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Mountain Rainier?

uop1497

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Hello ,

We are heading to Seattle during labor day and DH wants to visit mountain Rainer for 1 day . We are looking for advice how to make the most of it in 1 day trip

If you have visited this park and have good tip of sight seeing (must seen), please share . Thank you
 
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Passepartout

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On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier from all over N.W. Washington. Visitor's centers are open year around. Here's a link with hours, weather, trail, and road reports. http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/hours.htm I have personally never been up on the mountain, but it's sure a pretty one.

Jim
 

uop1497

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Thanks Jim,

I looked at the Park website before posting my question here . I know that only 1 day is not enough to see the whole park . I would like suggestion of Tuggers to make the most of it in one day . We will be driving from Seattle to this park
 

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If it were me, I would drive up to Paradise. That's where the main Visitors Center is located and also the historic Paradise Lodge (you might be able to have lunch at said lodge). Also great views of the mountain (if not cloudy) and brief walks/hikes in the immediate vicinity. You can also check out Longmire along the way.

That will probably take several hours (and I would expect crowds on the Labor Day weekend). Some bus tours attempt to circumnavigate the entire mountain, but that would make for a very l-o-n-g day in my opinion.
 

Passepartout

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Mount Ranier is huge and you won't be able to see everything in a day.

My suggestion is to go to the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise.

For more info see http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/paradise.htm


Richard

I fixed the link. ( I figured I have a long time to find Paradise. Who knew?)

Added: I just searched the route, Google Maps suggest it's about 106 miles from Seattle (less from around the airport) and about 2 1/2 hours to the visitor's center by the best route.
 
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Ty1on

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If it were me, I would drive up to Paradise. That's where the main Visitors Center is located and also the historic Paradise Lodge (you might be able to have lunch at said lodge). Also great views of the mountain (if not cloudy) and brief walks/hikes in the immediate vicinity. You can also check out Longmire along the way.

That will probably take several hours (and I would expect crowds on the Labor Day weekend). Some bus tours attempt to circumnavigate the entire mountain, but that would make for a very l-o-n-g day in my opinion.

I'm sitting here visualizing every passenger on the bus sitting on one side so that they can see the mountain the entire trip, and giggling.
 

uop1497

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Thank you ALL for valuable inputs :)

Our plan is to visit this park on Monday or Tuesday (if weather is nice) . DH sees beautiful pictures on the website and suggest we should have a brief visit this mountain on this trip

Visit Paradise seems a very good option for this trip. Can someone please give more details about Longmire and What to see & to do . Not sure at this time, but we may circle the whole park since we will have to drive back to Seattle and if weather is nice .

Should we stay in town of Ashford or inside the park for 1 night . Have anyone one stayed national Park Inn or Paradise park in .Which one is better? DH wants to stay in Seattle and driving here for a day trip ? Can it doable ?

What is best route to go from Seattle to Paradise with less traffic ? We will rent a mid size SUV . Do we need full 4 wheels drive or that is good enough for the road inside park ?
 
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MULTIZ321

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I fixed the link. ( I figured I have a long time to find Paradise. Who knew?)

Added: I just searched the route, Google Maps suggest it's about 106 miles from Seattle (less from around the airport) and about 2 1/2 hours to the visitor's center by the best route.

Thanks Jim. I corrected my post too.

Richard
 

sue1947

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Thank you ALL for valuable inputs :)

Our plan is to visit this park on Monday or Tuesday (if weather is nice) . DH sees beautiful pictures on the website and suggest we should have a brief visit this mountain on this trip

Visit Paradise seems a very good option for this trip. Can someone please give more details about Longmire and What to see & to do . Not sure at this time, but we may circle the whole park since we will have to drive back to Seattle and if weather is nice .

Should we stay in town of Ashford or inside the park for 1 night . Have anyone one stayed national Park Inn or Paradise park in .Which one is better? DH wants to stay in Seattle and driving here for a day trip ? Can it doable ?

What is best route to go from Seattle to Paradise with less traffic ? We will rent a mid size SUV . Do we need full 4 wheels drive or that is good enough for the road inside park ?

I have been going to Mount Rainier all my life and go many times per year. A day trip from Seattle is easy. Labor Day Weekend will be packed especially at Paradise. Do you want to hike or just sightsee? If hike, how many miles and how much elevation. If just sightsee, then you can do the tour of the whole mountain in a day; you won't see everything but can get a very good overview.

The roads are paved but some can be very windy. You absolutely do NOT need a SUV or 4WD. A smaller car will be easier to park. Go the best weather day, but Tuesday will be better than Monday.

The 2 main areas are Paradise and Sunrise. The former is a little lower and has more vegetation; this is where the main flower show is and where most of the pictures are taken. The flower show this year was very early and is mostly done for the year. Sunrise is a little higher and is more tundra like. Sunrise is more likely to have good weather while Paradise is more likely to get fogged. Check on when they are closing the visitor center at Sunrise; it tends to be sometime after Labor Day and I think it was early last year.

Lodging: I suspect you will be hard-pressed to find lodging in the park but it's worth checking. Longmire has the National Park Inn, which is my favorite. It's down below treeline but has a nice view of the Mountain across the street. Most of the rooms have a bathroom down the hall which is an okay setup. The lodge at Paradise has location, but the rooms are underwhelming. There are lots of options in Ashford as well. This side of the mountain is the more expensive since that's where all the tourists go. You can also stay at Crystal Mountain on the NE side of the mountain. It's a ski area with lots of condos and you are more likely to find a spot. It's less than an hour from Sunrise.

The drive from Seattle is around 2 hours to Sunrise and 2.5 to Paradise depending on where in Seattle you are; there can be an hours difference. Let me know where in Seattle you are staying and I can suggest directions for you.

Sue
 

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@Sue,

Thank you for coming to my thread with wonderful advice .

Regarding the weather, can you please tell me how to check it in order to know if it is nice weather at Paradise or not.

Since we have only 1 day to spend at the park, we will do most of sight seeing thru driving. However, can you please recommend a few easy trails for both places (Paradise & sun rinse) . If we have the time, we will do it . And save the rest when we revisit this park at another time .

I hope the weather will be clear on the day we want to visit the park. I watch Youtube video about the park briefly. It mentions Silver falls and Pacific trails in the sun rise area, I just wonder if it is a short and easy trail to reach the fall and to see some of the beautiful view .

Visitor center of Sunrise will be open until September 20. We will stop by and get some information . We rent a mid size SUV because DH likes it and it has enough room for 4 of us in this trip

I would like to stay at National Park Inn too. It will give my sons a chance to see a part of history in this trip . You mentioned that some section of the road will be windy, does that means we must drive very slow and be very caution or we can not drive thru it at all . Can you please clarify more.

For now, we plan to stay at Hilton Bellevue. Can you please show me the best route to the park from this hotel . If we make a hotel changes later, I will ask for your opinion again . I wonder if we choose to enter the park thru Longmire entrance, how is the drive, will it be very bumpy.

By the way, do I need to buy Bear spray and mosquito spray for this trip . And where in the park we can fill gas for our car.
 
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ronandjoan

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We have been traveling around the Northwest more this year and have been shocked at the increase of traffic going to places on holidays.... And we already knew the traffic was bad. I would suggest therefore going on Tuesday.

And basically you cannot guarantee the weather... Although our days have been nice. We were at Mt Baker and she was covered in clouds when we got up there but as we were there, the clouds moved away after an hour or so.

It will still be beautiful no matter what.
 

easyrider

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If you can spend the night at the Paradise Lodge you would see alot. Skip everything else and head to Paradise. As you enter the road to Paradise you will be on the Stevens Canyon Road.

Just past the entrance to Stevens Canyon there is a grove of trees called the Patriarchs. This is a short hike along the Ohanapacosh River to the Grove of the Patriarchs.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...s-Mount_Rainier_National_Park_Washington.html

As you travel up the Stevens Canyon Road you will have opportunities to stop and view the canyon and multiple lakes.

Then you eventually get to Paradise. Bring some light colaspable chairs and water then hike uphil on the asphalt trail and a bit further for some really nice views of Raineer. This is the main trail to Camp Miur which is the overnight stop for many climbers. Camp Muir is a hard hike so only go up the trail to where you can see the mountain. Coming back is really quick. I like to see the sunsets up here. The colors are really amazing. Head back down to the lodge and have dinner. The community area of the lodge is a great place to meet people or to just enjoy the fire place. Outside of the lodge is where I eventually go to see the stars. In the morning you can grab some coffee and sit outside to see the sun come up. The sounds are what I notice in the mornings.

While your driving to Paradise, another option is the Lake Tipsoo and Naches Pass trail. This is above Cayuse Pass on HWY 410. The views of Raineer are really something from here. If you do this hike, start from the east side and walk toward Raineer. This way is mostly downhill and you will see Raineer without having to turn around. This is one of our favorite hikes. We sometimes do this hike at night when the moon is bright.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/naches-peak-loop

As far as driving to this area from Seattle goes, I like HWY 410. On the way over to Cayuse Pass there is an old tavern called the Naches Tavern on HWY 410. This is a rustic old place that has a pretty good burger and brew.

After you see Paradise, you could head over to Packwood. On these holiday weekends there is a huge flea mart with all kinds of flea market type food vendors. I end up going to these as the kids or grandkids really enjoy this. One time we watched a faux John Denver perform.

There are likely places on the north west side of Raineer that are pretty cool but we usually play on the eastern side.

Then head back to Seattle on HWY 410 the same way you came in.


Bill
 
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ronandjoan

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National parks have an entrance fee ... Are you eligible for the Golden Age Pass? It's the best deal going around!!!

Check GasBuddy.com for the best ongoing gas prices. We use them whenever we travel. Are you Costco members? There's one in south Seattle and Tacoma and they usually have the best prices.
 

uop1497

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Thank you for more inputs

Stay inside the park for 1 night is my current plan .

If we drive to the park on the Monday afternoon to gain another half day . Would it works with traffic issue from Seattle.

We are Costco member and look to fill gas at Costco when possible . We aware of the fee to enter this park. We will reach that age in a few years .
 

Passepartout

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You won't have difficulty finding gas. For the few cents off per gallon, I wouldn't bother looking specifically for Costco's. If you are used to California gas prices, Washington will seem a bargain.

You are planning a wonderful trip. Enjoy it!

Jim
 

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First the nuts and bolts: I’ll use a separate post for itinerary suggestions.
The weather: to tell if it is nice weather, look out the window. You can see Mt Rainier from Bellevue. If it is a rainy day, it will likely be the same there. If the forecast is morning clouds and afternoon clearing, then Sunrise will likely be clear all day and Paradise is likely clear in the morning with fog in the afternoon as it lifts off the lowlands. Sunrise is in the rain shadow so it can frequently be cloudy in town and it will clear somewhere after the small town of Greenwater on the NE side.
Silver Falls isn’t in the Sunrise area. It’s halfway between Paradise and Sunrise near the Grove of the Patriarchs which Bill recommended. I suspect you mean the Pacific Crest Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada and skirts along the eastern boundary of the park. A portion of it runs near Chinook Pass and is a lovely hike, but you may not have time; it’s a little out of the way. I’ll include more details in the next post for both of these.
The road is paved, narrow and windy and bumpy in a few spots where they have done some road work. It’s not a tricky driving situation, but whoever gets car sick should be driving. Otherwise, it’s just a normal road with speed limits varying from 20 mph in the congested areas to 40 mph elsewhere in the park and 55 or 60 outside. If you are not used to windy roads and are driving slowly, there are frequent spots to pull over to check a map or let somebody out for some fresh air. The road is 2 lane the whole way so it’s not like some of the California roads where it becomes 1 lane and if you meet somebody, you have to back up. For a California person, think Yosemite vs Ebbetts Pass.
The National Park Inn at Longmire has a couple of 2 BR rooms that would work for your family of 4. One of the BR has 2 twins and the other a queen with a bath in between. They are in the corner of the building. However, you will be very lucky to find a vacancy at either Longmire or Paradise. They typically fill up early and post Labor Day is a favorite of locals. There are also places in Ashford/Elbe outside the Nisqually entrance. Crystal Mtn Ski area on the NE side has lodging and is more likely to have availability.
Driving: The Bellevue Hilton is just off of 405 which is one of the worst traffic spots in the area. Leave early and come back late to avoid the slowdowns, but you will also be going against the main traffic flow so it won’t be too bad. If you will be leaving from the airport the next day, you might want to look at the Hilton at Seatac for the last night or two to make it easier.
Directions: From Bellevue, take I-405 south to Hwy-167 (the Valley Freeway) south.
Take Hwy 512 west to Puyallup (note that there is an exit just before this one that mentions Mt Rainier/Sunrise; you don’t want that one). After just a few miles on 512, as you are heading up a hill, take the exit to Hwy 161 which I think also mentions Paradise. You turn left at the light and follow a very congested road for quite a ways. This is your best spot for gas. There is no gas anywhere in the park and it will be more expensive closer to the park so this is a good spot.
Stay on 161 all the way to Eatonville (small town and watch your speed). At the 4 way stop, take a left (there’s a grocery store on the far corner). This is the Alder cutoff and saves a little time. At the next stop sign, turn left onto Hwy 7 along Alder Lake and follow it into the park at the Nisqually Entrance. This road continues through Longmire and ends up at Paradise. About 3/4 of the way up to Paradise, note the Stevens Canyon Road to your right. Once you leave Paradise, you can either drive back down the way you came and turn left onto Stevens Canyon, or, if the Paradise Valley road is open, take that one way road down to the stop sign and turn left onto the Stevens Canyon Road. The Stevens Canyon road connects the west side to the east side of the park. At Ohanapecosh, it meets up with Hwy 123 which goes along the east side of the park. Turn left and follow up to a stop sign at Cayuse Pass (which doesn’t seem like a pass). Turn left onto Hwy 410 (a right turn takes you to Chinook Pass and the Pacific Crest trail: Option 4). This stretch of road gets pretty bumpy from frost heaves.
As you head down the hill, watch for the left turn to Sunrise and stop at the White River entrance to show your receipt/park pass again. Follow this road all the way up to Sunrise at 6400’. Return to Hwy 410 and take a left turn all the way through Greenwater (ice cream or coffee at Wapiti Woolies or a burger and beer at Naches Tavern) and into Enumclaw. Enumclaw is your next best gas option. Watch your speed in Greenwater.
From Enumclaw, take a right onto Hwy 169 and follow through Black Diamond (watch your speed) and back to I-405 in Renton. Take 405 north back to Bellevue. Another option for dinner on the way home is Krains Korner just north of Enumclaw on Hwy 169; it’s a historic old restaurant but check their hours first.

Side note: the route easyrider suggested is from the perspective of somebody who lives in Yakima, which is east. It is not the fastest option from Bellevue, but it is less aggravating as far as traffic goes (I usually go that way). However, for your purposes, I think you want to see the whole thing so head down to Paradise via the west side first and come back the east side. If you end up just doing the east side due to weather or you end up staying at Crystal Mountain, take I-405 south to the Hwy 169 (the Maple Valley highway) and take the exit to the right, continue straight to the second light and then left all the way to Enumclaw where you turn right on Hwy 410.

No bearspray. You very well might see bears but they will be focused on the huckleberries and won’t even notice you. Give them distance and respect. These are not grizzlies but black bears (even if they are brown). And also leave the bear bells at home; they serve no purpose other than to irritate your neighbors and to make sure you won’t see any wildlife at all.

The mosquitos should be dead by then. Just bring sunscreen/sunhat and an extra jacket in case it’s misty.

Bring a lunch rather than eating out. There are only a couple of spots to buy lunch and you will spend too much time waiting and not enough time enjoying the area. There are restaurants at: Ashford/Elbe, Longmire, Paradise, Greenwater and Enumclaw. In season, there is a small overpriced grill at Sunrise for minimal food in quality and choice.
 

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Itinerary: I’ll start with the basic suggestion for doing the trip in one day from Bellevue. I’ll then add some options in case of weather or if you get a room in Longmire or elsewhere.

The basic: Enter at the Nisqually Entrance and stop at Longmire. This is one of the 2 historic centers of the park. There are a couple of small museums on either side of the restroom building and you can check with the rangers for maps of the trails at Paradise, Sunrise and Longmire and then do the short walk around the Trail of the Shadows. This is about 3/4 of a mile and goes through the hot springs area. I would only do the trail if you left Bellevue very early, otherwise leave it and head up to Paradise after a bathroom break. Pass Narada Falls (Option 1).
At Paradise, ignore the first parking lots and head past the visitor center and park in the next area. Parking is at a premium so you want to get to Paradise early both for parking and crowds on the trails. Hit the trail first; head up the stairs near the visitor center and follow the paved path up to an intersection. At this point you have some choices,, but I suggest to take the steeper path and then a right up to Alta Vista. This is a short, but steep hike up to a good viewpoint and overview of the area. Head back down and check out the Visitor Center and Paradise Inn.
From Paradise, drive down the road at the end of the parking lot; it’s a one way road and they use it for overflow parking but it’s a very pretty drive down through the meadows. At the stop sign, turn left onto the Stevens Canyon Road. You will go by Reflection Lakes (famous picture spot) and pass a few other photo ops. There are restrooms at Box Canyon (option 2) and Grove of the Patriarchs (option 3). Head up to Cayuse Pass (option 3) and then to Sunrise.
At Sunrise, the mountain is in your face from the parking lot. Take the trail near the restrooms and then a right up the hill; a left at the intersection up to Sourdough Ridge. Follow this trail head to the left as far as you have time for; ideally to Frozen Lake. If you are short of time, at the top of the ridge, turn right along the ridge and then another right to form a triangle back to the parking lot. There are views all along this route so even a short option is great. Don’t hurry to get back to Bellevue; you’ll just end up in traffic so stay here until 5-6pm. It’s about 2 hours back to Bellevue from here.

Option 1: Narada Falls. This is a better choice for a falls over Silver Falls. From the parking lot, cross the bridge and follow the trail down a short distance to a view. Very short. restrooms near the bridge.

Option 2: Box Canyon. Just past the tunnel, park in the large parking lot on the right (bathrooms on the right or they might be doing work on them so sanicans). Take the trail on the left up along Box Canyon, cross and take a look at the very deep and narrow gorge and follow the loop back to the road. Maybe half a mile but a good spot to stretch the legs or give a carsick person a break.

Option 3: Grove of the Patriarchs: this is an old grove of old growth cedars that have survived over the years in a protected spot in the river. It’s about a mile each way so you may not have time for this one. The parking is on the left as is the restrooms. On the other side of the road is the trail to Silver Falls which are nice, but I think will be low on water over Labor Day. It’s a nice trail, a little shorter than going to the grove so is another option.
Option 3a (poor weather): If you have more time, take a right at the next road onto Hwy 123 and then a right into Ohanapecosh. Park at the visitor center/ranger station (restrooms to the right) and follow the nature trail out in back and then to the right. This trail goes through the historic area that used to be a hot springs resort area and then continues up to Silver Falls. It’s a beautiful trail and if Paradise is fogged in or even if it’s raining, this is a beautiful area under the big trees.

Option 4: Tipsoo Lake/Naches Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a really beautiful area and is great at sunset so you might think about heading back here after hiking at Sunrise. You will be driving back in the dark, but there’s not much to miss.
From the intersection of Hwy 123/410 at Cayuse Pass, turn right and drive up to Chinook Pass. Just before the pass, the large parking for Tipsoo Lake is on your left with an outhouse in the front. Park and take the short walk from the far side of the parking lot around the lake. At the start of the trail is a trail to the left that is the start of the Naches Peak loop; 4 miles and follows the Pacific Crest Trail for a bit. In a one day trip around Mt Rainier, you don’t have time for this. However, if the weather is only good on the NE side, this might be a good alternative to Paradise. There is additional parking just east of the pass, but that requires a Northwest Forest Pass (a national park pass works but not the daily entrance) while the parking at Tipsoo lake is in the park and has no pass requirements.

If you are able to stay near the park Monday night, you will be fine on traffic. Southbound on 405 in Bellevue gets messy anytime after 2pm and especially after 3pm so try to leave before that. If you are staying at Longmire or Ashford area, head up to Paradise and hope for a parking spot from somebody leaving to go home. If you end up at Crystal Mtn, hit Sunrise that afternoon and hang out for the sunset. Bring dinner as I’m not sure there are any restaurants open at Crystal at that time.

Enjoy
Sue
 

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@ Sue,

Thank you for your instructions. I will let DH read them because he is the driver.

I will come back with questions later. :)
 

uop1497

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We did visit Mt Rainier. Although we did not have a good weather, but we were able to see the mountain top for briefly around 15-20 minutes and we were very happy.

Paradise is beautiful as its name. We will come back to visit this park again in the future when wild flower is blooming. :)

@Sue,
We do not have enough time to visit Sunrise area. Will keep your note and suggestions for future trip. Thanks !!!
 
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