4 Days Exploring Mount Rainier National Park

Glaciers on the mountain with a forest in the foreground, and a clear blue sky

Mount Rainier National Park for four days was an unforgettable experience that offered a unique opportunity to connect with nature. With over 260 miles of trails and stunning alpine scenery, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy in this beautiful park. We hiked through wildflower meadows and took drives to take in the panoramic views of Mount Rainier. The park also offers a range of other activities, such as camping, fishing, and ranger-led programs, making it the perfect destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you are looking for a challenging hike or a peaceful retreat, Mount Rainier National Park is sure to provide an unforgettable adventure that you will cherish for years to come. We came looking forward to a Mount Rainier National Park sunrise. There are Timed Entry Permits Required. Campgrounds

This was part of a road trip that we did. “From the Sierras to the Rockies”


Here we got to explore both the Paradise area and the Sunrise area. We hiked the Skyline Trail, Waterfall Trail, and Nisqually Vista Trail. Some other highlights include seeing Myrtle Falls and Christine Falls and visiting Reflection Lake. This is one of the longest drives that we did with 440 miles covered in 9.5 hours. That includes rest breaks and a stop for lunch. We stayed at the Cougar Rock Campground in the park for 4 nights. There were no hook-ups but it was a nice pull-through site. Chuck, our cat liked this campground.

Mount Rainier Park Map

Our cat, Chuck, walking on a log in the sun at the campground at Mount Rainier national Park

Paradise area

It is a beautiful 9-mile drive from the campground to the Paradise area. Visiting the Paradise area in Mount Rainier National Park is a breathtaking experience that showcases the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The area is characterized by its picturesque alpine meadows, majestic glaciers, and scenic trails that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Hiking the Skyline Trail is a popular activity in the area, taking visitors through lush forests, and rocky ridges, and offering stunning views of Mount Rainier. We hiked the Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls, the Waterfall Trail, and the Nisqually Vista Trail. There is a dining room at the Paradise Inn open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go HERE for the Paradise Area hiking trails.

Mt. Rainier as seen from Paradise with wild flowers and trees in the foreground at Mount Rainier national Park
purple wildflowers with trees mountains and clouds in the background
Ribbons of water cascading down a cliff between trees
Water cascading down a cliff into a stream with trees around

Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake, as its name suggests, offers mirror-like reflections of the mountain and the trees that surround it, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature lovers alike. We enjoyed a peaceful walk around the lake’s perimeter at sunrise and there were only 3 other people there. The area is also popular for birdwatching, as a variety of bird species can be spotted in the surrounding trees and along the shoreline. A perfect for a Mount Rainier National Park sunrise.

small lake with reflections and a mountain shrouded in mist

Sunrise Park Road and the Sunrise area

The Sunrise Park Road to the Sunrise area. It was a beautiful drive with a stop at Sunrise Point Lookout that is worth the stop. There are great views of the mountain and the forest. From there, you have a view of Sunrise Lake which had reflections in the water and mist hanging around the valley.

Sunset Point Lookout with cars in the parking lot and Mount Rainier and trees in the background at Mount Rainier national Park
Beautiful lake, surrounded by trees with mist in the valley

At Sunrise there is a large parking lot with a Visitor Center, picnic area, and many hiking trails. We did a couple of short hikes with magnificent views of the mountain and the glaciers. From the campground to Sunrise is a 55-mile drive. The views of Mount Rainier from the Sunrise area are simply breathtaking. Visitors can witness the towering peak in all its majesty, with its pristine glaciers, alpine meadows, and rocky ridges. This area is perfect for a Mount Rainier National Park sunrise. Go HERE for the Sunrise area hiking trails.

Close up of Mt. Rainier with Glaciers with trees in the foreground at Mount Rainier national Park
Mount Rainier with mist in the valley and a blue sky

Christine Falls

Christine Falls is a picturesque waterfall that cascades down a series of moss-covered rocks, surrounded by lush greenery. The waterfall is accessible via a short and easy hiking trail that takes visitors through a dense forest and over a small bridge before arriving at the falls. The sound of the water and the serene surroundings make it a perfect spot for picnicking or simply enjoying nature

Christine Falls with ferns and rocks around it at mount rainier national park

Nisqually River

One of the many highlights of the Wonderland Trail is the opportunity to cross the Nisqually River via a charming log footbridge that is conveniently located near the campground. Walking across the bridge was a fun and exciting experience, and it offered us stunning views of the surrounding natural scenery. After crossing the bridge, we took a short hike along the river to soak up the peaceful serenity of the area and get up close to the river’s churning waters. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, crossing the Nisqually River footbridge is a must-do activity that should be on every visitor’s to-do list.

Lorna on the Nasqually Bridge crossing the river at Mount Rainier national Park


Another place to explore in the area is Ohanapecosh located just outside Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. The area is home to the stunning Ohanapecosh River, which flows through a deep canyon surrounded by old-growth forests. We took a leisurely hike along the river and admired its crystal-clear waters, which are fed by nearby glaciers. The area is also home to several hot springs, which provide a relaxing and rejuvenating way to soak in the surrounding natural beauty. Although it is not part of Mount Rainier National Park, the Ohanapecosh area is a fantastic alternative for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. There is also a nice campground there. Go HERE for the Ohanapecosh Area Trails

The Ohanapecosh River flowing over rocks and boulders
Ohanapecosh River with trees on the bank


A visit to the Paradise area in Mount Rainier National Park is a must-do for anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest. The scenic Skyline Trail, Myrtle Falls, Waterfall Trail, and Nisqually Vista Trail offer panoramic views of the mountain. The Reflection Lake is a peaceful spot for nature lovers and photographers. The Sunrise Park Road to the Sunrise area offers stunning views of the mountain and its glaciers. The Christine Falls waterfall is a beautiful natural wonder that adds to the charm of the area. With hiking, picnicking, and birdwatching opportunities, the Paradise area in Mount Rainier National Park is a true natural gem that showcases the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Do you want to see the next leg of this road trip? North Cascades NP

Lorna’s Tips and Lessons

Shit happens, literally. On our way here, we discovered that the black tank line in our trailer had fallen, and we were literally leaving our shit on the road. This was after police activity and then a terrible accident on the freeway the day before. We drove 220 miles at an average of 30 miles an hour. Earlier in the trip, I also got the terrible news that my friend, Christine, had died while in surgery from complications from her battle with breast cancer. I always say that we need to remember we are in good company and just enjoy being with each other. Having a good book on tape or good music to listen to helps, as well. Remembering all the things we have to be grateful for helps.

Mount Rainer is one of my favorite places we have been to and I hope that one day we return. It did not feel like a coincidence that we ended up at Christine Falls on the day of Christine’s memorial. I was grateful for the Godwink.

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