You’ve seen this decade volcano from the plane, or from a high rise in Seattle on a clear day, or driving down I-5, and you’ve always wondered to yourself, “What is it like on the ground standing the foot of this gorgeous behemoth?” Well, let me tell you.
A Jewel of a Mountain
If one was to compare Mt. Rainier vs. Mt. Hood, well…I’m not sure a fair comparison is in order. Both rise from the low clouds and give you that ‘come hither’ look on a clear day. Both are iconic landmarks of the Pacific Northwest, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Dare I say, however, even though I’m from Oregon…
Mount Rainier would have to win out. But only barely. I mean, just look at this.
As far as hiking is concerned, I would definitely recommend Mt. Rainier. I don’t know, maybe it’s because Mount Rainier is located in a National Park (the only National Park in Oregon is Crater Lake.) So its a bit more developed and spreads a wider area. Whereas Mt. Hood is mainly a skiing and resort destination, Mt. Rainier in Washington is an experience.
And unlike Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier is considered an active volcano. Its glaciated peak oversees six major rivers, prime pickings for the spectacular abundance of wildlife and epic activities to enjoy. But much like Mt. Hood, Rainier is a world-class skiing destination.
A Fantastic Playground
Discover thousand-year-old trees at the Grove of the Patriarchs, explore the Nisqually River with epic views of the mountain, and marvel and the two-tiered Narada Falls. Get all of your Mt. Rainier activities info in Paradise (really!). Paradise resides at the southern slope of the mountain. Here you will find the park’s visitor’s center. Then chill out for a while, and maybe spend a night or two at Paradise Inn.
Hiking the Mountain
There are SO MANY hiking opportunities around the park. I’ve included some highlights, but a complete list of trails can be found here:
Burroughs – a 6-mile loop where you summit Burroughs mountain and take in wonderful views of Rainier, and Little Tahoma Peak.
Glacier Basin – a 7-mile trail with stunning views of the largest glacier in the lower 48. This trail has an elevation gain of 1280 feet.
Dege Peak – a 3-mile trail with great views of Rainier, with an elevation gain of 900. A somewhat easier trail than the others.
Skiing the Mountain
If you are a snow bunny, get all of your info here. White Pass Ski Resort is a 1400-acre ski area with alpine and cross-country skiing opportunities. Load up on ski gear and grab a bite at the day lodge. There are over 40 ski runs; choose anything from beginner up to expert slopes.
With a glacial mountain landscape, it’s no surprise that there are waterfalls a’ plenty around Rainier. It should be stated, however, that during the peak warm summer months, the waterfall will not be as spectacular, so take heed. If you are a waterfall lover, come to the mountain in mid-late spring or the fall months, when you have a much better chance of taking that epic waterfall shot. Here are three of the waterfalls not to be missed:
Narada Falls – Take the steep, but short hike down to view Narada.
Comet Falls – A longer hike, but the variety of scenery and the falls toward the end make the trip worthwhile.
Christine Falls – Get ready for picture-perfect scenery in the way of historic stone bridges and crystal clear waters. For a complete list of all the falls at Rainier National Park, go here. https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/upload/waterfalls-sep11.pdf
Mount Rainier Facts
- Mt. Rainier in Washington State is a little over 3000 feet higher at 14,000 feet than Mt. Hood in Oregon (11,000 feet).
- Mt. Rainier National Park was established in 1899 by President William McKinley.
- The mountain is considered an active volcano because it has erupted more than 12 times in the last 2,600 years, the last one occurring around 2000 years ago.
- It is the most glaciated mountain in the United States.
- Fay Fuller was the first woman to reach the summit, in 1890. It takes 2-3 days to climb the summit.
- The official NPS website to Mount Rainer can be found here.