This mountain has celebrity status

Mount Rainier is more than just one of North America's most famous volcanoes; It's both a landmark and an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Known simply as "The Mountain" to locals, Rainier serves as a dramatic backdrop, a point of reference, a guardian and a threat... it is an active volcano, after all. This national park checks all the boxes for avid hikers and nature lovers. An epic eden of alpine lakes, wildflower fields and heart-stopping vistas sit high on the shoulders of a heavily glaciated peak, and hiking in the shadow of a 4,392-metre goliath is nothing short of awe-inspiring. So lace up your hiking boots, charge the camera, and get ready to see firsthand why The Mountain means so much to the people that live here.

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Highlights of Mount Rainier National Park

A meadow of colourful wildflowers in the Paradise section of Mount Rainier National Park

Explore Paradise on earth

The Paradise section of Mount Rainier National Park is renowned for its brilliantly coloured wildflower meadows. So renowned, in fact, that in 1889, John Muir stated that Paradise was "the most luxuriant and extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld." A network of trails loops around the meadows, each with jaw-dropping views of Mount Rainier's summit. In stark contrast to the kaleidoscope of summer blooms, by December, the meadows will be buried in a staggering amount of snowfall.

An up close view of the icy glaciers on top of Mount Rainier

Check out the ice, ice baby

Indigenous tribes use the mountain's original name, Tahoma, which can mean "snowy peak" or "sky wiper"... a fitting name for the tallest, snowiest peak in Washington. The Mountain's 25 glaciers make it the most heavily glaciated peak in the United States, outside of Alaska. In the winter, the Paradise area of the park is known as one of the snowiest places on earth, receiving over 16 km annually, but in the summer, certain trails will get you so close to the glaciers that you can count the crevasses.

A large waterfall cascades over a wall of stone and bright green pine trees

Spot cascades in the Cascades

Where there are glaciers, there are rivers, and where there are rivers, there are... you guessed it, waterfalls! Mount Rainier's glaciers are the source of five significant river systems that create over 150 waterfalls — the most of any mountain in the Cascades range. And you don't need to be an expert hiker to reach the falls; Narada Falls is an impressive sight that can easily be reached by car, with a constant mist that often produces rainbows.

a group of three hikers enjoying the view from the Skyline Trail on Mount Rainier

See a different kind of skyline

The Skyline Trail might just be the MVP of trails in the park. From purple fields of wild lupine and thundering waterfalls to cheeky marmots and the ever-present backdrop of the mountain's summit, Skyline has all the photo ops. At 1,920 metres, the trail passes Glacier Vista, giving an up-close look at the rambling Nisqually Glacier, and while the 8.7 km trek gains some elevation fairly quickly, tired legs are a fair price to pay for these epic views.

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Mount Rainier National Park FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Mount Rainier National Park is located in Washington, part of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The mountain itself belongs to the Cascade Mountain Range.

Mount Rainier National Park is located in the western-central portion of Washington state. If you’re travelling from other states or from overseas, you can fly into SeaTac International Airport in Seattle (SEA) or Portland International Airport in Portland (PDX). From here, you can rent a car. Driving to Mount Rainier National Park takes about 2 hours from Seattle and 2.5 hours from Portland.

To explore the park, you'll need to rely on a car since public transportation from major cities to the park is nonexistent, and the park doesn't offer a shuttle service. The closest city to Mount Rainier that is accessible via public transportation from Seattle is Enumclaw, which is about 32 km from the entrance of the park. Taxis and rideshares are available to take you into the park, but be aware that cell service can be spotty to nonexistent, so arranging travel and booking ahead of time is a must.

Summer and early fall are the best times to visit Mount Rainier National Park. July-September are the driest months, so visiting during this time means that most (if not all) park roads will be open, and hiking trails will be snow free. Summer does come with parking challenges, however, so if you plan on hiking some of the more popular trails, like Wonderland or Skyline, arriving early in the morning or visiting midweek can help you avoid parking woes. Roads in the park begin to close for the season in early fall and won't reopen until spring, cutting off access to most sights.

Read more about the best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park

Intrepid trips to Mount Rainier National Park will take place during the dry season (June-September), but you should always be prepared for changing weather. Temps will be chilly in the mornings but can heat up quickly as the sun comes out. Snow will remain at 1,500-2,500 metre elevations well into July, but it is usually wet and slushy, so consider packing waterproof shoes and a few pairs of quick-drying hiking outfits.

Keep in mind that temperatures can vary based on the elevation you're exploring, with digits dropping the higher you climb.

Average temperatures in the summer at the Longmire Wilderness Center

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°F/C)  

AVERAGE LOW (°F/C)  

June

66°F (19°C)

43°F (6°C)

July

75°F (24°C)

47°F (8°C)

August

74°F (24°C)

47°F (8°C)

September

68°F (20°C)

43°F (6°C)

Standing at 14,410 feet tall (4392 m), Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and the highest volcano in the contiguous United States.

You packing list for Mount Rainier should include, at minimum, a good pair of well-fitting hiking boots, a mixture of waterproof and lightweight layers, a water bottle or bladder and a camera.

No matter what time of year you visit Mount Rainier, you will probably come across snow at the higher altitudes (even in July!), so a windproof jacket and wool socks are a must. Weather in the Pacific Northwest is known to change fast so while mornings may be cold, the afternoon sun can heat things up quickly. Consider packing some breathable t-shirts, along with a hat and sunscreen.

Before embarking on a trekking or walking tour, make sure to read the Essential Trip Information section of your itinerary for a better idea of what's provided and what you'll need to bring.

Check out our Ultimate Packing List

Although thousands summit Mount Rainier every year, Intrepid trips don't make the trip to the top. To do so, climbers must obtain a Climbing Permit in person at a ranger station at Mount Rainier National Park and have adequate training and preparation.

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

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