Mount Rainier vs. Olympic National Park – Comparison 2021

Mount Rainier vs Olympic National Park
Mount Rainier vs Olympic National Park

It is probably frustrating for the people who love outdoors that this pandemic has limited their movements.

Good thing that there are some national parks that are already open provided that they are following safety protocols.

Washington is very rich when it comes to national parks.

It has 3 majestic national parks and today, we are going to compare Mount Rainier versus Olympic National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are two of the most visited national parks in Washington.

Among the three national parks in Washington, these two are the popular ones.

Probably because of its accessibility, Mount Rainier tops the popularity list.

If you are in Washington, and you want to visit places, do not miss out on visiting these two national parks.

This article will somehow give you an overview of what can you expect from both national parks, and hopefully can help you decide which would you want to visit first.

Mount Ranier National Park

Mount Ranier is considered to be one of the oldest national parks.

Mount Ranier is an active volcano that erupted many times before.

Now, it is one of the most visited parks in Washington.

The national park can be accessed through 5 different roads.

Before becoming a national park that we know today, Mount Ranier has to overcome a lot of controversies first.

Its status as a national park was a product of a long campaign of preservation and campaign against mining.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington

Even the name of the park has a colorful history as well.

It is said that the British George Vancouver was the one who named the peak in 1972.

He named it after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier of the Royal Navy.

However, for the Americans in the region, they prefer to call the mountain, Mount Tacoma.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is the largest among the 3 national parks in Washington.

It covers almost 1 million acres of the state.

Aside from having a magnificent rainforest, Olympic National park also has a lakeshore, highlands, and the Pacific Coastline.

It was during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt that Olympic was declared to be a national park.

This is because President Roosevelt would want to preserve the natural treasures of the park such as lush forests and snowcapped peaks.  

Mount Rainier versus Olympic National Park: Head to Head


It is understandable that you would want to go out because staying at home all the time can be tiresome.

You would need a break and a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

If you are planning your hike, and it is your first time, then you would probably be wondering which should be visited first.

Hurricane Ridge of Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge of Olympic National Park

Although this will depend on where you are coming from, Mount Rainier is probably the more convenient park between the two.

Mount Ranier can be accessed through 5 different roads.

On the other hand, Olympic National Park can also be accessed multiple ways but the more popular way is to do it via Port Angeles.


It has been said that Olympic National Park has more diverse activities to offer than Mount Rainier.

Probably because of the landscape of Olympic National Park itself that comprised of forest, mountain, hot springs, and ocean.

Visitors to Olympic National Park can have a wide range of options for activities compared to visitors of Mount Rainier.

Hiking with a crowd

But if you are just after the hike, then Mr. Rainier is a better option for you.

Mount Rainier can give you a spectacular view of the mountains and Washington.

Visitors and time

Since Mount Rainier is more accessible compared to Olympic, it is expected for Mount Rainier to have more visitors than the latter.

Mount Rainier can be crowded at times.

And if you are visiting, you should also consider how long are you planning to do your vacation.

If you are free for a longer period of time, then you might want to go to Olympic to experience their activities.

Because Olympic has so much to offer, one weekend could not be enough to explore the whole park.

But if you are only free during the weekends, then go for Mount Rainier and try hiking on their famous glaciers.

Where to Stay?

Both parks have hotels and lodges within them where you can stay.

For Mount Rainier, many recommend staying at Paradise Inn which is an iconic national park lodge.

Olympic has a lot of options but many opt to go for Lake Crescent Lodge.

You could also choose to go camping as they have camping sites around the place and be one with nature during your whole stay.

When is the best time to visit?

July through August is the best time to visit both parks.

It is because, during this time, many wildflowers are blossoming in the fields.

The warm weather is also ideal for hiking the mountain during this time.

For Mount Rainier, you can have the best view of the meadows this season.

For Olympic National Park, many activities are available if the season is warm and dry.

Hiking Trails

Comparing the two, Olympic National Park has more trails for hiking compared to Mount Rainier.

For Mount Rainier, there are 4 trails to choose from if you are hiking, depending on how difficult you want your trail.

For Olympic National Park, there are 12 popular hiking trails that you can choose from.

There might be other trails out so you might want to check that out and explore.

Fast Facts

Comparing the two, here are some distinct comparison about them:

 Mount Rainier National ParkOlympic National Park
Land Size236,381 acres922,650 acres
Highest Point14411 ft7980 ft
Annual Visitors2.25 M (20193.25 M (2019)
Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park Comparison Chart

Final Thoughts

Overall, it all boils down to what your preferred activity is.

If you are after a more relaxed vacation, and just doing some site seeing, then you may want to go to Olympic National Park.

Because Olympic National Park has so many activities to offer aside from hiking.

Since it has a more diverse landscape, you can go to the different parts of the park and enjoy what nature has to offer.

However, if you are after a more adventurous activity and hiking is one of your ways to relax, then you may opt to go for Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier is more than just a mountain to hike.

With its magnificent view and accessibility, it can help you experience the tranquil atmosphere that you want.

If you have time and you are able, you should visit both parks as they offer different things.

It is always good to be one with nature once in a while.

Take a break from the busy noises and hear the sound of nature instead.