Locals call it The Mountain—and once you see it, you’ll understand why. Mt. Rainier’s enormous, glacier-topped summit lords so far above every other peak within sight of Seattle, it’s clear the 14,410-footer owns the title.
The mountain itself, an active volcano so large it makes its own weather, is the obvious star of Mt. Rainier National Park: People come from all over the world to gaze at it from high-altitude meadows, and climbing it is a coveted prize for both experienced and rookie mountaineers. But the park also encompasses gushing waterfalls, beautiful rivers, old-growth forests, and wildflower-spotted alpine zones, making it a must-see destination for any Washington traveler. Visitors enjoy hiking, wildlife-watching, fishing, camping, biking, skiing, sledding, and mountaineering at Mt. Rainier.
Mt Rainier At a Glance
Size: 236,381 acres
Driving distance from Seattle: 1.5-2 hours
Average snowfall (at Paradise): 630”
Major glaciers: 25
Annual visitors: 1,875,651 (2014)
Paradise Region in Mt Rainier
This 5,400-foot subalpine zone, located 19 miles east of the park’s Nisqually Entrance, sits directly under the dramatic summit of Mt. Rainier and draws travelers for both its wildflower-choked meadows and views in summer and its abundant snowfall in winter. A visitor center houses a gift shop, snack bar, exhibits, and the park movie.
Sunrise Region in Mt Rainier
Open in summer only, 6,400-foot Sunrise is the highest drive-up destination in the park and offers amazing views of Mt. Rainier and the Emmons Glacier and the surrounding mountains. It’s located 60 miles from the Nisqually Entrance. Up top, you’ll find flower-filled meadows, a day lodge with a gift shop and food, and a visitor center with exhibits and a bookstore. Stunning hiking trails depart from Sunrise into the high elevations.