When we first visited Seattle my jaw completely dropped at my first sighting of Mount Rainier. I couldn’t believe that this giant mountain, or volcano for that matter, could even exist. And you could see it from all over the city of Seattle. Then when we moved here in April 2018, we could even see Mount Rainier from the rooftop of our house. It was instantly added to my list of things to see and do in our new home town! In order to find more information about where to go, and which hikes to try, I used Mount Rainier NPS, as well as All Trails.
I am hoping this article will be one that I continue to add to as we explore more and more of Mount Rainier National Park. Keep in mind we are EXTREMELY beginner level hikers with a (at this current time in 2018) 7 year old and a 3 year old.
Sunrise Visitor Center
For our first trip to Mount Rainier we chose to visit the Sunrise Visitor Center. My parents were in town visiting and we wanted to take our first trip to the national park with them. From Seattle, the trip was approximately 2.5 hours. It was a beautiful drive in and we loved seeing the mountain get closer and closer as we approached the park. The drive up to the visitor center was a fun one! The road zigzagged up the mountain along a cliff. Before we approached the visitor center, we stopped to get out at Sunrise Point. It was here that you got a 360 degree view of the Cascade Range, a blue/green lake, and of course Mount Rainier.
Because we could not all fit in my SUV, my husband and I rented a car through Reach Now for the day allowing my parents to take our car. When debating between Reach Now and car2go, we ultimately chose Reach Now because of their higher limit on miles included in the rental price. It was super easy to rent the car for the day using the Reach Now app. The only issue we had was not being able to lock it at Sunrise because there was no cell service.
The visitor center at Sunrise was complete with an educational center, bathrooms, picnic areas, a day lodge, and some amazing views right in the parking lot. Sunrise is the highest point you can access in Mount Rainier National Park by car. We parked at an elevation of 6,400 feet! We packed a picnic lunch to eat before we took a hike. There were plenty of picnic tables open, and we found one next to a nice snow bank.
Hikes from Sunrise Visitor Center
Sunrise Nature Trail
We chose this hike (aka Sourdough Ridge Trail) because it was the easiest one at Sunrise. There was some elevation gain and some very steep sides to the trail. This definitely made it a little challenging for our three year old.
Along the trail we came across some wildflowers, sweeping views to the north, and a breathtaking look at Mount Rainier.
The trail had heavy traffic and was very dusty in the dry summer. Since it was July, we were really excited to come across a big bank of snow we could climb on!
Stay tuned for additions to this article 😉