Updated prices March 2017
First, because I get a lot of folks here at SFM who are new to the area, I’m going to help you talk like a local. Ready? If it’s a clear, sunny day, we say, “The mountain is out.” Fun, huh?
Moving on….Whether you’re entertaining out of town guests or just looking to wow your kiddos, it’s hard to beat a real life mountain (and a volcano at that), for a daycation destination.
And, this Week-the 22nd-26th, entrance is Free or National Parks week! Plus, it’s supposed to be sunny! Woot and double woot!
There are several possible routes to Rainier. We typically head to Sunrise, going through Enumclaw and Greenwater on 410, just as if you were headed to Crystal Mountain.
You might also consider heading to Paradise first, via Elbe. VisitRainier.com has good options and directions.
Here are my other top tips. Let me know if I missed your favorite!
- Start early. Mt.Rainier is big (duh), and you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore. Plus, on a summer day you’ll need time to find parking. On a weekend, you will probably Not find parking at Paradise. Be prepared to utilize the shuttle, which runs through September 4th.
- Decide on your priority. For easy hikes with tall trees, consider heading to the Ohanapecosh area. Ohanapecosh also has a family friendly campground and a visitor center that is small but full of “touch me,” exhibits. For wildflowers, go up to Sunrise. You can also get amazing views of the glaciers if it’s not foggy. For a dose of history, check out Longmire. Paradise is the most popular area, and has amazing vistas as well as the biggest visitor’s center. The Carbon and Mowich areas tend to be less visited, but have lots of fine walks through old growth trees and temperate rainforest.
- Dress in layers. Mountain weather is tricky-you can be chilly, but still getting too much sun (see below).
- Bring the 10 essentials. If you’re planning even the smallest hike, you’ll want to be prepared.
- Do choose a hike! Visitors centers are tons of fun for kids to explore, but you’ll want to do at least a short walk for a real mountain experience. Ask for suggestions at any visitor’s center or check out some I’ve listed in this post.
- Be sure to have your kids do the junior ranger program. Simply ask a ranger at any visitor’s center. The program is free, and after completing activities in the provided booklet, kids earn a junior ranger pin. If they attend a ranger lead program, they’ll also score a patch. My kids have earned junior ranger pins and badges at many parks over the last several years, and it’s always so much fun. The first time our oldest got one he was actually trembling as he took his little ranger oath, he was so excited! If your kids don’t have time to finish the requirements during your visit, they can take the booklet home and send it in.
- Stop for gas and food before you go. You can’t get gas anywhere in the park, and while you can get food, it’s pricey.
- Entry into the park is 25.00/car for seven consecutive days, $10 per person over age 16 if walking in. An annual pass is 50.00 Entry is free this week-April 22nd-26th! Want to go to a state park? They’ll be free this weekend, the 27th and 28th.