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Top Sights of Mount Rainier National Park's Eastside

Updated: Jan 20, 2022


Beautiful Mount Rainier National Park, located almost in our backyard is a site to behold. Only 1.5 hours from Seattle, this was our nation's 4th National Park and was created in 1899. Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range and is a popular peak to summit, with over 10,000 people a year giving it a try. While we did not attempt to climb the mountain, we did spend a wonderful three day weekend enjoying this lovely park. As we live so close to Mt. Rainier, we chose to spend our weekend focusing on just the East side of the park - the lesser trod side of the park. We found this area to be equally beautiful, if not more beautiful than the more popular west entrance to Paradise. Here is how we spent our time enjoying this amazing National Park.

Blue skies around the snow covered peaks of Mt. Rainier
Stunning view of Mt. Rainier

TABLE OF CONTENTS:


DAY 1:


DAY 2:


DAY 3:

 

OHANAPECOSH VISITOR CENTER & HOT SPRINGS NATURE TRAIL

Day 1: Find a place to camp! For us we choose to stay outside the park at Packwood RV Park & Campground. This campground provided us with full bathroom and shower facilities that I prefer to have available when tent camping with a young child. With a three year old running around - you never know when a shower might come in handy! If full showers and bathrooms are not important, then I would highly recommend staying at the Ohanapecosh Campground located inside the National Park.

Family of three at the west entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park
The south entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park

Upon arriving to Mt. Rainier National Park, the first stop we made was at the Ohanapescosh Visitor Center, this is a great place to start out. Read some of the exhibits, talk with the rangers and get your passport stamp! Right from the Visitor Center there is a small trail - the Hot Springs Nature Trail. This is a nice flat, easy 0.4 mile trail that is easy for anyone and takes you out along a small Hot Springs.



Dad and son standing in front of Hot Springs along the boardwalk of the Hot Springs Nature Trail
Walking along the Hot Springs Nature Trail near the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center
 

SILVER FALLS

 Mom and son standing on a wooden bridge in the forest.
Hiking to see Silver Falls

After returning from this trail, we headed a bit north into the park to our next stop to see Silver Falls. This short 0.6 mile trail takes you out along the Ohanapecosh River to a great of Silver Falls. This 40 foot high waterfall can be accessed via couple different hikes, but the shortest one is from a small parking spot just south of the Steven's Canyon Rd. From here it's only a 0.6 mile walk - well worth the effort to see this beautiful site!


Brightly lit forest scene that includes Silver Falls on the Ohanapecosh River
Beautiful 40 foot Silver Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park
 

GROVE OF THE PATRIARCHS TRAIL

  Back of a man hiking with his son on his back as they cross a bridge over the Ohanapecosh River
Crossing the Ohanapacosh River

Next stop was on the Steven's Canyon Rd at the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail. This 1.1 mile hike is one of the more popular hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park, with little to no elevation gain - it is easy for any level of hiker. Following a wooden boardwalk, this hike crosses the Ohanapecosh River onto an island in the middle of the river where a giant grove of trees stand. These ancient Hemlocks, Douglas Fir and Cedars are thought to be over 1,000 years old and some are over 300 feet tall. On our way back, we stopped to play around a bit in the beautiful Ohanapecosh River - we couldn't resist dipping our feet into this crystal clear water! Although quite cold as it's coming straight from the glacier melt, this didn't deter our son at all who had a blast splashing and throwing rocks here.


 

BOX CANYON

Dad and little boy pointing to Mt. Rainier that is located above their heads
First view of the mountain since entering the park!

After drying off, we continued driving the Stevens Canyon Rd towards Box Canyon - along the way was a beautiful pull off area offering phenomenal views of the Mt. Rainier itself. Our first actual view of the mountain since entering the park earlier in the day. Even as a local who sees views of Mt. Rainier quite often, looking upon this beautiful mountain never gets old! The next stop along Stevens Canyon Rd was Box Canyon. For another quick hike, the Box Canyon Loop Trail (0.5 miles) was another great place to enjoy the beauty of this area. Looking down into the canyon 180 feet below, the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River has carved out this unique narrow canyon.

Forest scene with a deep canyon below and mountain silhouettes in the distant
Looking down into the deep and narrow Box Canyon


 

HWY 410 NEAR CHINOOK PASS

Looking at the road thru Chinook Pass on Hwy 410
Enjoying the scenic views on Hwy 410 near Chinook Pass

After enjoying the views of this area, we headed back Stevens Canyon Rd towards Hwy 123. Heading North on Hwy 123, we continued up the East side of Mt. Rainier National Park to our 5th and last short hike of the day. Five hikes in a day? No problem at all when they are all super short! Located along the eastern edge of Mt. Rainier National Park near Chinook Pass on Hwy 410, this area is great for just driving and enjoying the scenic views!


Dad and son standing next to the east side entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.
The park entrance near Chinook Pass
 

TIPSOO LAKE

  Tipsoo Lake with Mt. Rainier in the background
Hiking the short Tipsoo Lake Trail

Hiking around Tipsoo Lake is an absolute gem! This beautiful sup-alpine lake offers a quick 0.5 mile trail around the shoreline of the lake, with meadows of wildflowers in the summer months and Mt. Rainier looming in the backdrop providing for some amazing scenery! After finishing the hike, make sure to stop at the viewpoint area that overlooks the entire Tipsoo Lake area - absolutely stunning!



Blue skies over sparking Tipsso Lake with Mt. Rainier as the backdrop
Stunning view overlooking the Tipsoo Lake area
 

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN

Little boy looking thru the fence at the gondolas
Ready and excited for our gondola ride

Day 2: Venturing just east of Mt. Rainier National Park, we headed to the Crystal Mountain Ski Area for the morning. Located just six miles from the Northeast Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park, this is a great summer destination to take in the gorgeous mountain views. During the summer months, gondola rides are available with prices ranging from $20-$30, and free for children under the age of 4. After a 10 minute gondola ride to the top, you are met with panoramic views of Mt. Rainier and evens views to distant mountains such as Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Baker on a clear day. Once at the top, enjoy a meal at the Summit House Restaurant, hike one of the numerous trails or just enjoy the views!

Looking at the gondolas at the top of the summit at Crystal Mountain
Summit at Crystal Mountain
 Looking in the distance across to snow-capped Mt. Rainier National Park on a clear sunny day
Blue skies and snow-capped mountains - breathtaking!
Father and son looking across the tree lined expanse to snow-capped Mount Rainier
Making memories at Mt. Rainier National Park


 

NACHES PEAK TRAIL

 Small green colored pond lined with trees and mountain peaks in the background along the Naches Peak Trail
Gorgeous views along the Naches Peak Trail

For the afternoon, we returned back to the Chinook Pass area and hiked the Naches Peak Trail. This 3.2 mile loop trail was our favorite hike while visiting Mt. Rainier. This great trail offers a bit of everything, walk thru a sup-alpine forest, gaze upon meadows of wildflowers, enjoy the view of Dewey Lake below and take in the amazing views of Mt. Rainier. For the best views it is recommended to hike his loop in a clockwise direction allowing for the mountain to be in front of you. Remember though - hiking in Mt. Rainier means you are hiking in bear country. We happened to see a black bear crossing the trail right in front of us. Definitely cool to see, but make sure you give plenty of space and do not approach the bear. It is also recommended to make noises and announce your presence as you hike along these trails - one common way is to just keep saying ' Hey Bear' so that you don't surprise them! Or another option is to hike with a toddler - EVERYONE will hear you coming, no need to worry about surprising anyone!

Stunning view of blue skies and snow-capped Mt. Rainier over a small alpine pond along the Naches Peak Trail
Picture perfect views of Mt. Rainier
Forested mountain views on a clear sunny day with blooms of Bear Grass
Beautiful day for a hike!
 

SUNRISE POINT OVERLOOK

 View from along the road at Sunrise Point Overlook with blue skies and fluffy clouds around the peak of Mt. Rainier
Early morning view from Sunrise Point Overlook

Day 3: For our last day visiting Mt. Rainier National Park, we spent the day visiting the Sunrise area. While not quite as popular as Paradise on the west side of the park, Sunrise does receive a large amount of visitors and car lines can be very long during the busy summer months, especially over the weekends. So we choose to save this location to visit on a Monday hoping to avoid some of the crowds. Up bright and early, we first headed to Sunrise Point Overlook - this is a must stop for some great photo ops and just to soak in the beautiful scenery!

Looking thru the trees to snow covered Mt. Rainier surrounding by blue skies and fluffy white clouds
Mt. Rainier in all's it glory!
 

SUNRISE AREA

 Selfie of a family of three with the snow covered peaks of Mt. Rainier looming in the background
Fun times visiting Sunrise!

Continuing on towards the Sunrise Visitor Center, we arrived and were in complete awe of the beauty surrounding us! What an amazing area! With a number of hikes to choose from in the area, we choose to hike the Sunrise Nature Trail (1.5 miles). This short but breathtaking hike was just stunning! Walking thru wildflower meadows and gazing out at Mt. Rainier provided for some absolutely amazing views. This trail is a must-do for anyone visiting the Sunrise area of Mt. Rainier! After having a picnic lunch at Sunrise and checking out the General Store, it was time for us to head home. Luckily we live quite close to this beautiful area and hope to return many times to keep enjoying this majestic park!

Looking across the meadows in Sunrise towards the majestic snow covered peak of Mt. Rainier
Overlook Sunrise from the Sunrise Nature Trail
Father giving son a piggy back ride along a trail with alpine trees and snow-capped Mt. Rainier in the distance
Beautiful end to a wonderful weekend in Mt. Rainier National Park


 

Interested in planning your own trip to Mt. Rainier National Park? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!


Day 1: Ohanapecosh Visitor Center, Hot Springs Nature Trail 0.4 miles, Silver Falls 0.6 miles, Stevens Canyon Rd (Grove of the Patriarchs Trail 1.1 miles, Box Canyon Loop Trail 0.5 miles), Tipsoo Lake Loop Trail 0.5 miles, Chinook Pass Summit


Day 2: Crystal Mountain Gondola (opens at 10am, $25 per person, children free), lunch at the Summit House Restaurant, Hike the Naches Trail Loop (3.2 miles)


Day 3: Stop at Sunrise Point Overlook to enjoy views, Sunrise Visitor Center, Sunrise Nature Trail (1.5 miles), and if time the Emmons Vista Overlook (1 mile)



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Gast
18. Mai 2021

Looks Awesome!

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