After our time at Olympic, Mike and I headed into Seattle to see a few of my friends! When I taught English in South Korea a million years ago, a large group of my friends that I made were all from Seattle. One of my best friends from college is also from there, so I had a plethora of friends to catch up with before Mike and I headed down to Mount Rainier National Park!
We entered Mount Rainier from the northeast section, after sleeping on some beautiful BLM National Forest land right outside the park. We decided on this spot so we could make it up to the Sunrise Visitor Center area first thing in the morning. This area is the highest point in the park reachable by car.
To get to this area, it’s a long winding road and it lead to a beautiful overlook view of Mt Rainier, which is actually an active volcano! We did a nice hike around the area on the Sourdough Ridge trail and enjoyed the beautiful flowers and mountain views. Considering the number of people that were around, it still felt super secluded and peaceful.
After our legs were nice and warm, we headed down to the Paradise area. We met my college bestie, Elizabeth, for some fun short hikes together. Paradise is definitely one of the most popular areas for visitors; it’s known for it’s vibrant flowers and variety of hikes. All the hikes pretty much start by going straight up…. I was definitely trying to hide my heavy breathing from all the people, but mostly from my super in shape husband and friend. This area is super great though – it’s a large trail section that is pretty open. You could come here dozens of times and never do the exact same trail.
After the Paradise hikes (though my muscles would call this the Paradise Lost area), I went to the Visitor Center and received my Junior Ranger badge. The Park Ranger really enjoyed my short story about the park… it was my way to teach people to leave no trace, through a terrifying fable.
Many, many years ago, a young girl named Alex loved to walk and explore Mount Rainier. The beauty of the glaciers, mountains, waterfalls were so stunning. But little Alex loved the wildflowers most of all. She had been told many times that they belonged to the mountain and not to pick them. But one day, she couldn’t resist any longer. She picked the most beautiful flower and couldn’t wait to take it home and show it off. However, on her walk home, the mountain began to shake and rumble! The roots of the flower had been attached to the mountain and Rainier started to erupt with lava and lahars flowed down the mountainside, eliminating everything in its way! Poor young Alex was caught in the path and was never seen again. Now, in the winds that blow through the flowers, she can still be heard, warning visitors to not pick the flowers because Mean Rainier will get you!
While proudly wearing my junior ranger badge, we then drove down with E to the Stevens Canyon Entrance area and we hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. The description of this trail had me excited; it wasn’t recommended for people that were wary of heights since it said it had a tall suspension bridge that you had to cross…. it turned out to be like 5 feet above a tiny stream. It was still a pretty hike but not something I would have gone out of my way to see.
- Arrive early if you want to get any close parking. Paradise area is especially popular.
- Layer! This park has an extreme change of temps throughout the day, and even throughout a trail!
- Take advantage of the programs for kids, families, and adults! I wanted to partake in a junior ranger program about bees, but I would have looked a bit creepy. However, there are plenty of age appropriate programs for everyone! This is also a great way to visit the park; it is so vast and has so many things to do that it can be kind of overwhelming.