Mt Rainier National Park is a wildly popular national park with locals and visitors alike. The opportunity to get up close and personal with an active volcano is a unique opportunity not to be missed. In addition to the mountain itself, Mt Rainier has fairy tale wildflower meadows, dazzling waterfalls, gorgeous rivers and big trees. It also has lots of crowds, especially on weekends during the summer and extra especially during wildflower season (late July and early August). Recently I posted tips for avoiding crowds in National parks generally, but here are some places to go to avoid crowds in Mt Rainier on summer weekends (when the park is busiest).
1. Mowich Lake
At Mowich Lake there will still be people, but far, far less. You’ll need to drive on a dirt road to get there, on the northwest side of the park. If you have a kayak or canoe, you could take it out on the lake, or you could enjoy a hike to Tolmie Peak or Spray Park. Both hikes have amazing mountain views and expansive wildflower meadows. Make sure your car is equipped for the rough road and that you have your 10 essentials in this remote area (no services are available on this side of the park except an outhouse and trash can. Also be mindful that you will need a park pass or day pass (purchase at Paul peak trailhead-signed as you approach).
2. Chinook Pass
Far less crowded than Paradise or even Sunrise, Chinook pass sports the same epic mountain views and wildflowers, with far less people. Again, there are no services. There are picnic tables, outhouses and trash cans. If you’d like to get out for a hike, hit the Naches Peak Loop trail-my favorite trail in the park!
3. Ohanepecosh and Eastside trail
Big trees, gorgeous river, stunning waterfalls and cool shade await you on the little used Eastside trail on the east side of the park in the Ohanapecosh area. If you don’t want to hike that much, try to just driving between Grove of the Patriarchs and Silver Falls. See my previous post on a summer day trip in Mt Rainier for driving directions between these. Picnic tables are available at Grove of the Patriarchs and the Ohanapecosh campground.