Scenic Drive to Mt. Ranier Natl Park - Part 1
We knew when we set out to drive up to Mount Rainier National Park that it would be an all day affair, and it certainly was.
In a perfect world, one would drive up to the north side of the park on Day 1 and camp somewhere on the North Side, and maybe take a hike or two, and then on day 2 drive around to the visitor center and maybe take another hike, and then drive back that night.
Mount Rainier is an amazing mountain that gives amazing views from most every part of the state of Washington, and certainly from every side of the park.
We decided that we'd drive the way there, see and photograph what we could and then drive back rather than camp or take hike on each day. Our bad.
It's about a 2.5 hour drive to the northeast side of the park where Highway 410 enters the park one way. The roads are your typical national park mountainous roads where you can only drive about 30MPH, so we did, and at least that gave us an excuse to stop to take pictures, since we weren't driving highway speeds, thereby not wearing out our car with all the stoping.
The streams run white because the rocks grind on each other creating what's called "rock flour" which colors the streams as it's washed down the mountain.
We made the visitor center by about 3PM, and we were ready/ past ready to eat something, so we ate there at the visitor center. Unfortuantely the moron jackasses in congress are hell bent on driving the park system into bankruptcy, so there at the visitor center we ate what was available, and was grateful nonetheless to get anything given the financial circumstances of the park service. The food was borderline awful and way overpriced. Life goes on.
It's a terrible shame that we didn't take time to hike some of the many trails that encircle the mountain, but it is what it is. Don't make this mistake.
In spite of the shortcomings of my planning for our visit, it is a very beautiful park, as are most of the national parks, and it comes highly recommended. What makes Mount Rainier so special is it's prominence. It's the second most prominent mountain in the world. You can see it from considerably more than 100 miles away. When you look up it's there no matter where you are in eastern Washington. In Colorado, you can't hardly throw a rock and not hit a 14,000 foot mountain, but because there are so many of them being that tall seems less important or prominent. Mount Rainier is about 8,000 feet taller than the vast majority of the mountains in the Cascade range which are typically 5,000 to 6,000 feet, which is quite prominent in itself, given that the ocean at elevation zero is only an hours drive away from the mountain range. The prominence is a major factor in it's beauty, but there's so much more. The glaciers are there because of the prominence.
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Last Update: July 7, 2015
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