When researching my visit to Seattle, I found a tour that sounded fascinating to me. The tour was a full day tour to visit Mount Rainier National Park. I must say that this tour today was outstanding, and I am sure you will agree when you see the images of Mt Rainier.
Standing at 14,417ft (4,394M), Mount Rainier is the 17th tallest peak in The United States, and the tallest in Washington State. Located around 60 Miles (96 KM) from Seattle as the crow flys, but more like 110 miles (176 KM) by road.
Getting To Mt Rainier
I always enjoy tours that have a longer driving portion to get to the destination. A long drive gives you an excellent opportunity to see so much of the countryside. Once the city is left behind, there is so much beautiful countryside to see.
As you can imagine with a high mountain peak like Mt Rainier it is a considerable distance beforehand you can see the peak. Well, that would be the case if the clouds were not hiding it early on. Of course, there is plenty more to see along the way. With one of the first spots, that caught my attention being Alder Lake which forms Alder Dam.
There were a lot of trees cleared in the area to build Alder Dam, which has left a lot of stumps behind. When the Lake is full, these stumps would be submerged. However, at the moment the lake is at a very low level since it is getting close to winter and they are all visible. It is intentional that the lake level gets decreased in preparation for winter.
Mount Rainier is a National Park, and it is interesting to see the different type of trees. Living in Queensland, Australia I have visited lots of bush and rainforest and there many different trees here. Additionally, as you approach Mount Rainier and gain elevation there is a point that the trees thin out drastically.
Some of the trees within the Mount Rainier National Park are of a significant size. When I did a little more research, there are large areas of the national park listed as old growth forest. With some of the stands of trees estimated to be up to 1,000 years old. I cannot be sure on specific details for these trees photographer below, but there are some enormous trees here.
Approaching Mt Rainier
Not long after entering the Mt Rainier National Park, the cloud cleared, and there was a view to the peak. Mt Rainier has approx. 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow. So it is a peak which always has a white top. (Ref)
The next stop on the tour was the first waterfall for the day. Christine Falls has three separate drops, but I could only get one into the picture. There are two drops above, and this is the lowest drop which is almost directly below the road.
Mt Rainier gets more than two million visitors each year. Around 10,000 visitors climb the mountain with about half of them reaching the summit. When you see the views and the surrounding area you can easily imagine why so many people visit.
Paradise at Mt Rainier
The highest elevation the tour visits is around 5400ft, which is also the highest point for vehicle access. The peak itself had once again become hidden by clouds. This location is named Paradise and is home to a visitors centre as well as some accommodation options.
There is another waterfall here, Myrtle Falls. I can imagine that this waterfall would change significantly with the seasons. Likely frozen in winter and flowing with significant volumes of water as the snow melts in spring.
At this elevation, there is a limited number of full-size trees. However, there are still many smaller trees and shrubs. With the time of hear being Autumn, the reds and yellows are very prominent as your walk the trails around the area.
After leaving Paradise, the tour made a stop at Buck Canyon. Through the canyon runs a river named Muddy Fork Creek. The water which runs through here is predominantly from the melting snow and ice from the glaciers above. The colour is a result of the glacier’s grind against the rock beneath leaving a fine sediment in the water.
There was one last stop before starting on the return journey to Seattle. The spot lake is known as Reflections Lake. With the right conditions, I understand that you can see a reflection of Mt Rainier in the lake. However, with the clouds that have hidden the peak today this was not possible.
Today’s tour was an excellent way to spend the day and to see such a beautiful part of the world. I can see myself visiting the area again in the future to explore further.