Mt. Ranier National Park

It's hard for me to put into words how much I loved Mt. Rainier National Park. The mountain itself is a gorgeous behemoth that looms over neighboring towns and is visible as far as the Seattle harbor. The first glimpse I got of her was from the McDonalds parking lot where we stopped for breakfast. It had been cloudy when we drove into town Friday evening so I couldn't see the mountain, but that morning there she was: 14,000 feet high and standing thousands and thousands of feet above the connecting range. I ended up learning that day that Mt. Rainier is one of the top most prominent peaks in the world, and seeing it you can see why.

Our AirBnB was in Graham, WA so we drove about 45 minutes to the Paradise entrance to the park with our sights set on the Paradise visitor's center and a 5-mile moderately rated hike to see the wild flowers and get an up-close view of Mt. Rainier's peak. 

Well, Mother Nature had a different plan. As we pulled up to the park and ascended into the mountains we realized we were completed encompassed in a cloud system that was dwelling on the face of the mountain. I had dreamt of pulling up to Paradise Visitor Center and getting the breathtaking view of the peak that I had seen in all of my online research. Alas, I could barely see 5 feet in front of my face. You can imagine my utter disappointment when the one agenda item I planned for myself was seemingly ruined by the clouds...

Fortunately, Devin kept optimistic and we decided to head into the center and chat with a Ranger. Turns out this system was pretty local to this side of the mountain and Sunrise Visitor's Center was almost clear with amazing weather and great views. So, we changed our plans and drove the rest of the park north to Sunrise. Along the way we were able to stop at some pretty neat sights and my dreams became more and more fulfilled as we drove further and further and had clearing skies.

About 10 minutes from the Sunrise entrance to the park we came around a bend and there she was, grand, rugged, terrifyingly beautiful, and right in front of us. We were at an elevation of about 6,000 ft. at that point and we were in the midst of a peak that was another 8,000 above us. I started crying, because that's what I do... and Devin pulled over because neither of us have ever seen something as beautiful as what we were looking at.

At the Visitor's Center we asked the Ranger for a comparable hike to the once we had planned on the other side of the mountain and she recommended a similar, yet harder trail for us to accomplish over the next few hours. We ended up hiking for about 3 hours over 5 miles and climbing to 8,000 ft. The entire trail was on a neighboring mountain to Mt. Rainier's peak and we had wonderful views the entire time. It was definitely a hard hike and one that shouldn't be taken lightly because one mis-step could send you toppling over the side of a mountain-face.

From the top though we were proud of what we had accomplished, in awe of the sights we were seeing, and already planning to summit Mt. Rainier one day. According to research it can be done over 2-3 days and there are many expedition companies that host group treks.

I've broken the photos down into two carasols so that you can see unobstructed views of the mountain in one, and then pictures that we ruined in the second {I'm just joking... kind of}. If you're visiting Seattle I cannot stress enough how much you should consider taking a day to visit Mt. Rainier National Park. We honestly could spend a week exploring different areas, trails, lakes, glaciers, etc... but this time we only had one day and made the very best of it. I sit at home and dream of returning to that glorious mountain, and she's at the top of my list of reasons for wanting to move out west.