Access: Early-July – Late-September
|Photo: Janelle Walker|
However, owing to its lofty elevation, Sunrise is buried in snow for most of the year limiting its opening. Typically, park officials open the 16 mile paved road leading to Sunrise from SR 410, from late June until early October; with the visitor center open from early July to early September.
There is no lodging at Sunrise like at Paradise, but Mount Rainier Guest Services does run a snack bar serving hot meals at its day lodge at Sunrise. The national park service maintains an excellent visitor center here too, complete with exhibits on Rainier’s geology and the park’s natural and cultural history. The center also offers book sales and free ranger hosted programs and guided walks. And at the center you can also use one of several mounted telescopes to take in close-up views of Rainier’s impressive glaciers.
|Camping next to frying pan creek; Photo: Deby Dixon|
The Sunrise cabin operation was managed as a Dude Ranch, where visitors could partake in horse trips. The Sunrise Lodge offered bathtubs, showers, and laundry facilities; as well as sold groceries and offered dining. In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) developed a campground at Sunrise and one near Shadow Lake, cradled on a ridge overlooking the thundering glacial-fed White River 2,000 feet below. But by 1943, the park service removed the cabins and sold them for emergency World War II housing. They weren’t structurally fit for Sunrise’s harsh weather; weren’t popular; and weren’t compatible with the fragile high elevation environment. The campgrounds at Sunrise were eventually closed, too. The one near Shadow Lake was rehabilitated into a much smaller walk-in campground (perfect for first time backpackers and children) and the campground near the visitor center was converted to a picnic area (with some of the finest views within the park).
|Hike the Mt. Fremont trail to see mountain goats; Photo: John Chao|
Other popular family friendly trails include the trek along Sourdough Ridge with its horizon sweeping views beyond the park; Frozen Lake with its perpetual snow and ice; the Mount Fremont fire tower with its resident mountain goat herds; and Shadow Lake with its spectacular reflections and flower-lined shores. These trails are ideal too, for folks new to hiking, and they don’t get as crowded as Paradise’s trails.
– Craig Romano, Visit Rainier Hiking Expert
Known for its:
• High elevation
• Up close mountain views
• Fewer crowds
What You’ll Find:
• White River Campground
• Gift shop
• Hiking trails
• Ranger station
• Seasonal interpretive programs
• Sunrise Day Lodge
• Sunrise Visitor Center
• White River Wilderness Information Center
Area Day Hikes:
Visit Rainier is a not-for-profit, non-membership destination marketing organization that promotes tourism in the gateway communities around Mt. Rainier.