There is no doubt that Mount Rainier is one of Washington’s most iconic must-see attractions. Mount Rainier National Park welcomes thousands of visitors year-round, with most of its visitors coming during the summer when five of the developed areas in the park are open. Paradise is among these five developed areas and is worth visiting during summer for a chance not only to see Mount Rainier up close and personal, but also the beautiful wildflower meadows that compliment the landscape.
Planning Your Visit
Mount Rainier National Park is located about 2-3 hours from Seattle, Tacoma and Portland. Before heading out, it is always important to check for road conditions or important alerts as weather on the mountain can change rapidly. As with all national parks, there are entrance fees associated with your visit unless you are an annual pass holder. It is also important to note that pets and bicycles are prohibited on all park trails.
Paradise Area Trails
There are many trails in the Paradise area ranging from easy to moderate and strenuous. Panorama Point is a must-do and will bring you up close and personal with Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier. It is labeled as strenuous, however, the average hiker should be able to conquer Panorama Point via the Alta Vista and Skyline Trail. Alternatively, Glacier Vista will also give you a beautiful view should you decide not to go all the way to Panorama Point.
Before you head up, grab a map at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. Speak with a ranger if you have questions about the park or trails. The Panorama Point trailhead begins right outside the visitor center above the stairs with a quote from John Muir. The route to Panorama Point is about 5.5 miles roundtrip with a 1,700-foot elevation gain. The trails and junctions are well marked, so rest assured there will be signage along the way as the map can be intimidating.
From the moment you set foot on any of the trails in the Paradise area, you will be awestruck by the beautiful alpine meadows before you and they will continue to show off their beauty the entire route. Deer, chipmunks and marmots are also likely to cross your path. Add that with views from Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood and the Tatoosh Range on a clear day and you’ve got a recipe for a postcard-perfect experience and views you will never forget.