For some avid hikers, to take an early morning hike to see the sunrise on Mount Rainier is an annual summer tradition, for others, it’s a PNW bucket list item.
We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions for early morning hikers. Be sure to do some careful pre-trip planning. Hiking these trails in the dark to get to the viewpoints in time to see the sunrise will require headlamps and a pretty early wakeup call and navigation skills that are on point.
Q: What are some of the best trails to hike to see awesome sunrises?
A: Some people say that the view from High Rock Lookout Tower is one of the best perches to watch the sunrise from. To read blogger and photographer Zach Nichols story about his experience on that particular trail click here. The view from the Fremont Lookout Tower is also spectacular. Click here to read more about the trail to the Fremont Lookout. If you’re willing to plan and slog the miles here are some more challenging hikes that provide incredible views: Sourdough Ridge, the Moraine trail off of Glacier Basin, Shriners Peak lookout, Burroughs Mountain, and Skyscraper Pass. Another suggestion is to consider hiking up to the summit of Crystal Mountain. The view from the Crystal Mountain summit of Mount Rainier is incredible. No services will be open at the early morning hour, the Summit House, restrooms, and Summit Bar will all be closed early in the morning. You could consider hiking up to watch the sunrise, waiting until the gondola opens and then riding the gondola down.
Q: How early can I enter Mount Rainier National Park?
A: During COVID Mount Rainier National Park isn’t publishing daily operating schedules for the various park entrances as staffing levels can change from day to day. Your best bet is to purchase an entry pass in advance this way if you arrive at the entrance gate and find it not staffed you can enter the park anyway and display your prepurchased pass in your vehicle.
Q: I know there are multiple entrances to Mount Rainier National Park. What’s the best entrance for me to use to get to Sunrise?
A: You want to use the White River Entrance, it’s the Northwest Entrance. If you’re using a GPS use these coordinates GPS Coordinates: 46.9020666, -121.5721791
The photo above was taken along the Sourdough Ridge in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. Photo courtesy David Bertch Photography.