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Paradise Area/ Shutterstock Image

Paradise Area/ Shutterstock Image

20 Epic Things To Do In Mt Rainier National Park

Lizzie

mount rainier tour stops map
Just 81 miles from Seattle, a visit to Mount Rainier National Park is an extraordinary adventure into the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s natural wonders. This iconic park, encompassing over 235,000 acres of pristine wilderness, is dominated by the majestic presence of Mount Rainier, an active volcano standing at a staggering 14,410 feet. 

The mountain’s snow-capped peak is a sight to behold, attracting hikers, climbers, road-trippers, and photographers from around the world. But this park isn’t just about the mountain.

Whether you’re traversing the park’s extensive network of hiking trails, chasing waterfalls, or simply reveling in the tranquility of its scenic drives, Mount Rainier National Park offers an unmatched opportunity to connect with nature in all its grandeur.

So let’s get started. Not only will this article tell you about all the great things you’ll want to see during your Mount Rainier adventure, but we’ll also delve into what to pack, how to stay safe while hiking and exploring, the wildlife you may see, and how to take precautions and, finally, we’ll give a nod to leaving no trace. 

The 20 Best Things To Do Around Mount Rainier National Park

1. Shaka Guide’s Mount Rainier National Park Tour

First of all, I would highly recommend that you download the self-guided Shaka Guide Mount Rainier National Park Tour before you head there (while you still have a strong Wi-Fi signal)! Believe me, you’ll need detailed advice to navigate this great big park and all of the most important sites.

With Shaka Guide, you not only get specific driving instructions, which is invaluable in a huge park that has very little (if any) wifi or GPS. You’ll also get stories about everything related to Rainier, including:

  • geology
  • history
  • information
  • and even entertainment-driving music!

With 19 stops and hours of audio narration - you won’t miss a thing with Shaka Guide by your side. 

2. Visit The Longmire Section of the Park

brown colored museumImage by Lizzie Gerecitano

In the historic Longmire section of the park, visit the National Park Inn and sit for a spell on the front porch while you take in an enchanting view of Rainier perfectly framed from your rocking chair. Then grab some souvenirs at the wonderful Longmire General Store. There’s also a small museum on site.

3. Chase Waterfalls

Mount Rainier National Park is home to over 100 waterfalls! Two of our favorites are Christine Falls and Nerada Falls (also two of the most popular waterfalls in the park). Stop by each for an awesome photo op! 

4. Explore the Paradise Section of the Park

red wildflowers Image by Lizzie Gerecitano

Drive up the mountain to Paradise and check out the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, the historic Paradise Inn, and the stupendous Myrtle Falls waterfall over Edith Creek.

5. Spot Wildlife

marmotImage from Flickr by 

Bring binoculars and see how many marmots and other wildlife you can spot in the wildflower meadows around the park.

6. Take in Unique Views of the Majestic Mountain

reflection of mountain in the lake with tourist on the sidesImage by Lizzie Gerecitano

Along Stevens Canyon Road, visit Reflection Lakes for an iconic view of Rainier mirrored in its waters.

7. Go for a Stroll 

yellow mountainTipsoo Lake/ Image by Lizzie Gerecitano

Take a walk around picturesque Tipsoo Lake along the Chinook Pass (Hwy. 410 east), one of the most scenic drives in the entire state.

download shaka guide's mount rainier

8. Spend Hours in the Sunrise Section of the Park

Drive all the way up the mountain to the Sunrise section, which is as high as you can possibly go in a vehicle, at 6,400 feet elevation, and get out of your car for a jaw-dropping 360-degree overlook from Sunrise Point. On a clear day, you can see Mount Adams to the south and Mount Baker to the north!

9. Stop at the White River

shallow riverImage by Lizzie Gerecitano

Make your way through the White River Campgrounds down to the White River itself to witness this powerful, thundering, breathtaking river formed from Rainier’s glacier ice melt.

10. Take a Hike! 

Here are my favorites — one for each of the main sections of the park:

  • In Longmire: Trail of the Shadows
  • In Paradise: The Alta Vista Trail
  • On Stevens Canyon Road near Paradise: The Bench & Snow Lakes Trail
  • On Stevens Canyon Road near the east side of the park: The Eastside Trail to Grove of the Patriarchs, through one of several old-growth forests.
  • In Ohanapecosh: The Silver Falls Trail through a rainforest!
  • Near Tipsoo Lake: The Naches Peak Loop Trail
  • In Sunrise: The Silver Forest Trail
  • At the White River Campground: The Glacier Basin Trail

RELATED: 18 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park 

11. Go on a Gondola Ride 

gondola with clouds below and sunCrystal Mountain Resort

Visit Crystal Mountain for the Mount Rainier Gondola, and ride up into the sky in a cable car for aerial views of Mount Rainier. When you reach the top of the ride, you may have worked up an appetite for the highest-elevation dining in all of Washington, with the best view in town — Summit House Restaurant.

12. Stay in a log cabin. 

There are so many of these in towns surrounding the mountain, from the National Park Inn and Paradise Inn inside the park to lodging in Ashford, Packwood, and Greenwater.

My favorite — the A-frame log cabin at Alta Crystal Resort (Loge Alta Crystal Camps) in Greenwater — is just minutes from the Sunrise entrance to Mount Rainier.

13. Sleep inside a real caboose 

All aboard this unique accommodation at The Hobo Inn in Elbe! It’s just 13 miles from the park entrance.

14. Go Shopping for Unique Gifts

log cafeImage by Lizzie Gerecitano

In Greenwater, stop at Wapiti Outdoors for souvenirs, all-weather clothing and supplies, and their cafe, including ice cream and craft coffee.

download shaka guide's mount rainier

15. Dine at a Historic Restaurant

In Enumclaw, enjoy a meal at The Historic Mint Restaurant & Alehouse.

16. Grab a Bite Before You Explore 

In Ashford, stop to eat at Wildberry Restaurant before you reach the Nisqually Park entrance.

17. Ride the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad 

Take a ride between Elbe and Mineral. Although this steam train isn’t next to Mount Rainier National Park, it’s a heritage railroad packed with history for train enthusiasts and kids, with views of the mountain from a few towns over.

18. Try a Railcycle ride 

tourists on the train touringImage from Flickr by 

Also located at the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, you and your family do all the pedaling along old train tracks! 

19. Horseback Ride 

Book a guided excursion with a trail guide in the foothills of Mount Rainier at EZ Times Outfitters Horseback Riding in Elbe.

20. Spend a day in downtown Seattle 

city overviewEmerald City/ Image from Flickr by 

Pair your Mount Rainier trip with a visit to Emerald City and walk the promenade along Elliott Bay from the iconic, fish-throwing Pike Place Market all the way over to the equally iconic Space Needle!

Conclusion

Now … It's time to get out there and enjoy Mount Rainier National Park. You’re armed with lots of information to start getting excited about your trip and prepare properly.

Respect your skill level when hiking, along with the natural beauty and wildlife of the park. Make some memories, stay safe, take lots of pictures, and help preserve this stunning environment for future generations!

Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Mount Rainier National Park Tour!

download shaka guide's mount rainier

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Mount Rainier National Park Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.

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wildflowers in moutn rainier

RELATED ARTICLES:

18 Amazing Mt Rainier National Park Hikes

Mount Rainier Volcano Eruption History

How to Get to Mount Rainier From Seattle

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