Mount Rainier National Park Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Day Trips from Seattle
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Getting Around Mount Rainier National Park

The best way to get around Mount Rainier National Park is by car since the park does not provide shuttle buses. On a summer weekend, it can be difficult or impossible to find parking at the Paradise, Sunrise and Grove of the Patriarchs parking lots, and at the trailheads between Longmire and Paradise. Parking is not permitted along the road edges. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park during the winter season, which lasts from Nov. 1 through May 1.

Many visitors fly into one of two major airports located about a two- to three-hour-drive away, including the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), which is about 55 miles northwest of the park, and the Portland International Airport (PDX), which sits 135 miles southwest of the park. There are three main access points to the park: the Southwest Entrance, the Northwest Entrance and the East Entrances.

The Southwest Entrance is open year-round except during extreme weather. The Northwest Entrance is also open year-round, but vehicle access is permitted only to the park entrance. After that, visitors have to go on foot or by bike. Another access point in the northwest is Mowich Lake, but due to heavy snowfall, it is only open in the summer. The East Entrances are composed of three different access points, each of which is open depending on the season and weather. Visit the park's road status website for details.

Car
While summer congestion can be a problem (try to visit on weekdays or early in the day to avoid long waits), winter has its own set of challenges. Vehicle access to the park in the winter is only available from the Nisqually Entrance, in the southwest corner of the park on the way to Paradise. The Carbon River Entrance is open but the road within the park boundary is limited to foot and bicycle traffic. Always check the road status webpage before coming to the park. You can easily rent a car at the airport if you are flying in or rent one in Portland or Seattle.
On Foot Once you've parked your car, get out and enjoy the park's many trails and attractions.

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