Know Before You Go: Hiking in Mount Rainier

Madison Lucas National Parks

Washington state, perched in the upper left corner of the US is known for having a wide variety of prime geographic regions; it is one of the only states in the US  where you can experience the ocean, mountains, high desert, and bustling cities all in one state. 

Only those who have experienced the Northwest understand the overwhelming beauty of Mount Rainier National Park. Those who are able to tie up their hiking boots and explore the area in depth have an even better understanding of all that is to be appreciated in the area. But before you venture off on your first hike in Mount Rainier National Park, please take note of these ideas from us Rainier nerds.

Designated as a National Park in 1899, Mount Rainier has much to offer for any outdoor enthusiast-Mount Rainier is the highest peak in Washington State and the 5th highest mountain in the lower 48 states. According to, Mount Rainier is one of the best hiking areas in the Pacific Northwest. This may be because hikers can feasibly find forests with cedar, hemlock, and fir trees as well as streams and wildflower meadows. On Rainier’s alpine slopes, visitors can also come across giant firs, glaciers, and tundra.

The park offers 260 miles of maintained trails to explore at your leisure. If you are traveling to the Longmire area, try the short trail of the shadows-you’ll see a replica of an early homestead cabin and discover the plants and animals that call this area their home. If you happen to be in the area, Shadow Lakes Trail also offers views of White River Valley and gives access to the lake itself.

1.Know when to go


The best time to visit Mount Rainier is during the months of July, August, and early September before the park closes. While Washington State is famous for its rain, its summers are generally dry with comfortable temperatures and little to no humidity. According to National Geographic, Washington state wildflowers are at their best in July and August, which is one of the reasons why we build our tour dates during these times. We take advantage of the natural seasons and coordinate our tour dates to run parallel with the blossoming of wildflowers including Mountainbells, Trilliums, Magenta Paintbrushes, Subalpine Daisies and Tiger Lillies.


2. Do your research

Before you hike, you should do some research on the trails you are exploring. In fact, before heading off, you will have to speak with a Park Ranger in order to get a copy of the Trail Map. The park service’s intentions with this is so that you can have a one-on-one conversation about the status of flora and fauna, wildlife, safety, and weather conditions before continuing on in your endeavors. Talking to a ranger can give you a good feel for what your day entails, and they can give you special tips and warnings that might not be online or published publicly.

3.Respect the Park

Part of enjoying Mt Rainier National Park is doing your part to help preserve it. Make sure that you stay on designated trails, and leave your pup at home- dogs are not allowed in the park.

Mount Rainier’s ecosystem is fragile, like any other National Park. Every wildflower is part of this Western treasure’s circle of life- try not to step on, or pick any of the plant species. Do not feed any of the wildlife during the hike, and keep your distance. Many people think that they are helping the animals by feeding them when in reality they have a perfectly balanced habitat that cannot be disturbed. Different specifies can also become dependent on human food, and that might lead to an incident that could injure another visitors or even the animal you fed.

We hope that you keep these notes in mind before packing up and hitting the road. Whether you are a Washingtonian yourself who wants to understand the state you call home better or someone who will be traveling to Mount Rainier just to see the spectacular views- the mountain and surrounding areas will provide hiking opportunities to see the true beauty of the park.

If you were interested in visiting Rainier in style with a small group for the day, visit our day-trip page to view the full itinerary and book today.

Photos are provided by the National Park Service.