Climb into alpine splendor on the family-friendly Sourdough Ridge Trail. It’s just the trail for those looking to experience the quintessential Sunrise area hike. The trail boasts in-your-face mountain views, a trek through Sunrise’s famous alpine meadows and common sightings of Mt. Rainier’s endearing marmots. The route climbs quickly from the bustling Sunrise Visitor Center area to the top of Sourdough Ridge and continues east skirting the summit of Antler Peak. Admire the colorful, hardy wildflowers that have successfully adapted to the alpine environment – asters, phlox, and penstemon offer a softer side to this volcanic ridge.
Where else can you enjoy a delicious Sunday Brunch, dining inan historic, rustic lodge halfway up a mountain? The Sunday brunch at the Paradise Inn Dining Room is legendary. Chef George Bush (no relation) prepares cuisine that rivals the Inn’s striking views of Mt. Rainier and the Tatoosh Range. In this large, open dining room, there’s not a bad seat in the house, watching the spectacular surroundings from the tall, many-paned windows. The brunch includes a carving station, smoked salmon, seasonal fresh fruits, delectable desserts and other traditional brunch favorites. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed. Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:30am to 2pm and runs June 11 – September 23, 2012.
Perched atop Crystal Mountain at 6,872 feet, the Summit House serves-up breathtaking views and toe-warming treats. Energize your body with hearty soups, chili, gourmet pizzas, pastas, fondue and fresh salads, in addition to daily specials. On a clear day, take in views of the Northwest’s most famous volcanic peaks. It’s like dining at the top of the world. The Summit House is open year-round and in the summer months, offers dramatic sunset dinners and a not-to-be-missed Sunday brunch. For reservations, call (360) 663-3085.
And how does one reach the top? With a relaxing ride up the Mt. Rainier Gondola. Opened January 2011, the new gondolas offer a year-round ride. In the summer months, cruise over wildflower fields and mountain streams. Take in the mountain beauty surrounding you. Combine your ride with a meal at the top, or simply ride for the views – they’re reason enough.
The new exhibits at the Sunrise Visitor Center tell the story of the Sunrise area of the park. Learn about the volcanic forces that created the mountain, the glaciers that mold the landscape, the plant and animal life of the subalpine meadows, and the tribes that are tied to the area. The story is told through photos, words, artifacts, models and video. A recently refurbished visitor center re-opened in the summer of 2011. The resulting space is a special tribute to the beauty and wonder of the Sunrise area of Mt. Rainier National Park. In 2011, the Sunrise Visitor Center was open July 3rd – Sept 7th, 10:00am – 6:00pm, daily.
It’s scenic. It’s historical. It’s a great experience for train fanatics and anyone who appreciates a beautiful ride through the foothills. Board the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad in Elbe and take an 18-mile picturesque ride on a vintage logging locomotive into the countryside near the mountain. Not to be confused with a luxurious rail line, this train offers a friendly and fun atmosphere, with plenty of room for children in the group to walk around and see the sights. The train is complete with a snack bar and several bathrooms. Kind conductors give a brief history lesson of the area. And the view of the great mountain as the train crosses the Nisqually River is breathtaking. All aboard!
With bigger-than-life Mount Rainier as its backdrop, watch Myrtle Falls as it descends along Edith Creek. It’s a classic view – and one of the signature views in Mount Rainier National Park. The falls skip along the rocks, descending 60 to 80 feet through the impressive gorge carved out by Edith Creek. It’s a family-friendly walk (less than a mile) along a paved nature trail to Edith Creek from the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise. For the best view of the falls, take a short jaunt down an unpaved trail, looking back up at the mountain and bridge crossing Edith Creek.
They’re world renown for a reason. In the summer months, (peak season from mid-July to mid-August) the meadows surrounding Paradise at Mt. Rainier become alive with color and folks come from all over the world to delight in their beauty. Marvel over pink penstemon, purple lupine, yellow cinquefoils, red paintbrush and bright white avalanche lilies. Set out on the system of paved nature trails from Paradise and venture into these dazzling meadows. The gentle family-friendly Nisqually Vista Trail is a fan favorite for meandering the mountainside. For a more strenuous journey offering a bit more solitude, continue up the Skyline Trail with its jaw-dropping views.
Located in the extreme northwestern corner of the park, the Carbon River area of the park invites visitors to explore a unique ecosystem — an inland temperate rainforest. Here processions of moisture-laden clouds deposit copious amounts of precipitation-between 70 and 90 inches of rainfall annually upon this deep canyon embracing the roaring, glacier-fed Carbon River. It’s a far cry from the wide-open meadows at Paradise, but instead offers marvelous long-hanging moss, towering Douglas firs, an endless parade of ferns and lichens, and a bit of peace and tranquility unequaled in other areas of the park.
For admirers of waterfalls, Silver Falls is one of the park’s best. Here’s your opportunity for that forest experience of meandering through the tall trees, listening for the roar of the water ever-intensifying as you approach these dramatic falls. Although these falls are especially refreshing during the winter, Silver Falls continues to gush with incredible force during the drier summer months as well. Once you arrive, be sure to take the path up to a viewpoint near the top of the falls, allowing you to appreciate the wonder of the falls from a scenic overlook. To access Silver Falls, take the easy 3-mile Silver Falls loop trail from the Ohanapecosh Campground.
Flanked to the north and south by two nationally recognized scenic byways, take a sightseeing adventure to Mt. Rainier this summer and see the sights from the comfort of your car. The White Pass Scenic Byway skirts the park to the south, while the Chinook Byway passes through the park to the north. Both byways provide incredible opportunities for experiencing the area’s beauty – a photographer’s dream come true. Enjoy a journey passing through small mountain communities, resource lands, river valleys, foothills, and alpine country. In addition to Mt. Rainier National Park, the regions surrounding the byways include agricultural lands, commercial and forestland properties, as well as state parks, wildlife areas, the Gifford Pinchot and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests.