road and continuing 0.5 miles to the Eastside Trail Trailhead, where they will find the Silver Falls Trail.
5. Chinook Scenic Byway
From the undulating fields of Enumclaw west of the Cascades to the Naches Valley east of the range, runs the Chinook Pass Scenic Byway. This two-lane pass winds its way around the northeastern side of Mount Rainier.
This drive offers more than just picture-perfect views of the continental United States’ second highest mountain. This is a “hands-on” route with plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and walk through lush woods, alongside raging rivers, and across high desert plains.
Every mile appears to offer a different microclimate, so pack additional layers of clothing, a good pair of shoes, and don’t forget your camera.
Mount Rainier, standing 14,410 feet towering at the commencement of the byway, steals the show and confronts the sky. Explore an old-growth forest or snowshoe a peaceful trail in Rainier’s foothills.
The American, White, Naches, and Greenwater rivers cut these paths long ago, so flowing water seems to be your continuous companion as you go east. Finally, the western Cascades’ thick Douglas fir forests will give way to the sparser tamarack and ponderosa pine forests of eastern Washington’s foothills.
There are numerous benefits at the end of the byway: miles of the horizon, plentiful animals, farm stalls full of local products, and, most of the time, mild weather and clear eastern Washington sky.
Website: https://chinookscenicbyway.com/ Address: 1421 Cole St, Enumclaw, WA 98022
6. Skyline Loop Trail
The Skyline Loop Trail is the major hiking path out of Paradise, and one of Mount Rainier’s south side most popular destinations.
During the peak summer season, the Skyline Trail will be brimming with colorful splashes of mountain heather, scarlet paintbrush, lupines, cascade asters, and bistort, as well as views of mighty glaciers, and cascading waterfalls.
You can start the trail at the parking lot in Paradise near the Jackson Visitor Center. If you don’t have a map with you, stop by the visitor center to get one.
You can hike the trail in clockwise or counterclockwise directions, and it takes about 4-5 hours to finish it. If you start early in the morning it is better to go counter-clockwise, so that the sun follows you.
Before doing this trek, make sure to check the trail conditions. Hiking this path early in the season might be dangerous. Take a break on the benches or the rocks. To safeguard sensitive sub-alpine flora, stay on the route.
Several areas of the park have been classified as day-use only. Because of the resource damage caused by too many people in locations too fragile to support it, some areas have been restricted to overnight camping.
Paradise is only open for daily usage. Make sure to hike only on the trails that have been built to assist reduce the impact on this fragile area. Trail conditions are provided in ranger stations, visitor centers, and wilderness information centers throughout the park.
Address: Ashford, WA 98304
The beautiful landscapes and floral fields of Paradise are well-known and attract visitors from all around the world. Paradise is also the park’s main winter-use region, with an average annual snowfall of 643 inches.
Snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing are all popular winter activities here. The route between Longmire and Paradise is plowed throughout the winter, although it closes at night.
The main attractions of the south side where Paradise is located are subalpine meadows, the Jackson Visitor Center, the historic Paradise Inn.
If your choice for seeing the area is scenic driving, you can stop by Paradise Valley Route, Reflection Lakes, and Inspiration Point, which is a huge turnout on Stevens Canyon Road just east of Paradise Valley Road that offers amazing views of Mount Rainier and the Tatoosh Range.
If you’re planning a hiking trip to Paradise, keep in mind that it’s at a height of 5,400 feet, so the paths can be steep and tough. Trails can be covered with snow far into June or into July.
The best trails for first-time visitors are Deadhorse Creek Trail and Morraine Trail. Alta Vista Trail, Nisqually Vista Trail, and Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls.
Paradise is a historic area as well, with the popular 1917 landmark, Paradise Inn. When you visit Paradise Inn you can also see additional historic buildings in the area and learn more about its history.
Sunrise is the highest point in Mount Rainier National Park you can go to by automobile, at a height of about 6,400 feet. Wildflowers thrive in highland meadows throughout the summer.
Sunrise offers spectacular views of Mount Rainier and the Emmons Glacier on clear summer days. Sunrise Point provides a panoramic view of the surroundings.
It is the park’s second most frequented spot, because of its spectacular vistas and great route system. Sunrise is 60 miles northeast of the Nisqually Entrance on State Route 410 and 14 miles northwest of the Sunrise/White River turnoff.
Sunrise Road is accessible from late June to early July and shuts from late September to early October. Before leaving, make sure the road is in good condition.
You should also consider exploring the Longmire, Carbon River-Mowich Lake region, Ohanapecosh, and Paradise parts of the park.
From early July to early September, the Sunrise Visitor Center is open every day, and it is closed throughout the winter. Book sales, exhibits, guided interpretive programs, and a picnic space are all available to visitors.
The Sunrise Day Lodge, which is open from early July to late September and serves food and has a gift store, is open Friday through Tuesday. The Sunrise Day Lodge does not provide overnight accommodations.
If you are driving in the area stop by some of the attractions along the way. Tipsoo Lake is a subalpine lake in a glacier-carved valley surrounded by magnificent wildflower meadows near Chinook Pass.
Another attraction is White River Patrol House, a historic patrol cabin that was erected in the late 1920s and is one of a system of patrol cabins connected by trails that assisted the park’s early rangers in protecting the park.
The most popular natural landmark is Sunrise Point, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Cascade Range to the east, Sunrise Lake to the north, and Mount Rainier to the southwest from this vantage point.
Longmire became the park headquarters of Mount Rainier National Park in 1899. James Longmire’s homestead, accommodation, and mineral springs resort were all located on the property.
Although the park’s offices are no longer in Longmire, the original 1916 headquarters building now houses a museum that chronicles the park’s early years.
The “newer” Longmire Administration Building, erected in 1930 across the street from the museum, currently houses park employee offices and the Longmire Wilderness Information Center. Longmire has been classified as a National Historic District in its entirety.
You can see exhibits, get information, and buy books at the Longmire Museum, which is open every day throughout the year.
Visitors can get wilderness permits and information on hiking and backcountry camping from May to October at the Wilderness Information Center, while in wintertime, they can get them at the Longmire Museum.
Stop by the National Park Inn, which is a motel, restaurant, and gift store, if you want a quick lunch or to buy souvenirs. It is open year-round.
10. Stargazing at Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier is the best stargazing location in this part of the United States. It is not stunning only during the day, but also at night when a beautiful sky full of stars opens up.
The popular locations for stargazing are Sunrise Visitor Center, Frozen Lake via Sourdough Ridge Trail, and Paradise Inn.
The Sunrise region is by far the most popular spot for stargazing on Mount Rainier. Specifically, start from the Sunrise Visitor Center’s parking lot. On clear evenings during Milky Way season, other stargazers and astrophotographers will certainly join you.
Regular stargazers advise that a short night trek will provide an even better view if you wish to avoid the throng. Take the Sourdough Ridge Trail to Frozen Lake from the Sunrise area.
You just need to travel a mile or two to enjoy a fantastic view, the route is 1.6 miles each way, so even if you take the entire trip, it’ll be a pleasant stroll under the stars.
There are several stargazing places in the Paradise region, one of the most popular being at the Paradise Inn. They provide stargazing sessions, which makes it a perfect place to visit if you plan on staying in this region of the park for several days.
While these three places may not appear to provide a lot of alternatives, you can always go stargazing on your own by taking a night trek out into the trails from either Paradise or Sunrise. Plan ahead and pack all of the necessary equipment, including headlights and red torches, to ensure your safety.
If you have found things to do, Mount Rainier is waiting for you. Pack for an amazing hiking experience, and bring along cameras and binoculars to observe all the wonderful nature around.