Mount Rainier | Best Fall Season Activities
Mount Rainier Fall Colors Photo Courtesy Mike Peters

Mount Rainier: Best of Fall Season

When the fall season arrives at the mountain, the leaves begin to turn, the evenings become brisk, and the crowds begin to thin. Autumn at Mount Rainier; it’s simply a stunning time to visit the park.  Come for a fall getaway.


You will be astounded by the brilliance of fall colors at Mt. Rainier. Cottonwoods, willows, elderberry, aspen, tamarack (western larch), and every deciduous tree and shrub is in transition and the colors will amaze you!  Here are a few “best bets” for fall color displays:
  • US 12 east of White Pass to view golden Tamaracks
  • Skate Creek Road between Ashford and Packwood
  • US Forest Service Road 73 to US Forest Road 75 is a nice loop trip ending back on Highway 410.
  • US Forest Service Road 70 off Highway 410, just outside Greenwater, offers a scenic nine-mile drive up to Greenwater Lake.
  • Chinook Pass/Tipsoo Lake is a classic favorite


The autumn season boasts its own possibilities for exploration and enjoyment.  Now is a beautiful time to get outdoors without the crowds at Mt. Rainier. Set against a backdrop of evergreen conifers, vine maples are ablaze with color, larches shine golden and huckleberries are bursting with shades of crimson. Recommended are the first two miles of the Summerland trail and the first three miles of the Owyhigh Lakes while the road to Sunrise is open. (Scheduled to close October 24th or with the first heavy snowfall.)  Skookum Falls trail, all along the White River off Highway 410 is a nice, flat hike, open year round.  Other great fall picks include:

  • Bench and Snow Lakes
    • 2.6 miles, RT – Expect brilliant fall color from Huckleberry and ash in expansive meadows; easy hike for families off Stevens Canyon Road.
  • Indian Henry’s via Kautz Creek
    • 11 miles, RT – Look upon brilliant red slopes, courtesy of the vine maples; strenuous hike, three miles inside Nisqually Entrance.
  • Pinnacle Saddle
    • 3 miles, RT – Splendid fall foliage of huckleberry and mountain ash, with fantastic Cascade Mountain views; short but steep, off Stevens Canyon Road.
  • Shriner Peak
    • 8.4 miles, RT – Late summer flowers give way to the rich colors of fall, plus enjoy optimal wildlife viewing; moderate with steep sections; strenuous hike off Cayuse Pass.
  • Skyline Trail
    • 8.4 miles, RT – An autumn favorite inside the park, view fall foliage up close and at a distance; moderate hike out of Paradise.
  • Spray Park
    • 6 miles, RT – Expansive meadows filled with colorful fall foliage and top-notch views of the mountain; moderate hike out of Mowich Lake.
  • Summit Lake
    • 6.5 miles, RT – Brilliant fall color and huckleberries galore; moderate hike outside the park near Carbon River Entrance.
  • Tolmie Peak
    • 7.2 miles, RT – Superb mountain views and a picturesque, reflective alpine lake amidst meadows of fall foliage; moderate hike out of Mowich Lake.

Fall Activities

  • Northwest Trek Wildlife Park offers three tours this fall

  1. Wild Walk

  2. Wild Drive

  3. Keeper Adventure Tour

  • Mushroom picking Free mushroom picking permits are issued by the US Forest Service.  Harvest area maps are available at US Forest Service offices in Enumclaw and Randle.  Gatherers along Highway 410 outside Greenwater are encouraged to park along the highway and explore along valley bottoms.  Mushrooms will start popping up as weather dampens.  For more information contact the US Forest Service Enumclaw station: 360-825-6585 and the US Forest Service Randle station:  360-497-1100.

  • Huckleberry picking is free and no permits are required!  Good spots are up above 3,000 feet…example: along Pacific Crest Trail.  According to Forest Service employees, there are still some berries up there, but that can change as quickly as the weather changes.

  • Horseback trail rides are offered this fall. Tours depart from Elbe and Enumclaw

  • Meet a tour guide on the trail and take a private tour of Mount Rainier National Park. 

  • Take a living history tour and buggy ride at Pioneer Farms & Ohop Indian Village.

  • Visit the vintage car collection at Thunder Dome Car Museum in Enumclaw.

Altimeter Cabin Photo Courtesy Walter DorsettFALL LODGING:

Cozy up in a cabin. Unwind in a historic lodge. Go glamping in a yurt. Enjoy the comforts of home in a posh vacation rental. Gather around the campfire and camp out at one of the privately operated campgrounds. When it comes to accommodations in the Mount Rainier region there are plenty of options! Click here to browse lodging options.

2020 Fall Vacation Planners

Visit  Rainier is a not-for-profit, non-membership destination marketing organization that promotes tourism in the gateway communities around Mt.  RainierFor more information on visiting the Mount Rainier area this fall download a copy of the new free vacation planners.

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