Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Mt. Rainier



Since we decided to stay in Packwood again tonight, we didn't have to rush getting on the road this morning. We ate a free, very small breakfast in the lobby, then left Packwood at 10:30, heading for Mt. Rainier National Park, only seven miles away.

Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet, is the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range and one of the most massive volcanoes in the world. Its summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each more than 1,000 feet in diameter. Located just 54 miles southeast of Seattle, Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

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Active volcano - consider camping elsewhere!

We drove north along the eastern flank of the mountain, turned west onto Sunrise Road, and “officially” entered the park (i.e. paid) at the White River Entrance. Partway down the road, we drove into the White River Campground, alongside the glacier-scoured White River.

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White River, Mt. Rainier

At Sunrise Point you get a spectacular panoramic view all the way from Mt. Baker to Mt. Hood. At the end of Sunrise Road is the Sunrise Visitor Center, at 6,400 feet, the highest spot on Mt. Rainier that can be reached by car. There are a variety of trails here, but we simply walked a few hundred yards to the Emmons Glacier Viewpoint. The view just doesn't get any better than that!

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Mt. Rainier

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Emmons Glacier, Mt. Rainier

From Sunrise we backtracked to the southeast and entered the park again at the Stevens Canyon Entrance, then headed west along the southern flank of the mountain. Along Stevens Canyon Road, we stopped at the Box Canyon of the Cowlitz and then for a nice picnic lunch with a good view of Mt. Adams, among other stunning photo ops.

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Box Canyon of the Cowlitz

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Mt. Adams from our picnic table

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Nisqually River Gorge

Finally we reached Paradise! That's the actual name of the place – Paradise. Of course, it was lovely, as one might expect from a place with such a braggadocious name. However, the clouds had moved in, so these weren't the best views of the day, but there was some lovely foliage here. It must be really windy at the top of the mountain, because the clouds moved in and out (luckily mostly out) all day.

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Mt. Rainier from Paradise

West of Paradise, we reached the 188-foot Narada Falls, pulled over for even more fabulous photos of Mr. Rainier, and then took at short hike to the bottom of the gorgeous, 69-foot Christine Falls.

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Narada Falls

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Mt. Rainier

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Christine Falls

We exited through the Nisqually Entrance, in the southwest of the park, then turned onto Highway 52 and headed back east. We thought the route would be scenic, but you really couldn't see past the trees. Every once in a while, you'd catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier, but that was about it. Back in Packwood, we explored the town (it only takes a few minutes) and took some fun photos.

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Packwood, Washington

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Packwood prospector

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Cafe cougar

Tonight we returned to the Blue Spruce Saloon. Wednesday is taco night at the Blue Spruce, three for $2.50. We ate a dozen (they were small) and enjoyed a few beverages, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Deschutes Hefeweizen. Taco night was a hit. The Bluce Spruce was hopping!


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