During a visit to Washington State I took some time to drive over to Mt. Rainier National Park to the southeast of Seattle.
Visiting Mt. Rainier gave me the opportunity to check off one more national park from my bucket list I have been slowing completing over the years. Plus the visit would give me an opportunity to do some reconnaissance for a future climb of the mountain that I have always wanted to do. The drive up to Mt. Rainier is quite scenic as the road passes through a lush forested landscape:
As we drove into the National Park we saw a number of much smaller, but still impressive looking peaks of the Cascade Range below Mt. Rainier:
The monarch of the Cascade Range though is without a doubt Mt. Rainier:
As impressive as it was to see Mt. Rainier from the air, it was even more impressive for me at least to see it from ground level because of how massive this mountain is. As big as Pikes Peak looks from Colorado Springs, Mt. Rainier from the Tacoma area looks even bigger:
The only mountain I have personally seen that looks larger than Mt. Rainier and actually is, is Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. There is a visitor center below Mt. Rainier called Paradise that was closed for the season when we visited. However, the views of the glacier covered Mt. Rainier from Paradise are stunning and worth every minute of the drive to Paradise:
Fortunately the day I visited the weather was clear which is a rarity for Mt. Rainier, but I could see the top of the mountain had some ferocious winds based on the snow I consistently saw blowing off the summit:
Compared to Colorado’s 14-thousand foot peaks I could easily tell how different of climb Mt. Rainier would be because of its thick glaciers and threat of avalanches:
In fact in 2014 six climbers died from an avalanche on Mt. Rainier. Here is the view from Paradise looking back down the valley I had just drove up from:
My wife and I spent about an hour up at Paradise walking around taking in the views before deciding to drive back to where we were staying in Tacoma:
As we drove back I stopped to take this picture of Mt. Rainer as the sun was setting:
My wife and I spent the whole day driving up to Mt. Rainier National Park and stopping at various points to take pictures. The weather was so clear the day we visited that it felt like we were stopping every mile to take a picture. Mt. Rainier is truly an incredible American landmark that I hope to get a chance to spend more time on and climb one day. For anyone visiting the Seattle area I highly recommend driving up to Paradise at least once to see this incredible mountain. Hopefully the weather cooperates like it did during our visit.