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It's possible to go for days in the Puget Sound area aware that a range of mountains lies to the east without thinking too much about it. Then one day, the skies open up to reveal a 14,410 foot mountain looming above the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. You'll be forgiven for standing with your mouth open. Mount Rainier, locally referred to as "the mountain," is the highest peak in the Cascade Range and rises more than 13,200 feet from it's base just 54 miles southeast of Seattle and the waters of Puget Sound. Much of the mountain is federally protected as Mount Rainier National Park and most of that is maintained as wilderness. In under two ...

It's possible to go for days in the Puget Sound area aware that a range of mountains lies to the east without thinking too much about it. Then one day, the skies open up to reveal a 14,410 foot mountain looming above the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. You'll be forgiven for standing with your mouth open. Mount Rainier, locally referred to as "the mountain," is the highest peak in the Cascade Range and rises more than 13,200 feet from it's base just 54 miles southeast of Seattle and the waters of Puget Sound. Much of the mountain is federally protected as Mount Rainier National Park and most of that is maintained as wilderness. In under two hours driving from Seattle, Tacoma or Olympia, you can enter an alpine landscape that is unique in the US. In a day trip, it's possible to have a look at one or more of at least 26 glaciers, walk in an old growth forest, catch the spray of dramatic waterfalls, and just sit in awe of this quiet, yet living volcano. Begin with a stop at the visitor center and historic lodge at Paradise. To feel a little closer to the peak and wildlife, walk the short trails to alpine meadows carpeted in springtime wildflowers or autumn blueberries. Other trails afford close encounters with glaciers and waterfalls. The ultimate experience is a wilderness backpack trek of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail that encircles the mountain Once you've arrived, you'll find that a day isn't enough, so bring a tent or camper, check into a local motel, or better yet, spend a night in the luxury of a lodge or inn with a view.

Myra Ingmanson
About the Expert

Myra Ingmanson and Daniel C. Schechter worked together on various titles for Lonely Planet, particularly the Pacific Northwest and Mexico books. Together they coauthored chapters for Lonely Planet's Eastern Caribbean.

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Myra Ingmanson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: 54 miles southeast of Seattle, the National Park is centered on the spectacular cone of Mount Rainier, a dormant volcano some 14,410 ft high.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Mid to late summer