Posts tagged: Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park (continued)

By , August 9, 2010 12:27 pm

IMG_2618For the rest of our time in Mount Rainier, we spent a fair chunk of it at the Grove of the Patriarchs.  The Grove is on an “island” in the middle of the Ohanapecosh River.  You can get there via a nature trail that starts just past the Stephen’s Canyon entrance to the park.  If you hit it on a weekend, expect parking to be a scarce commodity.  We actually went up to the next parking area on the road and walked back a fair distance to get to the trail.

The trail leads through some old cedar next to the river, before crossing a small suspension bridge.  The bridge is only wide enough for one person, so everyone alternated with those on the other side.  I almost waded across the river instead, but the water was cold and I didn’t want to be walking around with sandy or wet feet the rest of the day.  Winking smile

Once you cross the river, you’ll eventually come to a boardwalk that leads around the grove.  Here are some of the oldest of the trees in the area.  Exceptional ones will have small plaques around somewhere describing them.

These are some monstrous trees!  After seeing these and the ones previously at Olympic National Park, I have a real hard time comprehending how big a redwood or sequoia might be. Confused smile

IMG_2612After a pleasant hike around the grove, we headed back to the Jeep so we could check out the Sunrise and White River side of the park.

Be careful of the drive to Sunrise, especially on weekends.  The rangers are pretty diligent about monitoring and penalizing speed limit violations.  I pulled into an overlook to let a motorcycle pass us… he was pulled over getting a ticket about two minutes later.  We spotted plenty of rangers both in and out of the park, so watch your speed everywhere (the park rangers do have jurisdiction outside the park, as they cooperate with the forest rangers in the area too).  There’s not much need to speed through…  as the drive is very scenic and it’s worth taking your time for it.

IMG_2642Once you make it to Sunrise, there is a ranger station, restrooms, backcountry and hiking permits, plus a cafeteria and gift shop.  Expect prices to be fairly unreasonable.  You’re in the middle of nowhere and at their mercy…  I seem to remember that the going rate for a hot dog was $5.  Pack your lunch!

Dasy did a half-hour tour on one of the ranger programs, while I chilled out for a bit and checked out the buildings and stuff.  I just wasn’t in the mood for more walking around today.

The rest of our time was spent in the campground or at Mount Saint Helens.  More about that next time!




Mount Rainier National Park

By , August 6, 2010 7:43 am


Ok, I’ve got to start this off with a disclaimer and a warning…

The disclaimer: The picture above is heavily processed and is more of an “art” picture than a historical or reference shot.  But, it is almost exactly what I was hoping to get when I set it up.  For those interested in why it looks like it does, do some research on HDR processing (later).  Winking smile

The warning: This is a long post.  I have an excuse though…  The weather was just about perfect and it’s pretty hard not just point a camera at something here and get a good picture.

IMG_2430“Here” was Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.  We spent five days in the area, divided between Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.  Instead of jumping back and forth, we’re doing a couple of Rainier posts first, then we’ll do another one on St. Helens.

Mount Rainier National Park is pretty awesome!  In my book, it’s close to Glacier NP in scenery and photography value.  It’s easier to get around and it’s more “tourist friendly”.  However, it’s also got a LOT of area that isn’t easy to get to unless you plan to do some major hiking and camping.  We did a few walking trails, but mostly stuck to the main roads in the Jeep.

IMG_2435Surprisingly, you can’t actually see Mount Rainier unless you’re far away (up to 100 miles away on a clear day) or until you’ve driven a few miles into the park.  The mountains around Rainier aren’t ridiculously impressive or anything, but they’re big enough for it to hide behind. 

We were staying in Randle, so we came in on the Southeast corner of the park, at Stephen’s Canyon entrance.  If you come the same way, it’s worth stopping at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center on the way in.

The first scenic stop that we made was at Box Canyon.  Here we found a nice plaque explaining that the rock I was standing on had been polished by a glacier at one time.  The road also goes over the canyon, so you can get a nice perspective from the sidewalk.IMG_2442

The first real “viewpoint” of Mount Rainier from the entrance we used had plenty of parking.  If you’re coming in from the Stephens Canyon entrance, keep going.  There are a few nicer views after you cross a deep valley.

One of the stops we made was at the Reflection Lakes.  This is a small collection of lakes that the main road runs right next to.  I would imagine they earned their names by being smooth as glass… when there’s no wind.  We had just enough wind to ripple everything, but it’s still a nice view.


After Reflection Lakes, we took a scenic loop up to and around Paradise.  It was absolutely packed and there didn’t seem to be any better view than the ones we’d been seeing all morning, so we didn’t stop.

Further down the road is Narada Falls.  We definitely stopped for that!IMG_2514  We actually stopped once to eat lunch and enjoy the falls at the top, then we stopped again later in the day on the way back to do the trail.  The trail is pretty steep and is loose rock and dirt in some places, but it’s worth it.  The Narada Falls parking area is at the top of the falls.  Unfortunately, it’s somewhat behind the fall area, so you can’t actually see the falls.  You can see the stream that feeds the falls, and you can sit on the bridge that goes over it.  The trail goes to the other side of the river and down a steep hill.  We stopped at about half the height of the falls, which is probably the best view you’ll find without bushwacking.

The falls do send up a water mist, so be careful with you’re camera and electronic gear.  Just keep stuff covered until you’re ready to take a picture and you should be fine.  The reward, of course, is the rainbows that are pretty much always present due to this (check the lower right corner of the picture to the right).

IMG_3510Narada Falls are clearly the biggest and most impressive of the easily accessible falls off the road we were on, but they aren’t the only ones.

Christine Falls is a multi-level fall that starts well above the road (there’s a steep hike up to the top) and ends well below the road.  There’s a short walk down from the road to see the falls under the bridge, which is definitely worth it.IMG_2502

Our next stop was at Longmire.  There is a museum here, along with most of the park’s administrative offices, an inn, plus shuttle busses to run back and forth to Paradise.  We checked out the museum and the administration building.  They were interesting, but not very photographic.  I’ll probably include some of those pictures in another slide show that I’ll get to eventually. Winking smile

At Longmire, we ended our trip for the first day in the park and headed back to our campground in Randle, WA.

Note: There will be another post on Mt. Rainier NP, this one was getting long enough. Winking smile


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