Home Blog Seattle to Mt. Rainier: How to Make the Perfect Day Trip

Seattle to Mt. Rainier: How to Make the Perfect Day Trip

mt. rainier national park

A day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park. We love Seattle. There is nothing better than getting out to Mt. Rainier. It’s also a short drive from the city so it’s a great day trip. You can take a morning flight, visit a national park and return to the city at night. Whew!

This article will explain how to plan the perfect day trip. It also includes how to get from Seattle and Mt. Rainier and how you can make the most of your time in the park.

What is Mt. Rainier and why should I visit it?

Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington is one of three US parks. It is located 2.5 hours from Seattle and makes for a great day trip to explore alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and snowshoeing or skiing in winter. Mt. Rainier, in all of its glory.

Is Mt. Is Mt.

Yes! Yes! Mt. Rainier is actually the highest glaciated peak in the United States — which could lead to major mudflows should it ever erupt. It is not very scary.

How to get from Seattle and Mt. Rainier

There are a few ways to get from Seattle or Mt. Rainier:

  • By car (recommended). This is the most convenient option, as it allows you to be flexible. There are four park entrances total: Nisqually (carbon river), Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, and Ohanapecosh. The Nisqually Entry is the most popular. It is located in the southwest corner and allows for “drive up” sightseeing. It also leads to the Paradise and Longmire areas. We recommend rentalcars.com for car rentals. It allows you to search multiple rental companies at the same time and gets you the best price. Renting to/from SeaTac Airport has the lowest prices (compared to renting in downtown Seattle).

Tip Use GPS to find the “Mt. Rainier National Park may take you to an administrative building rather than the actual park entrance. Instead, instead, use 39000 State Route 706E, Ashford WA 98304 for your GPS.

  • Take a tour You can take a variety of day trips from Seattle to Mt. Rainier. They pick you up from your hotel in downtown and drive you through the Paradise area of the park before dropping you off at night. Although these are stress-free, you will have less time to explore the park (e.g., longer hikes such as the one below). Burroughs Mountain Trail Or the amazing Skyline Trail ). The following are some highly-rated tours:
    • Mt. Mt.
    • Small group mountain climbing Day trip to Rainier from Seattle (via Viator
    • All-inclusive “Best of Mt. Rainier” small group tour .
  • Private transfer: Shuttle Express provides private shuttles between specific locations in the park. This is a great option for large groups. However, it requires planning and coordination.

Not all public transportation options will take you from Seattle to Mt. Rainier. Enumclaw, outside of Mt. Rainier. This option seems like a lot of hassle.

What is the travel time from Seattle to Mt. Rainier?

These are the driving times and distances between nearby Washington locations and the Paradise visitor center on Mt. Rainier:

  • Seattle: 100 Miles, 2.5 Hours
  • Tacoma 80 Miles, 2 Hours
  • Spokane230 Miles, 5 Hours

What can you do on a day trip up Mt. Rainier

You can spend just one day in the park and you won’t be disappointed! Paradise is the most popular, as it’s open all year and offers stunning views. Sunrise is also very popular. So you can make your choice, we’ve captured activities in both areas. These are the essential highlights of a day trip up Mt. Rainier!


Skyline Loop Trail, Mt. Rainier National Park

There are over 260 miles worth of trails that have been maintained within Mt. There are many hiking options in Rainier. You’ll probably only be able to do a few short hikes on a day trip. We have covered the best Mt. We’ve covered the best Rainier hikes before. But if we had only one day to explore, we would recommend either the Skyline Loop Trail in Paradise or Fremont Lookout Trail in Sunrise. These trails are moderately strenuous and can be completed in just a few hours. If you’re not tired, you can continue exploring the area.

Waterfall chasing

Myrtle Falls, Mt. Rainier.

So so many falls (many unnamed!) around Mt. Rainier is fed by snowmelt and snow from the park’s glaciers. There are many waterfalls in the park. This is especially true if you visit in early summer and autumn, when they are at their best. You can see some of the most popular waterfalls without having to hike: Myrtle Falls (0.4 miles walk from Paradise Inn), Narada Falls (0.25 miles; steep trail), and Edith Gorge Falls (viewable from the bridge at Paradise Valley Road). The official NPS website has a complete list of waterfalls within the park.

The Longmire Museum is open to the public

Find out more about Mt. The Longmire museum is the oldest museum in the national park system. It contains information about Rainier and its history. It is located at the original 1916 park headquarters and is open all year. You’ll find exhibits as well as a hotel, restaurant and gift shop at the National Park Inn.

Enjoy a scenic drive

Kautz Creek

A scenic drive up Mt. Rainier’s West Side. Start at the Nisqually exit on Highway 706, and follow Paradise Road to Paradise or Ohanapecosh. Highlights include Kautz Creek which is the site of a 1947 flood; Ricksecker Point Road which leads to a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier and its many glaciers; Paradise which is world-famous for its wildflower meadows. Grove of the Patriarchs is a 1.5-mile loop through an old-growth forest.

Enjoy Paradise

Paradise, appropriately named, is the destination you should visit if you only have one day at Mt. Rainier! This is an absolutely beautiful area and our favorite part of the park. The entire area is lit up by wildflowers in the summer. You can also find world-class hiking trails here, such as the Skyline Loop Trail or the Alta Vista Trail.

Sunrise at Sunrise

Sunrise, the second most visited area in the park, is only accessible for a limited time. It is in many ways everything Paradise isn’t — barren, volcanic, desolate — but it is equally breathtaking. It’s difficult to believe this is possible, I know. It is also one of the best spots to see the sunrise in the park. Sunrise Point offers 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys, and Mt. Rainier.) It is 2.5 hours from Seattle to Mt. Rainier. You can do it if you are willing to. Seriously.

Mt. Rainier

Summer, summer and more summer – although you won’t feel alone. July and August are the peak months when wildflowers bloom and the weather is warm. The warm summer months are a long wait for PNW residents. Some parks are also closed during winter because of snow.

What should you bring to Mt. Rainier

  1. Hiking boots If you intend to hike at Mt. Closed-toed, water-resistant hiking shoes with good traction are essential for Rainier. You’ll be walking through old-growth forests, alpine terrain and possibly through snowfields. For hiking shoes, we recommend brands like Columbia and Salomon.
  2. Water bottle Hydration is essential on the trail. A Yeti, or Hydroflask will keep your water cold. To keep your hands clean, you can use a Camelbak and a water pouch.
  3. Sun Protection: Although it might be cold or cloudy (PNW), what can we say? You’ll be at a higher elevation which means you will have more UV exposure. Takeaway? Use sunscreen. We love the reef-friendly, toxin-free Sun Bum.
  4. Moisture-wicking clothing: When you are hiking, it is important to wear moisture-wicking clothing. This 3/4-sleeved hiking shirt is light and quick drying.
  5. Light jacket: The weather in Mt. Rainier. It can be hot and cold at the same time. To keep warm no matter what season, bring a lightweight jacket such as this Marmot softshell.