Paradise#1 in Best Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park
Price & Hours
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.
Visitors call the area "breathtaking" and "gorgeous," especially in peak wildflower season (July to August). Paradise also gets high marks for its visitor center and ranger programs. The only downside is that since it is so popular, parking can be hard to come by and you may experience long waits, according to some previous visitors.
There are a bevy of trails in the Paradise Area, including the picturesque Nisqually Vista Trail, a 45-minute loop trail that affords views of Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier. You can also reach several areas by car, including the one-way Paradise Valley Road, which begins from the Paradise Inn and weaves through a beautiful meadow-filled valley. Reflection Lakes, located 3 miles east of Paradise on Stevens Canyon Road, is another roadside attraction. Here, visitors may be able to see Mount Rainier's reflection in the subalpine lakes.
Access to Paradise is included in park admission. The area is located 19 miles east of the Nisqually Entrance and 12 miles east of Longmire. For more information, visit the NPS website.
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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.
Two short hikes are quite popular here, including the Sunrise Nature Trail and Sunrise Rim Trail. The 1 ½-mile Sunrise Nature Trail starts from the Sunrise picnic area and is a self-guided loop tour that weaves through meadows with breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades along the way. The 1-mile-long Sunrise Rim Trail leads to two overlooks of Emmons Glacier.
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