I have been wanting to come back to Mount Rainier National Park for years. My only previous visit was truly a wet one in which my friends and I were never able to see the mountain our entire stay. I also wanted Celia to be able to see Rainier, the Historic Paradise Inn and Sunrise Point, so this place was early on our “must visit” list. Views of Rainier are far from guaranteed, but visiting this time of year helps the odds.
The massive Mount Rainier creates its own weather and produces large amounts of rainfall on the western slopes of the mountain. Rainier also has the most glaciers of any single mountain in the lower 48 states. Additionally, settled partway up the mountain is a ranger station and inn called Paradise. Who wouldn’t want to travel to Paradise?
The highlight of our visit was the hike up Skyline Trail that leaves from this Paradise area. This loop hike takes one over 7,000 feet in elevation and- even in August- has some lingering snow on the trail. On the loop, the views of Mount Rainier are impressive and include a tremendous amount of wildflowers displaying their beauty in a race against Rainier’s early winter. We were also able to see the trekkers who were returning from scaling the mountain itself. They were easy to spot draped with ice axes, crampons, helmets and exhausted expressions on their faces.
We saw several animals on the hike as well including a bear, numerous marmots, birds, deer and chipmunks.
The hike ends with the majestic Myrtle Falls as the exclamation point to the trip.
Even outside of Paradise, there is no shortage of beauty. Just traveling along the park road presents several extraordinary falls along the way, including Narada Falls (188 ft high and 50 ft wide) and Christine Falls (69 ft high and 10 ft wide).
We also hiked in the Grove of the Patriarchs. The trail winds around many 1,000-year-old trees including Douglas Furs and Red Cedars. Some of these trees exceed 300 feet tall. The trail even includes a suspension bridge that crosses the Ohanapecosh River.
All in all, we had a spectacular time exploring Rainier and the surrounding scenes!