Mount Rainier National Park Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Day Trips from Seattle
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Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park

The 14,410-foot-tall active volcano for which the park is named is truly an amazing sight. Whether you're coming to tackle the mountain on a challenging hike, eager to see Paradise's wildflower meadows, or driving to Sunrise – the highest point you can get to by car – there is something to entice every visitor. Even in winter, when portions of the park are closed, exciting activities are on offer for outdoor adventurers, including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated March 28, 2019

  • #1
    Paradise
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    #1 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Paradise, which is located at an elevation of 5,400 feet, is a great place to start your park visit and where you'll find the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, the main visitor center for the park. It offers general information, exhibits, a park film, guided ranger programs, a gift store and a cafeteria. In the summer, this area is ideal for wildflower viewing, and in winter, this is the main area for activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing. The historic Paradise Inn, which is usually open from mid-May to early October, is also located in this area, as is the Guide House, where climbers can obtain permits and hiking and backcountry camping information.

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  • #2
    Sunrise
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    #2 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    From its elevation at 6,400 feet, Sunrise offers breathtaking, 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys. From this perch, travelers will have views of Mount Rainier and other volcanoes in the Cascade Range, such as Mount Adams. Sunrise is also the highest spot in the park that can be reached by vehicles. The spectacular views, coupled with a varied trail system, make Sunrise the second-most visited location in the park.

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  • #3
    Grove of the Patriarchs Trail
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    #3 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This 1-mile loop trail, which is located west of the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the Ohanapecosh River, takes you to an island where 1,000-year-old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees tower over you. Visitors call this a "beautiful loop trail" and say the old growth trees are "amazing." Travelers also said they loved the swinging suspension bridge. Self-guiding signs are posted along the trail.

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  • #4
    Silver Falls Trail
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    #4 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This 3-mile round-trip trail, which begins from the Ohanapecosh Campground, takes visitors to gorgeous Silver Falls and is relatively flat and easy to hike, making it popular with families. The trail follows the river to the falls, crosses a bridge and then loops back to the campground. Visitors call the view of the falls "spectacular" and "beautiful."

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  • #5
    Skyline Trail
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    #5 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The start of the 5 ½-mile Skyline Trail sits near the entrance to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise and is marked by stone steps inscribed with a quote by John Muir that reads: "… the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings." If you head clockwise, the trail climbs 2 miles to Panorama Point, which rewards hikers with breathtaking views.

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  • #6
    Longmire
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    #6 in Mount Rainier National Park
    Museums, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    When the park was established in 1899, James Longmire's homestead and mineral springs resort became the park's headquarters. Longmire settled in the area in the mid-1800s, discovered the springs and opened a rustic resort. Today, the original 1916 headquarters shelters a year-round museum with information and exhibits that tell the story of the early days of the park. In fact, all of Longmire is now designated as a national historic district. You'll also find the Longmire Wilderness Information Center as well as the National Park Inn here. There are several hiking trails within Longmire, including the Trail of the Shadows, a nearly 1-mile loop trail that begins near the museum, takes you on an easy walk past the Longmire hot springs, through the surrounding forest and a replica of one of the park's earliest homesteads.

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Explore More of Mount Rainier National Park

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