Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Quick Facts

Mount Rainier National Park

Washington

(360) 569-2211

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Open all year, Mount Rainier has something for everyone, from ranger programs to mountain climbing. Mount Rainier National Park offers excellent opportunities for scenic drives, hiking and mountain climbing. Most roads are open from late May to early October and all provide stunning views and access to a variety of hiking trails and other sites. While many visitors attempt to see the park in a day, consider an in-depth exploration of on one or two areas of the park.

Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice. The park contains outstanding examples of old growth forests and subalpine meadows. Visitors enjoy hiking its flanks, climbing its summit, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on its slopes, camping along its glacier-fed rivers, photographing wildflower displays in subalpine meadows and just admiring the view. Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. Each year thousands of people successfully climb this 14,410-foot active volcano.

Map of Mt. Rainier

Latitude, Longitude: 46.757280, -121.981361

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Activities

  • Boating

    Motorized boating is prohibited in the park. Non-motorized boating is permitted on all lakes except Frozen Lake, Reflection Lakes, Ghost Lake, Shadow Lake and Tipsoo Lake.

  • Bird Watching

    The park is home to a number of bird species. Some of these birds are year round residents but most occur in the park during specific seasons.

  • Bicycling

    At Mount Rainier, cyclists can enjoy bicycling that is both challenging and scenic. Bicycles are allowed on park roads but they are not permitted on any hiking trails and the park does not have any designated bike trails.

    September and early October are generally excellent times for cyclists to visit Mount Rainier. During these months, there are usually fewer vehicles on the roads and fall colors enhance the scenery. However, many facilities and services are reduced or discontinued after Labor Day.

    Be aware that the park may temporarily close any road to bicycle use. Signs will mark closed roads and cyclists can check current road status when planning a trip. Availability of bicycling equipment in or near the park is very limited and cyclists should be prepared to make repairs on their own. For your safety, wear a helmet.

    Park roads are steep, narrow, winding and have unpaved shoulders. There are several significant elevation gains and losses. Cyclists are advised to maintain safe speeds on downhill sections.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Mount Rainier National Park offers excellent opportunities for scenic drives. Ask at a visitor center for recommended routes.

    You can contribute to the preservation of Mount Rainier's natural and cultural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the traffic and parking hassles by riding the Paradise Shuttle from Ashford, Washington to Paradise on summer weekends.

  • Camping

    There are almost 500 sites where you can spend a night camping in Mount Rainier's lowland forests. Although half of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, you can reserve sites at the Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh Rock campgrounds by visiting recreation.gov. Ohanapecosh and Cougar Rock campgrounds are available by reservation only in summer. Reservations are accepted up to five months in advance. All campgrounds have running water, flush or pit toilets and a table and fire-place at each site. Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh campgrounds have accessible sites. If you plan to use the group sites at Cougar Rock or Ohanapecosh campgrounds between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day, you must make advance reservations.

    Camping opportunities are also available in the National Forests near Mount Rainier National Park. Campgrounds are located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee national forests.

    Camping overnight in the wilderness at Mount Rainier requires a permit. In the summer, permits can be obtained at any ranger station in the park during their hours of operation. Obtain permits at: the Longmire Wilderness Information Center at Longmire, the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center at Ohanapecosh, the White River Wilderness Information Center at the White River Entrance, the Sunrise Visitor Center at Sunrise and the Carbon River Ranger Station at the Carbon River Entrance.

    In the winter, permits are available at the Longmire Museum every day and the Jackson Visitor Center on weekends. Self-registration during the winter is available at the Carbon River Ranger Station, Ohanapecosh Ranger Station, and the Highway 410 entrance arch at the park's north boundary.

  • Climbing

    For more than a century, mountain climbers have been drawn to the towering summit of Mount Rainier. Almost all American mountaineering expeditions train here because of the challenges of its steep slopes and glaciers. Going to the top is rigorous and dangerous, and re-quires proper equipment and training. Before climbing, be sure that you are in good physical shape--the trip is very strenuous. All climbers going above 10,000 feet or climbing on glaciers must obtain a climbing permit. Guide services, including one-day climbing instruction, two-day summit climbs and five-day seminars are available through Alpine Ascents International (206) 378-1927, International Mountain Guides (360) 569-2609and Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) (888) 892-5462.

  • Fishing

    Anglers can try their luck fishing the park's many streams and rivers, but fish are not plentiful because populations are natural and not stocked. Anglers are asked to use barbless hooks and artificial lures. No licenses are required for boating or fishing within the park. Washington State fishing regulations do apply, however, and copies are available at visitor centers or ranger stations. Only nonmotorized boats are allowed on park waters. On some lakes, boating and fishing are prohibited. Check at visitor centers for regulations.

    Anglers making overnight trips into the backcountry must have a wilderness camping permit. These permits can be obtained at any ranger station or wilderness information center.

    Fish are not native to park lakes, but at least 27 lakes still contain reproducing populations of fish including eastern brook trout, rainbow and cutthroat stocks.

  • Hiking

    Mount Rainier National Park offers over 260 miles of maintained trails leading through the peaceful old-growth forest of the river valleys and the high subalpine meadows on the flanks of Mount Rainier. From the trails you can explore and experience the forests, lakes, and streams and view the fields of wildflowers and network of glaciers. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on any park trails.

    The park recommends that day hikers limit their party size to no more than 12 people per group. Day hikers are also encouraged to stay on designated trails throughout the park, and are required to do so in the heavily used Paradise, Sunrise, and Tipsoo Lake meadows. Please choose a spot for a lunch stop carefully. Avoid fragile flower fields and stream and lake banks.

    Stop by a Wilderness Information Center or visitor center to get current trail information before you embark on any hike. Maps and up-to-date trail conditions are available at the wilderness information centers at Longmire and White River or at the Carbon River Ranger Station. You may also call (360) 569-HIKE (4453).

  • Horseback Riding

    Saddle and pack animals (horses, mules, burros and llamas) are allowed on the Pacific Crest and Laughingwater Creek trails. Contact the park for more information.

  • Picnicking

    There are picnic areas throughout the park. Camping and picnic supplies, as well as firewood and groceries, are available on a limited basis at the General Store in Longmire.

  • Wildlife Watching

    An elevation difference of approximately 13,000 feet creates a variety of habitats and life zones in Mount Rainier that remain protected. You'll likely see different animals at each life zone change. This diversity provides for a broad assortment of invertebrates, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles. The highly visible Columbian black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, noisy Stellar's jays and common ravens are animals that many people remember. Some of the more popular mammals like elk and black bear range in many habitats throughout the summer. Mountain goats typically remain in alpine or subalpine life zones.

  • Winter Sports

    Winter recreation opportunities at Mount Rainier include ranger-guided snowshoe walks, Paradise snowplay, camping, snowboarding and skiing. With the arrival of snow in late October, Mount Rainier's beauty changes and so do its challenges. Visitors planning to travel to the park in winter should familiarize themselves with winter travel tips and road status, and be prepared for potential winter hazards.

Seasonality/Weather

Mount Rainier National Park is open all year. Visitation peaks in July and August, when the weather is warm and dry and the wildflowers are blooming. Weather patterns at Mount Rainier are strongly influenced by the Pacific Ocean, elevation and latitude. The climate is generally cool and rainy, with summer highs in the 60s and 70s. While July and August are the sunniest months of the year, rain is possible any day, and very likely in spring, fall and winter. Mountain weather is very changeable. Wet, cold weather can occur anytime of the year. Snow will remain at the 5,000 to 8,000 feet elevation well into mid-July.

In spring, with ephemeral waterfalls and in autumn, with brilliant colors reaching deep into the valleys, visitors can enjoy a more leisurely vacation in the park. During these seasons, weather may determine the availability of facilities in certain areas of the park. Before making any plans check the current status of roads, campgrounds, trails and activities.

Hikers and mountain climbers should be prepared for changing weather. Pay attention to weather forecasts, both one day and long range, avalanche warnings, and special weather alerts. Have extra clothing, rain gear, and a tent for protection against storms anytime of the year.

Park Partners

Discover Your Northwest

Discover Your Northwest operates stores at visitor centers throughout the park, offering publications, maps, posters, videos, children's literature and other informational materials. As a nonprofit organization benefiting educational programs in the national parks and forests of the Pacific Northwest, DYNW plays an important role in making interpretive and educational publications available to travelers. It also funds special interpretive projects in the areas it serves.

(206) 220-4140

Mount Rainier Guest Services, Inc.

The National Park Inn and Paradise Inn, and the restaurants within, as well as other guest facilities in the park are operated by Mount Rainier Guest Services, Inc. The Paradise Inn has everything to meet your needs. With 121 guest rooms, a gift shop, post office, café, and full service dining room, you have all the amenities at your fingertips.

(360) 569-2275

Directions

Driving

From Seattle (about 87 miles away) or Tacoma (about 65 miles away), take Hwy 5 South to Hwy 512 East, then drive south on Hwy 7; continue east on Hwy 706 at Elbe and continue on to the Nisqually Entrance. From Portland,Oregon (about 136 miles away), take I-5 North to US 12 East to Morton; then take Hwy 7 North and turn east on Hwy 706 at Elbe, continuing on to the Nisqually Entrance. Southwest entrance: Follow the above directions to Nisqually Entrance, which is the only entrance open year-round. Southeast entrance: From Yakima, take Hwy 12 West, then take Hwy 123 North to Stevens Canyon Entrance. Northeast entrance: From Seattle/Tacoma, take Hwy 410 South; from Yakima, take Hwy 12 to Hwy 410 North, to White River Entrance. Northwest entrance: Take Hwy 165 South to Carbon River Road. Road is closed at the entrance due to road damage from flooding. In the winter, all park roads are closed except the stretch between Nisqually and Paradise. Call ahead for road conditions at (360) 569-2211. Parking is limited in many areas of the park especially on busy summer weekends and holidays. If you are planning a summer trip to Mount Rainier, consider visiting mid-week, which is generally less crowded.

Flying

Three airports, served by major airlines are located near Mount Rainier: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located in Seattle, Washington. The one-way distance from the Seattle to the town of Ashford, located just outside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the park, is 85 miles. Portland International Airport is located in Portland, Oregon. The one-way distance from the Portland to town of Ashford, located just outside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the park, is 131 miles. Yakima Air Terminal is located in Yakima, Washington. The one-way distance from the Yakima to town of Ashford, located just outside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner of the park, is 134 miles.

Public Transportation

Aside from the Paradise shuttle service (summer weekends only), there is no public transportation to or in Mount Rainier National Park. From May 1 to September 30, Gray Line Tours offers daily trips from Seattle to Mount Rainier National Park. For more information, call Gray Line Tours at (800)426-7532.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(360) 569-2211

Links