Mount Rainier National Park started a Junior Ranger Program in 2010, offering guided kid-friendly tours of the mountain from Sunrise and Paradise. But if you happen to arrive at the park on a day or time when a Junior Ranger hike isn’t being offered, fear not as options exist for you and your family.
Several times during the day, rangers from Mt. Rainier also offer guided tours not specifically designed for children, but children are most welcome and do get a lot out of these tours.
Take the Nisqually Glacier tour for example. Also called the Nisqually Vista Trail, it’s only a mile and a half long, is paved, and is the easiest trail on the Paradise side of the mountain. You’re welcome to hike it any time you want to of course, but by going with a ranger you’ll come away with a new perspective about the mountain and some interesting and fun information as well.
If you’re lucky, you might find yourself on a tour with Dana, a ranger who is a geologist by trade. She enamored the children on our hike with her lessons on volcanoes and the variety of rocks you can find on Mt. Rainier. She had rock samples the kids could hold in their hands and she drew pictures on a large white board she actually carried with her along the hike. She could rattle off the names of botanical mountain marvels (wildflowers) like nobody’s business. And the best part was that she walked at a pace fit for the group she was hosting. Great fun for all.