3 Places to Avoid Crowds in Mt Rainier

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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

Mowich lake at Mt Rainier National Park
Mowich Lake at Mt Rainier National Park

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).

Mt Rainier from Tolmie peak
Mt Rainier as seen from the lookout at Tolmie Peak

Mt Rainier wildflowers spray park
Mt Rainier in Spray Park, with avalanche lilies in the foreground, the first wildflower to bloom when the snow melts

2. Chinook Pass

Mt Rainier from Chinook pass Naches peak loop trail
Mt Rainier is seen from the Naches Peak Loop Trail at 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!

Mt Rainier wildflowers chinook pass
Peak bloom wildflower meadows at Chinook Pass

3. Ohanepecosh and Eastside trail

Silver falls Mt Rainier national park Eastside trail
SIlver Falls along the 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.

old growth Cedar tree bark mt rainier
Thousand year old cedar tree bark in Grove of the Patriarchs
Wildflower meadow, evergreen trees and a large mountain against a blue sky. Text reads: How to avoid crowds in Mt Rainier National Park
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Jennie Flaming
Jennie Thwing Flaming, Chief Adventure Officer: Jennie's life has been a continual quest for adventure (of the non-adrenalin inducing kind) from birth till now. Professionally, she pursues adventures in teaching, counseling and working to obliterate institutional racism for students in our region's public schools and also works as a tour and hiking guide. Previous professional adventures include working in schools in Seattle and Alaska, leading tours and managing tour guides and presenting traveling science shows and lessons with Pacific Science Center. She believes in sharing her beloved Pacific Northwest home with visitors. She likes to be outdoors and spend time with the people she loves. Jennie is born and raised in Seattle and has also lived in Alaska and the Netherlands.