Mt. Rainier National Park is one of those fantastic get-away places people always dream of visiting. We are fortunate to have an ever present view of Mt. Rainier from our backyard, but seeing it from afar pales to an actual visit. As many days in the Pacific Northwest, the day we set out for Mt. Rainier started foggy with low clouds. Expecting the gray to burn off, we headed to the mountain.
With the forecast calling for near cloudless skies, crowds of visitors had the same idea. Hidden trails exposed by melting snow, newly emerged blossoms, and hungry wildlife awaited all who ventured past the parking lot. The lots were full, so we parked about a quarter mile away on the road’s shoulder.
Despite the crowds, we reached paradise. Literally. This spot is named Paradise.
A paved path leads a fair way up the mountain before giving way to earth and rock, much of which was still covered in snow.
In every direction, our gaze fell upon visual splendor. An avalanche of avalanche lilies, distant mountains, sturdy evergreens, the curious chipmunk, the sunbathing marmot and the star of it all: the peak of Mt. Rainier.
The air was crisp and clean. The breeze was light and refreshing, and the sun glinted brightly off the snow all around. Waterfalls swollen from snow melt surrounded us from every direction.
We followed the route of the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point, and the remainder of the trail was still snow covered. The crowds were far thinner here, and we enjoyed views of Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.
The trail to Panorama Point gains 1500 feet in elevation over 2 miles. Even with portions of the trail still under snow, this is an easy 4-mile round trip.
Bring your hydration pack and lunch, sunblock, sunglasses, a hat and proper footwear. Take your time and enjoy all that surrounds you. No description or picture can aptly capture the beauty here, so plan a trip to see Mt. Rainier National Park in person!