Alta Vista Snowshoe - Visit Rainier

Alta Vista Snowshoe

Area: Paradise Starting Point: Paradise  
Distance: 1 mile, RT  Duration: 1.5 hrs Difficulty Level: Easy
Elevation Start: 5,421 ft Elevation End: 5,971 ft Elevation Gain: 550 ft

* Mileage, elevation gain and high point will vary depending on your route.


Maybe you have limited time. Or perhaps you have young kids with you. Maybe you aren’t looking for an all day adventure, but still want a taste of Mt. Rainier in the winter. There are several easy snowshoe routes that start from the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and Paradise Lodge.

On our adventure in June, the deep spring snow brought back good memories. Not so many years ago we celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday with a stay at Paradise Inn during the month of June. That Sunday morning brunch was unforgettable.

Also unforgettable was the weather. Not only was Paradise snow-bound, it was raining. We rented snowshoes and set out on trails near Paradise Lodge and the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. We had fun slopping, sliding, tripping over our ponchos and falling into the snow, laughing every time we fell. We were soaked when we returned to the warm lodge, but in high spirits and invigorated from playing in the snow.

If this is your first visit to Paradise and you’re new to the sport of snowshoeing, don’t venture too far from the Paradise Lodge or the Visitor Center. Be sure to pick up the handouts at the Visitor Center for current conditions, weather, hazards and get recommendations from the park rangers who are there to answer questions and provide suggestions of safe places for you to hike or snowshoe.

In summer, the short trails near Paradise are known as the Paradise Flower Trails but when covered in snow, trail signs are buried, though snowshoe and ski tracks are a good approximation of where the trails lie under the snow.

Alta Vista is a good beginner’s route – the trail to Alta Vista starts from the Visitor Center and is hard to miss even in the snow. The start of the trail is marked by orange posts and packed down from ski and snowshoe tracks.

When avalanche danger is high (the rangers will tell you so) follow the higher route above Alta Vista, don’t snowshoe beneath Alta Vista (the south slope) as that is prone to avalanche. The views along this route are outstanding, especially when skies are blue with views of the Tatoosh peaks, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens to the south and behind you, Mount Rainier of course, almost close enough to touch.

– Karen Sykes, Visit Rainier Hiking Expert

Trailhead: N 46° 47′ 12, W 121° 44′ 03

Q: What is the nearest place to get something to eat after snowshoeing the Alta Vista trail? 

A: The National Park Inn located at Longmire is approximately an 11 mile/30-minute drive from the trail.