From Denali in Alaska to Mount Whitney in California and Mount Elbert in Colorado, the United States is filled with imposing peaks and towering mountains, challenging the bravest and most intrepid of adventurers to reach their summits, while also reminding us of the power and beauty of nature. Many people love to visit the various mountains of the United States, with many of these locations being surrounded by pristine landscapes and fairy tale scenery, and one of the top mountains for anyone in the Pacific Northwest to visit is undoubtedly Mount Rainier.
Also known as Tahoma or Tacoma, Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in Washington State and is also the highest mountain in the Pacific Northwest Cascade Range, standing at an elevation of around 14,411 feet. It's also the most prominent mountain in the continental United States, with a prominence of 13,210 feet, which lends it a more impressive and majestic appearance than many of the other exceedingly high mountains all around the country. Mount Rainier is also ranked as one of the most dangerous volcanoes on planet Earth, with tens of thousands of lives technically at risk in the case of an eventual eruption.
Actually climbing Mount Rainier is a highly challenging activity, reserved only for climbers with previous experience and a good level of skill, but Mount Rainier National Park is a beautiful place, surrounded by forests and lakes and perfect for all kinds of outdoor recreation, including hiking, photography, camping, wildlife watching, cross-country skiing, and more. Since it’s not too far from the big city of Seattle, Mount Rainier is also a popular choice as a day trip destination for families, couples, and groups of friends. Here’s how to plan your Mt Rainier day trip from Seattle.
Getting to Mt Rainier from Seattle
Mt Rainier National Park is actually one of the closest national parks to the city of Seattle, so it's a very common day trip destination for residents and tourists in the city. The mountain itself is only about 60 miles away from Seattle, so the journey from Downtown Seattle to Mt Rainier can be done quite quickly. You can get to Mt Rainier by car, book a tour, or even reserve your spot on a flight.
Getting to Mt Rainier from Seattle by Car
If you're planning a day trip to Mt Rainier, driving is the simplest and easiest option you can choose. The whole journey can be done in about an hour and a half, depending on traffic in the Seattle area.
To start off, simply follow the I-5 south out of Seattle and then either stay on it down to Tacoma and follow Pacific Avenue to the park or turn off onto the 164 and then the 410 round to the park. Both routes are scenic and enjoyable and take around the same amount of time.
Getting to Mt Rainier from Seattle on a Tour
Booking your spot on a bus tour of Mt Rainier is a good idea for people who are planning out a day trip and just want to sit back, relax, and let the professionals handle everything, taking you exactly where you need to be and giving you a full day around the national park without any hassle or inconvenience.
Several different tour operators, including Evergreen Escapes, Tours Northwest, and Customized Tours, offer day trips to Mt Rainier from Seattle. The costs will vary depending on the type of tour you choose and the time of year you're traveling, but these tours are often worth the price of admission and include a few fun stops along the way.
Getting to Mt Rainier from Seattle by Plane
For those who want to visit Mt Rainier and see all of its beauty but aren't necessarily too interested in setting foot on the ground in order to climb the mountain or hike around it might choose to take an air tour of Mt Rainier.
Various companies offer flights around Mt Rainier, with some of these flights also continuing on along the Cascade Range to other iconic mountains around Washington State. This is one of the best ways to see Mt Rainier in a totally relaxed, comfortable setting, perfect for those looking to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.
Important Information and Things to Do at Mt Rainier
- Passes - Anyone entering the Mount Rainier National Park will need to pay for a pass. However, if you're traveling on a budget or just want to keep your costs down, you can visit various locations in the vicinity of Mount Rainier, including Cayuse Pass, Silver Falls, High Rock Lookout, and the Mt Tahoma Trail System, without needing to pay any entry fee. This is a good option for those who want to get good views of the mountain and enjoy some excellent hikes.
- Best Time to Visit Mt Rainier - Mt Rainier can be enjoyed throughout the year, and various different opportunities and activities are opened up depending on when you go. If you want to do some skiing, for example, a visit in winter can be a lot of fun. Those who just want to see and experience the mountain in all of its glory and natural beauty, however, should consider visiting in summer. Lots of wildflowers come into bloom at this time of year, providing some stunning scenes for your photoshoots, and the weather is just right for hikes and wildlife watching.
- Things To Do - There are many different activities you can enjoy at Mt Rainier. As mentioned previously, those with climbing experience and skill can actually choose to tackle the mountain itself and make it to the top, but for the purposes of a day trip, simpler activities like hiking, fishing, picnics, and horseback rides are popular in the summer and spring. Those visiting in the winter, meanwhile, could try snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.