Before it became Mt Rainier National Park, Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy became the first European to sail into the Puget Sound, in 1792. Known to local Native Americans as Tacobet, Takhoma, or Tahoma, on the horizon, he noted a large, snowy mountain. After his colleague Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, Vancouver named it.
Back in September, 2004, I visited Mount St Helens and then Mt Rainier National Park.
I had picked September because it was supposed to be a drier time of year. It was not very dry! I had a hard time at both parks because of clouds and rain. Pictures turn out much nicer on sunny days! At an elevation of 14,410 feet, I visited Mt Rainier via the Sunrise visitor center because it is the closest facility to the mountain.
Mt Rainier National Park
Sunrise is the highest point that can be reached by vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park, at an elevation of 6,400 feet. Mountain meadows abound with wildflowers in summer. In the Cascade Range, on clear days, Sunrise provides breathtaking views of many other volcanoes, Emmons glacier, and Mount Rainier. An excellent trail system and these views make Sunrise the second most visited location in the park.
Sunrise Visitor Center
Sunrise is located 14 miles northwest of the Sunrise/White River turnoff on Highway 410 and 60 miles northeast of the Nisqually Entrance. There are hiking trails here but I did not hike far because I was afraid it would start raining again.
The Sunrise Road usually closes in late September to early October and opens in late June or early July. Before heading out, check the road status. From the Sunrise parking area I could see they were putting a new roof on the lodge. At this time in 2004, the Sunrise Visitor Center was made out of logs.
Parking Area for Sunrise Visitor Center
Open from early July to late September, the Sunrise Day Lodge, features a gift shop and food service. At the Sunrise Day Lodge, there is no overnight lodging.
Unfortunately for me, when I was at Sunrise, the clouds and rain made it very difficult to see Mt Rainier.
Clouds Hiding Mt Rainier
Known as Yakima Park, are the meadows surrounding Sunrise. This area was a favorite of the Yakima people for gathering and hunting, during the summers. Other subalpine meadows and these, for thousands of years, have been important to Native American people for the valuable animal and plant resources they contain, and for their beauty.
There is water everywhere here in Mt Rainier National Park.
I am not crazy about the rain but I do love to watch the water flow!
I soon see a large waterfall off the side of the road. I bet this park is incredible when the sun is shining!
Along my drive I came upon a mountain tunnel. Awesome!
I eventually drove up to this great looking waterfall!
When I got to the eastern side of the park, the weather began to improve. What beautiful, green trees the park has here!
There are many lovely mountains as well here.
With all the snow and rain up here at higher elevations, there are many mountain lakes.
When I was heading back down and just before I went out the gate, a little black bear cub crossed the road in front of me. I reached for my camera but before I could take a photo, it was already into the woods and out of sight!
Nice Mountain View!
There are many nice views in Mount Rainier National Park. I hope one day to return and see some of the other parts of the park and do some more backpacking!
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