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a day trip to mt rainier

    Exploring Mt Rainier / jones design company

    Ryan and I took the boys on a day trip to Mount Rainier this weekend.

    You know how it is when you live somewhere and take certain places for granted and skip out on doing the ‘touristy’ things because you aren’t a tourist? This was one of those things.

    But Ryan has summitted the mountain twice (he’s kinda amazing) and we were Audrey-less for the day (because let’s all admit that hiking with a 5 year old girl is not the easiest) so it was the perfect chance to do something fun and outdoorsy with the boys.


    The south entrance to Mt. Rainier is about two hours from our house – a beautiful drive through little towns that are in the middle of nowhere and I always wonder what draws residents to choose to live there. You get to the Mt. Rainier National Park entrance which is about 2500 feet above sea level and can stop off at lots of different turn-offs along the way up.

    We stopped for lunch and hiked down to the Nisqually River bed, which is remarkably low as a result of our way below normal snow levels this winter.  The river water is all murky looking because it is from a glacier and is filled with tiny particles of bedrock (read the actual description here if you’re interested) and is super chilly even on a summer day. The top of the mountain peeked out through the clouds every once in a while and is seriously breathtaking up close.


    After lunch, we ventured on to Paradise – an area at about 5000 feet above sea level with a visitors center, picnic areas and hiking trails. This is the point where the real hikers take off from, but also great for just day trips. If you hit it right, Paradise is filled with wildflowers. We were a little late for those, but it was still so pretty.

    Like I said, Ryan has done the big hike twice before and it was so fun to hear more about the specifics of his trips: the gear he used (40 lbs worth), how long it took (4 hours on the snowfield, sleep until midnight, hike to the top and summit at 7am, then hike all the way back down), what the top looks like (a crater you walk across to sign a book. On a very clear day, you can see all the way to Seattle). Needless to say, we were all super impressed with him.

    We hiked the trails up for a bit until we were all winded. This hiking mountains thing is not for the faint of heart.


    One of my favorite parts was seeing so many different people speaking so many different languages. I forget what an amazing thing this 14,410 ft mountain is. It truly attracts visitors from around the world.

    Once we made it down, we stopped in this teeny, tiny town for ice cream, sat for a moment on a chair lift-turned-swing then made our way back home.

    I’m so glad we took the day to explore this part of our home state. It makes me excited to find the next ‘touristy’ thing to do with the kids!

    Have you done anything fun around your home this summer? Please share!

    15 thoughts on “a day trip to mt rainier”

    1. Thank you! Most folks who make Mount Rainier a day trip are coming from the Seattle area, and they work their way around from the southwest corner of the park, driving first through Longmire to Paradise, then Ohanapecosh, and on to Sunrise.

    2. We’re from outside Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We frequent the mountains as often as possible (almost once a month…more in the winter to ski)…Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper are all 4 hours away and are a piece of Heaven on earth…we just completed a week long camping trip to southern Alberta and learned a lot about our rich history—really makes me grateful for our lives in the here and now. Google the Frank Slide for those that aren’t familiar—it’s an epic (and sad) tale of mountains moving, and a town crushed.

    3. My husband and I summited Rainier in early July this year. We had been on the mtn several times before (Camp Muir together & he summited last July while I was pregnant!). Being in the Midwest, our trips to the PNW are wonderful and always too short. You are so fortunate to live where you do! We are scheming ways to move that way…

    4. After living in the Seattle area our whole lives, we finally rode the duck boats on Lake Union. Kids loved it and so did we! Buying the “quacker” (duck call thing) is a must!
      Also took them to Pike Place, the gum wall, and 1st Starbucks for their first time. Loved sharing our pretty city with our kiddos. :)

    5. We took our daughter in love and 2 Grandchildren to Grand Lake, Colorado. We hiked to Adams Falls. Easy hike but gloriously beautiful! We live in Colorado, they live in California.

    6. One of the things I love about your blog is that you’re local. Mt. Rainier is special – that’s when I realized what a great guy my hubby was – 13 years ago we hiked the Wonderland Trail (encircles the mountain) as friends; next month we celebrate our 11th anniversary. So yeah, I know that mountain inside and out. And I also understand how hard it is to get there when it’s “always there.” Thanks for sharing your fun times!

    7. Such a beautiful place! I live in ca., but visited twice as a kid, and went a few years ago with my own children. When we left Seattle to drive to Mr. Rainier, it was raining and we weren’t even sure we would be able to see the mountain, but the day was just gorgeous! I’m so glad we can take our children to these places and make wonderful memories!

    8. I grew up in Jacksonville, Fl and my parents took us on many “touristy” day trips. Like St. Augustine (the nations oldest city) and home to the Castillo de San Marcos,and The fountain of Youth. And Ft Caroline. Both places are rich in Florida history. We lived close to Jacksonville
      Beach and went often. We explored downtown Jacksonville and its museums and libraries. We moved to Ohio when I was 14 but I so appreciate those memories and have told my own daughter many stories about our adventures. I love that I know and explored the rich history of where I grew up. Those trips mean more to me now than the trips to fairs and amusement parks.

    9. We live in Nova Scotia, moved here from the West three years ago and exploring this province has been so fun! We love to look up the top ten things to do in an area and pick a couple favourites. We also go on a weekday if we can so it’s a little quieter then the normal weekend crowd.

      I grew up in Abbotsford, BC and miss those PNW mountains!

    10. Emily – your day trip has just taken me back to wonderful memories (with some tears) from a trip I made with my family probably 39 years ago (yes I am 56)! I am from the southern most tip of Texas right on the Gulf and Mexico near Brownsville, TX. We drove a station wagon with 6 people from there all the way to Mt. Ranier! Our starter went out on our car at the top of the mountain – or as high up as you can drive. We had to have a wrecker come all the way up and haul us down – quite the memory and a WILD trip down the mountain! But your beautiful photos of the mountains reminded me of just how magnificent our Creator is and how precious family is! Thank you! Holly

    11. I as just up at Paradise a few weeks ago, only have been to Sunrise before and wow both are so different.
      I’ve grown up in WA (only 8.5 in Western WA) and just went to Mt St Helen’s last year, have you been up there?
      We also went to Hurricane for the first time this summer, another great place with the Olympic Game Park

    12. I went to school in Portland, OR and for leadership training we back packed Mt. Rainer. It is such a beautiful Mountain. I have wonderful memories there. You are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place!!! I now live back home in Texas, I miss those lovely mountains and scenic hikes.

    13. Great pics. I love that part of the country. Here in St. Louis we have a great kids museum called the City Museum. We went with a big group of friends this summer and it was a blast. It’s such a gem right here in my own city!

    14. I loved seeing these pictures of Mt. Rainier! I would love to visit there one day! We have really good friends that just moved out there to Kent, WA and so now when I look at your blog (daily), I feel closer to them. :)

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