Mount rainier National PARK

Mount Rainier National Park

It is time to leave Glacier National Park and head for the Canadian border. We however spontaneously postpone the border crossing a bit and, at Marion’s birthday wish, spend a few days in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. The stay at the foot of this active volcano of about 4400 meters of altitude is the perfect closure of our adventures in the United States.

Mount Rainier National Park

Not far from the big city of Seattle is one of the oldest national parks in the United States, Mount Rainier National Park. The name says it all: in the heart of the park stands Mount Rainier, 4’392 meters high and surrounded by about 1,000 square meters of national park. 25 different glaciers, almost as many as in the entire Glacier National Park, cover the highest peak in Washington State. The term “mountain” is not quite accurate. Mount Rainier is a currently dormant stratovolcano. Because of its destructive potential, it is considered by experts to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Its eruptions are however extremely rare: the last eruption occurred about 1000 years ago and the last mild eruption was in 1894.

The park is a popular destination from the cities of Seattle and Portland. 50% of its visitors come in eight days, the last two weekends of July and the first two weekends of August. This is what we learn on a very crowded Saturday while chatting with a visibly exhausted ranger at the Visitor Center. She seemed thrilled to learn that we will spend several days in the park and will smartly hike the very popular Skyline Trail on Monday.

Our stay in the park starts with a quiet day. We drive to the most beautiful viewpoints, like Reflection Lakes and Inspiration Point. With such a perfect weather, we are lucky to be able to take postcard-perfect photos of the impressive colossus.

Our highlights

Mount Rainier & glaciers

Reflection Lakes

Inspiration Point

Skyline Trail

Paradise Inn

Our stay at the Paradise Inn

During our stay in the national park, we stay at the Paradise Inn on the south side of the volcano. Built in 1916, this rustic hotel is located at the end of a mountain road at the foot of Mount Rainier. The construction of the hotel’s roof, which accounts for over two-thirds of the total building height, is stunning. Its pronounced A-frame is designed to allow heavy snow to slide off the roof in winter. This way, it does not put too much pressure on the roof and preserves the building.

We particularly enjoy the evenings at the Inn when the day trippers have gone home and the hotel is quiet again. For Marion’s birthday we have a simple but delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant. A good bottle of Pinot Noir from the neighboring state of Oregon is obviously not to be missed for the occasion. Satisfied and with a full stomach, we take our glasses of wine and finish the evening in the charming rustic lobby of the hotel. We play a few games of UNO while the pianist provides musical accompaniment in the background.

Our highlights

Historic & rustic hotel

Beautiful hotel lobby

Pinot Noir from Oregon

Pianist in the lobby

The Skyline Trail

We start the Skyline Trail in perfect summer weather, a three-and-a-half-hour loop that starts and finishes right outside our hotel. The hike is particularly attractive because of its diversity. The trail takes us through sparse forest, past a small creek and meadows, then into a more barren and rocky landscape. The snow has largely made place for the flowers and the view of the majestic Mount Rainier is constantly changing. In this magnificent nature, facing this powerful volcano and its imposing glaciers, we feel very small.

At one of the highest points of the hike, Panorama Point, we even have a view of Mount St. Helen and Mount Adams, two other active volcanoes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, also located in Washington State. From the information panel, we learn that Washington State has five volcanoes. The volcanic chain that stretches from northern California to British Columbia has a total of 19 volcanoes.

The descent is more snowy and some passages invite us to slide down instead of walking. We try it, which preserve our articulations as much as possible. It was fun, but we should have put on our rain pants to avoid wet butts. At the end of the hike, we pass the lovely Myrtle Falls, another highlight of an extremely entertaining tour.

Our highlights

Diversity of the hike

Views on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier glaciers

Panorama Point

Myrtle Falls

Our most beautiful hikes in detail