Stargazing at Mount Rainier National Park | Visit Rainier
Sunrise Starry Sky

Stargazing at Mount Rainier National Park

Q: This year I want to go stargazing at Sunrise. I’d like to photograph the night sky. What are the hours for the gate? 

A: Good idea! There is very little light pollution at the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park which makes it a popular spot for summer stargazers and photographers. At this time, Mount Rainier National Park does not publish a schedule for daily operating hours at the entrance gates since staffing levels can vary. Here are a few tips to help you plan your visit this season. 

  1. Purchase your Mount Rainier pass prior to arrival. Print your pass at home, and bring it with you to display in your vehicle. Should you arrive and find the gate not staffed, enter the park and display your pass in your vehicle.  

  2. When planning your trip check the National Weather Service site to gauge how clear the skies are going to be during your visit. 

  3. If you’re planning on leaving a vehicle in the parking lot overnight you’ll need to apply for a wilderness permit. The process of getting a wilderness permit has changed this year. Due to the large volume of reservation requests, requests must be made at least one week (7 days) in advance of the desired trip start date and no more than one month (31) days in advance of the desired trip start date. If leaving your vehicle overnight be sure to park in the designated space for overnight parking. Please note, camping overnight in vehicles is not permitted.  

  4. Be considerate of other stargazers and photographers. Try to limit the use of flashlights and your vehicle lights once you park your car. Be hyperaware of headlights. Nothing ruins night vision faster. Also, using a red light works for maintaining your night vision while allowing you to see, and also preserves others’ night vision. You can wrap layers of red cellophane around a flashlight and affix with a rubber band or purchase an actual red light. Red lights really do make a difference! Click here for more red light hacks.

  5. The Day Lodge at Sunrise operates daily from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM now through September 13th. Effective September 19 & 20 the lodge will open from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM this season. The Day Lodge is the only place at Sunrise with to-go food and beverage items. 

  6. Enjoying time in nature can play an important part in overall wellbeing but safely hiking and camping during COVID require extra planning. Please join us in planning ahead to leave no trace and #recreateresponsibly.

  7. The restroom facilities at Sunrise are not locked however the buildings have motion detectors that will automatically turn on the lights. Turning on the lights will ruin your night vision. 

We hope you have a fun and safe time visiting Mount Rainier National Park. Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to call or email Mount Rainier National Park directly, click here for the park’s contact information. And for local lodging nearest Sunrise click here. We’d love to see photos of your visit. Feel free to tag us #visitrainier if you post your photos to Instagram or Twitter.