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Exploring Mt. Rainier National Park

by Erich Martin

Dec 29, 2018

© Jbrichter | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

When choosing the destination of your next family vacation, it is easy to be lulled into booking the classics and old standbys. For families with small children, amusement parks like Sesame Place, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Disney World, in Orlando, can seem like perfect matches.


These theme parks are certainly memorable and entertaining. They bring loveable characters like Elmo, Mickey Mouse and Kermit the Frog to life for families to enjoy and remember forever. Some folks may argue the repeatability of these whimsical and expensive vacations, but natural wonders dot the American map and can allow for a more than memorable vacation.


Mt. Rainier National Park is located in the Pacific Northwest, just an hour southwest of Seattle. The mountain itself stands out on the horizon and is easily visible from Seattle on a clear day. The park combines spectacular views, American history and natural exploration to provide for an experience all its own.


On your approach to the park, the first evidence is an outpost. There are a few stores and restaurants with lots of options available. If anyone in the group is hungry, this is a great time to eat before beginning the near-hour journey to the top of the park, fittingly known as Paradise.


Hiking in Mt Rainier National Park © Jackbluee | Dreamstime.com

Hiking in Mt Rainier National Park © Jackbluee | Dreamstime.com


To gain entrance to the park proper, you will need to purchase a pass. Passes for single people or vehicles are usually valid for a week from the date of their original issue. If your whole family is visiting, it is most cost-efficient to purchase a single car pass. These run $30 and allow the entire family to experience the park.


Much of your visit to the park is self-explanatory. It is good to arrive in the morning, with a full tank of gas, to allow for as much exploration time as you could wish. Much of your visit will be dictated by the ride to Paradise. If you are visiting in the winter, there is a chance the road to Paradise could be closed due to snow. Even during my last visit, in June, there was snow on the trail.


The ride to Paradise is dotted with lookout points and places to park and admire the view. The park is also chock-full of great hikes, perfect for those a little more active or with older kids. A drive straight to Paradise will take about 45 minutes, but stopping off to admire the view is absolutely worthwhile.


Once you reach Paradise, you will be rewarded will full views of the mountain range. Paradise Inn serves as a restaurant, gift shop and educational experience, so make sure to stop in and grab some lunch and a few souvenirs.


Like every other national park, Mt. Rainier National Park is filled with opportunities to wonder and learn. When in the neighborhood, the park is a must-see.


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