7 Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park in 2021

Are you planning to visit Mount Rainier soon?

If you are, I’ve compiled the 7 best things you should do in Mount Rainier National Park!

Lush flowers growing in Mount Rainier
Lush flowers growing in Mount Rainier

It is time to give yourself an amazing adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life.

For the adventurer at heart including the newbies, this is the real place for you.

Mount Rainier which is also known as Tahoma or Tacoma is an enormous active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range or the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest.

The 14410-foot-tall volcano for which the park was named is truly a sight to behold.

It is open for all kinds of activities all year long, even in winter when portions of the park are closed, you can enjoy many outdoor happenings such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.

Visit Longmire: Gateway to Mount Rainier

Longmire, Paradise, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, and Carbon River, and Mowich are the developed areas in Mount Rainier where you can enjoy activities ranging from camping, picnics, and sight-seeing.

If you are still wondering what activities you can do in Mount Rainier, here is a list of the best things to do in Mount Rainier National Park.

Fun Things to do in Mount Rainier National Park

  • Kick-off the trip with a good starter
  • Enjoy a spectacular view
  • Hike in Mount Rainier
  • Have a brunch at Paradise
  • Ride-up the mountain
  • See new exhibits
  • Shopping and more biting

7 Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park

Reflection Lake in Mount Rainier

Kick-off the Trip with A Good Starter

Plan a brief stop at the Longmire District and wander through the historic spot.

What you will learn about the park’s history at this stop helps provide a very appreciative perspective to the rest of your visit.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington
Lush green tress at the foot of the Magnificent Mount Rainier

To bring visitors to this area to enjoy hot springs, the Longmire family built guest cabins and a hotel.

Over time the area has changed but what remains are several interesting architectural buildings. 

You’ll enjoy a stroll through the Longmire museum which shares the early history of this area. 

This is also home to the National Park Inn, a cozy but plush 25 room hotel that is open all year round.

Often the road past here is closed in the winter due to snow so this is a great winter resting place as you can have your privacy.

Driving from Elbe to Longmire in Mount Rainier National Park

In the winter, Longmire is a great place to start a snowshoeing or cross-country skiing adventure while enjoying the magnificent view.

Unless you are planning to hike one of the trails that start near Longmire, you probably won’t want to spend more than 30 minutes in the Longmire District.

Well, maybe you’ll want to take a few extra minutes in Longmire and enjoy a beverage on the National Park Inn Porch.

You’ll fall in love with this open porch with comfy chairs.

Enjoy a Spectacular View

For this activity, you must never forget your binoculars because there will be plenty of sceneries you can spot.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington
Spectacular view of Mount Rainier

The Sunrise Area is located on the northeast side of the mountain and allows you to see different angles of the beautiful mountain peak.

This scenic spot is truly wonderful as you can have a close-up view of the Emmons Glacier and be in the midst of hundreds of acres of scenic wildflower meadows.

It also has the most spectacular glimpse of the first daylight so if you want to witness this, go there during the night and wake-up with a beautiful sunrise at Sunrise.

The path to Sunrise could also be a beautiful driving experience especially that the highest point is accessible by car.

Drive to Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park

If you are a hiking enthusiast, you can also walk all the way to Sunrise.

The Sunrise Visitor Center is open only during the summer months because it is usually buried in the snow because of its high elevation.

If you want to enjoy hot meals after sight-seeing, there is a snack bar at the Sunrise Day Lodge.

Enjoy this early encounter with nature while sipping a hot cup of chocolate.

Paradise is one of the most sought-after destinations in Mount Rainier.

This 5,400-foot-high area is a good place to witness spectacular views like rushing waterfalls, glacier-fed lakes, and hiking trails covered with wildflowers.

If you are looking for an overnight lodging option, you are in luck because if you stay at the 

historic Paradise Inn, you will be waking up in one of the most scenic parts of the park.

Walkthrough to Paradise

You might even be lucky to witness a “bear jam” where black bears entertain the crowd as it feasts on berries.

Marmots also come out to feed.

But remember, to help protect yourself and the health of the wild animals, please do not feed them.

Just take photos or videos for your memory album.

Myrtle Falls is one of the must-see attractions in the area with Mount Rainier as its backdrop.

It skips along the rocks and descends along the gorge carved out by the Edith Creek. 

This is the reason why it is called one of the signature views in Mount Rainier National Park.

It is less than a mile’s walk to the falls so the entire family can go together to the area.  

To have the best angle of view of the falls, take a short walk down an unpaved trail then look back up at the mountain and bridge crossing Edith Creek, where you will see a breathtaking panorama.

Waterfalls in Mount Rainier

In the extreme northwestern corner of the park is the Carbon River, named in 1876 for the coal deposits found along its upper course.

This is the chance for visitors to explore a unique ecosystem – an inland temperate rainforest.

Here, you will experience processions of moisture-laden clouds depositing profuse amounts of precipitation which is between 70 to 90 inches of rainfall down the deep canyon into the roaring glacier-fed Carbon River.

It is totally opposite of the wide and open meadows at Paradise.

In here, you will see towering Douglas firs, long-hanging moss, an endless succession of lichens and ferns.

You will feel peace and tranquility that is unparalleled in other areas of the park.

For the fans of waterfalls, you can take a trek to the Silver Fall at Ohanapecosh.

This is your opportunity for that forest experience, winding through the towering trees, listening to the roaring water while it intensifies as you approach the amazing falls. 

These falls are so refreshing during the winter, but they still continue to surge with unbelievable force even during the drier parts of the summer months as well.

Be sure to take the path going up to a viewpoint near the top of the falls, it is there where you can fully appreciate the marvel of the falls from a picturesque overlook.

In order to have easy access to Silver Falls, just take the three-mile Silver Falls loop trail from the campground of Ohanapecosh.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington
Scenic view of Mount Rainier

Take a sightseeing adventure to Mt. Rainier in the summer and see the sights from the comfort of your car if you prefer.

Bordered to the north and south by two nationally recognized scenic byways, this is your chance to tour the White Pass Scenic Byway and the Chinook Scenic Byway.

The White Pass goes around the park to the south, while the Chinook Byway passes through the park to the north.

Both byways give magnificent views, the area’s beauty fulfills a photographer’s dream to come true.

Savor your travel while passing through small mountain communities, river valleys, foothills, resource lands, and alpine countries.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington

All the sceneries are just magnificent.

Do not overlook the regions surrounding the byways.

You will find here a procession of agricultural lands, commercial and forestland properties that blended beautifully with the other scenic spots.

Furthermore, our state parks, wildlife areas, the Gifford Pinchot, and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests complete the whole panorama for your pleasure.

Hiking in Mount Rainier

The Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls in Paradise is a fairly busy trail but enjoyable because it is an uphill climb to the falls. It is also covered with wildflowers and is the best hiking trail for first-time visitors.

Hiking Essentials for Beginners
If you wish to go hiking, click here to find out the hiking essential for beginners.

The Silver Forest Trail is an easy 2 mile round trip on a fairly level path.

But you’ll also find several great moderate and challenging hikes that trailhead out of Sunrise, all leading to wonderful views of Mt Rainier and the surrounding valley.

It is a fairly easy day hike with amazing views of Mt Rainier and glaciers.

It wanders through wildflower fields that dreams are made of.

If you prefer a family-friendly hike, climb into the alpine-meadow splendor of the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

It is the trail from the Sunrise Visitor Center going to the Sourdough Ridge and to the beautiful Antler Peak.

Milky Way view of Mount Rainier from Sunrise Visitor Center

Along the way, you can admire the colorful flowers like phlox, asters, and penstemon in the volcanic ridge.

You will be utterly amazed looking over the yellow cinquefoils or potentillas, purple lupines, pink beard tongues or penstemons, and the red paintbrush and white avalanche lilies.

Stomp away on the structured pavement of nature trails from Paradise and move on into the dazzling meadows around.

The Nisqually Vista Trail is a child-friendly path where the whole family can zigzag the mountainside.

But if you want a more challenging trail, continue up the Skyline Trail.

It has jaw-dropping views fitting for a solitude hike especially for those wanting some contemplation.

This is the perfect site for lone hikers who want a bit of silence except those sounds provided by nature only.

Do not forget to visit the Grove of the Patriarchs.

In here, you can go hiking and will come across 10,000-year-old giant trees of Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and western red cedars.

The trail is magical, as moss hangs off the giant trees along the trail.

The suspension bridge over the Ohanapecosh River adds a bit of mystery and thrill. Then you follow a loop trail through these magnificent trees.

This trek alone will make your day.

Although it is a popular and busy hike, the fact that it is less than an hour round trip hike keeps traffic moving in and out.

Hiking with a crowd

If you are with a company or prefer to hike with a crowd, you will find the trailhead in the Southeast corner of Mt Rainier near the Stevens Canyon entrance the best alternative for you. As they say, the more the merrier.

Have a Brunch at Paradise Inn

Take a Break on the Veranda of the Mount Rainier Paradise Inn.

The lobby, restaurant, and Veranda are true public areas that you would not want to miss.

The Paradise Inn veranda is a great place to grab a beverage and relax while breathing in the beauty of this place.

You’ll love the architecture of the Paradise Inn.

The rustic-style inn opened in 1916.

As you walk into the great room you will find a large timber frame exposed on the interior.

These timbers were selected from the park forest and hauled by horses to the construction site. 

Since then there have been multiple additions and updates to the Inn, but to this day the grandeur of the original design has been retained.

One of the best places to dine is in the rustic lodge halfway up the mountain of the Paradise Inn Dining Room.

The resident chef of the Inn prepares one of the best cuisines in the area with smoked salmon, seasonal fresh fruits, delectable desserts, and other brunch favorites.

You can enjoy a sumptuous meal in a large open dining room and at the same time, watch the amazing view from the tall windows of the lodge.

Aside from the atmosphere, the staff is also very friendly.

The Summit House also serves breathtaking meals aside from the beautiful scenery from the top of the 7000-foot Crystal Mountain.

Summit House Dinners serve energizing and hearty soups, gourmet pizzas, fresh salads, pastas, and fondue, aside from its daily specials while you watch the Northwest’s most popular volcanic peaks.

The Summit House is ready to serve all year-round.

Come during the summer months, it offers sumptuous dinners amidst a dramatic sunset.

And on Sundays, join the not-to-be-missed Sunday brunches.

Ride-up the Mountain 

For those who are train fanatics and are always up for thrill rides, experience the beautiful train ride through the foothills in the Elbe.

You will enjoy the picturesque ride on a vintage logging locomotive into the countryside near the mountain.

Have a feel of how people of yesteryears travel.

This train offers a friendly and fun ambiance. There is plenty of space for you especially for children in the group to walk around and see the sights at their preferred angles.

The train is complete with a snack bar. Also, there are several bathrooms for your comfort.

The conductors give a brief history lesson and are kind enough to answer your queries about the area.

As the train crosses the Nisqually River, you cannot help but gasp at the spectacular view of the great mountain.

You can also opt to ride up the Mt. Rainier Gondola. You can cruise over wildflower fields and enjoy the beauty of mountain streams.

You can see through the crystal-clear waters. Then, enjoy an amazing meal once you reach the top.

See New Exhibits

The Sunrise Visitor Center features exhibits on the history of the park’s Sunrise area. 

You can improve your geology skills by studying how the volcanic forces created the mountain and how the glaciers molded the landscape.

Learn about the plant and animal life and the tribes that were bound to the area through the photos, videos, models, and artifacts that are displayed.

You will fully appreciate the results of nature nurturing and preservation.

Shopping and More Biting

At the shops of each cabin, you can shop and buy snacks. You can find gift shops selling novelty items or even grab some sandwiches to eat along the way.

These activities are really fun but make sure you take safety precautions when you are at Mount Rainier.

The mountain can be dangerous if you are not careful and prepared.

Although many of the park facilities and roads are closed during the winter months, winter also brings new chances for fun and enjoyment.

The snow and frost transform the mountain and its forest, so do not forget to learn first about geohazards, winter safety, hiking safety, and wildlife safety before embarking on this adventure. 

Moreover, the place can be quite crowded at certain times.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington

The waiting times at the Nisqually and White River Entrances can go over an hour on the busiest summer weekends and holidays.

So, when you plan your trip to Mount Rainier, try visiting mid-week during the summer months, which is generally less crowded.

Consider entering the park before 10:00 am or after 2:30 pm to help avoid delays when visitors are heavy.

Parking is also limited in many areas of the mountain.

Most important of all, plan ahead of time and follow these tips to avoid summer congestion. 

Final Thoughts

Mount Rainier National Park is home to exciting and fun adventures. You can spend an amazing time with yourself, your partner, or even your whole family.

Now that we’ve listed all the different things you can do in Mount Rainier National Park, tell us what are fun activities you’re planning to do during your stay in Mount Rainier.

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